A coherent trio of, distance and size based, measures for nomic and actual truthlikeness

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So far, the most prominent measure for actual truthlikeness, i.e. the likeness of a
theory to the actual truth, is Ilkka Niiniluoto’s minsum definition, which is purely
based on distances. A competing definition is the average distance measure proposed by Pavel Tichy and Graham Oddie. We will define three related, distance and size based, measures for actual truthlikeness and compare them with the two well-known options. However, we will start, Sect. 2, from a trio of such measures for nomic truthlikeness. The nomic truth, or the true theory, here refers to what is nomically, e.g. physically, possible. In a nomic (and factual) context there are two basic kinds of theories, viz. either based on an exclusion claim or on an inclusion claim. Twosided theories combine these claims, with the maximal claim as extreme special case. We will base truthlikeness measures for exclusion, inclusion, two-sided, and hence maximal, nomic theories on two similarity measures, one in terms of distances between conceptual possibilities and the other in terms of sizes of sets of such possibilities. In Sect. 3 we will treat actual truthlikeness as extreme special case of nomic truthlikeness,
viz. assuming that there is just one nomic possibility, the actual one. Next we will compare the resulting measures mutually and with the above mentioned measures of Niiniluoto and Tichy & Oddie. Finally, in Sect. 4, we will sum up the results and explore five questions for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Number of pages31
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14-Feb-2023


  • Actual truthlikeness
  • Nomic truthlikeness
  • Similarity measures
  • Truthlikeness measures
  • Niiniluoto’s minsum measure
  • Tichy-Oddie’s average measure

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