I Models

John Woods
Illinois Mathematics And Science Acadamy
The use of models in the construction of scientific theories is as widespread as it is philosophically interesting (and, one might say, vexing).1 In neither philosophical nor scientific practice do we find a univocal concept of model.2 But there is one established usage to which we want to direct our particular attention in this paper, in which a model is constituted by the theorist’s idealizations and abstractions. Idealizations are expressed by statements known to be false. Abstractions are achieved by suppressing what is known to be true. Idealizations over-represent empirical phenomena. Abstractions underrepresent them. We might think of idealizations and abstractions as one another’s duals. Either way, they are purposeful distortions of phenomena on the ground.3..
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