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date: 16 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

What constitutes scientific progress? This article considers and evaluates three competing answers to this question. These seek to understand scientific progress in terms of problem-solving, of truthlikeness/verisimilitude, and of knowledge, respectively. How does each fare, taking into consideration the fact that the history of science involves disruptive change, not merely the addition of new beliefs to old beliefs, and the fact that sometimes the history of such changes involves a sequence of theories, all of which are believed to be false, even by scientific realists? The three answers are also evaluated with regard to how they assess certain real and hypothetical scientific changes. Also considered are the three views of the goal of science implicit in the three answers. The view that the goal of science is knowledge and that progress is constituted by the accumulation of knowledge is argued to be preferable to its competitors.

Keywords: scientific progress, problem-solving, truthlikeness, verisimilitude, knowledge, goal of science

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