Authors
James Nguyen
School of Advanced Study, University of London
Abstract
Drawing on ‘interpretational’ accounts of scientific representation, I argue that the use of so-called ‘toy models’ provides no particular philosophical puzzle. More specifically; I argue that once one gives up the idea that models are accurate representations of their targets only if they are appropriately similar, then simple and highly idealized models can be accurate in the same way that more complex models can be. Their differences turn on trading precision for generality, but, if they are appropriately interpreted, toy models should nevertheless be considered accurate representations. A corollary of my discussion is a novel way of thinking about idealization more generally: idealized models may distort features of their targets, but they needn’t misrepresent them.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axz010
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References found in this work BETA

True Enough.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2017 - Cambridge: MIT Press.
Three Kinds of Idealization.Michael Weisberg - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.

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Citations of this work BETA

Scientific Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Do Fictions Explain?James Nguyen - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3219-3244.
Concrete Scale Models, Essential Idealization, and Causal Explanation.Christopher Pincock - 2022 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (2):299-323.
Learning from Non-Causal Models.Francesco Nappo - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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