PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Models of Intelligibility in Galileo’s Mechanical Science

This paper, drawing on Galilean sources, extends an analysis of models of intelligibility (MOIs) by Machamer and Woody. I argue that MOIs are one way that scientists establish the coordinative definitions that associate theoretical concepts with phenomena. In so doing, an MOI eliminates the interpretive distance between theory and phenomena, and creates classes of concrete referents for theoretical concepts. MOIs are not merely productive ancillary heuristics, they are constitutive of scientific theories insofar as they designate targets of their application. Beyond facilitating the application of theoretical explanations to problematic cases, MOIs partly determine what theories mean.

Author Information:

David Marshall Miller    
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Iowa State University


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