An Artifactual Perspective on Idealization: Constant Capacitance and the Hodgkin and Huxley Model

In Alejandro Cassini & Juan Redmond (eds.), Models and Idealizations in Science: Fictional and Artefactual Approaches. Cham: Springer (2021)
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Abstract
There are two traditions of thinking about idealization offering almost opposite views on their functioning and epistemic status. While one tradition views idealizations as epistemic deficiencies, the other one highlights the epistemic benefits of idealization. Both of these, however, identify idealization with misrepresentation. In this article, we instead approach idealization from the artifactual perspective, comparing it to the distortion-to-reality accounts of idealization, and exemplifying it through the case of the Hodgkin and Huxley model of nerve impulse. From the artifactual perspective, the epistemic benefits and deficiencies introduced by idealization frequently come in a package due to the way idealization draws together different resources in model construction. Accordingly, idealization tends to be holistic in that it is not often easily attributable to just some specific parts of the model. Instead, the idealizing process tightly embeds theoretical concepts and formal tools into the construction of a model.
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Archival date: 2021-05-20
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