Synthese:1-26 (forthcoming)

Robert W. Batterman
University of Pittsburgh
Mesoscale modeling is often considered merely as a practical strategy used when information on lower-scale details is lacking, or when there is a need to make models cognitively or computationally tractable. Without dismissing the importance of practical constraints for modeling choices, we argue that mesoscale models should not just be considered as abbreviations or placeholders for more “complete” models. Because many systems exhibit different behaviors at various spatial and temporal scales, bottom-up approaches are almost always doomed to fail. Mesoscale models capture aspects of multi-scale systems that cannot be parameterized by simple averaging of lower-scale details. To understand the behavior of multi-scale systems, it is essential to identify mesoscale parameters that “code for” lower-scale details in a way that relate phenomena intermediate between microscopic and macroscopic features. We illustrate this point using examples of modeling of multi-scale systems in materials science and biology, where identification of material parameters such as stiffness or strain is a central step. The examples illustrate important aspects of a so-called “middle-out” modeling strategy. Rather than attempting to model the system bottom-up, one starts at intermediate scales where systems exhibit behaviors distinct from those at the atomic and continuum scales. One then seeks to upscale and downscale to gain a more complete understanding of the multi-scale system. The cases highlight how parameterization of lower-scale details not only enables tractable modeling but is also central to understanding functional and organizational features of multi-scale systems.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02769-y
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,274
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis.Paul Oppenheim & Hilary Putnam - 1958 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2:3-36.
The Music of Life: Biology Beyond Genes.Denis Noble - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
From Models to Simulations.Franck Varenne - 2018 - London, UK: Routledge.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Biology Meets Physics: Reductionism and Multi-Scale Modeling of Morphogenesis.Sara Green & Robert Batterman - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 7161:20-34.
The Sum of the Parts: Large-Scale Modeling in Systems Biology.Fridolin Gross & Sara Green - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (10).
Scale Dependency and Downward Causation in Biology.Sara Green - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (5):998-1011.
Conceptual Strategies and Inter-Theory Relations: The Case of Nanoscale Cracks.Julia Bursten - 2018 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 62:158–165.
Data Without Models Merging with Models Without Data.Ulrich Krohs & Werner Callebaut - 2007 - In Fred C. Boogerd, Frank J. Bruggeman, Jan-Hendrik S. Hofmeyr & Hans V. Westerhoff (eds.), Systems Biology: Philosophical Foundations. Elsevier. pp. 181--213.
Multiscale Analysis of Biological Systems.Annick Lesne - 2013 - Acta Biotheoretica 61 (1):3-19.
Minimal Model Explanations.Robert W. Batterman & Collin C. Rice - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (3):349-376.
Fractals and Multi-Scale Modeling in Biology.Werner Callebaut - 2008 - Biological Theory 3 (4):291-292.


Added to PP index

Total views
10 ( #872,176 of 2,448,687 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #447,803 of 2,448,687 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes