Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters

Philosophy of Science 79 (2):207-232 (2012)
Abstract
It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.
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DOI 10.1086/664746
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References found in this work BETA
Ernan McMullin (1985). Galilean Idealization. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 16 (3):247-273.
Michael Weisberg (2007). Three Kinds of Idealization. Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.

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Citations of this work BETA
Joshua Rosaler (2015). Local Reduction in Physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 50:54-69.

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Jeffry L. Ramsey (1992). Towards an Expanded Epistemology for Approximations. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:154 - 164.

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