Philosophy of Science 49 (4):604-615 (1982)
|Abstract||Many realists have maintained that the success of scientific theories can be explained only if they may be regarded as approximately true. Laurens Laudan has in turn contended that a necessary condition for a theory's being approximately true is that its central terms refer, and since many successful theories of the past have employed central terms which we now understand to be non-referential, realism cannot explain their success. The present paper argues that a realist can adopt a view of reference according to which a theory might plausibly be said to be approximately true even though its central terms do not refer, or alternatively, he may construe reference in such a way as to assign reference to a range of successful older theories which includes Laudan's purported counterexamples|
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