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Department of Philosophy

Staff

Publication details for Prof Nancy Cartwright

Bhakthavatsalam, S. & Cartwright, N. (2017). What’s so special about empirical adequacy? European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7(3): 445-465.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Empirical adequacy matters directly - as it does for antirealists - if we aim to get all or most of the observable facts right, or indirectly - as it does for realists - as a symptom that the claims we make about the theoretical facts are right. But why should getting the facts - either theoretical or empirical - right be required of an acceptable theory? Here we endorse two other jobs that good theories are expected to do: helping us with a) understanding and b) managing the world. Both are of equal, often greater, importance than getting a swathe of facts right, and empirical adequacy fares badly in both. It is not needed for doing these jobs and in many cases it gets in the way of doing them efficiently.