On Heisenberg's Notion of a Closed Theory (2013)

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Abstract
I claim that Heisenberg’s notion of a closed theory and its analysis by Erhard Scheibe fit well with the philosophy of later Wittgenstein or its generalization. The notion of a closed theory corresponds to the notions of a form of life and rule/concept. I suggest the possibility of reconciling the views of Heisenberg, Dirac, and Bohr about inter-theoretical relations within a rational naturalistic pragmatism à la Wittgenstein and Robert Brandom’s analytic interpretation of Kantian synthetic unity of apperception. In particular, I explain why a “closed theory” is “closed”, “accurate” (and even “perfect”), and “final” (as Heisenberg claims), and why it is also “open” and “approximate” in Dirac’s sense. That being said, unlike Alisa Bokulich (2004, 2006, 2008), I rather favour Heisenberg’s philosophical position.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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2013-06-05

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