Ronald Laymon
Ohio State University
The use of idealizations and approximations in scientific explanations poses a problem for traditional philosophical theories of confirmation since, strictly speaking, these sorts of statements are false. Furthermore, in several central cases in the history of science, theoretical predictions seen as confirmatory are not, in any usual sense, even approximately true. As a means of eliminating the puzzling nature of these cases, two theses are proposed. First, explanations consist of idealized deductive-nomological sketches plus what are called modal auxiliaries, i.e., arguments showing that if the idealizations used in the initial conditions are improved, then there will be an improvement in the prediction. Second, a theory is confirmed if it can be shown that its idealized sketches can be improved; similarly, a theory is disconfirmed if its idealized sketches cannot be improved. Several examples are given to illustrate both confirmation and disconfirmation achieved by means of the modal auxiliary. These cases are compared with Scriven's bridge example.
Keywords Idealisation   Confirmation   Explanation   Philosophy of Science
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Idealization and Modeling.Robert W. Batterman - 2009 - Synthese 169 (3):427-446.
Laws and Models in a Theory of Idealization.Chuang Liu - 2004 - Synthese 138 (3):363 - 385.

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