Forty years of 'the strategy': Levins on model building and idealization [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):623-645 (2006)
Abstract
This paper is an interpretation and defense of Richard Levins’ “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology,” which has been extremely influential among biologists since its publication 40 years ago. In this article, Levins confronted some of the deepest philosophical issues surrounding modeling and theory construction. By way of interpretation, I discuss each of Levins’ major philosophical themes: the problem of complexity, the brute-force approach, the existence and consequence of tradeoffs, and robustness analysis. I argue that Levins’ article is concerned, at its core, with justifying the use of multiple, idealized models in population biology.
Keywords Richard Levins  Tradeoffs  Models  Model building  Idealization  Robustness  Population biology  Theoretical ecology  Complex systems
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Reprint years 2007
DOI 10.1007/s10539-006-9051-9
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References found in this work BETA
Models as Mediators.Margaret Morrison & Mary Morgan (eds.) - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.
The Dialectical Biologist.Richard Levins - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
Explanatory Unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
Robustness Analysis.Michael Weisberg - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5):730-742.
The Structure of Scientific Theories.Frederick Suppe (ed.) - 1974 - Urbana, University of Illinois Press.

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Citations of this work BETA
Understanding with Theoretical Models.Petri Ylikoski & N. Emrah Aydinonat - 2014 - Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (1):19-36.
Cancer and the Goals of Integration.Anya Plutynski - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C (4):466-476.
Idealization.Alkistis Elliott‐Graves & Michael Weisberg - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (3):176-185.

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Similar books and articles
Qualitative Scientific Modeling and Loop Analysis.James Justus - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1272-1286.
Trade-Offs in Model-Building: A More Target-Oriented Approach.John Matthewson - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):324-333.

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