An Inferential Account of Model Explanation

Philosophia 47 (1):99-116 (2019)
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Abstract

This essay develops an inferential account of model explanation, based on Mauricio Suárez’s inferential conception of scientific representation and Alisa Bokulich’s counterfactual account of model explanation. It is suggested that the fact that a scientific model can explain is essentially linked to how a modeler uses an established model to make various inferences about the target system on the basis of results derived from the model. The inference practice is understood as a two-step activity, with the first step involving making counterfactual statements about the model itself and the second step involving making hypothetical statements transferring over claims derived from the model onto the target. To illustrate how this two-step activity proceeds, an agent-based simulation model is discussed.

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Wesley Fang
Shanxi University

References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Explaining the brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - New York : Oxford University Press,: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.

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