Using Scott domains to explicate the notions of approximate and idealized data

Philosophy of Science 54 (2):194-221 (1987)
Authors
Ronald Laymon
Ohio State University
Abstract
This paper utilizes Scott domains (continuous lattices) to provide a mathematical model for the use of idealized and approximately true data in the testing of scientific theories. Key episodes from the history of science can be understood in terms of this model as attempts to demonstrate that theories are monotonic, that is, yield better predictions when fed better or more realistic data. However, as we show, monotonicity and truth of theories are independent notions. A formal description is given of the pragmatic virtues of theories which are monotonic. We also introduce the stronger concept of continuity and show how it relates to the finite nature of scientific computations. Finally, we show that the space of theories also has the structure of a Scott domain. This result provides an analysis of how one theory can be said to approximate another
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DOI 10.1086/289370
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