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How the Diachronic Theoretical Virtues Make an Epistemic DifferenceAmong the virtues of good theories are those appropriately labeled diachronic: durability, fruitfulness, and applicability—the last of which is insufficiently recognized. Diachronic theoretical virtues cannot be instantiated in the original construction of a theory; subsequent development is required. By contrast, one can assess the degree to which a theory exhibits the following nine non-diachronic theoretical virtues in a theory’s original construction: evidential accuracy, causal adequacy, explanatory depth, internal consistency, internal coherence, universal coherence, beauty, simplicity, and unification. The distinction between diachronic and non-diachronic virtues is important for understanding the function and epistemic standing of each theoretical virtue.
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