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

In Alejandro Cassini & Juan Redmond (eds.), Models and Idealizations in Science: Artifactual and Fictional Approaches. Switzerland: Springer Nature. pp. 51-70 (2021)

Abstract

Natalia Carrillo and Tarja Knuuttila claim that 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 them treat idealizations as deliberate misrepresentations, however. They then argue for an artifactual account of idealization, comparing it to the traditional accounts of idealization, and exemplifying it through the Hodgkin and Huxley model of the 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 some specific parts of the model. They conclude that the artifactual approach offers a unifying view into idealization in that it is able to recover several basic philosophical insights motivating both the deficiency and epistemic benefit accounts, while being simultaneously detached from the idea of distortion by misrepresentation.

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Author Profiles

Natalia Carrillo
University of Vienna
Tarja Knuuttila
University of Vienna

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Maps and Models.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - forthcoming - In Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Scientific Modeling. London, UK:
Radical artifactualism.Guilherme Sanches de Oliveira - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-33.

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