Who is a Modeler?

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):207-233 (2007)
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Abstract

Many standard philosophical accounts of scientific practice fail to distinguish between modeling and other types of theory construction. This failure is unfortunate because there are important contrasts among the goals, procedures, and representations employed by modelers and other kinds of theorists. We can see some of these differences intuitively when we reflect on the methods of theorists such as Vito Volterra and Linus Pauling on the one hand, and Charles Darwin and Dimitri Mendeleev on the other. Much of Volterra's and Pauling's work involved modeling; much of Darwin's and Mendeleev's did not. In order to capture this distinction, I consider two examples of theory construction in detail: Volterra's treatment of post-WWI fishery dynamics and Mendeleev's construction of the periodic system. I argue that modeling can be distinguished from other forms of theorizing by the procedures modelers use to represent and to study real-world phenomena: indirect representation and analysis. This differentiation between modelers and non-modelers is one component of the larger project of understanding the practice of modeling, its distinctive features, and the strategies of abstraction and idealization it employs

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Michael Weisberg
University of Pennsylvania

Citations of this work

Three Kinds of Idealization.Michael Weisberg - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.
Modeling Morality.Walter Veit - 2019 - In Matthieu Fontaine, Cristina Barés-Gómez, Francisco Salguero-Lamillar, Lorenzo Magnani & Ángel Nepomuceno-Fernández (eds.), Model-Based Reasoning in Science and Technology: Inferential Models for Logic, Language, Cognition and Computation. Springer Verlag. pp. 83–102.
Models and fiction.Roman Frigg - 2010 - Synthese 172 (2):251-268.
The strategy of model-based science.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):725-740.
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How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
The strategy of model-based science.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):725-740.

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