Getting Serious about Shared Features

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):523-546 (2020)
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In Simulation and Similarity, Michael Weisberg offers a similarity-based account of the model–world relation, which is the relation in virtue of which successful models are successful. Weisberg’s main idea is that models are similar to targets in virtue of sharing features. An important concern about Weisberg’s account is that it remains silent on what it means for models and targets to share features, and consequently on how feature-sharing contributes to models’ epistemic success. I consider three potential ways of concretizing the concept of shared features: as identical, quantitatively sufficiently close, and sufficiently similar features. I argue that each of these concretizations faces significant challenges, leaving unclear how Weisberg’s account substantially contributes to elucidating the relation in virtue of which successful models are successful. Against this background, I outline a pluralistic revision and argue that this revision may not only help Weisberg's account evade several of the problems that I raise, but also offers a novel perspective on the model–world relation more generally. 1Introduction 2Weisberg’s Feature-Sharing Account 3What Is a Shared Feature? 3.1Identity 3.2Sufficient closeness 3.3Sufficient similarity 4Turning Weisberg’s Account ‘Upside Down’ 5Conclusion



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Donal Khosrowi
Universität Hannover

Citations of this work

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How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2008 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Features of similarity.Amos Tversky - 1977 - Psychological Review 84 (4):327-352.

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