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What is a Target System?

Elliott-Graves, Alkistis (2020) What is a Target System? [Preprint]

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Abstract

Many phenomena in the natural world are complex, so scientists study them through simplified and idealised models. Philosophers of science have sought to explain how these models relate to the world. On most accounts, models do not represent the world directly, but through target systems. However, our knowledge of target systems is incomplete. First, what is the process by which target systems come about? Second, what types of entity are they? I argue that the basic conception of target systems, on which other conceptions depend, is as parts of the world. I outline the process of target system specification and show that it is a crucial step in modelling. I also develop an account of target system evaluation, based on aptness. Paying close attention to target system specification and evaluation can help scientists minimise the frequency and extent of mistakes, when they are using models to investigate phenomena in complex real-world systems.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Elliott-Graves, Alkistisalkistis.elliott-graves@helsinki.fi0000-0002-5211-2229
Keywords: Target System, Model-world relations, Relevance, Omission, Ecology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr. Alkistis Elliott-Graves
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 03:27
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2020 03:27
Item ID: 16964
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16964

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