Explanatory independence and epistemic interdependence: A case study of the optimality approach

Abstract
The value of optimality modeling has long been a source of contention amongst population biologists. Here I present a view of the optimality approach as at once playing a crucial explanatory role and yet also depending on external sources of confirmation. Optimality models are not alone in facing this tension between their explanatory value and their dependence on other approaches; I suspect that the scenario is quite common in science. This investigation of the optimality approach thus serves as a case study, on the basis of which I suggest that there is a widely felt tension in science between explanatory independence and broad epistemic inter dependence, and that this tension influences scientific methodology
Keywords Methodology
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Angela Potochnik (2011). Explanation and Understanding. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):29-38.
Angela Potochnik (2012). Feminist Implications of Model-Based Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (2):383-389.
Angela Potochnik (2012). Modeling Social and Evolutionary Games. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):202-208.

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