Other Features of a Successful Scientific Theory

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This particular section draws from another philosopher of science, Philip Kitcher, particularly his book titled Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism (see p. 46-48). Kitcher gives some other features of a scientific theory in addition to the testability requirement already mentioned. A successful or useful scientific theory will also be a unified theory, solving problems by using the same pattern of reasoning or problem-solving strategy again and again You will see in this website that Newton's theories are applied in the same way to explain the motions and features of a wide variety of celestial objects and physics students use them to understand an even wider range of phenomena.

Finally, a good or successful theory will also be fruitful in opening up new and profitable areas of research. Newton’s theories led to improvements in our understanding of hydrodynamics, chemistry, optics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, etc. "A flourishing science is incomplete... A good theory should be productive; it should raise new questions and presume that those questions can be answered without giving up its problem-solving strategies" (Kitcher p. 48).


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last updated: June 1, 2007

Is this page a copy of Strobel's Astronomy Notes?

Author of original content: Nick Strobel