Erkenntnis 79 (1):111-126 (2014)

Authors
Peter Vickers
Durham University
Abstract
The philosopher of science faces overwhelming disagreement in the literature on the definition, nature, structure, ontology, and content of scientific theories. These disagreements are at least partly responsible for disagreements in many of the debates in the discipline which put weight on the concept scientific theory. I argue that available theories of theories and conceptual analyses of theory are ineffectual options for addressing this difficulty: they do not move debates forward in a significant way. Directing my attention to debates about the properties of particular, named theories, I introduce ‘theory eliminativism’ as a certain type of debate-reformulation. As a methodological tool it has the potential to be a highly effective way to make progress in the face of the noted problem: post-reformulation disagreements about theory cannot compromise the debate, and the questions that really matter can still be asked and answered. In addition the reformulation process demands that philosophers engage with science and the history of science in a more serious way than is usual in order to answer important questions about the justification for targeting a particular set of propositions (say) in a given context. All things considered, we should expect the benefits of a theory-eliminating debate-reformulation to heavily outweigh the costs for a highly significant number of debates of the relevant type
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9471-2
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References found in this work BETA

Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge.Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.) - 1970 - Cambridge University Press.
Doing Without Concepts.Edouard Machery - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Explaining Science: A Cognitive Approach.Jeffrey S. Poland - 1988 - Philosophical Review 100 (4):653-656.

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Citations of this work BETA

Conceptual Fragmentation and the Rise of Eliminativism.Henry Taylor & Peter Vickers - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (1):17-40.
Theory-Containment in Controversies: Neurath and Müller on Newton, Goethe, and Underdetermination.Gábor Zemplén - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (4):533-549.

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