In this note, I apply Norton’s (Philos Sci 79(2):207–232, 2012) distinction between idealizations and approximations to argue that the epistemic and inferential advantages often taken to accrue to minimal models (Batterman in Br J Philos Sci 53:21–38, 2002) could apply equally to approximations, including “infinite” ones for which there is no consistent model. This shows that the strategy of capturing essential features through minimality extends beyond models, even though the techniques for justifying this extended strategy remain similar. As an application I consider the justification and advantages of the approximation of a inertial reference frame in Norton’s dome scenario (Philos Sci 75(5):786–798, 2008), thereby answering a question raised by Laraudogoitia (Synthese 190(14):2925–2941, 2013).
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- Classical physics
- Inertial reference frames
- Minimal models