The Noetic Account of Scientific Progress and the Factivity of Understanding

In David Danks & Emiliano Ippoliti (eds.), Building Theories: Heuristics and Hypotheses in Sciences. Cham: Springer International Publishing (2018)
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Abstract

There are three main accounts of scientific progress: 1) the epistemic account, according to which an episode in science constitutes progress when there is an increase in knowledge; 2) the semantic account, according to which progress is made when the number of truths increases; 3) the problem-solving account, according to which progress is made when the number of problems that we are able to solve increases. Each of these accounts has received several criticisms in the last decades. Nevertheless, some authors think that the epistemic account is to be preferred if one takes a realist stance. Recently, Dellsén proposed the noetic account, according to which an episode in science constitutes progress when scientists achieve increased understanding of a phenomenon. Dellsén claims that the noetic account is a more adequate realist account of scientific progress than the epistemic account. This paper aims precisely at assessing whether the noetic account is a more adequate realist account of progress than the epistemic account.

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Fabio Sterpetti
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza

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