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Content & Watkins's account of natural axiomatizations

By Ken Gemes


This paper briefly recounts the importance of the notion of natural axiomatizations for explicating hypothetico-deductivism, empirical significance, theoretical reduction, and organic fertility. Problems for the account of natural axiomatizations developed by John Watkins in Science and Scepticism and the revised account developed by Elie Zahar are demonstrated. It is then shown that Watkins's account can be salvaged from various counter-examples in a principled way by adding the demand that every axiom of a natural axiomatization should be part of the content of the theory being axiomatized. The crucial point here is that content cannot simply be identified with the set of logical consequences of a theory, but must be restricted to a proper subset of the consequence set. It is concluded that the revised Watkins account has certain advantages over the account of natural axiomatizations offered in Gemes (1993)

Topics: phil
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2006
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