Credible Worlds, Capacities and Mechanisms

Erkenntnis 70 (1):3-27 (2009)

Abstract

This paper asks how, in science in general and in economics in particular, theoretical models aid the understanding of real-world phenomena. Using specific models in economics and biology as test cases, it considers three alternative answers: that models are tools for isolating the ‘capacities’ of causal factors in the real world; that modelling is ‘conceptual exploration’ which ultimately contributes to the development of genuinely explanatory theories; and that models are credible counterfactual worlds from which inductive inferences can be made. The paper argues that the ‘credible worlds’ account captures significant aspects of scientific practice, even if many modellers see their work as conceptual exploration.

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2009-01-28

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Robert Sugden
University of East Anglia

Citations of this work

Model Pluralism.Walter Veit - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (2):91-114.
How Could Models Possibly Provide How-Possibly Explanations?Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 73:1-12.
Modeling Morality.Walter Veit - 2019 - In Matthieu Fontaine, Cristina Barés-Gómez, Francisco Salguero-Lamillar, Lorenzo Magnani & Ángel Nepomuceno-Fernández (eds.), Model-Based Reasoning in Science and Technology. Springer Verlag. pp. 83–102.

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