Halvorson (2012)

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Halvorson, Hans. (2012) What Scientific Theories Could not be. Philosophy of Science 79 (2), 183-206.

Title What Scientific Theories Could not be
Resource Type journal article
Author(s) Hans Halvorson
Year 2012
Journal Philosophy of Science
Volume 79
Number 2
Pages 183-206


According to the semantic view of scientific theories, theories are classes of models. I show that this view—if taken literally—leads to absurdities. In particular, this view equates theories that are distinct, and it distinguishes theories that are equivalent. Furthermore, the semantic view lacks the resources to explicate interesting theoretical relations, such as embeddability of one theory into another. The untenability of the semantic view—as currently formulated—threatens to undermine scientific structuralism.