Science does not describe reality

The limits and benefits of explanation

We think of scientists creating models to explain reality. The effectiveness of these models, be it Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or Darwin’s Theory of Evolution makes us believe in them. Many scientists and philosophers argue taking them as explanations means these models are true. But this idea of explanation is as superfluous to theories of science as an orgasm is to procreation, argues Bas van Fraassen.


When physicists present to each other at conferences they are all about mathematical models.  The participants are deeply immersed in the abstract mathematical modelling.  When on the other hand they present to the public it sounds all very understandable, about particles, waves, fields, and strings, quantum leaps and gravity.  That is very helpful for mobilizing the imagination and an intuitive grasp on how phenomena or experiments look through theory-tinted glasses.  But typically, it is also told as the one true story of the universe, its furn

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