In the contemporary philosophy of science, attention has been increasingly paid to the role of idealization in providing objective and genuine knowledge about natural phenomena, that is, knowledge that ascertains their mind-independent reality and also helps us to understand why they occur in the way they do. The main objectives of the present project are (1) the critical evaluation of the current views about scientific idealization that attempt to account for this role, and (2) the proposal of a new position about the ways in which idealization serves objectivity and understanding in physics, a position that overcomes the shortcomings of the current views.
With regard to (1), I focus on two recent influential attempts to accommodate idealization within a causal account of scientific explanation, by Michael Strevens and James Woodward, as well as on one equally recent and influential attempt, by James Ladyman and Steven French, to justify the view that objective knowledge requires that the structure of a theory be invariant.
With regard to (2), I build on the work of David Hilbert in the foundations of mathematics and physics. My goal is to explain in what sense idealization may be considered capable of providing objective and genuine scientific knowledge, without revealing the causes of natural phenomena, and without adverting to the notion of structural invariance.
Fields of science
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