Quantitative Nomic Truth Approximation

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 399)


Assuming that the target of theory oriented empirical science in general and of nomic truth approximation in particular is to characterize the boundary or demarcation between nomic possibilities and nomic impossibilities, I have presented in Chap.  4 (“Models, postulates, and generalized nomic truth approximation”) the ‘basic’ version of generalized nomic truth approximation, starting from ‘two-sided’ theories. Its main claim is that nomic truth approximation can perfectly be achieved by combining two prima facie opposing views on theories: (1) the traditional (Popperian) view: theories are (sets of models of) postulates that exclude certain possibilities from being realizable, enabling explanation and prediction and (2) the model view: theories are sets of models that claim to (approximately) represent certain realizable possibilities. Nomic truth approximation, i.e., increasing truth-content and decreasing falsity-content, becomes in this way revising theories by revising their models and/or their postulates in the face of increasing evidence.

The basic version of generalized nomic truth approximation is in many respects as simple as possible. Among other things, it is qualitative in the sense that it is purely based on set-theoretic relations. The present chapter presents the straightforward quantitative concretization of it. According to the ‘expected success theorem’, based on some probabilistic experimental conditions, greater truthlikeness, or verisimilitude, leads to greater expected empirical success. This enables tentative nomic truth approximation conclusions by abductive reasoning.


Degree of verisimilitude Degree of truthlikeness Degree of empirical success Two-sided theories Amount of truth-content Amount of falsity-content Degree of truth Degree of falsity Amount of accepted-content Amount of rejected-content Expected success theorem 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theoretical PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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