Deidealization: No Easy Reversals

Philosophy of Science 86 (4):641-661 (2019)
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Deidealization as a topic in its own right has attracted remarkably little philosophical interest despite the extensive literature on idealization. One reason for this is the often implicit assumption that idealization and deidealization are, potentially at least, reversible processes. We question this assumption by analyzing the challenges of deidealization within a menu of four broad categories: deidealizing as recomposing, deidealizing as reformulating, deidealizing as concretizing, and deidealizing as situating. On closer inspection, models turn out much more inflexible than the reversal thesis would have us believe, and deidealization emerges as a creative part of modeling.

Author Profiles

Tarja Knuuttila
University of Vienna
Mary Morgan
London School of Economics


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