Conceptual strategies and inter-theory relations: The case of nanoscale cracks

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7 Scopus citations


This paper introduces a new account of inter-theory relations in physics, which I call the conceptual strategies account. Using the example of a multiscale computer simulation model of nanoscale crack propagation in silicon, I illustrate this account and contrast it with existing reductive, emergent, and handshaking approaches. The conceptual strategies account develops the notion that relations among physical theories, and among their models, are constrained but not dictated by limitations from physics, mathematics, and computation, and that conceptual reasoning within those limits is required both to generate and to understand the relations between theories. Conceptual strategies result in a variety of types of relations between theories and models. These relations are themselves epistemic objects, like theories and models, and as such are an under-recognized part of the epistemic landscape of science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-165
Number of pages8
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Classical physics
  • Conceptual strategies
  • Emergence
  • Inter-theory relations
  • Models in physics
  • Nanoscience
  • Quantum physics
  • Reductionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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