Idealization and modeling

Synthese 169 (3):427-446 (2009)
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Abstract

This paper examines the role of mathematical idealization in describing and explaining various features of the world. It examines two cases: first, briefly, the modeling of shock formation using the idealization of the continuum. Second, and in more detail, the breaking of droplets from the points of view of both analytic fluid mechanics and molecular dynamical simulations at the nano-level. It argues that the continuum idealizations are explanatorily ineliminable and that a full understanding of certain physical phenomena cannot be obtained through completely detailed, non-idealized representations.

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Author's Profile

Robert W. Batterman
University of Pittsburgh

References found in this work

Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior.Mark Wilson - 2006 - Oxford, GB: Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Theories of Probability.Terrence Fine - 1973 - Academic Press.
Critical phenomena and breaking drops: Infinite idealizations in physics.Robert Batterman - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2):225-244.
Asymptotics and the role of minimal models.Robert W. Batterman - 2002 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (1):21-38.
Idealization, Explanation, and Confirmation.Ronald Laymon - 1980 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:336 - 350.

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