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Theory flexibility and inconsistency in science

Vickers, Peter

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For several decades now philosophers have discussed apparent examples of internally inconsistent scientific theories. However, there is still much controversy over how exactly we should conceive of scientific theories in the first place. Here I argue for a new approach, whereby all of the truly important questions about inconsistency in science can be asked and answered without disagreements about theories and theory-content getting in the way. Three examples commonly described as ‘internally inconsistent theories’ are analysed in the light of this approach. In the process, the question ‘Is the theory inconsistent or not?’ is identified as a bad, or at least unimportant, question.


Vickers, P. (2014). Theory flexibility and inconsistency in science. Synthese, 191(13), 2891-2906.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2014
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jan 27, 2015
Journal Synthese
Print ISSN 0039-7857
Electronic ISSN 1573-0964
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 191
Issue 13
Pages 2891-2906
Keywords Inconsistency, Scientific theory, Bohr, Kirchhoff, Classical electrodynamics, Eliminativism.


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