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On the Extension of Beth's Semantics of Physical Theories

Bas C. van Fraassen
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1970), pp. 325-339
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/186462
Page Count: 15
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On the Extension of Beth's Semantics of Physical Theories
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Abstract

A basic aim of E. Beth's work in philosophy of science was to explore the use of formal semantic methods in the analysis of physical theories. We hope to show that a general framework for Beth's semantic analysis is provided by the theory of semi-interpreted languages, introduced in a previous paper. After developing Beth's analysis of nonrelativistic physical theories in a more general form, we turn to the notion of the 'logic' of a physical theory. Here we prove a result concerning the conditions under which semantic entailment in such a theory is finitary. We argue, finally, that Beth's approach provides a characterization of physical theory which is more faithful to current practice in foundational research in the sciences than the familiar picture of a partly interpreted axiomatic theory.

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