Foundations of Physics

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 81-100

First online:

Theory Assessment and Final Theory Claim in String Theory

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String theory has by now maintained a highly influential position in high energy physics for more than a quarter of a century. The present article analyses the reasons for the considerable trust exponents of string theory have in their theory even though it has neither found empirical confirmation nor a complete formulation up to this point. It is argued that this trust can be understood in terms of an emerging new conception of theory assessment that relies strongly on the identification of limitations to the underdetermination of scientific theory building. The second part of the paper makes the point that another conspicuous element of string theoretical reasoning, the prominent role of the notion of a final theory, can be understood in terms of this altered notion of theory assessment as well.


String theory Underdetermination Final theory claim