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  1. Idealization.Alkistis Elliott-Graves & Michael Weisberg - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (3):176-185.
    This article reviews the recent literature on idealization, specifically idealization in the course of scientific modeling. We argue that idealization is not a unified concept and that there are three different types of idealization: Galilean, minimalist, and multiple models, each with its own justification. We explore the extent to which idealization is a permanent feature of scientific representation and discuss its implications for debates about scientific realism.
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  • Abstraction and Idealization in the Formal Verification of Software Systems.Nicola Angius - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (2):211-226.
    Questions concerning the epistemological status of computer science are, in this paper, answered from the point of view of the formal verification framework. State space reduction techniques adopted to simplify computational models in model checking are analysed in terms of Aristotelian abstractions and Galilean idealizations characterizing the inquiry of empirical systems. Methodological considerations drawn here are employed to argue in favour of the scientific understanding of computer science as a discipline. Specifically, reduced models gained by Dataion are acknowledged as Aristotelian (...)
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  • Determinism, Predictability and Open-Ended Evolution: Lessons From Computational Emergence.Philippe Huneman - 2012 - Synthese 185 (2):195-214.
    Among many properties distinguishing emergence, such as novelty, irreducibility and unpredictability, computational accounts of emergence in terms of computational incompressibility aim first at making sense of such unpredictability. Those accounts prove to be more objective than usual accounts in terms of levels of mereology, which often face objections of being too epistemic. The present paper defends computational accounts against some objections, and develops what such notions bring to the usual idea of unpredictability. I distinguish the objective unpredictability, compatible with determinism (...)
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  • The Generality of Scientific Models: A Measure Theoretic Approach.Cory Travers Lewis & Christopher Belanger - 2015 - Synthese 192 (1):269-285.
    Scientific models are often said to be more or less general depending on how many cases they cover. In this paper we argue that the cardinality of cases is insufficient as a metric of generality, and we present a novel account based on measure theory. This account overcomes several problems with the cardinality approach, and additionally provides some insight into the nature of assessments of generality. Specifically, measure theory affords a natural and quantitative way of describing local spaces of possibility. (...)
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  • Explanation in Biology: Reduction, Pluralism, and Explanatory Aims.Ingo Brigandt - 2011 - Science & Education 22 (1):69-91.
    This essay analyzes and develops recent views about explanation in biology. Philosophers of biology have parted with the received deductive-nomological model of scientific explanation primarily by attempting to capture actual biological theorizing and practice. This includes an endorsement of different kinds of explanation (e.g., mathematical and causal-mechanistic), a joint study of discovery and explanation, and an abandonment of models of theory reduction in favor of accounts of explanatory reduction. Of particular current interest are philosophical accounts of complex explanations that appeal (...)
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  • Social Intelligence: How to Integrate Research? A Mechanistic Perspective.Marcin Miłkowski - 2019 - AI and Society 34 (4):735-744.
    Is there a field of social intelligence? Many various disciplines approach the subject and it may only seem natural to suppose that different fields of study aim at explaining different phenomena; in other words, there is no special field of study of social intelligence. In this paper, I argue for an opposite claim. Namely, there is a way to integrate research on social intelligence, as long as one accepts the mechanistic account to explanation. Mechanistic integration of different explanations, however, comes (...)
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  • Understanding with Theoretical Models.Petri Ylikoski & N. Emrah Aydinonat - 2014 - Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (1):19-36.
    This paper discusses the epistemic import of highly abstract and simplified theoretical models using Thomas Schelling’s checkerboard model as an example. We argue that the epistemic contribution of theoretical models can be better understood in the context of a cluster of models relevant to the explanatory task at hand. The central claim of the paper is that theoretical models make better sense in the context of a menu of possible explanations. In order to justify this claim, we introduce a distinction (...)
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  • 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.
    In his 1966 paper “The Strategy of model-building in Population Biology”, Richard Levins argues that no single model in population biology can be maximally realistic, precise and general at the same time. This is because these desirable model properties trade-off against one another. Recently, philosophers have developed Levins’ claims, arguing that trade-offs between these desiderata are generated by practical limitations on scientists, or due to formal aspects of models and how they represent the world. However this project is not complete. (...)
