Synthese 192 (11):3413-3423 (2015)

Lydia Patton
Virginia Tech
Philosophers of science have long been concerned with the question of what a given scientific theory tells us about the contents of the world, but relatively little attention has been paid to how we set out to build theories and to the relevance of pre-theoretical methodology on a theory’s interpretation. In the traditional view, the form and content of a mature theory can be separated from any tentative ontological assumptions that went into its development. For this reason, the target of interpretation is taken to be the mature theory and nothing more. On this view, positions on ontology emerge only once a theory is to hand, not as part of the process of theory building. Serious attention to theory creation suggests this is too simple. In particular, data collection and experimentation are influenced both by theory and by assumptions about the entities thought to be the target of study. Initial reasoning about possible ontologies has an influence on the choice of theoretical variables as well as on the judgments of the methodology appropriate to investigate them.
Keywords theory building  scientific realism  ontology  science  theory change  methodology
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0972-1
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Methodology, Ontology, and Interventionism.James Woodward - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3577-3599.
Goal-Dependence in Ontology.David Danks - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3601-3616.
The Shaky Game +25, Or: On Locavoracity.Laura Ruetsche - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3425-3442.

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