© 2018

Building Theories

Heuristics and Hypotheses in Sciences

  • David Danks
  • Emiliano Ippoliti
  • Describes new findings and models concerning the construction of theories and hypotheses in science

  • Brings together both normative and descriptive perspectives on the question of theory construction

  • Explores novel perspectives on the uses of models, inferences, and heuristic reasoning in theory-building

  • Uses case studies in logic, mathematics, physics, biology, and psychology to develop a set of principles for how theories are constructed and refined


Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 41)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Understanding Theory Building

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Emiliano Ippoliti
      Pages 3-20
    3. Margaret Morrison
      Pages 21-43
    4. David Danks
      Pages 45-61
    5. Carlo Cellucci
      Pages 63-79
  3. Theory Building in Action

  4. New Models of Theory Building

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 167-167
    2. Thomas Nickles
      Pages 169-189
    3. Emiliano Ippoliti
      Pages 191-211
    4. Lorenzo Magnani
      Pages 261-284

About this book


 This book explores new findings on the long-neglected topic of theory construction and discovery, and challenges the orthodox, current division of scientific development into discrete stages: the stage of generation of new hypotheses; the stage of collection of relevant data; the stage of justification of possible theories; and the final stage of selection from among equally confirmed theories. The  chapters, written by leading researchers, offer an interdisciplinary perspective on various aspects of the processes by which theories rationally should, and descriptively are, built. They address issues such as the role of problem-solving and heuristic reasoning in theory-building; how inferences and models shape the pursuit of scientific knowledge; the relation between problem-solving and scientific discovery; the relative values of the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic view of theories in understanding theory construction; and the relation between ampliative inferences, heuristic reasoning, and models as a means for building new theories and knowledge. Through detailed arguments and examinations, the volume collectively challenges the orthodox view’s main tenets by characterizing the ways in which the different “stages” are logically, temporally, and psychologically intertwined. As a group, the chapters provide several attempts to answer long-standing questions about the possibility of a unified conceptual framework for building theories and formulating hypotheses.


Scientific Theories Inferences in Science Scientific Discovery Models of Problem-solving Model-based Reasoning Scientific Realism Modeling and Inferring in Science Hypothesis Generation Ampliative Reasoning Abduction vs Deduction Rational Analysis Scientific Coherence Growth of Knowledge Realism in Cognitive Science

Editors and affiliations

  • David Danks
    • 1
  • Emiliano Ippoliti
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Dipartimento di FilosofiaSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly

Bibliographic information