How scientific models can explain

Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45 (2011)
Abstract
Scientific models invariably involve some degree of idealization, abstraction, or nationalization of their target system. Nonetheless, I argue that there are circumstances under which such false models can offer genuine scientific explanations. After reviewing three different proposals in the literature for how models can explain, I shall introduce a more general account of what I call model explanations, which specify the conditions under which models can be counted as explanatory. I shall illustrate this new framework by applying it to the case of Bohr's model of the atom, and conclude by drawing some distinctions between phenomenological models, explanatory models, and fictional models
Keywords Models  Explanation  Fictions  Structural explanation  Bohr’s atom
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References found in this work BETA
Robert Batterman (2005). Critical Phenomena and Breaking Drops: Infinite Idealizations in Physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 36 (2):225-244.
Alisa Bokulich (2008). Can Classical Structures Explain Quantum Phenomena? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2):217-235.

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Citations of this work BETA
Angela Potochnik (2012). Feminist Implications of Model-Based Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (2):383-389.

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