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Approximate Truth and Descriptive Nesting

Barrett, Jeffrey A. (2008) Approximate Truth and Descriptive Nesting. [Preprint]

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Abstract

There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories, quantum mechanics and special relativity, are false if taken together and literally. If they are in fact false, then how should they count as providing knowledge of the physical world? One might imagine that, while strictly false, our best physical theories are nevertheless in some sense probably approximately true. This paper presents a notion of local probable approximate truth in terms of descriptive nesting relations between current and subsequent theories. This notion helps explain how false physical theories might nevertheless provide physical knowledge of a variety that is particularly salient to diachronic empirical inquiry.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Barrett, Jeffrey A.j.barrett@uci.edu
Keywords: truth, approximate truth, scientific progress, pragmatism
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Jeffrey Barrett
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2023 13:55
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2023 13:55
Item ID: 21891
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-007-9086-6
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2008
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21891

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