Foundations of Physics 50 (10):1152-1170 (2020)

Julie Jebeile
University of Bern
In 1959, mathematician Mark Kac introduced a model, called the Kac ring, in order to elucidate the classical solution of Boltzmann to the problem of macroscopic irreversibility. However, the model is far from being a realistic representation of something. How can it be of any help here? In philosophy of science, it is often argued that models can provide explanations of the phenomenon they are said to approximate, in virtue of the truth they contain, and in spite of the idealisations they are made of. On this view, idealisations are not supposed to contribute to any explaining, and should not affect the global representational function of the model. But the Kac ring is a toy model that is only made of idealisations, and is still used trustworthily to understand the treatment of irreversible phenomena in statistical mechanics. In the paper, my aim is to argue that each idealisation ingeniously designed by the mathematician maintains the representational function of the Kac ring with the general properties of macroscopic irreversibility under scrutiny. Such an active role of idealisations in the representing has so far been overlooked and reflects the art of modelling.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10701-020-00373-1
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: 68,975
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

Models and Analogies in Science.Mary Hesse - 1965 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (62):161-163.
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.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Idealisations in Normative Models.Mark Colyvan - 2013 - Synthese 190 (8):1337-1350.
Models, Idealisations, and Realism.Juha Saatsi - 2016 - In F. Sterpetti, E. Ippoloti & T. Nickles (eds.), Models and Inferences in Science. Springer.
Economic Modelling as Robustness Analysis.Jaakko Kuorikoski, Aki Lehtinen & Caterina Marchionni - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):541-567.
Models on the Move: Migration and Imperialism.Seamus Bradley & Karim P. Y. Thébault - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 77:81-92.
Model Theory of Modules Over a Serial Ring.Paul C. Eklof & Ivo Herzog - 1995 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 72 (2):145-176.
Definable combinatorics with dense linear orders.Himanshu Shukla, Arihant Jain & Amit Kuber - 2020 - Archive for Mathematical Logic 59 (5-6):679-701.
Completions of Convexly Ordered Valuation Rings.Larry Mathews - 1994 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 40 (3):318-330.
Ring Structure Theorems and Arithmetic Comprehension.Huishan Wu - 2021 - Archive for Mathematical Logic 60 (1-2):145-160.


Added to PP index

Total views
7 ( #1,063,348 of 2,498,158 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #212,239 of 2,498,158 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes