Trade-offs in model-building: A more target-oriented approach

Abstract
In his 1966 paper "The Strategy of model-building in Population Biology", Richard Levins argues that no single model in population biology can be maximally realistic, precise and general at the same time. This is because these desirable model properties trade-off against one another. Recently, philosophers have developed Levins' claims, arguing that trade-offs between these desiderata are generated by practical limitations on scientists, or due to formal aspects of models and how they represent the world. However this project is not complete. The trade-offs discussed by Levins had a noticeable effect on modelling in population biology, but not on other sciences. This raises questions regarding why such a difference holds. I claim that in order to explain this finding, we must pay due attention to the properties of the systems, or targets modelled by the different branches of science.
Keywords Trade-offs  Population biology  Scientific models
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2010.11.040
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References found in this work BETA
Michael Weisberg (2007). Who is a Modeler? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):207 - 233.
Michael Weisberg (2007). Three Kinds of Idealization. Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.
Michael Weisberg (2006). Robustness Analysis. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):730-742.

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