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Philosophical Problems in the Empirical Science of Science- A Formal Approach

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SNEED

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS

1N T H E

EMPIRICAL SCIENCE OF SCIENCE:

A FORMAL APPROACH

ITS PHII~OSOPHICAI. PROBt, EMS

contributions to a variety of philosophical problems. Among these

problems it has become common practice to distinguish between those

related only to particular sciences and those related to scientific activity in

general.

The first k i n d - hidden variable determinism in quantum mechanics,

the role of 'mass' in classical mechanics, teleological concepts in evolu-

tionary biology - are essentially problems of providing a clear, coherent

conceptual framework for formulating the empirical claims of the par-

ticular sciences on question. The boundary between practicing this kind

of philosophy of science and practicing the science itself is not always

clear. In particular, solutions to these philosophical problems are

bounded by empirical data in the same way as the theories themselves.

An account of hidden variables in quantum mechanics incompatible with

the results of the Stern-Gerlach experiment would be unacceptable.

Philosophical problems relating to the nature of scientific activity in

general - confirmation theory, characterizing scientific explanations and

scientific theories in g e n e r a l - appear to be less clearly subject to con-

straint by any empirical facts. Literature about these problems is by no

means unequivocal on this point. In much-especially the work in the

logical empiricist t r a d i t i o n - t h e r e is a strong normative tenor. An

attempt is being made to legislate what can and can not qualify as 'good'

empirical science on the basis of a philosophical position held on non-

empirical grounds. Of course, there is also much in this literature-

stemming from the 'ordinary language' tradition-wherein appeal is

Copyright 9 1976 by D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-HoUand

116 JOSEPH D. SNEED

tion' in arguing for the account offered. Yet, even here, the limits of what

is to count as an example or counter-example remain a bit murky.

I suggest that this 'duality' among problems in the philosophy of

science is misleading. I maintain that philosophical problems about the

nature of science-in-general are not, in any fundamental way, different

from philosophical problems related only to particular sciences. In par-

ticular, there is no special sense in which the philosophy of science-in-

general is a normative enterprise while the philosophy of particular

sciences is not. Roughly, I maintain that there is an empirical, descriptive

(but not merely descriptive) ~science of science'. Philosophy of science-in-

general, in my view, deals with problems of providing a clear, coherent

conceptual framework for formulating the empirical claims of specific

theories of science.

The 'science of science' I have in mind is a social science. Its primary

objects are, very roughly, groups of people- 'scientific communities'-

engaged in a cooperative activity which produces, among other things,

scientific theories. Scientific communities have properties- presumably

related to the kind of products they produce - that differentiate them in

interesting ways from other kinds of social groups. They interact in

specific ways with the larger society. In the course of time, as a result of

both internal and external factors, they come into being, fragment,

coalese and pass away. Likewise their products-'scientific theories'-

change and develop over time in ways intimately connected with the

development of the communities that produce them. This is roughly the

subject matter for a theory of science. (The self-referential character of

such a theory, while perhaps worth noting, seems unproblematic.) To the

extent that the products of scientific communities are of value to the

larger society, a theory of science may have pragmatic implications. It

may be of some interest to know whether the larger society can influence

the 'output' of scientific communities and, if so, to what extent and by

what means.

Traditionally the philosophy of science-in-general has not dealt with

the full range of philosophical problems related to a theory of science. It

has not dealt with questions like the identity conditions for 'scientific

communities' nor with clarifying the concepts employed to describe

community-related motivations of individuals in these groups. Rather,

PHII~OSOPHICAI~ PROBI~EMS 117

employed to describe some of the products of scientific c o m m u n i t i e s -

roughly, scientific t h e o r i e s - , the relations among them and their

development over time. This narrow focus might be justified if, as a social

science, the science of science has no philosophical problems not shared

by a wide class of other social sciences, except those related to its

products. 1 doubt that this is true. I think rather, the explanation of the

narrow focus on products of scientific communities is to be found in the

logical-empiricist origins of contemporary philosophy of science-in-

general, and the accompanying normative bias. However, 1 will not

defend these intellected-historical conjectures in this essay.

By these remarks about the narrow focus of traditional philosophy of

science-in-general in relation to the whole range of philosophical prob-

lems in the science of science I do not mean to suggest that the traditional

problems are unimportant. Indeed much of my own work, including that

at hand, deals with these traditional problems. My only intention is to

place these traditional problems in what 1 believe to be their proper

perspective and perhaps to suggest some other fruitful avenues for

philosophical analysis. Heretofore our activity as philosophers of science-

in-general has been rather like one concerned with philosophical prob-

lems in a socio-historical theory of the automobile industry who devoted

all his efforts to a conceptual analysis of the concept of 'automobile

model'. Surely if one is to have a theory that explains, among other things,

why firms in the industry produced various models in various times, why

they changed models when they did, etc. then one must have a clear

concept of 'automobile modeF. But this is surely not all one needs in the

way of conceptual clarity.

I have spoken of the science of science and its conceptual foundations -

the philosophy of science-in-general - as if they were completely void of

normative implications. This is not so. But some distinctions are needed

to reach a precise understanding of their normative implications.

First, an empirical theory of science, like any reliable empirical theory,

has implications for action. It provides us with information we need to

persue some of our objectives. As a social science, the science of science

may be particularly relevant to action since the 'social facts' it treats could

possibly be modified by deliberate human action, In particular among

the products of scientific communities are "scientific f a c t s ' - s y s t e m a t i c

118 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

that the most effective and efficient way to procure such information is to

support (financially and otherwise) scientific communities. Indeed this is

one way to formulate the claim that 'scientific activity is rational' - it is a

good investment. Though commonly believed, this could nevertheless be

false. Scientific activity, as it has been and is now organized, could be in

varying degrees a less than optimal means of filling society's information

needs. It could even be a totally self-serving, 'irrational' fraud whose

'successes' were only 'accidental'. We could be just as well-off investing

in astrologers and witch-doctors.

Whether or not the present system of scientific activity is nearly optimal

(rational) in this economic sense and how it might be improved are among

the things a successful theory of science might tell us. In this sense such a

theory has clear normative implications. I believe Prof. Stegmfiller may

be getting at something like this when he notes:

9 dass mit der Frage: "Was ist rationales wissenschaftliches Verhalten?" kein triviales,

sondern ein schwieriges metatheoretisches Forschungsprogramm formuliert wird, in dessen

Verlauf es sich als notwendig erweisen kann, gewisse sich zunhchst anbietende

Rationalithtskriterien sp~iter als zu schablonenhaft zu erkennen und sie zugunsten anderer

Merkmale, die dutch eine differenziertere Betrachtungsweise gewonnen worden sind, zu

verwerfen.

([5], pp. 298-99)

To this I have added only a politico-economic measure of 'rationality' and

an explicit commitment to an empirical 'metatheoretisches Forschungs-

programm'.

But in the 'science of science' as in other empirical sciences, mere

empiricism is not enough. Just as rational reconstruction of classical

particle mechanics, classical equilibrium thermodynamics and elemen-

tary quantum mechanics provides valuable (so I judge) insight into the

empirical content of these theories, so does rational reconstruction of

specific theories in the science of science. I regard Prof. Kuhn's account

([2] and related articles) as one such specific theory. In Ch. VIII of [4] I

have sketched a partial rational reconstruction of Prof. Kuhn's theory.

(But I did not explicitly regard it as such when 1 was writing. Had I done

so, my exposition, at least, would have been different.) Prof. Stegmiiller

(in [5], K.IX) has provided a much more detailed and insightful partial

rational reconstruction of this same theory. Both these reconstructions

are 'partial' in what they focus primarily on what Prof. Kuhn had said

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 119

empirical claims associated with them. Other aspects of his theory dealing

with the scientific communities are however peripherally touched. In

particular, both Prof. Stegmfiller and I, in somewhat different ways, try

to explain what it is for a person 'zu verffigen fiber' or 'to have' a theory.

