Models, confirmation, and chaos

Philosophy of Science 65 (4):624-648 (1998)
Abstract
The use of idealized models in science is by now well-documented. Such models are typically constructed in a “top-down” fashion: starting with an intractable theory or law and working down toward the phenomenon. This view of model-building has motivated a family of confirmation schemes based on the convergence of prediction and observation. This paper considers how chaotic dynamics blocks the convergence view of confirmation and has forced experimentalists to take a different approach to model-building. A method known as “phase space reconstruction” not only reveals a lacuna in the philosophical literature on models, it also fails to conform to conventional views about how models are used to confirm a theory
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