Metaphilosophical Ruminations on Theoretical Term Reference

Most scientific realists nowadays would endorse an argument like the following: The empirical and explanatory success of theories or theory-parts is a good indicator of their approximate truth. In turn, approximate truth is a good indicator of referential success. Successor theories typically preserve all of the empirical and explanatory success of their predecessors as well as add to it. They are thus in general strictly more approximately true than their predecessors. Moreover, by preserving their predecessors’ approximately true parts they preserve the referential success the predecessors probably enjoy. This implies that successor theories that are more approximately true than their predecessors are typically also referentially continuous with them
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