I have explained my conception of logical reconstruction of physical

theories and the extent of its normative aspect. ([4], p. 4). I still believe

this account of the matter to be correct and 1 now believe the account

applies as well to logical reconstructions of theories in the science of

science. I think the principal consideration is faithfulness to the 'existing

exposition' of the theory. Within this, normative considerations of logical

consistency, clarity and systematic elegance operate. Only at doubtful

points where the existing exposition is ambiguous or unclear should

normative consideration dominate the existing exposition. This means

that in reconstructing a theory of science we are primarily concerned with

exhibiting what the theory tells us about the way scientific communities

work - in particular, but not exclusively, what it tells us about how their

products change over time. Whether the theory's account is true, whether

it agrees with some preconceived account of 'scientific rationality', and

whether it suggests some 'better' alternatives for meeting society's infor-

mation needs are all different and distinct questions. The first and last. at

least, are obviously interesting.

theory of science that Prof. Stegmiiller and I have offered is our concept

of a scientific theory - a product of scientific community. Roughly speak-

ing, in order to make sense out of what Prof. Kuhn was telling us about

scientific activity (and for other reasons too) we found it convenient to

(were driven to) employ a concept of scientific theory somewhat different

from that commonly used by philosophers of science-in-general.

Philosophers of science-in-general have commonly viewed scientific

theories as sets of statements standing in certain logical relations with

each other. For rather technical reasons something more than a set of

statements is required to depict theories with sophisticated mathematical

formalism and several interrelated applications. In addition, we found

120 JOSEPH D. SNEED

things Prof. Kuhn wanted to tell us about scientific theories. For example,

one thing he wanted to tell us was that a necessary condition for

membership in a specific scientific community was 'holding' a specific

theory, but that members of the same scientific community both simul-

taneously and over time might differ significantly in their specific beliefs

about the theory's subject matter. For this and many similar reasons (see

[5], VII-7 and VII) we adopted roughly the following concept of scientific

theory. A scientific theory is a conceptual structure that can generate a

variety of empirical claims about a loosely specified, but not completely

unspecified, range of applications. Note that we do not get along without

empirical claims. We just need another entity as well; roughly, a concep-

tual structure-cum-range of applications. That we choose to call this

entity a 'scientific theory' is, of course, a matter of terminological

convenience. That we found such an entity essential in reconstructing

Prof. Kuhn's theory of science is not.

With the help of this concept of scientific theory we were able to

reconstruct Prof. Kuhn's distinction between normal and revolutionary

scientific change. Roughly, normal change is change in the body of

empirical claims commonly held within the scientific c o m m u n i t y -

holding the theory, in our sense, fixed. Revolutionary change is switching

theories, or perhaps more accurately, the dying out of a community

holding one theory and the coming into being of another holding another

'competing' theory. Further, certain important relations among theories

in our sense and their components may be defined - for example those of

specialization, equivalence and reduction. This suggests, but surely does

not prove, that interesting facts about how scientific theories develop

over time can be expressed as relations among scientific theories in our

sense. In particular, Prof. Stegmfiller has suggested that the reduction

relation might be the appropriate one to capture the informal, intuitive

notion of scientific progress.

I will consider Stegmiiller's suggestion in more detail below. Here, I

want to make more explicit the claim that the concept of a theory of the

products of s c i e n c e - a proper part of a full theory of s c i e n c e - a r e

theories, in our sense, and some relations among them - not necessarily

those just mentioned. Indeed it is fairly clear that these relations will not

do in many important cases since they ignore the approximative character

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 121

interesting a scientist of science might want to say about the products of"

science can be said within this conceptual framework. More precisely, it

can be said within an ontology of scientific theories, in the present sense,

with sufficiently ingenious relations among these entities. This is obvi-

ously a programmatic c l a i m - a n injunction to try, indeed, what 1 am

sketching here is a 'core' for a theory of science.

The program I have just sketched for a theory of the products of science

is fraught with difficulties - some known to me and very likely many more

as yet unknown to me. I want now to turn to some of the known

difficulties- in particular the problem of formally distinguishing theory

change that is intuitively progress from that which is not. In order to do

this I must venture somewhat more deeply into the formal characteriza-

tion of the concept of scientific theory. In the course of doing this, I will try

to clarify some murky points and answer some objections to my earlier

formulations.

1 will first describe a kind of set-theoretic s t r u c t u r e - the 'core' of a

scientific theory-element - and show how it may be used to make state-

ments about another set-theoretic entity - the range of intended applica-

tions of the theory. Cores together with their applications are 'theory-

elements' - the building blocks out of which rather complicated empirical

claims may be constructed. 'Theories' in Prof. Kuhn's sense consist of a

basic theory-element together with the means to construct a variety of

'nets' of theory-elements. Each net consists of a 'specialization' of the

theory's basic element and corresponds to an empirical claim about the

range of intended applications in this element. The entire theory-net

corresponds to a rather complex empirical claim about the whole range of

intended applications, Overlapping applications in various theory-

elements connected by 'constraints' on theoretical concepts are the

essence of this complexity. This complexity gives theoretical concepts a

kind of 'concreteness' they would otherwise lack in providing 'determina-

tion methods' for them. With this characterization of empirical theories 1

make the following rough methodological recommendation. If you want

to exhibit the empirical claims of any given scientific theory try casting it

122 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

in the form l have described. That is, try to find features of the presys-

tematic exposition of the theory that can be squeezed into the format I

described I can not prove that ~vhat you come up with will be intuitively

satisfactory. I can point to some (in my view) successful paradigm

applications of this apparatus: my own treatments of classical particle

mechanics (in three equivalent forms) and classical rigid body mechanics

(in [4]) and a quite elegant treatment of classical equilibrium ther-

modynamics due to Moulines([3]).

The structure I will describe is itself something like a 'core' for a theory

of the products of science. We have successfully applied it to some things

in the range of intended applications - scientific theories. We think (some

of us at least) that others will yield with time and work. We think too, with

less good reasons perhaps, that once we squeeze theories into this form

interesting relations among them can be elegantly exhibited. But we

would be wrong. 2

To proceed further we need some notation 3

(DO) (A) M e ~))~= d~t M is a non-empty set. a

(B) For all M, N, R, C,/~, c ~))l;

(1) Pot (M) =d~ the power-set of M;

(2) R: M ~ N = d ~ f R is a function with domain M and

range N;

(3) C is a constraint for M iff 5

(a) 4 , ~ c

(b) Co_Pot (M)

(c) for all X, Y # ch ~ Pot (M), if

X c C a n d Y_~X, then Y e C ;

(4) if R : M--> N then,

: Pot (M) ~ Pot (N) such that, for all

X e Pot (M), f f , ( X ) ~ = the image of X under R ;

(5) if R _c (M N) t h e n / ~ = ~t,,t the converse of R ;

(6) R reductively corresponds M with N (rd(R, M, N)) iff

(a) R _~ (M N)

(b) D , ( R ) = M

(c) /~: D n ( R ) ~ M

(7) if rd (R, M, N) then

l~ = ~,d {(X', X ) ~ Pot (M) Pot (N)]

for all x'~ X' there is an x ~ X such that (x', x) ~ R}

PHII.OSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 123

set-theoretic structures that appear in scientific theories. 6

(D1) X is an m + k - theory-element-matrix iff

(1) x c ~)~

(2) m and k are integers: o < m, o~< k;

(3) for all x c X, there exist n, . . . . . n .... t, . . . . . tk e~))~ such that

x = ( n , . . . . . n .... t, . . . . . tk).

The intuitive idea is simply that x c X is an m + k tuple of sets,

relations, functions, etc. The elements in x may 'overlap' in that some

element may appear 'hidden' in another complex element as a domain or

range. For example, in classical particle mechanics m e m b e r s of X will be

of the form x = (P, T, s, m, f) where P is a set of particles, T a real interval.

s: P T ~ R ~ a C2-function, m : P ~ R + and f: N x P x T ~ R ~ a C:'-

function. It is not necessary to specify which elements of x ~ X are 'real'

sets and which are relations so we may call them generally ' c o m p o n e n t s '

of x. That such generality is needed is suggested by Moulines' treatment

([3]) of the concept of equilibrium states in classical equilibrium ther-

modynamics as a 'theoretical' c o m p o n e n t in the sense of the next

definition. We will however frequently be speaking of examples of

components which are numerical functions.

