The Value of Beauty in Theory Pursuit: Kuhn, Duhem, and Decision Theory


Should judgments of beauty play a guiding role in theoretical science even if beauty is not a sign of truth? In this paper I argue that they should in certain cases. If we analyze the rationality of theoretical pursuit using decision theory, a theory’s beauty can influence the utilities of the various options confronting the researcher. After considering the views of Pierre Duhem and Thomas Kuhn on aesthetics in science, I suggest that because we value freedom of inquiry we rightly allow scientists some choice in how they value aesthetic properties of theories and thus some freedom to use beauty to guide their research program.

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Morgan, G. (2013) The Value of Beauty in Theory Pursuit: Kuhn, Duhem, and Decision Theory. Open Journal of Philosophy, 3, 9-14. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2013.31003.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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