Can meaningless statements be approximately true? On relaxing the semantic com ponent of scientific realism

Darrell P. ROWBOTTOM*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

First, I show that the semantic thesis of scientific realism may be relaxed significantly—to allow that some scientific discourse is not truth-valued—without making any concessions concerning the epistemic or methodological theses which lie at realism’s core. Second, I illustrate how relaxing the semantic thesis allows realists to avoid positing abstract entities and to fend off objections to the ‘no miracles’ argument from positions such as cognitive instrumentalism. Third, I argue that the semantic thesis of scientific realism should be relaxed, because it is possible for scientific statements to be partially true, and hence approximately true, without being false.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophy of Science
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

I wrote this paper during my time as a Visiting Fellow at Pittsburgh’s Center for the Philosophy of Science, and my work on it was also supported by GRF Grant on ‘Scientific Progress: Foundational Issues’ from Hong Kong’s RGC. Thanks to audiences at the Center and Virginia Tech for feedback.

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