Next I define the formal core of a theory-element. This is the apparatus

that is used to m a k e empirical claims about the elements range of

intended applications.

(D2) X is a theory-element-core iff there exist

Mr,, Mpp, M, C, m and k such that:

(1) X = (Mr,, Mpp, M, C); 7

(2) Mp is an m + k theory-element matrix;

(3) Me,, ={(n, . . . . . n,,,)l(n, . . . . . n,,, t~. . . . . tk)~ Mr, }

(4) Mc_Me;

(5) C is a constraint for M n.

There are three intuitive ideas compressed into this definition. First,

there is a distinction between theoretical and non-theoretical compo-

nents. Roughly, M e,is the set of all possible models of the full conceptual

apparatus of the theory including theoretical components, while Mm, is

the set of all models obtained by simply 'lopping-off' the theoretical

components leaving only the non-theoretical part of the conceptual

apparatus. I have called these respectively 'partial models' and 'potential

124 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

partial models'. Second, there is the idea of laws formulated with theoret-

ical components. This captured by M which picks out of the set of all

possible models of the full conceptual apparatus just those which satisfy

certain laws. Third, there is the idea that different applications of the

theory-element are interdependent in the sense one may not - at least for

theoretical functions - employ values of function in one application of the

theory without regard for some of the values of the same function in other

applications. This is captured by the constraints C on Mr,. These have the

effect of ruling out certain combinations of theoretical function-values in

different applications. The intuitive idea is that a distinction may be

drawn between what is ruled out by the structure of the theory's models

M and what is ruled out by restriction on the way that structure is applied

'across' a number of different applications C. s

That a theory-element core has these intuitive properties can only be

seen by looking at how it is used to make empirical claims. The intuitive

idea is simple. Given a theory-element core K = (Mr,, Mpp, M, C) a class of

sub-sets of Mpp (that is, a sub-set of Pot(Mpe)) will be selected. Call this

class A (K). The selection rule is this. A sub-set of Mpp is in A (K) if and

only if theoretical components can be added to each member of it in a way

that yields a subset of M (satisfies the theoretical laws) and such that the

whole array of theoretical components satisfies the constraints (7.

The definition of A ( K ) requires some additional notation. The r-

function of (D3-A) simply 'lops-off' the theoretical components from

members of Alp. A ( K ) is then the image of P o t ( M ) m C under f - r

extended twice in the manner of (Do-B-(4) to yield a function f:

Pot(Pot(Me))-*Pot(Pot(Mr, e)). It is convenient here also to introduce

some notation is needed for defining reduction relations. If R is a relation

between the full theoretical structures of two theory-element cores, the/~

is the non-theoretical image of R (D3-C)).

(D3) If K = {Mr,, Mpp, M, C) and K ' = (Mr,, Mep, M, C) are theory-

element-cores then:

(A) r: M~, ~ Mf,p is such that r(nl . . . . . n.,, tl . . . . . tk)= dcf

(nr ..... n,,,);

(B) A (K) = ~ff(Pot(M) c~ C)

(C) if R c M~,' Nip then

/~ = {(x', x)~M'pp xM~.] there is a (y', y ) ~ R and x' = r'(y')

and x = r(y)} 9

PHILOSOPHICAl. PROBI.EMS 125

see how a theory is related to empirical claims.

(D4) X is a theory-element only if there exist 1~

K and I such that:

(1) x =<K, 1>;

(2) K = < M v, Mpp, M, C> is a theory-element core;

(3) lc_Mf,p.

First, note that this is only a necessary condition for a theory-element.

The set I is to be interpreted as the range of intended applications of the

element - what the theory-element is about. The only requirement (D4)

puts on I is that its m e m b e r s have the structure characteristic of the

non-theoretical part of K - that they be m e m b e r s of Mpp.~

I now define the claim of the element (K, I>. It is just the claim that the

range of intended applications I is a m o n g those sub-sets of Mpp that are

singled out by K - that is that I ~ A(K).

(DS) The claim of the theory-element (K, I} is that I e A(K).

The idea here is again simple. Mpp is all possible non-theoretical

descriptions of some body of p h e n o m e n a ; I consists of descriptions of

p h e n o m e n a that actually occur. The theory-element core K narrows

P(Mpp) down to A(K) - it restricts the range of possibilities. It claims to

do this in a way that narrows down onto I - what is actually observed to

Occur.

The claim of a theory-element <K, I) may well be a rather crude

narrowing down of the range of non-theoretically described possibilities.

Indeed, it may be no narrowing down at all. That is, it may be that

A (K) = Mp~ and the claim of (K, I> is vacuous. ~2 But generally the claims

of single theory-elements - even if non-vacuous - are not the only claims

associated with theories. Typically, it is claimed that various special

theoretical (and perhaps non-theoretical) laws hold in various sub-sets of

some basic range of applications of I. Perhaps these special laws also have

special constraints associated with them. It is roughly the claim of some

basic theory-element plus some array of special claims like this that

constitute the empirical content of scientific theories.

I attempted in [4] to deal with special laws and constraints using what I

called an 'expanded core' for a theory. 1 now believe there to be a

somewhat more perspicuous, but equivalent way of describing these

features of theories, j~ First we define the notion of a 'specialization' of a

126 JOSEPH D. SNEED

to some sub-set of Mpp certain special laws represented as further

restrictions on the set M together perhaps with some constraints

associated with these l a w s - represented as ful:ther restrictions on C. ~4

The straight forward, but perhaps naive, view of how special laws work

is that we first pick out the non-theoretically described situations (define a

sub-set of Mpp) and then state the laws that allegedly apply to them

(define a sub-set of M). For example, we obtain a refinement of the basic

structure of classical particle mechanics by restricting Mpp to those

two-particle kinematic systems in which the paths of the particles are

conic sections and restricting M to inverse-square, central forces. A more

sophisticated view ~5 questions whether theories in fact develop through

such rigorous formal specification of the possible applications of sub-

theories and indeed, in some cases, whether it could proceed in this way.

That theories do not, in fact, develop in this way is suggested by our

frequent references to sub-theories in terms of their characteristic special

laws (e.g. the theory of Hooke's Law forces) rather than their characteris-

tic applications. That in some cases they could not, is suggested by the

technical difficulties of precisely specifying the characteristic applications

by conditions expressed in the non theoretical vocabulary.

I defer a detailed discussion of these difficulties to another occasion and

adopt the naive formulation.

(D6) If T' and T a r e theory-elements then T' is a specialization of Tiff

(1) MI,p_~ Mpp, M'ppE 9)~

(2) P o t ( M ) ~ A ( K ) # c h

(3) Mp = {xIx c M r, and r(x) c Mpt}

(4) M ' c M

(5) c ' =_c

(6) I ' = lchM'pp 1~'

The reason for requiring Pot(M;,p)n A ( K ) ~ Q (D6-2) is simply that

there would be no point in postulating special laws to hold in situations

that have already been ruled out by the initial K. (D6-3) just lets the

!

choice of M',f, determine Mp in a way that assures that T' is a theory

!

element. Requiring I' = I ~ Mpp means that in choosing MI, p we intend

that everything in I having this structure is an intended application of the

specialization. This can be weakened, but doing so prevents us from

regarding 'core-nets' ( ( D l l ) below) as determining sub-sets of some

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 127

initial Mpp in the same way that single cores do ((D 12) below). For details

see [1].

Next we define a 'theory-net' as a set of theory-elements together with

the specialization relation. 17 We also require that cores appearing in the

net be uniquely associated with their intended applications (D7-4). This

could be weakened to permit several cores to be associated with a single

range of intended applications, but not conversely.

(D7) N is a theory-net iff there exist IN[ and <~ such that:

(1) N=(IN[, <~);

(2) [NI < ~3~ is a finite set of theory-elements;

(3) ~< is the specialization relation on IN};

(4) for all (K, I), (K', I')6{Nr K= K' iff I = I',

Theory-nets are partially ordered sets (T1-A) and the subsets of Mpv

picked out by specialization-related theory-elements have the properties

that 'specialization' suggests (T1-B). That is A(K)'s determined by

specializations of K' are generally smaller than A (K'). They narrow down

the range of possibilities permitting us to make stronger claims.

