Biology & Philosophy

, 33:20 | Cite as

Big dragons on small islands: generality and particularity in science

Review of Angela Potochnik’s idealization and the aims of science
  • Adrian CurrieEmail author
Review Essay


Angela Potochnik’s Idealization and the Aims of Science (Chicago) defends an ambitious and systematic account of scientific knowledge: ultimately science pursues human understanding rather than truth. Potochnik argues that idealization is rampant and unchecked in science. Further, given that idealizations involve departures from truth, this suggests science is not primarily about truth. I explore the relationship between truths about causal patterns and scientific understanding in light of this, and suggest that Potochnik underestimates the importance and power of highly particular narrative explanations.


Idealization Narrative Explanation Knowledge Angela Potochnik Understanding 



Many thanks to Kirsten Walsh and Angela Potochnik for generous help with earlier drafts.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Existential RiskCambridgeEngland, UK

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