David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Scientific discourse is rife with passages that appear to be ordinary descriptions of systems of interest in a particular discipline. Equally, the pages of textbooks and journals are filled with discussions of the properties and the behavior of those systems. Students of mechanics investigate at length the dynamical properties of a system consisting of two or three spinning spheres with homogenous mass distributions gravitationally interacting only with each other. Population biologists study the evolution of one species procreating at a constant rate in an isolated ecosystem. And when studying the exchange of goods, economists consider a situation in which there are only two goods, two perfectly rational agents, no restrictions on available information, no transaction costs, no money, and dealings are done immediately. Their surface structure notwithstanding, no competent scientist would mistake descriptions of such systems as descriptions of an actual system: we know very well that there are no such systems. These descriptions are descriptions of a model-system, and scientists use model-systems to represent parts or aspects of the world they are interested in. Following common practice, I refer to those parts or aspects as target-systems. What are we to make of this? Is discourse about such models merely a picturesque and ultimately dispensable façon de parler? This was the view of some early twentieth century philosophers. Duhem (1906) famously guarded against confusing model building with scientific theorizing and argued that model building has no real place in science, beyond a minor heuristic role. The aim of science was, instead, to construct theories, with theories understood as classificatory or representative structures systematically presented and formulated in precise symbolic..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Ryan Giordano, Michael D. Edge & Rasmus Nielsen (2015). The Mind, the Lab, and the Field: Three Kinds of Populations in Scientific Practice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:12-21.
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2012). Interweaving Categories: Styles, Paradigms, and Models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (4):628-639.
Darrell P. Rowbottom (2011). Approximations, Idealizations and 'Experiments' at the Physics-Biology Interface. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):145-154.
Adam Toon (2011). Playing with Molecules. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):580-589.
Darrell P. Rowbottom (2011). Approximations, Idealizations and ‘Experiments’ at the Physics–Biology Interface. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):145-154.
Similar books and articles
John Matthewson (2011). Trade-Offs in Model-Building: A More Target-Oriented Approach. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):324-333.
Nicola Angius & Guglielmo Tamburrini (2011). Scientific Theories of Computational Systems in Model Checking. Minds and Machines 21 (2):323-336.
Marion Vorms (2011). Representing with Imaginary Models: Formats Matter. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):287-295.
Adam Toon (2010). The Ontology of Theoretical Modelling: Models as Make-Believe. Synthese 172 (2):301-315.
Tarja Knuuttila (2011). Modelling and Representing: An Artefactual Approach to Model-Based Representation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):262-271.
Roman Frigg (2006). Scientific Representation and the Semantic View of Theories. Theoria 21 (1):49-65.
Martin Thomson-Jones (2010). Missing Systems and the Face Value Practice. Synthese 172 (2):283 - 299.
Added to index2009-06-07
Total downloads94 ( #42,144 of 1,792,100 )
Recent downloads (6 months)15 ( #54,212 of 1,792,100 )
How can I increase my downloads?