(T1) If N is a theory-net then:

(A) N is a partially ordered set;

(B) if T, T'c INI are such that T ~< T' then:

(1) A(K)~_ A(K'),

(2) lc_l',

(3) if l e A ( K ) then IcA(K').

Theory-nets are pretty general. Examples of practical interest appear

to be quite special cases. We shall be mainly concerned with theory-nets

which have a single 'basic theory-element' at the top of the net. Whether

other kinds of theory-nets might prove useful in depicting actual scientific

practice will not he considered here. It might also be possible to specify

more precisely the properties of theory-nets having practical applica-

tions. For example, it is plausible to think that all actual theory-nets might

be 'downward-closed' in the sense that specializations involving combi-

nations of special laws always appear in a theory-net whenever their

range of applications intersect. For present purposes it is not necessary to

further specify the properties of theory-nets, though this is of some

intrinsic interest.

To specify the properties of theory-nets that are of interest to us we

need some notation. We define the 'basic set' of a net as the net of its

128 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

upper bounds (D8-A), and the set of all intended applications appearing

anywhere in the net N, O(N) (D8-B and (-C)).

(D8) If N = ( [ N I, ~<) is a theory-net then:

(A) ~ ( N ) : deflXe IN[ for all z G IN I, if

x~<zthenx=z};

(B) Q(N) = dcf{I] there is a (K', I') ~ ]N I - ~ ( N )

such that I : I'}.

(C) Q(N)=ae, U I.

/'cO(N)

Not only do we need to talk about theory-nets, we must also talk about

'parts of theory-nets'. To this end we introduce the notations of ~expan-

sion' and 'initial part' (D9). N is an expansion of N' iff N' is contained in

N. N' is an initial part of N iff it comprises the 'top' of N.

(D9) If N and N' are theory-nets then:

(A) N is an expansion of N'(N'~ N) iff:

(i) IN'lc_INI;

(2) ~<':(~< c~IN'[xIN'[),

(B) N is an initial part of N' iff:

(1) N' ~N;

(2) for all x a ( I N ] - I N ' l ) , y c IN'I not y ~<x.

Theory-nets have 'core-nets' associated with them in a natural way

(D10) and these core-nets are isomorphic to the theory-nets (T2). ~s

(D10) If N=([N[, <~)is a theory-net then N * = ( I N * I, ~<*)is the

core-net induced by N iff

(1) IN*J : { K [ < K , l ) c INI},

(2) ~<* : {(K, K') ~ (IN*I x IN*I)/(K, I) ~<(K', I')}

(T2) If N is a theory-net then N is a partially ordered set and N* is

isomorphic to N under 0:[N[<--->[N*[ such that O(K, I) = K.

Just as the theory-core K picks out a sub-set of Pot(Mpp), so does a

theory-core-net under the core K. Intuitively, N* picks out just those

members of Pot(M,p) whose elements may be supplied with theoretical

functions in ways which satisfy special laws and constraints in applications

where they are postulated to apply, as well as those laws and constraints

which are postulated to apply, in applications standing above them in the

n e t - including, of course, those of K. The formal definition follows.

( D l l ) If N is a theory-net such that ~ ( N ) = { ( K , I)} then:

A (N*) = {x ~<Mpp Ifor all K ' ~ IN*I, x A M~p 6 A (K')}. m

Pt-I1LOSOPttlCAL PROBLEMS 129

basic theory-core K and empirical statements about a range of intended

applications I. For some theory-net N* based on (K, I) it is claimed that

IcA(N*). This claim entails that some sub-sets of I are in A(K')'s

determined by K's in the net. This suggests that one may look at the claim

I c A(N*) as an array of claims of the form I ' e A ( K ' ) associated with

sub-theories (K', I') under (K, I). This array of sub-theories is the

'theory-net based on (K, I)'. This is summarized formally in the following

theorem.

(T3) If N is a theory-net such that ~ ( N ) = {(K, I)} then I ~ A(N*) for

all (K, I')~IN l, I' ~A(K').

This account of a theory and related empirical statements permits us to

deal with situations in which special laws and constraints are claimed to

hold in certain special applications, but not in all. It shows how a rather

weak, perhaps even vacuous, theory-core may be supplemented to

strongly restrict the range of possibilities. Moreover, it suggests a way of

depicting the temporal development of a theory.

First, consider a theory-element (K, I) in which the range of applica-

tions I is regarded as extensionally described. The historical development

of a theory might be represented as successive attempts to construct

theory-core-nets N* based on K so that I c A(N* A(N*). That is,

the top of the theory-net remains fixed while the rest changes through

time in an effort to get an ever more precise 'fix' on I. This 'zeroing-in' on I

need not proceed uniformly. One could start to extend the net in one

direction; see a better way; back-up and start in a different direction.

This models a situation in which only the claim of the basic theory-

element (K, I) and roughly the 'commitment' to use nets under K in

trying to say more about I remain stable. But sub-nets could as well be

held 'fixed' in a similar way. That is there could be a K'<~*K such that

(K', M'ppr 1) appeared in every theory-net based on (K, I) throughout

the theory's development. This would indicate roughly that practitioners

of the theory were not simply committed to using nets under K in dealing

with I, but also in handling some sub-sets of I in a particular way.

Interesting examples of theories with extensionally described intended

applications do not abound. More typically, the range of intended

applications I is described intensionally with some I, ___I - the members

of I discovered up-to-t - described extensionally. For fixed I, the theory

130 JOSEPH D. SNEED

based on (K, I) may develop as just described. But this theory may also

develop by enlarging/~ to/t,, ~nd finding some theory-core-net N under

K so that I~,c A(N). That is, more of the intended applications may be

brought within the scope of what the theory says about extensionally

described applications. Roughly, the theory based on (K, I) may develop

both intensively (more narrowly specifying lt) and extensively (enlarging

I,) by extending and shifting the theory-net under (K, I).

Among theories with intensionally described intended applications,

those whose intended applications are described by 'paradigm examples'

have received particular attention. Prof. Kuhn has suggested that descrip-

tion of intended applications by paradigm examples may be the rule for

'interesting' scientific theories. This possibility may be represented in the

theory-net formalism in the following way. A paradigm set of extension-

ally described applications I0 has associated with it a 'paradigm theory-

net' Np. This paradigm theory-net determines the development of the

theory in two ways. First, I is described roughly as all those things

sufficiently like 10. (This can be made somewhat more precise. For

example see [4], p. 286ff. and [5], p. 148ff., 218ff., 225fi.). Second, the

paradigm theory-net must be a sub-net of any larger net appearing during

the theory's development. That is, certain subtheories and relations

among them 'anchor' the development of the theory.

These intuitive ideas are captured in (D13). T~ is the basic theory-

element consisting of Kb - the basic conceptual structure of the theory -

and / - t h e full range of intended applications. 1(, is the sub-set of

paradigm applications and Ni, is the paradigm theory-net which applies

K~ to I0 - perhaps with the help of specializations of K~ 9W is the set of all

nets which are expansions of Np. One might want to require that N r, be an

initial part of all members of W. This would rule out tampering with the

paradigm net by squeezing new applications in between the old ones.

Whether or not this ever happens is not clear to me.

(D12) ~k is a Kuhn-theory iff there exist

Th, Io, No, W such that:

(1) lk =(Th, 1(,, Np, W),

(2) Th =(Kb, I) is a theory-element such that I 0 - I ;

(3) N o is a theory-net such that:

(a) 23(Np) = {Tb};

(b) Q(N~)=Io

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 131

(b) ~3(N) = {T.}

(c) N~c N

Kuhn-theories remain stable while the empirical claims associated with

them are relative to the theory-net one chooses from Jr This is made

precise by (D13).

(D13) If Jk =(Tp, Io, Np, oh/') is a Kuhn-theory Tr=(K,I ) and N~,/V

then the claim of Jk with respect to N is that I c A(N*).

