Scientific Theoryhood

  • John Watkins
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 160)


Within science the main units of appraisal, in the eyes of many philosophers of science, myself included, are scientific theories, rather than the various hypotheses that make them up or the concepts that occur in them or the research programmes within which they arise. And the problem on which I will focus is: what are the criteria for scientific theoryhood? More specifically: what conditions should a set of premises satisfy to constitute an axiomatization of one unified scientific theory, rather than be either a mere heterogeneous conjunction that does not amount to a theory, or else a collection of two or more disjoint scientific theories? To put the problem another way: it is sometimes said that scientific progress consists in subsuming more and more under less and less, which we may construe as meaning that more empirical phenomena come to be explained by fewer theories. But how should we understand this idea of a later scientific corpus containing fewer theories, with more empirical content, than an earlier corpus?


Scientific Theory Propositional Content Testable Content Empirical Content Auxiliary Assumption 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Watkins
    • 1
  1. 1.The London School of EconomicsUK

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