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  • Functional Analyses, Mechanistic Explanations, and Explanatory Tradeoffs.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2013 - Journal of Cognitive Science 14:229-251.
    Recently, Piccinini and Craver have stated three theses concerning the relations between functional analysis and mechanistic explanation in cognitive sciences: No Distinctness: functional analysis and mechanistic explanation are explanations of the same kind; Integration: functional analysis is a kind of mechanistic explanation; and Subordination: functional analyses are unsatisfactory sketches of mechanisms. In this paper, I argue, first, that functional analysis and mechanistic explanations are sub-kinds of explanation by scientific (idealized) models. From that point of view, we must take into account (...)
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  • A Unified Cognitive Model of Visual Filling-In Based on an Emergic Network Architecture.David Pierre Leibovitz - 2013 - Dissertation, Carleton University
    The Emergic Cognitive Model (ECM) is a unified computational model of visual filling-in based on the Emergic Network architecture. The Emergic Network was designed to help realize systems undergoing continuous change. In this thesis, eight different filling-in phenomena are demonstrated under a regime of continuous eye movement (and under static eye conditions as well). -/- ECM indirectly demonstrates the power of unification inherent with Emergic Networks when cognition is decomposed according to finer-grained functions supporting change. These can interact to raise (...)
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  • Biological Explanation.Angela Potochnik - 2013 - In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer. pp. 49-65.
    One of the central aims of science is explanation: scientists seek to uncover why things happen the way they do. This chapter addresses what kinds of explanations are formulated in biology, how explanatory aims influence other features of the field of biology, and the implications of all of this for biology education. Philosophical treatments of scientific explanation have been both complicated and enriched by attention to explanatory strategies in biology. Most basically, whereas traditional philosophy of science based explanation on derivation (...)
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  • Defusing Ideological Defenses in Biology.Angela Potochnik - 2013 - BioScience 63 (2):118-123.
    Ideological language is widespread in theoretical biology. Evolutionary game theory has been defended as a worldview and a leap of faith, and sexual selection theory has been criticized for what it posits as basic to biological nature. Views such as these encourage the impression of ideological rifts in the field. I advocate an alternative interpretation, whereby many disagreements between different camps of biologists merely reflect methodological differences. This interpretation provides a more accurate and more optimistic account of the state of (...)
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  • Economic Modelling as Robustness Analysis.J. Kuorikoski, A. Lehtinen & C. Marchionni - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):541-567.
    We claim that the process of theoretical model refinement in economics is best characterised as robustness analysis: the systematic examination of the robustness of modelling results with respect to particular modelling assumptions. We argue that this practise has epistemic value by extending William Wimsatt's account of robustness analysis as triangulation via independent means of determination. For economists robustness analysis is a crucial methodological strategy because their models are often based on idealisations and abstractions, and it is usually difficult to tell (...)
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  • The Volterra Principle Generalized.Tim Räz - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (4):737-760.
    Michael Weisberg and Kenneth Reisman argue that the Volterra Principle can be derived from multiple predator-prey models and that, therefore, the Volterra Principle is a prime example for robustness analysis. In the current article, I give new results regarding the Volterra Principle, extending Weisberg’s and Reisman’s work, and I discuss the consequences of these results for robustness analysis. I argue that we do not end up with multiple, independent models but rather with one general model. I identify the kind of (...)
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  • Cancer and the Goals of Integration.Anya Plutynski - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C (4):466-476.
    Cancer is not one, but many diseases, and each is a product of a variety of causes acting (and interacting) at distinct temporal and spatial scales, or “levels” in the biological hierarchy. In part because of this diversity of cancer types and causes, there has been a diversity of models, hypotheses, and explanations of carcinogenesis. However, there is one model of carcinogenesis that seems to have survived the diversification of cancer types: the multi-stage model of carcinogenesis. This paper examines the (...)
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  • What is the Problem with Model-Based Explanation in Economics?Caterina Marchionni - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (47):603-630.
