British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 42 (2):195-226 (1991)
Several philosophers of science have claimed that the correspondence principle can be generalized from quantum physics to all of (particularly physical) science and that in fact it constitutes one of the major heuristical rules for the construction of new theories. In order to evaluate these claims, first the use of the correspondence principle in (the genesis of) quantum mechanics will be examined in detail. It is concluded from this and from other examples in the history of science that the principle should be qualified with respect to its nature and relativized with respect to its scope of application. At the same time this conclusion implies a qualification and a relativization of the heuristic power of the principle. Generally speaking, intertheoretical correspondence is primarily of a formal-mathematical and empirical but not of a conceptual nature. Moreover, it only applies to certain parts of the theories involved. Finally, a number of philosophical justifications of the principle are discussed and some conclusions are drawn concerning the debates on theory reduction and on the discovery-justification distinction.
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