There Are No Such Things As Theories

ISBN : 9780198848158

Steven French
288 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Feb 2020
Send mail

There Are No Such Things as Theories considers the fundamental question: what is a scientific theory? It presents a range of options - from theories are sets of propositions, to theories are families of models, abstract artefacts, or fictions - and highlights the various problems they all face. In so doing it draws multiple comparisons between theories and artworks: on the one hand, theories are like certain kinds of paintings with regard to their representational capacity; on the other, they are like musical works in that they can be multiply presented. An alternative answer to the question is then offered, drawing on the metaphysics of musical works: there are no such things as theories. Nevertheless, we can still talk about them, since that talk is made true by the various practices that scientists engage in. The implications of this form of eliminativism for the realism debate is then discussed and it is concluded that this may offer a more flexible framework in which we can understand both the history and the philosophy of science in general.


1 Theories as Sets of Propositions

2 Theories as Families of Models

3 Theories as Representations

4 Theories as Abstract Entities

5 Theories as Abstract Artefacts

6 Theories as Fictions

7 Theories . . . Eliminated!

8 Theories in History and Practice

9 Theories in the Realism Debate

About the author: 

Steven French obtained his PhD with Michael Redhead at the University of London in 1985. He has taught at universities in Brazil and the USA before moving to Leeds in 1993 where he is Professor of Philosophy of Science. He is the author of numerous books and papers in the philosophy of science and is currently Co-Editor-in-Chief of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.