, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 263-282

Intertheory relations from unified theories

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Summary

The concept of unified theory is defined in logical and abstract semantic terms, and employed in the analysis of relations between empirical scientific theories. The conceptual framework of the approach applies to binary relations such as the reduction or replacement of one theory by another, and to multiple intertheory relations. Historically, unified theories tend to arise within the contexts of scientific conflicts which they may show susceptible of solution even in the most controversial cases of the logical incompatibility or conceptual incommensurability of competing theories. These conclusions are exemplified by the Planck-Einstein quantum theory of thermal radiation. The analysis shows in which sense it can, and in which it cannot, be said that this theory unifies Wien's law and the Rayleigh-Jeans law of black-body radiation.