Appraising Non-Representational Models

Many scientific models are non-representational in that they refer to merely possible processes, background conditions and results. The paper shows how such non-representational models can be appraised, beyond the weak role that they might play as heuristic tools. Using conceptual distinctions from the discussion of how-possibly explanations, six types of models are distinguished by their modal qualities of their background conditions, model processes and model results. For each of these types, an actual model example – drawn from economics, biology, psychology or sociology – is discussed. For each case, contexts and purposes are identified in which the use of such a model offers a genuine opportunity to learn – i.e. justifies changing one’s confidence in a hypothesis about the world. These cases then offer novel justifications for modelling practices that fall between the cracks of standard representational accounts of models
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