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Unification: Not Just a Thing of Beauty

Votsis, Ioannis (2015) Unification: Not Just a Thing of Beauty. Theoria. pp. 97-114.

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Abstract

There is a strong tendency in science to opt for simpler and more unified hypotheses. A view that has often
been voiced is that such qualities, though aesthetically pleasing or beautiful, are at best pragmatic considerations in matters of choosing between rival hypotheses. This essay offers a novel conception and an associated measure of unification, both of which are manifestly more than just pragmatic considerations. The discussion commences with a brief survey of some failed attempts to conceptualise unification. It then proceeds to an analysis of the notions of confirmational connectedness and disconnectedness, as these are essential ingredients in the proposed conception of unification and its associated measure. Roughly speaking, the notions attempt to capture the way support flows or fails to flow between the content parts of a hypothesis. Equally roughly, the more the content of a hypothesis is confirmationally connected, i.e. support flows between its content parts, the more that content is unified. Since the confirmational connectedness of two content parts is determined by purely objective matters of fact, the proposed notion and measure of unification are themselves strictly objective, i.e. not merely pragmatic. The essay concludes with a discussion of how the proposed measure handles several examples but also how it relates to the debate over measures of coherence.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Votsis, Ioannis
Keywords: unification, confirmation theory, objective probabilities, ad hoc, relevant deduction, holism and coherence.
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Theory/Observation
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Dr Ioannis Votsis
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2017 14:50
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2017 14:50
Item ID: 12924
Journal or Publication Title: Theoria
Official URL: http://www.ehu.eus/ojs/index.php/THEORIA/article/v...
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Theory/Observation
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 2015
Page Range: pp. 97-114
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12924

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