Big dragons on small islands: generality and particularity in science
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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.
KeywordsIdealization Narrative Explanation Knowledge Angela Potochnik Understanding
Many thanks to Kirsten Walsh and Angela Potochnik for generous help with earlier drafts.
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