Applying idealized scientific theories to engineering

Synthese 81 (3):353 - 371 (1989)
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The problem for the scientist created by using idealizations is to determine whether failures to achieve experimental fit are attributable to experimental error, falsity of theory, or of idealization. Even in the rare case when experimental fit within experimental error is achieved, the scientist must determine whether this is so because of a true theory and fortuitously canceling idealizations, or due to a fortuitous combination of false theory and false idealizations. For the engineer, the problem seems rather different. Experiment for the engineer reveals the closeness of predictive fit that can be achieved by theory and idealization for a particular case. If the closeness of fit is good enough for some practical purpose, the job is done. If not, or there are reasons to consider variation, then the engineer needs to know how well the experimentally determined closeness of fit will extrapolate to new cases. This paper focuses on engineering measures of closeness of fit and the projectibility of those measures to new cases.



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Ronald Laymon
Ohio State University

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References found in this work

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Theory and Evidence.Clark N. Glymour - 1980 - Princeton University Press.
Theory and Evidence.Clark Glymour - 1982 - Erkenntnis 18 (1):105-130.
Theory and Evidence.Clark Glymour - 1980 - Ethics 93 (3):613-615.

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