The Evolution of Science: Theoretic Recombination as a Selection Process

  • Fu Chang
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 141)


In this article, an evolutionary point of view is proposed concerning theory structure and theory change in science. The major argument to be developed here is based on the thesis that cooperation or mutual support plays an important role in ensuring the reliability and efficiency of complex systems. Moreover, as a complex system evolves, the form of cooperation or mutual support among its components also evolve to enhance the reliability and efficiency of the system as a whole. I regard science as an example of a cooperative system. Science evolves as a normal cooperative system does and its evolution in particular involves: initial formations of scientific theories, subsequent interactions of independentlydeveloped theories, the arising of some possible conflicts from the interactions, and finally recombination of theories, where some new theories may grow in between the existing ones. The recombination of theories serves as a selection process for scientific evolution. But the pressure of the selection process does not necessarily arise from the crisis or breakdown of old theories. It may arise simply as a response to the occurrence of a new theory. The significance of the selection process is to open ways to higher degree of cooperation among scientific theories and to provide opportunities for new factual discovery. Higher reliability and efficiency therefore become a joint product of scientific evolution. This is in very much the same spirit as the evolution of cooperative systems found in other examples.


Scientific Theory Modern Physic Classical Physic Mutual Support Scientific Revolution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

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  • Fu Chang

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