Abduction and Truthlikeness

Author: Niiniluoto, Ilkka

Source: Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Confirmation, Empirical Progress and Truth Approximation. Essays in Debate with Theo Kuipers Volume 1. Edited by Roberto Festa, Atocha Aliseda and Jeanne Peijnenburg , pp. 255-275(21)

Publisher: Rodopi

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This paper studies the interplay between two notions which are important for the project of defending scientific realism: abduction and truthlikeness. The main focus is the generalization of abduction to cases where the conclusion states that the best theory is truthlike or approximately true. After reconstructing the recent proposals of Theo Kuipers within the framework of monadic predicate logic, I apply my own notion of truthlikeness. It turns out that a theory with higher truthlikeness does not always have greater empirical success than its less truthlike rivals. It is further shown that the notion of expected truthlikeness provides a fallible link from the approximate explanatory success of a theory to its truthlikeness. This treatment can be applied also in cases where even the best potential theory is an idealization that is known to be false.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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