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Empirical and conceptual idealization and concretization. The case of truth approximation

(2001) Kuipers, Theo A.F.

Leszek Nowak has with reason highlighted the method of idealization and concretization in the empirical sciences, empirical-I&C. Moreover, in his philosophical work whether belonging to the philosophy of science, social philosophy or metaphysics, he has equally rightly practiced the analogous method in explicating concepts and intuitions, conceptual-I&C.
This paper combines the two methods on their junction in the theory of truth approximation. It illustrates the method of conceptual-I&C by presenting the related explications of confiimation, empirical progress, and truth approximation in these terms. For example, drawing the conclusion that empirical progress has been made when a new theory is persistently more successful than an old one, even if both are falsified, is presented as the concretization of the idealized point of departure of drawing the conclusion that a theory is (obsmrationally) true when it is persistently confiimed. Moreover, it is shown that the most idealized point of departure for a theory of truth approximation, so-called 'basic truthlikeness', already explicates the so-called success intuition of scientific realists, according to which empirical progress is functional for truth approximation. However, it is also shown that this theory has to be concretized to so-called 'refimed truthlikeness', in order to be able to explicate the intuition that empirical-I&C is also functional for truth approximation.




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