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Idealizations and Understanding: Much Ado About Nothing?

Sullivan, Emily and Khalifa, Kareem (2018) Idealizations and Understanding: Much Ado About Nothing? [Preprint]

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Abstract

Because idealizations frequently advance scientific understanding, many claim that falsehoods play an epistemic role. In this paper, we argue that these positions greatly overstate idealizations’ import for understanding. We introduce work on epistemic value to the debate surrounding idealizations and understanding, arguing that idealizations qua falsehoods only confer non-epistemic value to understanding. We argue for this claim by criticizing the leading accounts of how idealizations provide understanding. For each of these approaches, we show that: (a) idealizations’ false components only promote convenience instead of understanding and (b) only the true components of idealizations have epistemic value.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sullivan, Emily
Khalifa, Kareemkkhalifa@middlebury.edu
Keywords: understanding; idealization; epistemic value; truth; models
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr. Kareem Khalifa
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2018 00:29
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2018 00:29
Item ID: 15301
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 11 November 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15301

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