, Volume 196, Issue 5, pp 1749–1760 | Cite as

Minimal approximations and Norton’s dome

  • Samuel C. FletcherEmail author
S.I.: Infinite Idealizations in Science


In this note, I apply Norton’s (Philos Sci 79(2):207–232, 2012) distinction between idealizations and approximations to argue that the epistemic and inferential advantages often taken to accrue to minimal models (Batterman in Br J Philos Sci 53:21–38, 2002) could apply equally to approximations, including “infinite” ones for which there is no consistent model. This shows that the strategy of capturing essential features through minimality extends beyond models, even though the techniques for justifying this extended strategy remain similar. As an application I consider the justification and advantages of the approximation of a inertial reference frame in Norton’s dome scenario (Philos Sci 75(5):786–798, 2008), thereby answering a question raised by Laraudogoitia (Synthese 190(14):2925–2941, 2013).


Minimal models Idealization Approximation Determinism Classical physics Inertial reference frames 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MinnesotaTwin Cities, MinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.MCMP, LMU MunichMunichGermany

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