World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Limiting case (philosophy of science)

Article Id: WHEBN0043079064
Reproduction Date:

Title: Limiting case (philosophy of science)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Correspondence principle, Science studies, Philosophy of science, General relativity
Collection: Philosophy of Science, Science Studies
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Limiting case (philosophy of science)

In the philosophy of science, under the correspondence principle, a limiting case theory is an earlier theory which becomes incorporated into a later, usually broader theory; that is to say, the earlier (limiting case) theory proves to be a special or limited case of the later theory. Technically, a theory is said to be a limiting case of another, later theory when and if the later theory subsumes the theoretical relations and apparent referents of the earlier one. For example, physicists agree that classical mechanics constitutes a limiting case of relativity theory.[1]

In words of Larry Laudan, realist philosophers use this phrase in the sense that the theory "T1 can be a limiting case of [the theory] T2 only if (a) all the variables (observable and theoretical) assigned a value in T1 are assigned a value by T2 and (b) the values assigned to every variable of T1 are the same as, or very close to, the values T2 assigns to the corresponding variable when certain initial and boundary conditions—consistent with T2—are specified".

The idea that a theory (in our previous example, Newtonian mechanics) that is close to being true (i.e., that is verisimil) converges as a limiting case into a superior theory (in this example, relativistic mechanics) can be an argument for scientific realism, as the theoretical entities postulated by the previous theories are still considered existent (if one assumes semantic realism, they are considered existent because they are referred to) in the successor theories.


  1. ^ Rivadulla, Andres: The Newtonian Limit of Relativity Theory and the Rationality of Theory Change, Synthese 141:417–429, 2004.
  • A Confutation of Convergent Realism, Larry Laudan, in "Philosophy of Science" Vol. 48, No. 1 (Mar., 1981), pp. 21, The University of Chicago Press. Online in
  • Views of Karl Popper
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.