Two possibilities for 'normal" scientific progress within the framework

of a Kuhn-theory are depicted by (T4). If N~ and N2 are theory-nets

associated with a Kuhn-theory and 5/2 is an expansion of N~ then N2 may

explicitly treat more members of I than N1 or N* may say something

sharper about I than N*. A third possibility for normal scientific progress

is that A(N*)= A(N*) but N2* is 'nearer' or 'more elegant' than N[.

Important though this form of progress may be (to the careers of

scientists) it appears to escape formal representation.

(T4) If Jk is a Kuhn-theory and N1, N ' c,:V"such that N~ c N~ then

(A) Io c_ OCN,)c QCN2) c_l

(B) A(N*2) c_ A(N*).

Though I have used the theory-net formalism in an attempt to partially

reconstruct Prof. Kuhn's theory of science, the formalism is independent

of his theory and flexible enough to accommodate many other views. For

example, one could simply drop the element L) and N o from the theory-

tuple to obtain a conception of scientific theory that had nothing to do

with Prof. Kuhn's concept of paradigm. On the other hand, the formalism

may be extended in the other direction as well.

Paradigm theory nets may come into being with the theory's basic

formalism - the basic theory-core Kb - and remain unchanged through-

out the theory's development. This, I believe, was Prof. Kuhn's initial

conception. But, the theory-net formalism does not wed us to this

conception. Theory-core-nets and theory-nets are homogeneous. 2~Any-

thing we say about the whole net can, in principal, be said about any

sub-net. There can be 'little paradigms' for sub-nets which come

into being and pass away during the development of the ~overarching'

theory based on (K, I). 2~ Moreover, there could be a shift over

time in the 'anchor structure' N, of the theory-nets without necessarily

changing I.

132 JOSEPH D. SNEED

for the theory-net formalism. But before discussing some of these I would

like to comment briefly on some problematic features of this formalism.

4. THEORETICAL CONCEPTS

The preceding account of the nature of scientific theories and their

relation to empirical claims rests on a certain way of treating theoretical

concepts. The method is basically Ramsey's modified to deal with

theories with more than one application. Roughly~ it takes theoretical

concepts as a means narrowing down a class of non-theoretical situations

is singled out as being just those for which there exist theoretical concepts

that 'fill them out' to yield a certain partially theoretical structure. 1 want

now to comment on certain aspects of this way of treating theoretical

concepts.

First, that this way of describing scientific theories is applicable in the

empirical theory of science entails roughly that scientists do, in fact, use

theoretical concepts in this way. This is an empirical claim about how

science is actually practiced. It must, of course, be defended against

alternatives grounded on more accurate knowledge of scientific practice

a n d / o r sharper analytical insight. But it need not be defended against

objections that the Ramsey method is in some way epistemologically

suspect. That empirical scientists do not live up to someone's favorite

epistemological credo is for them to defend, not me.

However, I am willing to make a somewhat stronger claim. 1 believe

that the Ramsey method is a coherent and intelligible way of making

statements about a body of material (data) described using concepts

whose intelligibility is not questioned. Its legitimate use does, of course,

presuppose the availability of this unquestionably intelligible vocabulary.

In my view, 'reconstructivist' programs for physics may quite properly

call into question, on a variety of grounds, intelligibility of the non-

theoretical basis that is actually used in some physical t h e o r i e s - f o r

example, the Euclidian physical geometry underlying classical

mechanics. But here, 1 do not think it is the 'step' from this geometry to

Newtonian dynamics that is suspect. Indeed, 1 conjecture that any

Pttl LOSOPttlCAL PROBLEMS 133

taking topological structures (or even deeper lying structures characteriz-

ing the behavior of physical 'measuring rods') as the unquestionably

intelligible non-theoretical basis will employ the Ramsey method to

introduce the metric (or the metric and topological) concepts.

A related aspect of this view of scientific theories should be noted. The

recommendation that one try to formulate the content of scientific

theories in the way described suggests that it is possible and fruitful to

reconstruct the entire body of scientific knowledge 'piecewise'. Roughly,

it suggests that it is possible to 'isolate' a theory like classical equilibrium

thermodynamics and exhibit its content 'relative to' the underlying

mechanical theories without at the same time exhibiting the content of

these theories. This means, at least, that the content of the underlying

mechanical theories can be completely captured without recourse to

thermodynamic concepts. For example, it means that we would never

rule something out as an application of rigid body mechanics on the basis

of its thermodynamic properties. Were this not the case, then one would

be driven to formulate the thermodynamic and mechanical theories

together in a 'holistic' manner in relation to an underlying kinematic

theory. That is, the mechanical and thermodynamic concepts would both

appear in the theoretical part (Mp) of the theory-core with the laws

connecting them (in M). Only kinematical concepts would be non-

theoretical (in (Mr,p).

A specific example where this turned out to be the case would create no

problems. We would simply recognize that some particular concepts were

more 'intimately' related than we first thought. But such examples

suggest the possibility that everything might be 'intimately' related. That

is, we might, in the course of examining scientific practice, be driven to

lump more and more concepts into the same theoretical structure and

'less and less' into the non-theoretical structure.

I conjecture that we will not in fact find scientific knowledge to be such

a thoroughly 'holistic' enterprise. But, 1 believe it may be possible that

certain parts of scientific knowledge develop over time in this direction.

For example, I believe historical evidence will support an account of the

134 JOSEPH D. SNEED

accepting an Euclidian metrization of a topology based on comparison of

physical objects without regard to dynamic considerations and introduc-

ing mass and force via the Ramsey method over this non-theoretical base.

But theoretical developments entirely within the Newtonian tradition

cast doubt on the claim that distance determinations involving the

movement of physical objects may be made without dynamic considera-

tions. Roughly, distance measurements involving comparisons of non-

rigid bodies accelerating with respect to each other must be ruled out

because of possible deformation of the bodies by the non-zero resultant

force of them. 22

This suggests that an adequate formulation of Newtonian mechanics, at

the stage in its theoretical development where these consequences of the

theory became apparent, would involve lumping the dynamical concepts,

the geometry and its underlying topology together as theoretical concepts

relative to non-theoretical structures characterizing the movements of

'measuring rods'.

There is however another possibility. One might try to regard Eucli-

dian physical geometry as itself being a theory strong enough to rule out

'in advance of dynamics' perversely behaving measuring rods. Such a

formulation of geometry might be provided using 'constraints' among

non-theoretical structures characterizing movements of measuring rods.

I am not sure one can provide such a reconstruction of Euclidian physical

geometry. 1 am even less sure it would be plausible to regard such a

reconstruction as 'the one' Newtonian physicists 'implicitly' used.

Finally, the method of dealing with theoretical concepts suggested here

has some implications about how one distinguishes theoretical from

non-theoretical concepts in existing expositions of scientific theories. If

we assume that the empirical content of a theory is expressed by a

theory-net in which the constraints operate on the theoretical functions in

a non-trivial way, then the following possibility arises. In some members

of the net, theoretical laws of such 'strength' may appear that functions

satisfying them are uniquely 23 determined by the non-theoretical func-

tions. This means, knowing the non-theoretical functions in these appli-

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 135

claim of the theory is true. Moreover, the constraints on the theoretical

functions may be such as to allow us to infer that some values of the

functions we thus calculate must appear as values of the function

elsewhere in the net. When this possibility is realized it seems natural to

speak of the calculations involved as 'measurements' of the theoretical

functions. 24

That the logical reconstruction of a theory has the property just

described 'suggests' something about the unreconstructed expositions of

the theory. It suggests that we can recognize in these expositions the

functions that are to be treated as 'theoretical' in the reconstruction of the

theory by looking at what is said about acceptable methods of determin-

ing their values. If all methods of determining the value of a function

appear to presuppose that some application of the theory at hand is

successful, then the function is to be treated as theoretical. This is roughly

the 'criterion of theoreticity' suggested in [4], p. 28ff.

