Isolation Is Not Characteristic of Models

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (2):119-137 (2011)
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Modelling cannot be characterized as isolating, nor models as isolations. This article presents three arguments to that effect, against Uskali Mäki's account of models. First, while isolation proceeds through a process of manipulation and control, modelling typically does not proceed through such a process. Rather, modellers postulate assumptions, without seeking to justify them by reference to a process of isolation. Second, while isolation identifies an isolation base—a concrete environment it seeks to control and manipulate—modelling typically does not identify such a base. Rather, modellers construct their models without reference to concrete environments, and only later seek to connect their models to concrete situations of the real world. Third, Mäki argues that isolation employs idealization to control for disturbing factors, but does not affect the factors or mechanisms that are supposed to be isolated. However, models typically make idealizing assumptions about the factors and mechanisms that are the focus of investigation. Thus, even the product of modelling often cannot be characterized as isolation.



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Till Grüne-Yanoff
Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

References found in this work

Three Kinds of Idealization.Michael Weisberg - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.
Galilean Idealization.Ernan McMullin - 1985 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 16 (3):247.
The strategy of model-based science.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):725-740.
Who is a Modeler?Michael Weisberg - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):207-233.

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