The philosophy of science has lost its self-confidence. Structures in Science (2001) is an advanced textbook that explicates, updates and integrates the best insights of logical empiricism and its main critics. This “neo-classical approach” aims at providing heuristic patterns for research.
The book introduces four ideal types of research programs (descriptive, explanatory, design and explicative) and reanimates the distinction between observational laws and proper theories without assuming a theory-free language. It explicates various patterns of explanation by subsumption and specification as well as structures in reductive and other types of interlevel research. Its threefold analysis of theory evaluation leads to new characterizations of confirmation, empirical progress, and truth approximation. What emerges are partial analogies between progress in nomological research, presented in detail in From Instrumentalism to Constructive Realism (2000) and progress in explicative and design research. Finally, special chapters are devoted to design research programs, computational philosophy of science, the structuralist approach to theories, and research ethics. The present synopsis of Structures in Science highlights the main topics, the final emphasis being on design research and research ethics.