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Understanding (With) Toy Models

Reutlinger, Alexander and Hangleiter, Dominik and Hartmann, Stephan (2016) Understanding (With) Toy Models. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Toy models are highly idealized and extremely simple models. Although they are omnipresent across scientific disciplines, toy models are a surprisingly under-appreciated subject in the philosophy of science. The main philosophical puzzle regarding toy models is that it is an unsettled question what the epistemic goal of toy modeling is. One promising proposal for answering this question is the claim that the epistemic goal of toy models is to provide individual scientists with understanding. The aim of this paper is to precisely articulate and to defend this claim. In particular, we will distinguish between autonomous and embedded toy models, and, then, argue that important examples of autonomous toy models are sometimes best interpreted to provide how-possibly understanding, while embedded toy models yield how-actually understanding, if certain conditions are satisfied.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Reutlinger, AlexanderAlexander.Reutlinger@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Hangleiter, DominikDominik.Hangleiter@fu-berlin.de
Hartmann, StephanS.Hartmann@lmu.de
Additional Information: forthcoming in British Journal for Philosophy of Science
Keywords: models, toy models, explanation, understanding, idealization
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Alexander Reutlinger
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2016 13:26
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2016 14:48
Item ID: 12306
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: July 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12306

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