Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 53 (1):90 - 112 (1991)

The problem concerning the manner in which truth is found in the statements of the natural sciences is an important one. It has been discussed from the very beginning of modern science, but in each phase of the development the issue was raised in a different way and for a different reason, such as the seeming conflict between reason and faith, the question concerning the limits of scientific knowledge, the meaning of induction, the probabilistic nature of many scientific statements, the realization that even scientific theories and claims are inherently historical in character, etc. In this essay some contemporary positions are examined briefly. Then the thesis is defended that scientific theories that are well-established and accepted by the majority of the scholars in the relevant field of research, can be said to be true; and the same holds true for the statements derived from such theories to the degree that they are not yet falsified by experiment or observation. It is argued that in this case it will be necessary to rethink the essence of truth, not in terms of the classical correspondence theory, but rather in terms of the hermeneutic theory of truth as unconcealment. Theories and scientific statements are not true in the sense that they present us with mirror-images of what is in the „real” world. They are true, rather, in the sense that they make it possible for us to give a rational explanation of the states, relations, and forms of interaction of natural entities, which reveal these entities, their characteristics, and interactions in such a way, as they appear to show themselves independently of the theory in question in experiment and observation.
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