pp 1–34 | Cite as

Analyzing Theories in the Frame Model

  • Stephan Kornmesser
  • Gerhard Schurz
Original Research


The frame model was developed in cognitive psychology and imported into the philosophy of science in order to provide representations of scientific concepts and conceptual taxonomies. The aim of this article is to show that beside the representation of scientific concepts the frame model is an efficient instrument to represent and analyze scientific theories. That is, we aim to establish the frame model as a representation tool for the structure of theories within the philosophy of science. For this, we will develop the notion of a theory frame and distinguish between theory frames for qualitative theories in which scientific measurement is based on nominal scales and theory frames for quantitative theories in which measurement is based on ratio scales. In three case studies, we will apply frames to a psychological, a linguistic, and a physical theory, thereby showing that the frame model is a powerful and intuitively accessible instrument to analyze the laws of scientific theories, the determination of theoretical concepts, the explanatory role of theoretical concepts, the abductive introduction of a new theoretical concept, the distinction between the core and the periphery of a theory, the diachronic development of a theory, and the distinction between qualitative and quantitative scientific concepts. Finally, we will provide a comparison to the structuralist view of theories, one of the most elaborated and applied models of theory representation.


Frame Theory Theoretical concept Qualitative and quantitative measurement Structuralist view of theories 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyCarl von Ossietzky Universität OldenburgOldenburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyHeinrich Heine University DuesseldorfDuesseldorfGermany

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