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The Morals of Model-Making

Sterrett, S. G. (2013) The Morals of Model-Making. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science .

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Abstract

Abstract: I address questions about values in model-making in engineering, specifically: Might the role of values be attributable solely to interests involved in specifying and using the model? Selected examples illustrate the surprisingly wide variety of things one must take into account in the model-making itself. The notions of system (as used in engineering thermodynamics), and physically similar systems (as used in the physical sciences) are important and powerful in determining what is relevant to an engineering model. Another example (windfarms) illustrates how an idea to completely re-characterize, or reframe, an engineering problem arose during model-making.
I employ a qualitative analogue of the notion of physically similar systems. Historical cases can thus be drawn upon; I illustrate with a comparison between a geoengineering proposal to inject, or spray, sulfate aerosols, and two different historical cases involving the spraying of DDT (fire ant eradication; malaria eradication). The current geoengineering proposal is seen to be like the disastrous and counterproductive case, and unlike the successful case, of the spraying of DDT. I conclude by explaining my view that model-making in science is analogous to moral perception in action, drawing on a view in moral theory that has come to be called moral particularism.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sterrett, S. G.susangsterrett@gmail.com
Additional Information: Paper forthcoming in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, based on invited keynote at VaNiM2012 (Values and Norms in Modeling 2012). Part of a special journal issue on VaNiM2012. This is the In Press - online OPEN ACCESS version. Free access to all.
Keywords: model, moral particularism, system, similarity, geoengineering, DDT
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Earth Sciences
General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Medicine
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science Policy
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Dr Susan G. Sterrett
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2014 13:43
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2014 13:43
Item ID: 10342
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Elsevier
Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2013.11.006
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Earth Sciences
General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Medicine
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science Policy
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 17 December 2013
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10342

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