A theory of scientific model construction: The conceptual process of abstraction and concretisation [Book Review]

Foundations of Science 10 (1):67-88 (2005)
The process of abstraction and concretisation is a label used for an explicative theory of scientific model-construction. In scientific theorising this process enters at various levels. We could identify two principal levels of abstraction that are useful to our understanding of theory-application. The first level is that of selecting a small number of variables and parameters abstracted from the universe of discourse and used to characterise the general laws of a theory. In classical mechanics, for example, we select position and momentum and establish a relation amongst the two variables, which we call Newton’s 2nd law. The specification of the unspecified elements of scientific laws, e.g. the force function in Newton’s 2nd law, is what would establish the link between the assertions of the theory and physical systems. In order to unravel how and with what conceptual resources scientific models are constructed, how they function and how they relate to theory, we need a view of theory-application that can accommodate our constructions of representation models. For this we need to expand our understanding of the process of abstraction to also explicate the process of specifying force functions etc. This is the second principal level at which abstraction enters in our theorising and in which I focus. In this paper, I attempt to elaborate a general analysis of the process of abstraction and concretisation involved in scientific- model construction, and argue why it provides an explication of the construction of models of the nuclear structure.
Keywords abstraction  Cartwright  concretisation  de-idealisation  idealisation  McMullin  models  nuclear models  representation models  scientific models  Semantic View  single-particle shell model  Suppe  unified model
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DOI 10.1007/s10699-005-3006-5
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Demetris Portides (2011). Seeking Representations of Phenomena: Phenomenological Models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):334-341.

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