Structure of scientific theories - Philosophy and methodology of science

Structure of scientific theories

From the point of view of a logical approach to its structure, a scientific theory can be defined as a systemically interrelated conceptual system, whose elements are concepts and judgments of varying degrees of generality strong> generalizations, hypotheses, laws and principles).

All the structural components of the theory are connected by two kinds of logical relationships.

First, it is logical definitions, through which the content of all defined concepts tend to be explained using the primary, original concepts of the theory.

Secondly, deduction relations, by means of which theorems, derived laws and other statements are logically derived from axioms, basic laws or theory principles.

The modern philosophy of science distinguishes the following structural levels of scientific theory:

1) empirical basis theory, which contains the basic facts and data, as well as the results of their primary logic-mathematical processing;

2) a theoretical basis, including basic assumptions, axioms, postulates, fundamental laws and principles;

3) logical device, containing rules for defining secondary concepts and logical rules for deducing corollaries (or theorems) from axioms, as well as derived, or non-core, laws from the laws of fundamental ;

4) potentially permissible consequences and theory statements.

A similar approach to the structure of scientific theory is given by VP Kokhanovsky, including the following components in its structure:

1. The initial bases are fundamental concepts, principles, laws, equations, axioms, and the like.

2. The idealized object is an abstract model of the essential properties and relationships of the studied objects (for example, "absolutely black body", "ideal gas", etc.).

3. The logic of the theory is the totality of certain rules and methods of proof aimed at clarifying the structure and changing knowledge.

4. Philosophical attitudes and values.

5. The totality of laws and statements derived as consequences of the foundations of the theory in accordance with specific principles.

This universal structure in different types of theories manifests itself in different ways, and not all structural elements are clearly identified. Thus, in physical theories, two main parts can be distinguished: formal calculi (mathematical equations, logical symbols, rules, etc.) and a meaningful interpretation (categories, laws, principles).

The complexity of the objects under study, as well as the complexity of the system of their determination, forces the scientist to simplify and schematize the phenomena studied. As a result, concrete objects of reality are replaced by idealized, abstract ones. The relationship between such objects only roughly approximates the necessary and essential links between real objects and processes.

Abstract objects and their properties in this approach are expressed using the original concepts of the theory. Logical relations between the initial concepts of mathematics expresses through axioms, other specific sciences - with the help of the basic laws of theory. Thus, through theoretical laws, relationships are described between abstract objects, with which the real system is displayed, but not between elements of real systems.

Developed theoretical systems of abstract objects were formed in natural science:

- in mechanics - a system of "point masses", or material points moving under the action of external forces;

- in electrodynamics - a system of vectors of electric and magnetic tension;

- in genetics - a system of genes.

There are such systems in social science:

- in sociology - a system of social actions;

- in political science - the system of political institutions, etc.

The presence of abstract objects dramatically simplifies the task of identifying the relationship between them. Thus, the motion of material points under the action of force is described by the three basic laws of Newton; Maxwell's equations allow us to express the interaction of vectors of electric and magnetic tension; Mendel's laws characterize the distribution of genes when inheriting traits; laws of sociology, although less common, characterize the results of social interactions, and the laws of political science - the specificity of political systems.

Such systems of abstract objects characterize the specificity of scientific theory and play a major role in its construction precisely because they reflect the essential properties of real systems relatively correctly. A system of abstract objects acts as a conceptual nucleus, a basis of a theory or a fundamental theoretical scheme and can be characterized as an abstract model of a substitutable real system.

In natural sciences, the relationship between abstract model objects is most often expressed through various equations and their systems. In other sciences, such relationships can be expressed through meaningful statements about the relationship between the source objects of the descriptive model. If these relations act as relative truth in relation to the interrelations between the values ​​characterizing real processes and systems, the model is accepted by the scientific community. If significant discrepancies between real objects and their theoretical model are found, there is a need to correct or modify the abstract model, or to completely abandon it.

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