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Theories: tools versus models

Suárez, Mauricio and Cartwright, Nancy (2008) Theories: tools versus models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 39 (1). pp. 62-81. ISSN 1355-2198

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.shpsb.2007.05.004


In “The Toolbox of Science” (1995) together with Towfic Shomar we advocated a form of instrumentalism about scientific theories. We separately developed this view further in a number of subsequent works. Steven French, James Ladyman, Otavio Bueno and Newton Da Costa (FLBD) have since written at least eight papers and a book criticising our work. Here we defend ourselves. First we explain what we mean in denying that models derive from theory—and why their failure to do so should be lamented. Second we defend our use of the London model of superconductivity as an example. Third we point out both advantages and weaknesses of FLBD's techniques in comparison to traditional Anglophone versions of the semantic conception. Fourth we show that FLBD's version of the semantic conception has not been applied to our case study. We conclude by raising doubts about FLBD's overall project.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 Elsevier
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2011 10:31
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2024 19:00

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