Stegmüller squared

  • Joseph Agassi
  • John R. Wettersten


Wolfgang Stegmüller, the leading German philosopher of science, considers the status of scientific revolutions the central issue in the field ever since “the famous Popper-Lakatos-Kuhn discussion” of a decade and a half ago, comments on “almost all contributions to this problem”, and offers his alternative solutions in a series of papers culminating with, and summarized in, his recent “A Combined Approach to Dynamics of Theories. How To Improve Historical Interpretations of Theory Change By Applying Set Theoretical Structures”, published in Gerard Radnitzky and Gunnar Andersson, editors,The Structure and Development of Science, issued in theBoston Studies in the Philosophy of Science series, volume 59, 1979, pp. 151–86. (The above quote is from p. 186.) Popper views scientific revolutions as rational and due to empirical refutations, but there are no refutations in science. Lakatos agrees and assumes that research programs are refutable and their replacements to be revolutions, but the same arguments he launches against Popper apply to him; moreover, applying his philosophy to itself makes it collapse anyway (p. 170). Kuhn's view was interpreted to be one of scientific revolutions as quite irrational and as arbitrary as mob action. Stegmüller presents revolution in another interpretation of Kuhn — as non-rational, as based on hopes and value judgment but not on facts. He thinks there are big and small revolutions. And he uses his own modifications of J. D. Sneed's famous formal analysis of scientific theory to make his point.

After presenting a summary of Stegmüller's ideas in our own way, which seems to us a clarification of presentation with no change of content, especially due to our stressing all differences of opinion, we apply Stegmüller's idea to itself, the way Stegmüller has done with the view of Lakatos, and with similar results.


Research Program Formal Analysis Scientific Theory Alternative Solution Combine Approach 
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Copyright information

© Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Agassi
    • 1
  • John R. Wettersten
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy of the Boston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.SomervilleUSA

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