A model of models

Abstract
Although many philosophers of science have recognized the importance of modeling in contemporary science, relatively little work has been done in developing a general account of models. The most widely accepted account, put forth by advocates of the semantic conception of theories, misleadingly identifies scientific models with the models of mathematical logic. I present an alternative theory of scientific models in which models are defined by their representational relation to a physical system. I explore in some detail a particular sort of model called a ‘mechanical model’ I illustrate the applicability of my approach by applying it to a problem in contemporary speech perception research. The model of models is used to analyze how competing models of the mechanisms of vowel normalization are constructed, tested, and revised.
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