Dynamical Phenomena and Their Models: Truth and Empirical Correctness

Foundations of Science 28 (1):327-375 (2020)
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In the epistemological tradition, there are two main interpretations of the semantic relation that an empirical theory may bear to the real world. According to realism, the theory-world relationship should be conceived as truth; according to instrumentalism, instead, it should be limited to empirical adequacy. Then, depending on how empirical theories are conceived, either syntactically as a class of sentences, or semantically as a class of models, the concepts of truth and empirical adequacy assume different and specific forms. In this paper, we review two main conceptions of truth (one sentence-based and one model-based) and two of empirical adequacy (one sentence-based and one model-based), we point out their respective difficulties, and we give a first formulation of a new general view of the theory-world relationship, which we call Methodological Constructive Realism (MCR). We then show how the content of MCR can be further specified and expressed in a definite and precise form. The bulk of the paper shows in detail how it is possible to accomplish this goal for the special case of deterministic dynamical phenomena and their correlated deterministic models. This special version of MCR is formulated as an axiomatic extension of set theory, whose specific axioms constitute a formal ontology that provides an adequate framework for analyzing the two semantic relations of truth and empirical correctness, as well as their connections.



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Marco Giunti
Indiana University

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