Partial convergence and approximate truth

Authors
Duncan MacIntosh
Dalhousie University
Abstract
Scientific Realists argue that it would be a miracle if scientific theories were getting more predictive without getting closer to the truth; so they must be getting closer to the truth. Van Fraassen, Laudan et al. argue that owing to the underdetermination of theory by data (UDT) for all we know, it is a miracle, a fluke. So we should not believe in even the approximate truth of theories. I argue that there is a test for who is right: suppose we are at the limit of inquiry. Suppose that we then have all the logically possible theories that are adequate to all the actual data. If they all resembled in their theoretical claims, since one of them must be true, all of them would then resemble it, whichever it is. We would thus be justified in saying they all approximated the truth in the degree to which they co-resembled. If they don't all co-resemble, the SRs are wrong; more predictive theories are not necessarily closer to the theoretical truth. Prior to the limit, if, in spite of our best efforts to the contrary, all the theories we can make adequate to current data tend to co-resemble, we have inductive warrant for thinking more predictive theories are closer to the truth. If they don't resemble, we have inductive warrant for thinking that more predictive theories are not necessarily closer to the truth.
Keywords no miracles argument  scientific realism  Bas van Fraassen  Larry Lauden  inference to the best explanation  theory  data  unobservables  approximate truth  resemblance to the truth
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/45.1.153
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Why the No-Miracles Argument Fails.Carl Matheson - 1998 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (3):263 – 279.

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