The Structure of Idealization in Biological Theories: The Case of the Wright-Fisher Model [Book Review]

In this paper we present a new framework of idealization in biology. We characterize idealizations as a network of counterfactual and hypothetical conditionals that can exhibit different “degrees of contingency”. We use this idea to say that, in departing more or less from the actual world, idealizations can serve numerous epistemic, methodological or heuristic purposes within scientific research. We defend that, in part, this structure explains why idealizations, despite being deformations of reality, are so successful in scientific practice. For illustrative purposes, we provide an example from population genetics, the Wright-Fisher Model
Keywords Idealization  Epistemic virtues  Scientific models  Modeling in biology  Population genetics  Wright-Fisher Model
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-012-9185-1
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