Synthese 138 (3):363 - 385 (2004)

Chuang Liu
University of Florida
I first give a brief summary of a critique of the traditional theories of approximation and idealization; and after identifying one of the major roles of idealization as detaching component processes or systems from their joints, a detailed analysis is given of idealized laws – which are discoverable and/or applicable – in such processes and systems (i.e., idealized model systems). Then, I argue that dispositional properties should be regarded as admissible properties for laws and that such an inclusion supplies the much needed connection between idealized models and the laws they `produce'' or `accommodate''. And I then argue that idealized law-statements so produced or accommodated in the models may be either true simpliciter or true approximately, but the latter is not because of the idealizations involved. I argue that the kind of limiting-case idealizations that produce approximate truth is best regarded as approximation; and finally I compare my theory with some existing theories of laws of nature.We seem to trace [in KingLear] ... the tendency of imagination toanalyse and abstract, to decomposehuman nature into its constituentfactors, and then to construct beings in whomone or more of these factors isabsent or atrophied or only incipient.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/B:SYNT.0000016425.36070.37
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,043
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Theory of Scientific Study.Robert Luk - 2017 - Foundations of Science 22 (1):11-38.
Understanding Scientific Study Via Process Modeling.Robert W. P. Luk - 2010 - Foundations of Science 15 (1):49-78.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Pragmatic Idealization and Structuralist Reconstructions of Theories.Michaela Haase - 1996 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 27 (2):215-234.
The Law‐Idealization.Paul Teller - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):730-741.


Added to PP index

Total views
466 ( #19,490 of 2,498,570 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #171,114 of 2,498,570 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes