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“A Fork in the Middle Path: Explaining the Success of Mature Physical Theories” (5/3/17)

May 24, 2017

Shahin Kaveh

Abstract: The problem of explaining the success of science has been debated for a long time. This debate has led not only to different answers to this question, but also to different interpretations of the question itself, each of which calls for a different type of answer. Recently, Stanford has summarized this debate and identified a “Middle Path” when it comes to explaining success, characterized by the commitment that the success of the successful theory must be explained through a systematic relationship between the theory’s constructs and the inner workings of the system, whatever this relationship may be (the Maddy-Wilson principle). However, a survey of the views on the offer shows that only two types of Middle Path explanations have been offered: ones that draw on Truthlikeness, and ones that give up on fleshing out this systematic relationship in any general terms at all. I aim to offer a third way within the Middle Path, in which one can satisfy the Maddy-Wilson principle without drawing on Truthlikeness.

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