According to convergent scientific realism, empirically successful scientific theories are approximately true, with our contemporary theories being closer to the truth than their predecessors in the same domain. Like most types of scientific realism, convergent realism holds that theoretical terms of successful theories refer, the theoretical claims of preceding theories are carried over to the new theories, at least as limiting cases, and the new theories can explain the empirical success of their predecessors. In order to explain how our theories are getting closer to the truth, some have developed the notion of ‘approximate truth’ as a quantifiable measure. Karl Popper’s notion of ‘verisimilitude’, for instance, was introduced to compare theories by their true and false consequences, although this account run into many technical difficulties, as shown by Miller (1974), Tichy (1974) and others. Another way realists have explicated the notion of approximate truth is by evoking the correspondence principle that shows how a superseded theory can be taken as a limiting case of its successor. According Post’s (1971) ‘general correspondence principle’, contemporary scientific theories can explain the success of their predecessors by ‘degenerating’ into them in the respective domain in which they were empirically successful.
Convergent realism was challenged by Larry Laudan’s pessimistic meta-induction in Laudan 1981, an argument which forced most scientific realists to endorse a type of selective realism.
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Darrell P. Rowbottom
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