What Scientific Theories Could Not Be

Philosophy of Science 79 (2):183-206 (2012)
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Abstract

According to the semantic view of scientific theories, theories are classes of models. I show that this view -- if taken seriously as a formal explication -- leads to absurdities. In particular, this view equates theories that are truly distinct, and it distinguishes theories that are truly equivalent. Furthermore, the semantic view lacks the resources to explicate interesting theoretical relations, such as embeddability of one theory into another. The untenability of the semantic view -- as currently formulated -- threatens to undermine scientific structuralism.

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Hans Halvorson
Princeton University

Citations of this work

What Theoretical Equivalence Could Not Be.Trevor Teitel - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (12):4119-4149.
Sophistication about Symmetries.Neil Dewar - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):485-521.
Glymour and Quine on Theoretical Equivalence.Thomas William Barrett & Hans Halvorson - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 45 (5):467-483.
Equivalent and Inequivalent Formulations of Classical Mechanics.Thomas William Barrett - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (4):1167-1199.

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References found in this work

Laws and symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2008 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
The Structure of scientific theories.Frederick Suppe (ed.) - 1974 - Urbana,: University of Illinois Press.
What is structural realism?James Ladyman - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (3):409-424.

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