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It’s not a game: accurate representation with toy models

Nguyen, James (2019) It’s not a game: accurate representation with toy models. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 71 (3). 1013–1041. ISSN 0007-0882

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Identification Number: 10.1093/bjps/axz010


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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2019 00:13
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2024 07:33

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