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Truthlikeness with a Human Face: On Some Connections between the Theory of Verisimilitude and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

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Verisimilitude theorists (and many scientific realists) assume that science attempts to provide hypotheses with an increasing degree of closeness to the full truth; on the other hand, radical sociologists of science assert that flesh and bone scientists struggle to attain much more mundane goals (such as income, power, fame, and so on). This paper argues that both points of view can be made compatible, for (1) rational individuals only would be interested in engaging in a strong competition (such as that described by radical sociologists) if they knew in advance the rules under which their outcomes are to be assessed, and (2), if these rules have to be chosen "under a veil of ignorance" (i.e., before knowing what specific theory each scientist is going to devise), then rules favoring highly verisimilar theories can be prefered by researchers to other methodological rules.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005


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