5  Theoretical isolation and the dynamics of dispute

Going beyond Mäki's de- and re-isolation1

Jack Vromen

1 Introduction

One of the many issues that Uskali Mäki has tackled in his prolific career is theoretical isolation (Mäki 1992, 1994). Mäki argues convincingly that in scientific theories idealizing and simplifying assumptions are often made in order to be able to study the workings and effects of one mechanism in isolation, thereby rendering the theories unrealistic. Theoretical disputes about a theory are typically ignited by critiques of such theoretical isolations. Those critiques often question whether the mechanism studied in isolation is a significant or essential one, or whether the mechanism is the only significant one. Mäki (2004) ...

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