, Volume 190, Issue 16, pp 3307-3324

First online:

Verisimilitude and belief change for nomic conjunctive theories

  • Gustavo CevolaniAffiliated withUniversity of Bologna Email author 
  • , Roberto FestaAffiliated withUniversity of Trieste
  • , Theo A. F. KuipersAffiliated withUniversity of Groningen

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In this paper, we address the problem of truth approximation through theory change, asking whether revising our theories by newly acquired data leads us closer to the truth about a given domain. More particularly, we focus on “nomic conjunctive theories”, i.e., theories expressed as conjunctions of logically independent statements concerning the physical or, more generally, nomic possibilities and impossibilities of the domain under inquiry. We define both a comparative and a quantitative notion of the verisimilitude of such theories, and identify suitable conditions concerning the (partial) correctness of acquired data, under which revising our theories by data leads us closer to “the nomic truth”, construed as the target of scientific inquiry. We conclude by indicating some further developments, generalizations, and open issues arising from our results.


Nomic verisimilitude Truthlikeness Truth approximation Belief change Belief revision AGM