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How the Laws of Physics Lie$
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Nancy Cartwright

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780198247043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198247044.001.0001

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For Phenomenological Laws

For Phenomenological Laws

Chapter:
(p.100) Essay 6 For Phenomenological Laws
Source:
How the Laws of Physics Lie
Author(s):

Nancy Cartwright (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198247044.003.0007

Conventional accounts like the deductive‐nomological model suppose that high‐level theories couched in abstract language encompass or imply more low‐level laws expressed in more concrete language (here called phenomenological laws). The truth of phenomenological laws is then supposed to provide evidence for the truth of the theory. This chapter argues that, to the contrary, approximations are required to arrive at phenomenological laws and generally these approximations improve on theory and are not dictated by the facts. Examples include an amplifier model, exponential decay and the Lamb shift (Based on work with Jon Nordby).

Keywords:   abstract/concrete, approximations, deductive‐nomological model, exponential decay, Lamb shift, phenomenological laws

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