Scientific Models and Representation

In Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science. Continuum Press. pp. 120--137 (2011)

Abstract

My two daughters would love to go tobogganing down the hill by themselves, but they are just toddlers and I am an apprehensive parent, so, before letting them do so, I want to ensure that the toboggan won’t go too fast. But how fast will it go? One way to try to answer this question would be to tackle the problem head on. Since my daughters and their toboggan are initially at rest, according to classical mechanics, their final velocity will be determined by the forces they will be subjected to between the moment the toboggan will be released at the top of the hill and the moment it will reach its highest speed. The problem is that, throughout their downhill journey, my daughters and the toboggan will be subjected to an incredibly large number of forces—from the gravitational pull of any massive object in the universe to the weight of the snowflake that is sitting on the tip of one of my youngest daughter’s hairs—so that any attempt to apply the theory directly to the real-world system in all its complexity seems to be doomed to failure

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Gabriele Contessa
Carleton University

References found in this work

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.C. Van Fraassen Bas - 1980 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work

Scientific Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Varieties of Misrepresentation and Homomorphism.Francesca Pero & Mauricio Suárez - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):71-90.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations