British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):471-495 (2016)
AbstractDespite the increasing recognition that heuristics may be involved in myriad scientific activities, much about how to use them prudently remains obscure. As typically defined, heuristics are efficient rules or procedures for converting complex problems into simpler ones. But this increased efficiency and problem-solving power comes at the cost of a systematic bias. As Wimsatt showed, biased modelling heuristics can conceal errors, leading to poor decisions or inaccurate models. This liability to produce errors presents a fundamental challenge to the philosophical value of heuristic analyses. Heuristics may be powerful and efficient procedures, but their practical value for science and epistemology is significantly mitigated if we do not have a principled methodology for knowing how to use them wisely. In this essay, I extend Wimsatt’s analyses to argue that this challenge for a heuristic methodology can be met by appealing to second-order, or meta-, heuristics—that is, practical guidelines that prescribe the appropriate conditions for a first-order heuristic’s use. 1 Introduction2 Background3 Heuristics and Meta-heuristics4 A Hierarchical Model and Three Applications4.1 Decision making in emergency medicine4.2 Mathematical explanation in physics4.3 Resilience in ecological management5 Conclusion.
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Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality.William C. Wimsatt - 2007 - Harvard University Press.
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Citations of this work
Justifying Method Choice: A Heuristic-Instrumentalist Account of Scientific Methodology.Till Grüne-Yanoff - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3903-3921.
Six Challenges for Ethical Conduct in Science.Petteri Niemi - 2016 - Science and Engineering Ethics 22 (4):1007-1025.
Overcoming Frege’s curse: heuristic reasoning as the basis for teaching philosophy of science to scientists.Till Grüne-Yanoff - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):1-15.
Scientific Representation in Practice: Models and Creative Similarity.Julia Sanchez-Dorado - 2019 - Dissertation,
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