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Theory Change, Structural Realism, and the Relativised A Priori

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Abstract:

In this paper I claim that Quinean naturalist accounts of science, that deny that there are any a priori statements in scientific frameworks, cannot account for the foundational role of certain classes of statements in scientific practice. In this I follow Michael Friedman who claims that certain a priori statements must be presupposed in order to formulate empirical hypotheses. I also show that Friedman's account, in spite of his claims to the contrary, is compatible with a type of non-Quinean naturalism that I sketch. Finally I also show that Friedman's account needs amending because it cannot provide a rational account of theory change. I accomplish this by arguing for a structural realist view of theory change. I show how this view fits well with an account like Friedman's and helps it deal with the problem of theory change and in retaining its superiority over Quinean naturalism.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02698590802280860

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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