    The question of whether the idealized models of theoretical economics are explanatory has been the subject of intense philosophical debate. It is sometimes presupposed that either a model provides the actual explanation or it does not provide an explanation at all. Yet, two sets of issues are relevant to the evaluation of model-based explanation: what conditions should a model satisfy in order to count as explanatory and does the model satisfy those conditions. My aim in this paper is to unpack (...)
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  • Modeling Without Representation.Alistair M. C. Isaac - 2013 - Synthese 190 (16):3611-3623.
    How can mathematical models which represent the causal structure of the world incompletely or incorrectly have any scientific value? I argue that this apparent puzzle is an artifact of a realist emphasis on representation in the philosophy of modeling. I offer an alternative, pragmatic methodology of modeling, inspired by classic papers by modelers themselves. The crux of the view is that models developed for purposes other than explanation may be justified without reference to their representational properties.
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  • Robustness, Evidence, and Uncertainty: An Exploration of Policy Applications of Robustness Analysis.Nicolas Wüthrich - unknown
    Policy-makers face an uncertain world. One way of getting a handle on decision-making in such an environment is to rely on evidence. Despite the recent increase in post-fact figures in politics, evidence-based policymaking takes centre stage in policy-setting institutions. Often, however, policy-makers face large volumes of evidence from different sources. Robustness analysis can, prima facie, handle this evidential diversity. Roughly, a hypothesis is supported by robust evidence if the different evidential sources are in agreement. In this thesis, I strengthen the (...)
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  • The Structure of Idealization in Biological Theories: The Case of the Wright-Fisher Model.Xavier de Donato Rodríguez & Alfonso Arroyo Santos - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (1):11-27.
    In this paper we present a new framework of idealization in biology. We characterize idealizations as a network of counterfactual and hypothetical conditionals that can exhibit different “degrees of contingency”. We use this idea to say that, in departing more or less from the actual world, idealizations can serve numerous epistemic, methodological or heuristic purposes within scientific research. We defend that, in part, this structure explains why idealizations, despite being deformations of reality, are so successful in scientific practice. For illustrative (...)
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  • Under What Conditions Can Formal Models of Social Action Claim Explanatory Power?Nathalie Bulle - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (1):47-64.
    This paper's purpose is to set forth the conditions of explanation in the domain of formal modelling of social action. Explanation is defined as an adequate account of the underlying factors bringing about a phenomenon. The modelling of a social phenomenon can claim explanatory value in this sense if the following two conditions are fulfilled. (1) The generative mechanisms involved translate the effects of real factors abstracted from their phenomenal context, not those of purely ideal ones. (2) The explanatory hypotheses, (...)
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  • The Structure of Tradeoffs in Model Building.John Matthewson & Michael Weisberg - 2009 - Synthese 170 (1):169 - 190.
    Despite their best efforts, scientists may be unable to construct models that simultaneously exemplify every theoretical virtue. One explanation for this is the existence of tradeoffs: relationships of attenuation that constrain the extent to which models can have such desirable qualities. In this paper, we characterize three types of tradeoffs theorists may confront. These characterizations are then used to examine the relationships between parameter precision and two types of generality. We show that several of these relationships exhibit tradeoffs and discuss (...)
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  • Going Outside the Model: Robustness Analysis and Experimental Science.Michael Trevor Bycroft - 2009 - Spontaneous Generations 3 (1):123-141.
    In 1966 the population biologist Richard Levins gave a forceful and in?uential defence of a method called “robustness analysis” (RA). RA is a way of assessing the result of a model by showing that different but related models give the same result. As Levins put it, “our truth is the intersection of independent lies” (1966, 423). Steven Orzack and Elliott Sober (1993) responded with an equally forceful critique of this method, concluding that the idea of robustness “lacks proper de?nition and (...)
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  • Four Pillars of Statisticalism.Denis M. Walsh, André Ariew & Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (1).
    Over the past fifteen years there has been a considerable amount of debate concerning what theoretical population dynamic models tell us about the nature of natural selection and drift. On the causal interpretation, these models describe the causes of population change. On the statistical interpretation, the models of population dynamics models specify statistical parameters that explain, predict, and quantify changes in population structure, without identifying the causes of those changes. Selection and drift are part of a statistical description of population (...)
