Is Truth the Gold Standard of Inquiry? A Comment on Elgin’s Argument against Veritism

Foundations of Science:1-6 (forthcoming)
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In True Enough, Catherine Elgin (2017) argues against veritism, which is the view that truth is the paramount epistemic objective. Elgin’s argument against veritism proceeds from considering the role that models, idealizations, and thought experiments play in science to the conclusion that veritism is unacceptable. In this commentary, I argue that Elgin’s argument fails as an argument against veritism. I sketch a refutation by logical analogy of Elgin’s argument. Just as one can aim at gold medals and still find approximations to gold, such as silver and bronze medals, to be acceptable and honest achievements in competitive sports, one can aim at full truths as the paramount epistemic objective and still find approximations to truth, such as models and idealizations, to be acceptable and honest achievements in scientific inquiry.
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