The diverse aims of science

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Abstract
There is increasing attention to the centrality of idealization in science. One common view is that models and other idealized representations are important to science, but that they fall short in one or more ways. On this view, there must be an intermediary step between idealized representation and the traditional aims of science, including truth, explanation, and prediction. Here I develop an alternative interpretation of the relationship between idealized representation and the aims of science. In my view, continuing, widespread idealization calls into question the idea that science aims for truth. I argue that understanding must replace truth as the ultimate epistemic aim of science. Additionally, science has a wide variety aims, epistemic and non-epistemic, and these aims motivate different kinds of scientific products. Finally, I show how these diverse aims---all rather distant from truth---result in the expanded influence of social values on science.
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Archival date: 2018-09-09
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