Paul Thompson, John Beatty, and Elisabeth Lloyd argue that attempts to
resolve certain conceptual issues within evolutionary biology have failed because of a
general adherence to the received view of scientific theories. They maintain that such issues
can be clarified and resolved when one adopts a semantic approach to theories. In this
paper, I argue that such conceptual issues are just as problematic on a semantic approach.
Such issues arise from the complexity involved in providing formal accounts of theoretical
laws and scientific explanations. That complexity is due to empirical and pragmatic
considerations, not one's adherence to a particular formal approach to theories. This
analysis raises a broader question. How can any formal account properly represent the
complex nature of empirical phenomena?
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