Science & Education

, Volume 27, Issue 5–6, pp 547–550 | Cite as

Indispensable Falsehoods

Angela Potochnik (2017) Idealization and the Aims of Science. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 2017, ISBN: 9780226507057, 288 pp., US $45.00 (hardback)
  • Kevin McCainEmail author
Book Review

Even a cursory examination of contemporary science reveals that idealizations are prevalent throughout the sciences. In her exceptional book, Idealization and the Aims of Science, Angela Potochnik explores the nature of idealizations while accounting for why they are so ubiquitous. The picture of science that emerges from Potochnik’s work is that of a thoroughly human endeavor. Science is a tool that helps us navigate an extremely complex world. Potochnik’s picture of science is compelling and helps to ground an appreciation of how truly impressive the success of science is.

In chapter one, Potochnik begins by discussing two observations that form the launching point for her discussion. The first is that human beings conduct science, and human beings are cognitively limited in a variety of ways. The second is that our world is very complex. In many (perhaps all) cases, the phenomena that we seek to understand are subject to an enormous number of causal influences. The causal complexity...


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The author declares no conflict of interest

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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