Structure and Approximation in Physical Theories

  • A. Hartkämper
  • H.-J. Schmidt

About this book


The present volume contains 14 contributions presented at a colloquium on "Structure and Approximation in Physical Theories" held at Osnabruck in June 1980. The articles are presented in the revised form written after the colloquium and hence also take account of the results of the discussion at the colloquium. It is a striking feature that the problem of approximation in physical theories has only recently found some attention in the philosophy of science, although the working physicist is con­ stantly confronted with those questions. No interesting theory of exact science exactly fits its experimental data; almost every relation between different theories is an approximate one. There­ fore an adequate reconstruction of physical theories must take into account and conceptualize the moment of approximation. The majority of the articles in this book is centered around this subject. There are at least two elaborate, 'structuralistic' approaches to the formalization of physical theories in which the aspect of approximation has been incorporated: the approach due to P. Suppes, J. Sneed, W. Stegmuller ("S-approach") and the approach of G. Lud­ wig and his co-workers ("L-approach"). The articles in this book correspondingly fall into three classes: presentation, elaboration and critique of the L-approach [Hartkamper/Schmidt, Ludwig, Neumann, Werner, Schmidt, Mayr, Kamiah, Majer, Grafe] or of the S-approach [Moulines, Balzer, Cooke], and articles referring to both approaches or concerned with related matters [Scheibe, Pfarr, Castrigiano]. Of course, this is only a rough classification and each article must be appraised in its own right.


classification experiment mechanics philosophy philosophy of science relativity statistical mechanics structure theory of relativity

Editors and affiliations

  • A. Hartkämper
    • 1
  • H.-J. Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OsnabrückOsnabrückGermany

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