Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 429–451 | Cite as

Embeddability, syntax, and semantics in accounts of scientific theories

  • Peter Turney


Recently several philosophers of science have proposed what has come to be known as the semantic account of scientific theories. It is presented as an improvement on the positivist account, which is now called the syntactic account of scientific theories. Bas van Fraassen claims that the syntactic account does not give a satisfactory definition of “empirical adequacy” and “empirical equivalence”. He contends that his own semantic account does define these notations acceptably, through the concept of “embeddability”, a concept which he claims cannot be defined syntactically. Here, I define a syntactic relation which corresponds to the semantic relation of “embeddability”. I suggest that the critical differences between the positivist account and van Fraassen's account have nothing to do with the distinction between semantics and syntax.


Scientific Theory Semantic Relation Critical Difference Empirical Adequacy Positivist Account 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Turney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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