Forty years of 'the strategy': Levins on model building and idealization [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):623-645 (2006)
Abstract
This paper is an interpretation and defense of Richard Levins’ “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology,” which has been extremely influential among biologists since its publication 40 years ago. In this article, Levins confronted some of the deepest philosophical issues surrounding modeling and theory construction. By way of interpretation, I discuss each of Levins’ major philosophical themes: the problem of complexity, the brute-force approach, the existence and consequence of tradeoffs, and robustness analysis. I argue that Levins’ article is concerned, at its core, with justifying the use of multiple, idealized models in population biology.
Keywords Richard Levins  Tradeoffs  Models  Model building  Idealization  Robustness  Population biology  Theoretical ecology  Complex systems
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Citations of this work BETA
Angela Potochnik (2012). Feminist Implications of Model-Based Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (2):383-389.
John Matthewson (2011). Trade-Offs in Model-Building: A More Target-Oriented Approach. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):324-333.

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John Matthewson (2011). Trade-Offs in Model-Building: A More Target-Oriented Approach. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):324-333.
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