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

Authors
Robert W. Batterman
University of Pittsburgh
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.
Keywords Philosophy   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language   Logic   Epistemology   Computer Science, general   Philosophy of Science
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-008-9436-1
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References found in this work BETA

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.
Shadows and Ephemera.Sidney R. Nagel - 2001 - Critical Inquiry 28 (1):23-39.
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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Citations of this work BETA

Minimal Model Explanations.Robert W. Batterman & Collin C. Rice - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (3):349-376.

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