Nomic Truth Approximation by Empirical Progress Revisited

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 399)


In my From Instrumentalism to Constructive Realism (2000) I have shown how an instrumentalist account of empirical progress can be related to nomic truth approximation. However, it was assumed that a strong notion of nomic theories was needed for that analysis. In this chapter it is shown, in terms of truth- and falsity-content, that the analysis already applies when, in line with scientific common sense, nomic theories are merely assumed to exclude certain conceptual possibilities as nomic possibilities. The resulting generalized and thereby simplified approach to nomic truth approximation was strongly stimulated by the related work on conjunctive theories of Gustavo Cevolani, Vincenzo Crupi and Roberto Festa (Erkenntnis, 2011), in particular their systematic way of defining the truth- and falsity-content of a theory. It will be shown that explicating ‘(nomic) truth approximation’ and ‘empirical progress’ in these terms does justice to some basic instrumentalist/empiricist and realist conditions of adequacy.


Empirical progress Nomic truth approximation Conceptual possibilities Nomic possibilities Truth-content Falsity-content Success theorem Instrumentalism Realism Exclusion claim 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theoretical PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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