Explanation in the Semantic Conception of Theory Structure

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:286 - 296 (1988)
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During the last ten years John Beatty, Elisabeth Lloyd and I have argued that the semantic conception of theories is, in the context of biological theorizing, a richer conception of theory structure than the syntactic ("received view") conception. Specifically, I have argued semantic conception of theory structure better represents the structure of evolutionary theory and the relationship of this theory to phenomena. One aspect of the semantic conception that is in need of greater attention is the nature of explanation on this conception. In this paper, I argue that the semantic conception provides a richer mo accurate account of scientific explanation, in particular, of evolutionary explanations. In essence, I argue that explanation involves an appeal to numerous theories in addition to the putative explanatory theory. Employment of these theories is not formally possible in a syntactic conception but is in a semantic conception.



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Paul Thompson
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Citations of this work

On a Straw Man in the Philosophy of Science - A Defense of the Received View.Sebastian Lutz - 2012 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 2 (1):77–120.
Theoretical Explanation.R. I. G. Hughes - 1993 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 18 (1):132-153.
The semantic conception and the structuralist view of theories: A critique of Suppe’s criticisms.Pablo Lorenzano - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):600-607.

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