It is important to understand the logic of what is claimed here. 25 We

have a theory of scientific theories in which the concept of 'theoretical

function' appears (perhaps as a theoretical function?). We assume (as a

working hypothesis) that our theory applies to a given example of a

scientific theory. That is, we assume we can provide, with our conceptual

apparatus, a reconstruction that is roughly 'isomorphic' to the unrecon-

structed exposition of the theory. From our theory we deduce s o m e

properties of theoretical functions. When we find things in the existing

exposition with these properties, we predict they will have the other

properties our theory assigns to theoretical functions. We predict we can

take these functions as theoretical and successfully make the given theory

a "model' for our theory of scientific theories.

5. R E D U C T I O N RELATIONS

used to describe some interesting relations among scientific theories. 1

will be trying to get at relations that capture our intuitive idea that a

theory J is more powerful than J' in the sense that J 'could explain'

everything that J' 'explains' and perhaps more. These are examples of the

136 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

kinds of relations that one might look for (but perhaps not find) between

theories historically separated by a 'scientific revolution'.

What I think emerges from this investigation is the realization that our

gross intuitive conception of what counts as 'scientific progress' may be

sharpened in a number of quite different ways. Taking account of the full

complexity of the kinds of things that scientific theories are, one can

distinguish a number of relations among theories that might plausibly

indicate 'scientific progress'. This suggests, at least, that a discussion of

'whether science progresses' in anything like the intuitive sense of

'progress' should be accompanied by a patient examination of the rela-

tions that actually appear to hold between putative examples of theories

historically separated by 'scientific revolutions'.

The most general relation here is that of one theory-element's reducing

to another. It may (but need not) hold between theories elements

completely unrelated conceptual apparatus (different theory-element

cores). It may be used to define other interesting relations among

theory-elements, theory-nets and theories. The intuitive idea of theory-

element reduction is this. Every application of the reduced theory-

element corresponds to at least one application of the reducing

theory-element and what the reduced theory-element says about a given

application is entailed by what the reducing theory-element says about

any corresponding application.

Notation needed to make this precise is provided in (DO-6-7). A

reductive correspondence R between N' and N is simply a one-many

relation from N' to N. The associated/~ simply extends R to the power

sets of N' and N. We need the latter because, on our view, theories

generally make claims about whole sets of applications rather than single

application. We now define a weak reduction relation between theory-

elements. We say R weakly reduces T' to T just when R is a reductive

correspondence between the non-theoretical structures in K' and K and

X 6 A (K) assures that a R-corresponding X' is in A (K'). These are pure

formal requirements. In contrast, (D14-3) requires that the ranges of

application be such that every application of T' R-correspond to some

application of T.

(D14) If T' and T are theory-elements then R weakly reduces T' to

T((RD(R, T', 7))iff

( ! ) rd (R, M~,p, Mp,,)

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 137

X c A(K) and (X', X ) ~ R then X ' ~ A(K').

(3) (r, I)c~.

The weak reduction relation R just defined may be regarded as

capturing the bare essentials of a reduction relation between two theories

in which T' and T are the basic theory-elements standing at the top of

all theory-nets of the respective theories. Roughly, that such a weak

reduction relation between the basic theory-elements exists is a

necessary condition for there to be a redu~ction relation between the

theories.

Weak reduction is a correspondence between the non-theoretical parts

of theory-element matrices taken as unanalysed wholes. It may ade-

quately represent at least some cases of reduction where the theoretical

concepts of the two theories are so different as to be 'incomparable'. This

might be the case, for example, in theories separated by a 'scientific

revolution'. Weak reduction requires only that non-theoretical structures

of the two theories be 'comparable' and this 'comparability' need not be

between individual components of the matrices. It is hard to imagine a

weaker kind of 'comparability'.

But there are two intuitive grounds for regarding weak reduction as

unsatisfactory in many cases. First, some 'interesting' reduction relations

appear to have something to do with the theoretical components of

matrices. Second, they appear to involve a 'piecewise' correspondence

between the components of the matrices. For example, in reducing rigid

body mechanics to particle mechanics 'moment of inertia' should corres-

pond to 'mass'. The first intuitive requirement we may meet by requiring

the reduction relation to be a reductive correspondence between M'p and

Mp. The second we may partially meet by requiring that this correspon-

dence be 'separable' into a non-theoretical and theoretical part. To this

end we define a relation which, for present purposes we will call 'reduc-

tion' between theory-elements. >

(D15) If T' and T are theory-cores then R reduces T' to T

(RD(R, T', T) iff:

(1) rd (R,M't,,Me);

(2) for all (Y', Y ) c Pot(M'p) Pot(M'p) if

Y c (Pot(m) c~ C) and (Y', y) ~ R

then Y'~ (Pot(M') c~ C');

138 JOSEPH D. SNEED

(4) for all (x', x) e/~, if there is a

y 9 Mp such that x = r(y) then there is a

y' 9 m'p such that (y', y) 9 R and x' = r'(y').

(5) (I', I) 9

A reduction relation is the analogue of weak reduction at the theoreti-

cal level. It is a reductive correspondence between theoretical structures

(D15-1) such that, whenever a set of reducing structures (Y) satisfies

the theoretical laws and constraints of the reducing theory, the corres-

ponding set of reduced structures (Y') satisfies the theoretical laws and

constraints of the reduced theory (D15-2).

Reduction is intended to capture the idea that 'interesting' reduction

relations are not merely 'accidental' facts about the non-theoretical

structures singled out by theory-element cores - they relate the theoreti-

cal concepts of the cores as well as their non-theoretical 'content'. One

expects that reduction - restricted to the non-theoretical level - will yield

weak reduction. To assure this we must require that the non-theoretical

image/~ (D0-7) of a reduction relation be a reductive correspondence at

the non-theoretical level (DI 5-3) and that all theoretical extensions of

reducing non-theoretical structures related by /~ are related by the

reduction relation R (D 15-4). 27 This latter requirement says roughly that

whenever two non-theoretical structures stand in the /~-relation, all

theoretical expansions of the reducing non-theoretical structure have a

'meaningful theoretical counterpart' in the reduced theory. Since reduc-

tive correspondences are 'into' the reducing theory this could fail to hold

if not explicitly required.

With these restrictions on the reduction relation we obtain the follow-

ing theorem.

(T5) If T' and T are theory-elements and

RD(R, T', T) then RD(R, T', T).

The following feature of reduction should be mentioned. For a given

x' e MI,~ there could be a theoretical expansion y' of x' such that y' E M'

and yet no R-image of y' in M. More generally, there could be things in

A(K') even though their/~-images are not in A(K). Indeed, this is to be

expected when the reducing theory is regarded as a 'better' theory than

the reduced theory. The reducing theory should permit us to narrow

down the range of non-theoretical structures selected by the reduced

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 139

theory more sharply than that theory itself. Roughly, viewing the reduced

theory from the vantage point of the reducing theory we obtain a 'better'

A ( K ' ) - namely, the/~-image of A(K).

Let us now consider the 'preservation' properties of reduction rela-

tions. One might suspect that, once a reduction relation had been

discovered between theory-elements, it could be preserved in the follow-

ing sense. If R reduces to T' to T and T'~ is some specialization of T' then

there will always be some specialization of T such that R reduces T'~ to

Ti. Roughly, it should always be possible to replicate the effect of any

special laws in the reduced theory by corresponding special laws in the

reducing theory.

For both weak reduction and reduction this is so, provided one is not at

all fastidious about what counts as a special law of the reducing theory.

For weak reduction, the R-image of A(K't) can always be used to

construct the requisite KL. For reduction, one can similarily always

construct a K1 using the R-image of Pot(M') N C. The conditions (D15)

will be preserved under restrictions of R-generated in this way.

These facts are summarized in the following theorem.

(T6) If T' and Tare theory-elements and RD(R, T', T) then for all T'~

such that T't is a specialization of T' there is some T1 such that Tt

is a specialization of T and RD(R~, T'~, Tj) where R+=

R/(M'~x) x (M~I).

These facts about preservation of reduction relations through speciali-

zation suggest that for theories based on (K', I') and (K, I) reduction is

completely captured by a reduction relation between the basic theory-

elements. But this ignores the intuitive requirement that we can not be

completely undiscriminating in choosing refinements of (K, I) which

'reduce' given refinements of (K', I'). Roughly, we can not use arbitrarily

contrived special laws of (K, 1) to reproduce the effect of special laws in

(K', I'); we must use special laws of (K, I) that already have some

'standing' within the latter theory.

