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Formal Methods and Empirical Practices cover

Formal Methods and Empirical Practices

Conversations with Patrick Suppes

Roberta Ferrario and Viola Schiaffonati

The philosopher Patrick Suppes has developed a unique and influential approach to studying the foundations of science—he combines an understanding of the main principles of scientific theories in axiomatic terms and formal models with a hands-on approach. While moving the study of the philosophy of science out of the parlor and into the lab, he often comes up with original results from the psychology of learning to the theory of measurement and quantum mechanics. This book searches for a common thread in Suppes's multifaceted work through a series of conversations with the man himself and illuminates many of the more challenging aspects of his philosophy.

Roberta Feffario is a researcher in the Institute for Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the Italian Research Council. She works at the Laboratory for Applied Ontology in Trento, Italy.

Viola Schiaffonati is assistant professor in the Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione of the Politecnico di Milano.


  • Preface
  • 1. Introduction
    • 1.1 Philosopher of the details
    • 1.2 Formal methods
    • 1.3 Pragmatism
    • 1.4 Pluralism
    • 1.5 Antireductionism
    • 1.6 Organization of the book
  • 2. Axiomatization of Theories and Set-theoretical Models
    • 2.1 "To axiomatize a theory is to define a set-theoretical predicate"
    • 2.2 The structure of scientific theories: not only axioms
    • 2.3 Representation and invariance
  • 3. Representing Theories
    • 3.1 The linguistic perspective
    • 3.2 Models and structures
  • 4. The Meaning of Formalization
    • 4.1 The centrality of formal methods
    • 4.2 Formal methods in Suppes' philosophy
    • 4.3 Historical and conceptual roots
    • 4.4 The sense of formalizing
    • 4.5 The context for formalization
  • 5. Probabilities and Experiments
    • 5.1 Experiments and experimental procedures
    • 5.2 Indeterminism and probability
  • 6. Epilogue
  • References
  • Index

November 2012

ISBN (Paperback): 9781575866529
ISBN (electronic): 9781575866505

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