Journal Article

Are There No Things That are Scientific Theories?

Steven French and Peter Vickers

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 4, pages 771-804
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Are There No Things That are Scientific Theories?

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  • Philosophy of Science
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The ontological status of theories themselves has recently re-emerged as a live topic in the philosophy of science. We consider whether a recent approach within the philosophy of art can shed some light on this issue. For many years philosophers of aesthetics have debated a paradox in the (meta)ontology of musical works (e.g. Levinson [1980]). Taken individually, there are good reasons to accept each of the following three propositions: (i) musical works are created; (ii) musical works are abstract objects; (iii) abstract objects cannot be created. However it seems clear that, if one wants to avoid inconsistency, one cannot commit to all three. Following up recent developments courtesy of Cameron ([2008a]), we consider how one might respond to the corresponding set of propositions in the (meta)ontology of scientific theories.


2Setting up the Problem

3What to Reject?

  3.1Scientific theories are not created?

  3.2Scientific theories are not abstract objects?

  3.3Abstract objects can be created?

4A Fourth Way: Truth-maker Theory

5Objections and Replies

  5.1What are the truth-makers?

  5.2Objections from World 3




Journal Article.  15047 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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