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Why It Matters that Idealizations Are False

Potochnik, Angela (2020) Why It Matters that Idealizations Are False. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Many of our best scientific explanations incorporate idealizations, that is, false assumptions. Philosophers of science disagree about whether and to what extent we must as a result give up on truth as a prerequisite for explanation and thus understanding. Here I propose reframing this. Factivism or veritism about explanation is not, I think, an obvious and preferable view to be given up only under duress. Rather, it is philosophically fruitful to emphasize how departures from the truth facilitate explanation (and understanding). I begin by motivating one version of the idea that idealizations positively contribute to understanding, and then I make the case that it is philosophically important to emphasize this contribution of idealizations. I conclude with a positive account of what theorists about science stand to gain by acknowledging, even emphasizing, how certain departures from the truth benefit our scientific explanations.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Potochnik, Angela0000-0002-0448-591X
Keywords: idealization, veritism, factivism, scientific explanation, scientific under- standing
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Angela Potochnik
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2022 21:46
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2022 21:46
Item ID: 21021
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21021

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