Stratified 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, the basic version does not make a (theory-relative) distinction between an observational and a theoretical level. This raises the question to what extent in a stratified set-up (nomic) truth approximation on a theoretical level entails truth approximation on the observational level. In other words, the question whether ‘closer to the truth’ can be projected from the theoretical to the observational level. Of course, ‘empirical success’ is now explicated in observational terms, and ‘closer to the observational truth’ and ‘more successfulness’ are now related in the same way as in the unstratified case.

The chapter closes with quantitative and refined versions of stratified nomic truth approximation in line with Chaps.  5 and  6, respectively. (Referential truth approximation is dealt with in Chap.  11)


Theoretically closer to the truth Observationally closer to the truth Truth projection Truthlikeness projection Theoretical realization principle Stratified success theorem Two-sided theories Quantitative stratified truth approximation Refined stratified truth approximation 


  1. Kuipers, T. (2000). From instrumentalism to constructive realism. On some relations between confirmation, empirical progress, and truth approximation, Synthese library 287. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Kuipers, T. (2014). Empirical progress and truth approximation revisited. Proceedings Tilburg conference on progress in science (April, 2012). Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, special section Progress in Science, 46, 64–72.Google Scholar

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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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