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  • Agent-Based Models as Fictive Instantiations of Ecological Processes.Steven L. Peck - 2012 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 4 (20130604).
    Frigg and Reiss (2009) argue that philosophical problems in simulation bear enough resemblance to recognized issues in the philosophy of modeling that they only pose challenges analogous to those found in standard analytic models used to represent natural systems. They suggest that there are no new philosophical problems in computer simulation modeling beyond those found in traditional mathematical modeling. Winsberg (2009) has countered that there appear to be genuinely new epistemological problems in simulation modeling because the knowledge obtained from them (...)
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  • Making the Abstract Concrete: The Role of Norms and Values in Experimental Modeling.Isabelle F. Peschard & Bas C. van Fraassen - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 46:3-10.
    Experimental modeling is the construction of theoretical models hand in hand with experimental activity. As explained in Section 1, experimental modeling starts with claims about phenomena that use abstract concepts, concepts whose conditions of realization are not yet specified; and it ends with a concrete model of the phenomenon, a model that can be tested against data. This paper argues that this process from abstract concepts to concrete models involves judgments of relevance, which are irreducibly normative. In Section 2, we (...)
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  • Theory is as Theory Does: Scientific Practice and Theory Structure in Biology.Alan C. Love - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (4):325-337, 430.
    Using the context of controversies surrounding evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo) and the possibility of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, I provide an account of theory structure as idealized theory presentations that are always incomplete (partial) and shaped by their conceptual content (material rather than formal organization). These two characteristics are salient because the goals that organize and regulate scientific practice, including the activity of using a theory, are heterogeneous. This means that the same theory can be structured differently, in part because (...)
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  • The “Structure” of the “Strategy”: Looking at the Matthewson-Weisberg Trade-Off and Its Justificatory Role for the Multiple-Models Approach.Michael Goldsby - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):862-873.
    The multiple-models approach, which has its origins in Levins’s work, is gaining broader acceptance among philosophers. Levins asserted that there is a trade-off between modeling desiderata, which justified the multiple-models approach through two separate justificatory paths. Some attention has been paid to the trade-off thesis, culminating in a paper by Matthewson and Weisberg. However, no attention has been paid to how the trade-off is supposed to justify the multiple-models approach. I argue that a trade-off between generality and precision cannot support (...)
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  • Feminist Implications of Model-Based Science.Angela Potochnik - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (2):383-389.
    Recent philosophy of science has witnessed a shift in focus, in that significantly more consideration is given to how scientists employ models. Attending to the role of models in scientific practice leads to new questions about the representational roles of models, the purpose of idealizations, why multiple models are used for the same phenomenon, and many more besides. In this paper, I suggest that these themes resonate with central topics in feminist epistemology, in particular prominent versions of feminist empiricism, and (...)
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  • Holistic Modeling: An Objection to Weisberg’s Weighted Feature-Matching Account.Wei Fang - 2017 - Synthese 194 (5).
    Michael Weisberg’s account of scientific models concentrates on the ways in which models are similar to their targets. He intends not merely to explain what similarity consists in, but also to capture similarity judgments made by scientists. In order to scrutinize whether his account fulfills this goal, I outline one common way in which scientists judge whether a model is similar enough to its target, namely maximum likelihood estimation method. Then I consider whether Weisberg’s account could capture the judgments involved (...)
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  • Robustness and Sensitivity of Biological Models.Jani Raerinne - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (2):285-303.
    The aim of this paper is to develop ideas about robustness analyses. I introduce a form of robustness analysis that I call sufficient parameter robustness, which has been neglected in the literature. I claim that sufficient parameter robustness is different from derivational robustness, the focus of previous research. My purpose is not only to suggest a new taxonomy of robustness, but also to argue that previous authors have concentrated on a narrow sense of robustness analysis, which they have inadequately distinguished (...)
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  • On the Thinking Brains and Tinkering with the Scientific Models.Majid Beni - 2018 - Axiomathes 28 (1):37-51.
