Towards a Theory of Theoretical Objects

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:384 - 393 (1986)
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Abstract

Traditional accounts stress certain features of theoretical objects such as their alleged imperceptibility, that are taken to raise epistemological difficulties. But these accounts do not show how theoretical objects, rightly understood, either differ in kind from more ordinary sorts of objects or make science possible. I sketch a new account that focuses on the underdetermination and similarity of theoretical objects, features closely connected to the explanatory roles they play, and construes them on an algebraic model.

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