Authors
Josh Hunt
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Abstract
Science frequently gives us multiple, compatible ways of solving the same problem or formulating the same theory. These compatible formulations change our understanding of the world, despite providing the same explanations. According to what I call "conceptualism," reformulations change our understanding by clarifying the epistemic structure of theories. I illustrate conceptualism by analyzing a typical example of symmetry-based reformulation in chemical physics. This case study poses a problem for "explanationism," the rival thesis that differences in understanding require ontic explanatory differences. To defend conceptualism, I consider how prominent accounts of explanation might accommodate this case study. I argue that either they do not succeed, or they generate a skeptical challenge.
Keywords Symmetry arguments, scientific explanation, scientific understanding, reformulations
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DOI 10.1086/715050
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References found in this work BETA

True Enough.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2017 - Cambridge: MIT Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Interpreting the Wigner–Eckart Theorem.Josh Hunt - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87:28-43.

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