Assessing Scientific Theories: The Bayesian Approach

In Dawid Richard, Dardashti Radin & Thebault Karim (eds.), Epistemology of Fundamental Physics: Why Trust a Theory? Cambridge University Press. pp. 67–83 (2019)
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Scientific theories are used for a variety of purposes. For example, physical theories such as classical mechanics and electrodynamics have important applications in engineering and technology, and we trust that this results in useful machines, stable bridges, and the like. Similarly, theories such as quantum mechanics and relativity theory have many applications as well. Beyond that, these theories provide us with an understanding of the world and address fundamental questions about space, time, and matter. Here we trust that the answers scientific theories give are reliable and that we have good reason to believe that the features of the world are similar to what the theories say about them. But why do we trust scientific theories, and what counts as evidence in favor of them?

Author Profiles

Stephan Hartmann
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Radin Dardashti
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München


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