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What’s so special about empirical adequacy?

Bhakthavatsalam, S.; Cartwright, N.

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S. Bhakthavatsalam


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.


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

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Mar 7, 2017
Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jan 24, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 15, 2017
Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science
Print ISSN 1879-4912
Electronic ISSN 1879-4920
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 3
Pages 445-465


Accepted Journal Article (590 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International<br /> License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a<br /> link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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