Professor Nagel on the cognitive status of scientific theories

Philosophy of Science 35 (4):412-423 (1968)
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1. Introduction. Professor Nagel's account of the “cognitive status” of scientific theories has been attacked by P. K. Feyerabend [5] and M. B. Hesse [8] in terms of his alledgedly misguided distinction between experimental laws and theories. The difficulty lies, these critics agree, in Nagel's attempt to find a stable basis for scientific theories in an observational basis of experimental laws. Both Feyerabend and Hesse note the vacillation in Nagel's account of the stability of the meaning of experimental terms and in his discussion of the status of observational as opposed to theoretical terms. They find Nagel too “positivistic” and see as a first step toward a more adequate account of scientific theories the abandonment of the theoretical-observational dichotomy as having more than a pragmatic significance. Nagel's discussion of the theoretical-observational dichotomy is, I agree, inadequate in certain respects. I shall, however, suggest a quite different remedy from those of Feyerabend and Hesse, one that depends neither on a phenomenalistic reduction of theoretical entities nor on a blurring of the theoretical-observational dichotomy.



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Realist foundations of measurement.Henry C. Byerly & Vincent A. Lazara - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (1):10-28.

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References found in this work

Philosophy of Natural Science.Carl G. Hempel - 1967 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 18 (1):70-72.
VIII.—An Attempt at a Realistic Interpretation of Experience.P. K. Feyerabend - 1958 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 58 (1):143-170.
Logic and Reality.Gustav Bergmann - 1964 - Foundations of Language 3 (4):429-432.
The structure of science.Paul K. Feyerabend - 1966 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 17 (3):237-249.
Physics and ontology.Gustav Bergmann - 1961 - Philosophy of Science 28 (1):1-14.

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