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Elay Shech
Auburn University
  1.  14
    The Exploratory Role of Idealizations and Limiting Cases in Models.Elay Shech & Axel Gelfert - forthcoming - Studia Metodologiczne.
    In this article we argue that idealizations and limiting cases in models play an exploratory role in science. Four senses of exploration are presented: exploration of the structure and representational capacities of theory; proof-of-principle demonstrations; potential explanations; and exploring the suitability of target systems. We illustrate our claims through three case studies, including the Aharonov-Bohm effect, the emergence of anyons and fractional quantum statistics, and the Hubbard model of the Mott phase transitions. We end by reflecting on how our case (...)
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  2.  6
    Philosophical Issues Concerning Phase Transitions and Anyons: Emergence, Reduction, and Explanatory Fictions.Elay Shech - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-31.
    Various claims regarding intertheoretic reduction, weak and strong notions of emergence, and explanatory fictions have been made in the context of first-order thermodynamic phase transitions. By appealing to John Norton’s recent distinction between approximation and idealization, I argue that the case study of anyons and fractional statistics, which has received little attention in the philosophy of science literature, is more hospitable to such claims. In doing so, I also identify three novel roles that explanatory fictions fulfill in science. Furthermore, I (...)
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  3.  6
    Infinitesimal Idealization, Easy Road Nominalism, and Fractional Quantum Statistics.Elay Shech - forthcoming - Synthese 1.
    It has been recently debated whether there exists a so-called “easy road” to nominalism. In this essay, I attempt to fill a lacuna in the debate by making a connection with the literature on infinite and infinitesimal idealization in science through an example from mathematical physics that has been largely ignored by philosophers. Specifically, by appealing to John Norton’s distinction between idealization and approximation, I argue that the phenomena of fractional quantum statistics bears negatively on Mary Leng’s proposed path to (...)
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  4.  21
    Scientific Misrepresentation and Guides to Ontology: The Need for Representational Code and Contents.Elay Shech - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3463-3485.
    In this paper I show how certain requirements must be set on any tenable account of scientific representation, such as the requirement allowing for misrepresentation. I then continue to argue that two leading accounts of scientific representation— the inferential account and the interpretational account—are flawed for they do not satisfy such requirements. Through such criticism, and drawing on an analogy from non-scientific representation, I also sketch the outline of a superior account. In particular, I propose to take epistemic representations to (...)
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  5.  8
    Two Approaches to Fractional Statistics in the Quantum Hall Effect: Idealizations and the Curious Case of the Anyon.Elay Shech - 2015 - Foundations of Physics 45 (9):1063-1100.
    This paper looks at the nature of idealizations and representational structures appealed to in the context of the fractional quantum Hall effect, specifically, with respect to the emergence of anyons and fractional statistics. Drawing on an analogy with the Aharonov–Bohm effect, it is suggested that the standard approach to the effects— the topological approach to fractional statistics—relies essentially on problematic idealizations that need to be revised in order for the theory to be explanatory. An alternative geometric approach is outlined and (...)
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  6.  20
    What Is the Paradox of Phase Transitions?Elay Shech - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):1170-1181.
    I present a novel approach to the scholarly debate that has arisen with respect to the philosophical import one should infer from scientific accounts of phase transitions by appealing to a distinction between representation understood as denotation, and faithful representation understood as a type of guide to ontology. It is argued that the entire debate is misguided, for it stems from a pseudo-paradox that does not license the type of claims made by scholars and that what is really interesting about (...)
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  7.  9
    Infinite Idealizations in Physics.Elay Shech - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (9):e12514.
    In this essay, I provide an overview of the debate on infinite and essential idealizations in physics. I will first present two ostensible examples: phase transitions and the Aharonov– Bohm effect. Then, I will describe the literature on the topic as a debate between two positions: Essentialists claim that idealizations are essential or indispensable for scientific accounts of certain physical phenomena, while dispensabilists maintain that idealizations are dispensable from mature scientific theory. I will also identify some attempts at finding a (...)
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  8.  8
    Infinite Idealizations in Science: An Introduction.Samuel C. Fletcher, Patricia Palacios, Laura Ruetsche & Elay Shech - forthcoming - Synthese:1-13.
    We offer a framework for organizing the literature regarding the debates revolving around infinite idealizations in science, and a short summary of the contributions to this special issue.
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  9.  5
    Fiction, Depiction, and the Complementarity Thesis in Art and Science.Elay Shech - 2016 - The Monist 99 (3):311-332.
    In this paper, I appeal to a distinction made by David Lewis between identifying and determining semantic content in order to defend a complementarity thesis expressed by Anjan Chakravartty. The thesis states that there is no conflict between informational and functional views of scientific modeling and representation. I then apply the complementarity thesis to well-received theories of pictorial representation, thereby stressing the fruitfulness of drawing an analogy between the nature of fictions in art and in science. I end by attending (...)
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  10.  9
    Historical Inductions Meet the Material Theory.Elay Shech - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    Historical inductions, viz., the pessimistic meta-induction and the problem of unconceived alternatives, are critically analyzed via John D. Norton’s material theory of induction and subsequently rejected as non-cogent arguments. It is suggested that the material theory is amenable to a local version of the pessimistic meta-induction, e.g., in the context of some medical studies.
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  11.  6
    Teaching and Learning Guide For: Infinite Idealizations in Physics.Elay Shech - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (9):e12519.
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  12.  45
    On Gases in Boxes: A Reply to Davey on the Justification of the Probability Measure in Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics.Elay Shech - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (4):593-605.
    Kevin Davey claims that the justification of the second law of thermodynamics as it is conveyed by the “standard story” of statistical mechanics, roughly speaking, that lowentropy microstates tend to evolve to high-entropy microstates, is “unhelpful at best and wrong at worst.” In reply, I demonstrate that Davey’s argument for rejecting the standard story commits him to a form of skepticism that is more radical than the position he claims to be stating and that Davey places unreasonable demands on the (...)
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  13.  19
    The Material Intricacies of Coulomb’s 1785 Electric Torsion Balance Experiment.Elay Shech & Eric Hatleback - unknown
    Contemporary scholars are engaged in a debate over whether Charles Augustin Coulomb’s results that he presented in his 1785 and 1787 memoirs to the Paris Academy of Sciences were attained experimentally or theoretically. In this paper, we study Coulomb’s famous 1785 electric torsion balance experiment through analysis of relevant texts and, more importantly, through a replication that is more faithful to Coulomb’s original design than previous attempts. We show that, despite recent claims, it has so far proved impossible to obtain (...)
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  14.  1
    Review of Chunglin Kwa’s, Styles of Knowing: A New History of Science From Ancient Times to the Present (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011). [REVIEW]Elay Shech - 2014 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 4.
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