One way to handle this intuitive requirement is simply to regard

reduction as a relation between specific theory-nets associated with the

theories. Roughly, the theory-net reduction relation must reduce the

basic theory element T' to the basic theory-element T and every theory-

element of N' to some theory-element of N. -~8The following definition

makes this precise.

140 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

T' and T theory-elements such that

~(N') = {T'} and ~ ( N ) = {7'} then

R reduces N' to N (~176 N', N)) iff:

(1) RD(R, T', T)

(2) for all T'jcN' there exist some T I ~ N such that

RD(R1, T'l, 7'1 where R1 = R/(M'~I) x (Mp l).

Reduction relations between theory-core nets must satisfy some rather

strong requirements. Roughly, the same R-relation must serve to reduce

every member of one set of theory core to some member of another set of

theory-cores. No arbitrarily contrived theory-cores are permitted.

Clearly, such relations will not always exist. Even if we can always reduce

the basic cores of the nets (except perhaps in highly contrived examples),

there is no guarantee that the same relation that reduces the basic cores

will serve to reduce a refinement of one to some member of a fixed set of

refinements of the other.

The concept of reduction between theory-nets allows us to distinguish

at least four senses of 'reduction' between Kuhn-theories (D18).

(DI8) If J~ and Jk are Kuhn-theories and (N', N)cJV"x?r then:

(A) R basic-reduces J'k to Jk ifl RD(R, T'b, T~,);

(B) R reduces J'k to & relative to (N', N) iff "R~ N', N)

(C) R prospectively reduces J'k to Jk relative to (N', N) iff

(I)R reduces J~ to Jk relative to (N', N)

(2) for all N'I, N ' _ N'l there exists an N~, N c N,

such that~176 N'I, N I ) ;

(D) R completely reduces J'~ to J~ iff for all

(N', N)~,A/'xX~176 N', N).

'Basic reduction' (D18-A) is a simple reduction between the basic

theory elements. Basic reduction alone appears to be too weak to capture

our intuitive idea of reduction. This is evident when one notes that claims

associated with basic theory-elements may be trivial in that A (Kh) = Mpf,

for non trivial theories. Were this case for J~, then any reductive corres-

t !

pondence between Mpp and Mpe, would reduce Jk to Jk.

A more satisfactory reduction concept for Kuhn-theories is provided

by 'reduction relative to specific Theory-nets' (D 18-B).

This relation reflects the intuitive ideas that let us define reduction

between theory-nets. But there is also some intuitive reason to think that

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 141

are interested in. Many theory-nets (in the course of time) may be

associated with the same theory. Intuitively, we think that reduction is a

time-independent relation holding between the theories themselves. A

possible move to obtain a time independent reduction relation is to

require 'complete reduction' (D18-D)-every pair of theory-nets

reduced by R. But complete reduction is clearly too strong. Big J~,-nets

will never reduce to little Jk-nets,

There is the illusory appearance of a happy compromise between

net-relative reduction and complete reduction-'prospective reduction

relative to specific nets' (DI 8-C). The idea is that R reduces N' to N and

for every expansion of N' there is some expansion of N such that R

reduces the expansions. One may think of the initial (N'N) either as the

paradigm-net pair {N'p, Np) o r as a pair {N',, N,) depicting the state of both

theories as some moment in their historical development. For paradigm-

nets as the initial pair prospective reduction means that R reduces the

paradigm-nets and, for every N' in 3 c' there is some N in ~g such that R

reduces N' to N. But, as a consequence of (T6/T7-B) prospective

reduction relative to (N', N) adds nothing to reduction relative to (N', N).

Intuitively, so long as we may arbitrarily expand N we can always find an

expansion to which R will reduce a given expansion of N'. (T7-A) makes

explicit the fact that basic reduction is entailed by all stronger reduction

relations.

(T7) If J~, and Jk are Kuhn-theories and (N', N ) e 3c'x ~ then:

(A) if R reduces J~ to Jk relative to (N', N) then R basic-reduces

J~ to Jk ;

(B) R reduces J~ to Jk relative to (N', N) iff R

prospectively reduces J~, to J' relative to (N', N).

These facts suggest that we must either accept some net-relative

reduction as the appropriate reduction between Kuhn-theories or

strengthen the concept of specialization in some way that blocks the result

(T6). The latter possibility essentially amounts to specifying a class of

'admissible' or 'law-like' sub-sets of the Mb - the laws in the basic theory

element. Specializations would then be restricted to those containing

admissible special laws. The analogue of (T6) would then be generally

false, though it might hold for some specific sets admissible in special

laws. But the cost here is high. A new, independent concept of an

142 JOSEPH D, SNEED

One rather weak form of restriction on special laws is requiring that they

deal only with theoretical components (c.f. [4], p. 180 and p. 191ft.).

'Theoretical specializations' are too weak to yield an analogue of (T6).

On the other hand net-relative reduction may not be so objectionable

as it first appears. To see this we must make a 'pragmatic' distinction

between two kinds of reduction. First, there is a situation in which the

reducing theory is developed (temporally) before the reduced theory and

more or less explicitly intended as an 'off-shoot' of the reducing theory.

Classical particle mechanics has roughly this relation to classical rigid

body mechanics and hydrodynamics. Initially one expects the 'off-shoot'

theories to reduce to the 'parent' theory in the sense that the paradigm net

of the off-shoot theory reduces to the net of the parent theory that depicts

this theory's development at the 'birth date' of the off-shoot. But, once

conceived, the off-shoot theory has a life of its own. Applications for it

may be found that go beyond those reducible to the initial net of the

parent theory as well as expansions of this net obtained through 'natural'

development of the parent theory. But the relation between these

theories may be so close that any net of the parent theory produced as an

'image' of a net of the off-shoot theory would be acceptable as a 'natural'

development of the parent theory. For example, images of laws about

torques need for certain applications of rigid body mechanics would

always be readily incorporated into corresponding applications of

particle mechanics. Roughly, the temporal development of off-shoot and

parent run parallel. Here net-reduction is acceptable because, even if we

could be precise about them, stronger concepts of specialization would be

irrelevant. Roughly, the stronger specialization concepts for off-shoot

and parent would be isomorphic.

In contrast, consider the case in which the (putative) reducing theory

develops later than the reduced theory - the case of scientific revolutions.

At the birth date of the 'reducing' theory its proponents have only its

paradigm net and the hope that expansions of this net can be found. The

proponents of the 'reduced' theory have some extensive expansion of

their paradigm net. In general, not even an 'overlapping' of these two nets

need occur initially. Even when there is some initial overlapping, reduc-

tion is not to be expected. What is perhaps to be expected is that the

development of the new theory will ultimately overtake that of the old.

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBkEMS 143

That is, at some time the net N', associated with the old theory will reduce

to Nt associated with the new theory, and not conversely. (Note that N't,

need not necessarily reduce to Np). Such a development would clearly

count as 'progress', but not 'ultimate defeat' for the old theory. There is

nothing in the 'facts' of the situation to prevent the old theory from

developing further in directions that can not be reduced to the net

Nt - though they could be reduced to ad hoc expansions of N,.

Though there is nothing in the 'facts' of the situation to prevent the old

theory from catching up with and even outrunning the new theory, there

may be a great deal in the ~politics' of the situation to discourage this

development. Theories do not develop unless people produce these

developments. Folk wisdom tells us that people usually do not produce

without hope of reward. Once the new theory has pulled ahead of the old,

or even when it appears likely to, the prudent research administrator will

stop or cut-back support for work on the old theory and equally prudent

researchers will stop submitting proposals for such work. Though it has

not been established 'once and for all' that the old theory can't keep up,

though it is perhaps not possible to establish this, it may still be 'irrational'

in a world of scarce resources to continue work with this theory.

Here 'having a reduction relation' between two theories is rather like

'having a theory' (see [4], pp. 265-8 and [5], pp. 189-95). It is an

essentially pragmatic concept. One has discovered a relation R that

reduces the net N t, to the net N,. One believes, perhaps with good reason,

that R will suffice to reduce all nets arising out of the 'natural' develop-

ment of T' to nets arising out of the temporally parallel 'natural' develop-

ment of T. But this belief may not be grounded on conclusive proof.

