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What Scientific Theories Could Not Be*

Hans Halvorson
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 79, No. 2 (April 2012), pp. 183-206
DOI: 10.1086/664745
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664745
Page Count: 24
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What Scientific Theories Could Not Be*
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Abstract

According to the semantic view of scientific theories, theories are classes of models. I show that this view—if taken literally—leads to absurdities. In particular, this view equates theories that are distinct, and it distinguishes theories that are equivalent. Furthermore, the semantic view lacks the resources to explicate interesting theoretical relations, such as embeddability of one theory into another. The untenability of the semantic view—as currently formulated—threatens to undermine scientific structuralism.

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