The diverse aims of science

Angela Potochnik
University of Cincinnati
There is increasing attention to the centrality of idealization in science. One common view is that models and other idealized representations are important to science, but that they fall short in one or more ways. On this view, there must be an intermediary step between idealized representation and the traditional aims of science, including truth, explanation, and prediction. Here I develop an alternative interpretation of the relationship between idealized representation and the aims of science. In my view, continuing, widespread idealization calls into question the idea that science aims for truth. I argue that understanding must replace truth as the ultimate epistemic aim of science. Additionally, science has a wide variety aims, epistemic and non-epistemic, and these aims motivate different kinds of scientific products. Finally, I show how these diverse aims---all rather distant from truth---result in the expanded influence of social values on science.
Keywords idealization  scientific understanding  aims of science  social values and science
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2015.05.008
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References found in this work BETA

Three Kinds of Idealization.Michael Weisberg - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.
No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
Is Understanding a Species of Knowledge?Stephen R. Grimm - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (3):515-535.
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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.
Beyond Explanation: Understanding as Dependency Modeling.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Bottled Understanding: The Role of Lab Work in Ecology.Adrian Currie - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy047.
Explicating Objectual Understanding: Taking Degrees Seriously.Christoph Baumberger - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

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