These considerations suggest that perhaps reduction of theories relative

to specific nets is all we need to deal with the question of 'scientific

progress', They suggest that we do not need a concept of theory in which

the possibilities for its future development are so strongly specified

(through a strong specialization concept) that it can be established 'once-

and-for-all' that one theory can not keep up with another. Though we do

not need such a concept to rationally allocate our research resources, it

would still be nice to have. It would reduce the uncertainty in our

allocation problem - something that is always nice and sometimes pur-

chasable at acceptable cost. Moreover, it could be the case that some

theories have such limitations 'built into' them while others don't. This

144 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

d e v e l o p m e n t - like perhaps invariance principles in m e c h a n i c s - but that

we can get on w i t h o u t them.

Universitiit Miinchen

NOTES

1 will not pursue this formal line here. I only remark that, had I realized at sometime that

my discussion of Prof. Kuhn's theory was a logical reconstruction of an empirical theory of

science, I would have been tempted to try casting it in the same framework I suggested for

physical theories. Perhaps fortunately for my readers, my insight was not so sharp.

2 Roughly speaking, the way of talking about scientific theories I am going to describe

invites us to look at set of 'models' for these theories rather than the linguistic entities

employed to characterize these models. That this might be a fruitful way of proceeding was,

for far as I know, first suggested by Suppes [6]. The models in question may be characterized

using the device of a formal language, e.g. first order logic, or 'directly' by defining a

set-theoretic predicate within either an informal or formal set-theory.

3 Here and in what follows I rely heavily on the notation of Stegmfiller [5],

4 We use 'set' to denote both naive sets as well as sets of ordered tuples. So in some cases

'Mc~))~ ' may mean M is a relation or function.

5 The definition of 'constraint' here differs from that in [3], p. 170 and [4], p. 128 in three

respects. First, all singleton sets {x}, x c M are not required to be in C. Ruling out singletons

with constraints appears to be necessary when constraints are used to represent 'invariance

principles'.

But this vitiates the sharp distinction between constraints and laws. Second, the null-set is

excluded from C (D0-B-3-a) and finally a 'transitivity' requirement (D0-B-3-c) is imposed.

The former is a technical nicety required to make (D6-2) intuitively meaningful. The latter is

required in the proof in [4], (p. 282). Because of (D6-6) this condition is not required for any

theorems mentioned here. But weakening (D6-6) to I ' ~ _ M ' e ~ 1 would require us to use

this condition in establishing a partial analogue of (T3).

6 The following definition is a generalization of (D24) ([4]; p. 161) and the corresponding

(D1) ([5], p. 123) which eliminates one of the deficiencies mentioned in the discussions

accompanying the earlier definitions - namely, the restriction of the nature of the relations

in the matrix.

v The r-function appearing in the definition of a 'core for a theory of mathematical physics'

in [4], p. 171 and [5], p. 128 can now be defined in terms of Mp and Mm,. (See (D3) below)

and hence need not appear explicitly. The earlier treatment did not permit this because i't

avoided hanging anything on the less satisfactory definition of 'matrix'.

Actually (D2) is so generally formulated that constraiuts may apply to non-theoretical as

well as theoretical components. Whether such generality is actually needed is an interesting

question. (D2) may easily be modified to restrict the constraints to theoretical components

only, but this complication is not essential here.

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS 145

Here 'r" denotes the function M'p~ M'pp defined by (D3-1). Generally, we adopt the

convention that c o m p o n e n t s and other sets associated with indexed K ' s will be decorated

with the same index. For example. 'C~' denotes the constraints in K~.

"~ T h e o r y - e l e m e n t s correspond to theories of mathematical physics in [4] and [5]. The

present terminology emphasises the fact that theories are generally more complex entities

than single theory-elements.

~ It is possible to say more in the direction of sufficient conditions. Some tentative steps in

this direction were made in [4], p. 260 and [5], p. 189, but I shall not venture into this

matter here.

~2 This turns out to be the case in one plausible formulation of classical particle mechanics.

See [4], p. 118 and [5], p. 110.

~3 T h e basic idea of this alternative treatment - the specialization relation - was suggested

to me by W. Balser. For a more detailed and extensive treatment of inter-theoretical

relations in this m a n n e r see [1].

~4 A specialization of T is itself a theory-element but it plays the role of the "application

f u n c t i o n ' - i n earlier treatments [4], p. 179 and [5], p. 131.

~5 1 am indebted to Dr. C. U. Moulines for criticism of this naive view and to Prof. A.

Kamlah for criticism of several attempts to arrive at a more sophisticated view. For a full

discussion of this matter see [1].

" Note that (D6-4) and (-5) together with the requirement that T' be a theory element

insure that the special laws M' and special Constraints C' actually hold for s o m e m e m b e r s of

the M'p determined by M'p;,- that is that A(K') is not void. This corresponds to (D9-5-c) in

[5], p. 13 l - a condition that was lacking in defining the application relation in [4], p. l 81.

The counterpart to (D9-5-b) in [5] is (D6-6) which effectively requires that nested

sequences of application sets be associated with nested sequences of laws.

7 Theory-nets are analogous to applied cores for theories of mathematical physics in [~I], p.

181.

~ Core-nets are analogous to expanded cores for theories of mathematical physics m [4], p

179 and [5], p. 130.

'~ A(n) corresponds to N~ [4], p. 181 and A~(E) [5], p. 133.

2o Fhis appears to be an advantage over the earlier 'expanded core' formalism which

suggested that the basic theory element had a structurally unique position.

2~ Prof, K u h n has m e n t i o n e d this sort of little rew)lution in the Appendix of [2].

e2 I owe this example to Dr. U. Majer.

~ Strictly speaking, uniqueness is not required or even usually present. All one needs is that

some properties of the functions are uniquely determined e.g. the ratios of values for

different objects.

-'a This possibility is discussed in detail with examples in [4], Ch. IV and [5], p. 93.

~'~ 1 owe this method of expounding the 'criterion of theoreticity' to discussion with Dr. C.

U. Moulines though I am not sure he would regard it as satisfactory.

~'" ' W e a k reduction' and 'reduction' correspond respectively to "reduction' and 'strong

reduction' in p. 216ff. and [5], Ch. 8, Sec. 9. Stylistic grounds motivate the change in

t e r m i n o l o g y - nothing more profound. Stronger reduction relations might be defined by

requiring reductive correspondences between individual components in the theory mat-

rices.

27 (D16-3) corrects an error in [4]. The 'close reduction' relation (D52) (p. 224) is not such

that its non-theoretical image (R* defined on p. 224) must satisfy (D5 l-2) (p. 223) as is

mistakenly asserted on p. 224. (D 16-4) is stronger than the corresponding (D53-2) in [4],

146 JOSEPH D. S N E E D

but can be justified on the same intuitive grounds. The present formulation appears slighlly

more elegant. 1 am indebted to W. Balzer on both these points.

2s I am indebted to Dr. C. U. Moulines on this point.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] Balzer, W. and Sneed, J. D., 1976, Generalized Net Structures in Empirical Science, (to

appear).

[2] Kuhn, T, S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd ed.) Chicago, 1970.

[-3] Moulines, C. U., 1975, 'A [x~gical Reconstruction of Simple Equilibrium Ther-

modynamics', Erkenntnis, Vol. 9, pp. 101-130.

[4] Sneed, J. D., The Logical Structure of Mathematical Physics, Reidel, Dordrecht-

Holland, 1971.

/5] Stegmiiller, W., Probleme und Resultate der Wissenschaftstheorie und Analytischen

Philosophie, Band IL Theorie und Erfahrung: Zweiter Halbband, Theorien Strukturen

und Theoriendynamik. Springer, 1973.

[6] Suppes, P. C., 'A comparison of the Meaning and Use of Models in Mathematics and the

Empirical Sciences', in The Model in Mathematics (ed. by H. Freudenthal), Reidel,

Dordrecht-Holland, 1961.

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