Philosophy of Science 38 (2):170-177 (1971)

The nature of the connection between theory and observation has been a major source of difficulty for philosophers of science. It is most vexing for those who would reduce the terms of a theory to those of an observation language, e.g. Carnap, Braithwaite, and Nagel. Carnap's work, particularly his treatment of physical theories as partially interpreted formalisms, forms the point of focus of this paper. Carnap attempted to make the connection between theory and observation through correspondence postulates. It is pointed out that such postulates depend in critical ways upon theoretical truths. This particular type of theoretical dependence produces serious trouble for Carnap's approach. For reasons given it may make it untenable. Furthermore, this problem when generalized creates difficulty for any similar reductionist program. Not only is this kind of theoretical dependence pointed out, but more important, the logical conditions which produce it are revealed. In this way light is shed upon the formal characteristics of the notion of theory dependence, especially upon the way in which observation terms depend upon theories for their meaning
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DOI 10.1086/288352
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