Refined Verisimilitude pp 121-167 | Cite as

# The Epistemic Problem

Chapter

## Abstract

In the first chapter, I mentioned the difference between the

*semantic*(1) and the*epistemic*(2) problem of approach to the truth, and I have dedicated the first three chapters of this book to the first problem. In the present chapter, we shall study a more practical subject, viz. the second problem and three answers to it. Let me formulate the two questions explicitly:- (1)
*The semantical problem*: “What do we mean if we claim that the theory ψ is closer to the truth than φ?” - (2)
*The epistemic problem*: “On what evidence are we to believe that the theory ψ is closer to the truth than φ?”

## Keywords

Preference Order Impossible World Success Rule Empirical Success Crucial Experiment
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## Note

- 1.Note the subtle difference. The content approach considers the true consequences of the theories; the likeness rule is based on the true consequences of all non-falsified constituents.Google Scholar
- 2.Kuipers (1992), p.326.Google Scholar
- 3.Irrevisable and irreversible rules may be defined as follows. Let p be a rule of theory-choice; let e be its preference ordering based on evidence e, Then p is irrevisable iff w e cp implies Ve’: e’ e and w e, cpGoogle Scholar
- irreversible iff W e cp implies b’e’: e’ e and cp é, yJGoogle Scholar
- Note that an irrevisable rule is functional, and a functional rule is irreversible.Google Scholar
- 4.Niiniluoto (1987), p.482. note 5.Google Scholar
- 5.Niiniluoto’s point of view regarding Laudan’s challenge can be found in Niiniluoto (1997).Google Scholar
- Ibid. sect.6.8.Google Scholar
- 7.See Niiniluoto (1997).Google Scholar
- 8.Popper (1963), p.234.Google Scholar
- 9.Niiniluoto (1987), p.264–265.Google Scholar
- 10.Popper (1963), Appendix IX, p. 288.Google Scholar
- 11.Popper (1963), p.235.Google Scholar
- 12.. Every reader, knowing more than the barest outlines of falsificationism, knows that my presentation is grossly simplified. For example, Lakatos (1970) sketches a gamut of falsificationist positions entirely neglected in our exposition. Taking Lakatos’s idea of scientists seriously using systematic strategies to refute theories, van Benthem suggests an interesting line of further research linking belief-revision and approach to the truth. We could classify the various revision strategies in the light of approach to the truth.Google Scholar
- 13.This procedure is well illustrated by a comparison of Popper. He compared the search for truth to the search for a “black cat in a dark room that might not even be there”, with thanks to A. Keupink who drew my attention to this fact.Google Scholar
- 14.The elements of I
_{x}can also be interpreted as partial models that together constitute one big model of reality.Google Scholar - 15.Kuipers (1996, p.86) calls S(t) a general fact since “scientists use to speak about a general fact.”Google Scholar
- 16.Kuipers (1987), p.96.Google Scholar
- 17.Kuipers (1995), p.365.Google Scholar
- 18.See Kuipers (1992), p.325.Google Scholar
- 19.Kuipers (1992), p.326.Google Scholar
- 20.See Kuipers (1998).Google Scholar
- 21.Kuipers (1992), p.308, last paragraph.Google Scholar
- R(t) I trivially obtains, because R(t) are situations in reality that are part of the intended applications.Google Scholar
- 23.Kuipers (1992), p. 301.Google Scholar
- 24.Kuipers (1992), p. 309.Google Scholar
- 25.See for similar objections Niiniluoto (1987), p.381.Google Scholar
- 26.Recall that if we consider a new R’ and S’ increase of R and decrease of S both represent increase of logical strength.Google Scholar
- 27.Kuipers (1996, p.87, p.97) changed his terminology but the principle remained the same. He uses the term “general facts” instead of “the strongest accepted law until time t”, and S(t) is substituted by ES(M, t): the explanatory successes of theory M at time t. It contains I as a subset. He gives “corrected versions of the laws of Galileo and Kepler” as examples of the general test implications that are supposed to be true.Google Scholar
- 28.As mentioned earlier, substitution of the average sum of the minimal distances for the sum of those distances would balance the situation.Google Scholar
- 29.Kuipers (1982), p. 357.Google Scholar
- 30.For more instances see Niiniluoto (1987), p.2–18.Google Scholar
- 31.Niiniluoto presents his answer to the epistemic problem in (1987), chap 7.Google Scholar
- 32.i. Ibid. p. 269.Google Scholar
- 33.i. Ibid p. 270.Google Scholar
- 34.Niiniluoto (1987), the seventh note of chapter 7.Google Scholar
- 35.See Niiniluoto (1987), p.270.Google Scholar
- 36.Niiniluoto (1987), p.274 formula (19).Google Scholar
- Ibid. Result (IV) of equation (18).Google Scholar
- Ibid p.273Google Scholar
- 39.Niiniluoto (1987), p.275.Google Scholar
- 40.For the information of the foregoing paragraph, see Niiniluoto (1987), p. 275275.Google Scholar
- 41.i. Ibid. p. 268–269.Google Scholar
- 42.. As Carnap ( 1962, p.523) explains, we could have made another choice. The mode or median are also candidates. The latter possibilities, however, are less satisfactory.Google Scholar
- 43.Niiniluoto (1987), p.269.Google Scholar
- 44.i. Ibid. p.269, 270.Google Scholar
- 45.Carnap (1962, chap IX) warns for this kind of problem.Google Scholar
- 46.
- 47.
- 48.Niiniluoto (1987), section 12.5 especially p.426.Google Scholar
- 49.One consequence of the naive or content rule is that it does not decide between theories in the following specific situation. Suppose two theories explain the strongest law and respect all instantial data. In that circumstance, Popper would prefer the logically stronger theory, but the success rule 4.2 (p. 132) is indifferent. If it preferred the strongest theory, then it would cease to be functional for approaching the truth. Extension ofR could put the stronger theory at a disadvantage.Google Scholar
- 50.Niiniluoto (1987) p.269.Google Scholar
- 51.i. Ibid. chap. 12.5.Google Scholar
- 52.See also Bonilla (1996) and Kieseppä (1996).Google Scholar
- 53.See also Kuipers (1987).Google Scholar
- 54.Kuipers (1992), p.326.Google Scholar
- Since 1995, Kuipers presents his rule of theory choice in combination with the HD-method. He formulates his rule of success conditionally: “on the basis of comparative HD-testing, it appears that the theory Y will remain more successful than X”.Google Scholar
- 56.See e.g. Niiniluoto (1987), p.380–382.Google Scholar
- 57.From a private letter to Theo Kuipers dating from 1983.Google Scholar
- 58.See van Benthem (1996).Google Scholar
- 59.Preferential reasoning started with Shoham (1988); for conditional logic see Friedman and Halpern (1994). Gärdenfors and Rott (1995) provide an introduction on belief revision.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001