Scientific progress as increasing verisimilitude

Authors
Ilkka Niiniluoto
University of Helsinki
Abstract
According to the foundationalist picture, shared by many rationalists and positivist empiricists, science makes cognitive progress by accumulating justified truths. Fallibilists, who point out that complete certainty cannot be achieved in empirical science, can still argue that even successions of false theories may progress toward the truth. This proposal was supported by Karl Popper with his notion of truthlikeness or verisimilitude. Popper’s own technical definition failed, but the idea that scientific progress means increasing truthlikeness can be expressed by defining degrees of truthlikeness in terms of similarities between states of affairs. This paper defends the verisimilitude approach against Alexander Bird who argues that the “semantic” definition is not sufficient to define progress, but the “epistemic” definition referring to justification and knowledge is more adequate. Here Bird ignores the crucial distinction between real progress and estimated progress, explicated by the difference between absolute degrees of truthlikeness and their evidence-relative expected values. Further, it is argued that Bird’s idea of returning to the cumulative model of growth requires an implausible trick of transforming past false theories into true ones
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2014.02.002
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References found in this work BETA

What is Scientific Progress?Alexander Bird - 2007 - Noûs 41 (1):64–89.
Revising Beliefs Towards the Truth.Ilkka Niiniluoto - 2011 - Erkenntnis 75 (2):165-181.
Scientific Progress as Accumulation of Knowledge: A Reply to Rowbottom.Alexander Bird - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):279-281.
N-Rays and the Semantic View of Scientific Progress.Darrell Patrick Rowbottom - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):277-278.

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Citations of this work BETA

Scientific Progress: Knowledge Versus Understanding.Finnur Dellsén - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56:72-83.
Scientific Progress: Four Accounts.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (11):e12525.
Does Scientific Progress Consist in Increasing Knowledge or Understanding?Seungbae Park - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (4):569-579.
Scientific Progress Without Increasing Verisimilitude: In Response to Niiniluoto.Darrell Patrick Rowbottom - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 51:100-104.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

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