2013 – The Semantic Conception and the Structuralist View of Theories: A Critique of Suppe’s Criticisms

  • “The Semantic Conception and the Structuralist View of Theories: A Critique of Suppe’s Criticisms”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 44 (2013): 600-607.DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2013.09.001. ISSN: 0039-3681.

Abstract

Different conceptions of scientific theories, such as the state spaces approach of Bas van Fraassen, the phase spaces approach of Frederick Suppe, the set-theoretical approach of Patrick Suppes, and the structuralist view of Joseph Sneed et al. are usually put together into one big family. In addition, the definite article is normally used, and thus we speak of the semantic conception (view or approach) of theories and of its different approaches (variants or versions). However, in The Semantic Conception of Theories and Scientific Realism (Urban and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989), starting from certain remarks already made in “Theory Structure” (in P. Asquith and H. Kyburg (Eds.), Current Research in Philosophy of Science, East Lansing: Philosophy of Science Association, 1979, pp. 317–338), Frederick Suppe excludes the structuralist view as well as other “European” versions from the semantic conception of theories. In this paper I will critically examine the reasons put forward by Suppe for this decision and, later, I will provide a general characterization of the semantic family and of the structuralist view of theories in such a way as to justify the inclusion of the structuralist view (as well as other “European” versions) as a member of this family.

Keywords

Semantic conception of theories; Structuralist view of theories; Semantic family; Frederick Suppe; Joseph D. Sneed; Thomas S. Kuhn

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