Einstein’s Theory of Theories and Mechanicism

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 35 (2):153-170 (2022)
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Abstract

One of the most important contributions of Einstein to the philosophy of science is the distinction between two types of scientific theories: ‘principle’ and ‘constructive’ theories. More recently, Flores proposed a more general distinction, classifying scientific theories by their functional role into ‘framework’ and ‘interaction’ theories, attempting to solve some inadequacies in Einstein’s proposal. Here, based on an epistemic criterion, we present a generalised distinction which is an improvement over Flores approach. In this work (i) we evaluate the shortcomings related to Flores’s proposal, (ii) we present an epistemological criterion that opens the door for a more general classification of any scientific theory in all of the natural science into two distinct groups, which we call ‘mechanistic theories’ and ‘structural theories’, and (iii) we show that such a criterion is connected to Flores’ proposal while overcoming issues of all previous approaches.

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Author Profiles

Federico Benitez
University of Lausanne
Manuel Herrera
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

References found in this work

Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Studies in the logic of explanation.Carl Gustav Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Philosophy of Science 15 (2):135-175.
Explanation and scientific understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Interpreting causality in the health sciences.Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.

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