Idealization and the Limits of Science

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Potochnik, Angela
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conference paper description
Idealizations are rampant and unchecked in science. That is, they exist throughout our best representations, and there is little focus on eliminating them or controlling their influence. This is because idealizations, despite their falsity, play a positive representational role. This account of idealization motivates a reconstrual of the aims of science. Science has a variety of epistemic and non-epistemic aims, and the ultimate epistemic aim is understanding, which can be furthered by sacrificing truth. The deemphasis of scientific truth drives a wedge between scientific results and any metaphysical implications regarding ontology, causation, or levels of organization.