The Truth about Accuracy

F.A.I. Buekens, Frederick Truyen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


When we evaluate the outcomes of investigative actions as justified or unjustified, good or bad, rational or irrational, we make, in a broad sense of the term, evaluative judgements about them. We look at operational accuracy as a desirable and evaluable quality of the outcomes and explore how the concepts of accuracy and precision, on the basis of insights borrowed from pragmatics and measurement theory, can be seen to do useful work in epistemology. Operational accuracy (but not metaphysical accuracy!) focuses on how a statement fits an explicit or implicit standard set by participants involved in a shared project. While truth can remain a thin semantic property of propositions, operational accuracy, as a quality of an outcome of inquiry and typically attached to a statement, a model, a diagram or a representation is an evaluation based on the the non-epistemic goals set by the goal of inquiry (which every inquiry has), and a substantial evaluative notion. The goals, often made explicit by relevant questions in a context of inquiry, act as a filter, with truths a reliable epistemic method has access to functioning as the input, and accurate representations as its output. Responsible inquiry seeks pragmatic equilibrium between what reliable knowledge on the one hand and degrees of accuracy required by the goal of inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExperts and Consensus in Social Science
EditorsCarlo Martini, Marcel Boumans
Place of PublicationBerlin
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783319085500
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2014

Publication series

NameEthical Economy, Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy
ISSN (Print)2211-2707
ISSN (Electronic)2211-2723


  • Truth
  • accuracy
  • Bas van Fraassen
  • reliability


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