    The paper aims to provide a detailed assessment of Tim Crane’s recent invocation of the notion of scientific models in the way of dealing with the issue of the brain’s representational states. In this paper, I assess Crane’s proposal under a charitable and a less charitable reading. I argue that Crane’s use of scientific models is at best compatible with his expression of psychological realism. However, Crane’s use of model-based strategy by no means underlay, support, or strengthen his psychological realism. (...)
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  • Informative Ecological Models Without Ecological Forces.Justin Donhauser - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    Sagoff (2016) criticizes widely used “theoretical” methods in ecology; arguing that those methods employ models that rely on problematic metaphysical assumptions and are therefore uninformative and useless for practical decision-making. In this paper, I show that Sagoff misconstrues how such model-based methods work in practice, that the main threads of his argument are problematic, and that his substantive conclusions are consequently unfounded. Along the way, I illuminate several ways the model-based inferential methods he criticizes can be, and have been, usefully (...)
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  • Robust Simulations.Ryan Muldoon - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):873-883.
    As scientists begin to study increasingly complex questions, many have turned to computer simulation to assist in their inquiry. This methodology has been challenged by both analytic modelers and experimentalists. A primary objection of analytic modelers is that simulations are simply too complicated to perform model verification. From the experimentalist perspective it is that there is no means to demonstrate the reality of simulation. The aim of this paper is to consider objections from both of these perspectives, and to argue (...)
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  • Cancer and the Goals of Integration.Anya Plutynski - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):466-476.
    Cancer is not one, but many diseases, and each is a product of a variety of causes acting at distinct temporal and spatial scales, or ‘‘levels’’ in the biological hierarchy. In part because of this diversity of cancer types and causes, there has been a diversity of models, hypotheses, and explanations of carcinogenesis. However, there is one model of carcinogenesis that seems to have survived the diversification of cancer types: the multi-stage model of carcinogenesis. This paper examines the history of (...)
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  • The Hermeneutics of Ecological Simulation.Steven L. Peck - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (3):383-402.
    Computer simulation has become important in ecological modeling, but there have been few assessments on how complex simulation models differ from more traditional analytic models. In Part I of this paper, I review the challenges faced in complex ecological modeling and how models have been used to gain theoretical purchase for understanding natural systems. I compare the use of traditional analytic simulation models and point how that the two methods require different kinds of practical engagement. I examine a case study (...)
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  • Assessing the Fitness Landscape Revolution.Brett Calcott - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):639-657.
    According to Pigliucci and Kaplan, there is a revolution underway in how we understand fitness landscapes. Recent models suggest that a perennial problem in these landscapes—how to get from one peak across a fitness valley to another peak—is, in fact, non-existent. In this paper I assess the structure and the extent of Pigliucci and Kaplan’s proposed revolution and argue for two points. First, I provide an alternative interpretation of what underwrites this revolution, motivated by some recent work on model-based science. (...)
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  • The Structure of Idealization in Biological Theories: The Case of the Wright-Fisher Model. [REVIEW]Xavier Donato Rodríguez & Alfonso Arroyo Santos - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (1):11-27.
    In this paper we present a new framework of idealization in biology. We characterize idealizations as a network of counterfactual and hypothetical conditionals that can exhibit different “degrees of contingency”. We use this idea to say that, in departing more or less from the actual world, idealizations can serve numerous epistemic, methodological or heuristic purposes within scientific research. We defend that, in part, this structure explains why idealizations, despite being deformations of reality, are so successful in scientific practice. For illustrative (...)
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  • Causal Isolation Robustness Analysis: The Combinatorial Strategy of Circadian Clock Research.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):773-791.
    This paper distinguishes between causal isolation robustness analysis and independent determination robustness analysis and suggests that the triangulation of the results of different epistemic means or activities serves different functions in them. Circadian clock research is presented as a case of causal isolation robustness analysis: in this field researchers made use of the notion of robustness to isolate the assumed mechanism behind the circadian rhythm. However, in contrast to the earlier philosophical case studies on causal isolation robustness analysis (Weisberg and (...)
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