For Phenomenological Laws

Nancy Cartwright

in How the Laws of Physics Lie

Published in print June 1983 | ISBN: 9780198247043
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597152 | DOI:
 For Phenomenological Laws

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Conventional accounts like the deductive‐nomological model suppose that high‐level theories couched in abstract language encompass or imply more low‐level laws expressed in more concrete language (here called phenomenological laws). The truth of phenomenological laws is then supposed to provide evidence for the truth of the theory. This chapter argues that, to the contrary, approximations are required to arrive at phenomenological laws and generally these approximations improve on theory and are not dictated by the facts. Examples include an amplifier model, exponential decay and the Lamb shift (Based on work with Jon Nordby).

Keywords: abstract/concrete; approximations; deductive‐nomological model; exponential decay; Lamb shift; phenomenological laws

Chapter.  10169 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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