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Durham University

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Publication details

Vickers, Peter (2014). Theory flexibility and inconsistency in science. Synthese 191(13): 2891-2906.

Author(s) from Durham


For several decades now philosophers have discussed apparent examples of internally inconsistent scientific theories. However, there is still much controversy over how exactly we should conceive of scientific theories in the first place. Here I argue for a new approach, whereby all of the truly important questions about inconsistency in science can be asked and answered without disagreements about theories and theory-content getting in the way. Three examples commonly described as ‘internally inconsistent theories’ are analysed in the light of this approach. In the process, the question ‘Is the theory inconsistent or not?’ is identified as a bad, or at least unimportant, question.