, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 213–224 | Cite as

Approximate Truth and Descriptive Nesting

  • Jeffrey Alan Barrett
Original Article


There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories, quantum mechanics and special relativity, are false if taken together and literally. If they are in fact false, then how should they count as providing knowledge of the physical world? One might imagine that, while strictly false, our best physical theories are nevertheless in some sense probably approximately true. This paper presents a notion of local probable approximate truth in terms of descriptive nesting relations between current and subsequent theories. This notion helps explain how false physical theories might nevertheless provide physical knowledge of a variety that is particularly salient to diachronic empirical inquiry.


Physical Theory Newtonian Mechanic Bohmian Mechanic Gravitational Field Equation Approximate Truth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, School of Social Sciences University of California at Irvine IrvineUSA

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