Understanding scientific progress: the noetic account

Synthese 199 (3-4):11249-11278 (2021)
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What is scientific progress? This paper advances an interpretation of this question, and an account that serves to answer it. Roughly, the question is here understood to concern what type of cognitive change with respect to a topic X constitutes a scientific improvement with respect to X. The answer explored in the paper is that the requisite type of cognitive change occurs when scientific results are made publicly available so as to make it possible for anyone to increase their understanding of X. This account is briefly compared to two rival accounts of scientific progress, based respectively on increasing truthlikeness and accumulating knowledge, and is argued to be preferable to both.

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Finnur Dellsén
University of Iceland


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