Collapse of the new wave

Journal of Philosophy 95 (2):53-72 (1998)
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Abstract
I critically evaluate the influential new wave account of theory reduction in science developed by Paul Churchland and Clifford Hooker. First, I cast doubt on claims that the new wave account enjoys a number of theoretical virtues over its competitors, such as the ability to represent how false theories are reduced by true theories. Second, I argue that the genuinely novel claim that a corrected theory must be specified entirely by terms from the basic reducing theory is in fact too restrictive for scientific practice and should be rejected. Basic theories co-evolve with nonbasic theories in a mutually interactive way, and thus the basic theories incorporate the concepts and concerns of nonbasic theories. Third, I show that once its ontological consequences are duly noted, the reductive part the new wave account collapses into the classical theory developed within the logical empiricist tradition. As such, it still falls prey to standard anti-reductionist argument based upon multiple realizability and the cross-classification of special science and physical science terms.
ISBN(s)
0022-362X
PhilPapers/Archive ID
ENDCOT
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