Island biogeography and the multiple domains of models

Biology and Philosophy 15 (2):239-258 (2000)

Sergio Sismondo
Queen's University
This paper adopts a symmetrical approach tocontroversies over R.H. MacArthur and E.O. Wilson'sequilibrium model of island biogeography, in order toshow how different interpretations of the model dependupon different philosophical understandings of theapplication of models and theories. In particular,there are quite distinct domains to which the modelcould apply; in addition, some equivocation amongthese domains is important to the model's success.Therefore, apparently inconsistent interpretations,interpretations that fit into roughly instrumentalist,realist and rationalist conceptions of science, may bemutually supporting in practice. Descriptions ofscientific practice, then, should not adjudicate amongthese interpretations, but should instead recognizeways in which successful models translate amongdomains, and in so doing can become realistic,instrumentally successful, or rationally established.As complex social objects, models can afford complexrepresentational relations.
Keywords domains  idealization  island biogeography  realism
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1006521714642
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References found in this work BETA

The Theory of Island Biogeography.Robert H. Macarthur & Edward O. Wilson - 2002 - Journal of the History of Biology 35 (1):178-179.
Representing and Intervening.Ian Hacking - 1984 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35 (4):381-390.
Sense and Sensibilia.J. L. AUSTIN - 1962 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Models, Simulations, and Their Objects.Sergio Sismondo - 1999 - Science in Context 12 (2):247-260.
Occam’s Razor in Science: A Case Study From Biogeography.A. Baker - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):193-215.
The Mechanistic Approach of The Theory of Island Biogeography and its Current Relevance.Viorel Pâslaru - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):22-33.

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