, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 203–207 | Cite as

How theoretical physics makes progress

Nicholas Maxwell: Understanding scientific progress: aim-oriented empiricism. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2017, 232 pp, $24.95PB
  • Moti Mizrahi
Review Essay
In this ambitious book, Maxwell sets out “to solve eight fundamental philosophical problems about scientific progress” (ix), which he characterizes as follows in Chapter 1:
  1. 1.

    “A weaker version of Hume’s problem [of induction]: When theories are accepted in science on the basis of empirical success, what are (or what ought to be) the precise methods employed to determine this acceptance, and what is the rationale for holding that theories so accepted constitute genuine contributions to scientific knowledge?” (6).

  2. 2.

    The problem of the underdetermination of theory by evidence: “How can there be scientific progress, at the level of theory at least, if available empirical data must always be predicted equally successfully by infinitely many different theories?” (2).

  3. 3.

    The problem of verisimilitude: “If we could make sense of the idea that, given two false theories, one may nevertheless be closer to the truth than the other, then we could at least in turn make sense of the idea that...


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Arts and CommunicationFlorida Institute of TechnologyMelbourneUSA

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