Judging the Fit Between Data and Reality
Any realist view - in science or theology -
any view which holds that our theories in some way connect with
the-way-things-really-are, and especially a critical realism (see critical
realism in science and religion), must develop criteria for judging the fit between the data generated within the
theory, on the one hand, and reality on the other.
Although it is unclear how we could be sure
whether we had arrived at the best fit between scientific data and reality, the
following criteria are widely agreed to constitute pointers to such a fit. They
the comprehensiveness of the theory in taking account of all known data
the consistency of the theory - being devoid of internal
the compactness of the theory - its economy in not doing with more
what can be done with fewer a principle known as Ockhams razor.
These three can be seen as interrelated
aspects of a coherence-based approach to the assessment of truth.A fourth criterion should be added - that of whether a theory possesses a quality
of comeliness - elegance would be a better word though it doesnt begin
with c! Scientists are often influenced by a sense of the neatness and
elegance of a particular formulation.
See also applying critical realism to
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)