Journal Article

Perspectival Models and Theory Unification

Alexander Rueger

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 56, issue 3, pages 579-594
Published in print September 2005 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online July 2005 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axi128
Perspectival Models and Theory Unification

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Given that scientific realism is based on the assumption that there is a connection between a model's predictive success and its truth, and given the success of multiple incompatible models in scientific practice, the realist has a problem. When the different models can be shown to arise as different approximations to a unified theory, however, one might think the realist to be able to accommodate such cases. I discuss a special class of models (generated as non-uniform limits of a unified theory) and argue that a realist interpretation has to understand these models of a system as ‘perspectival’, in close analogy to different spatial perspectives onto the same object. For this sort of case, I also respond to Morrison's recent claim that in the process of unifying models into an overarching theory, explanatory and descriptive power are lost, leaving the unified theory with less of a claim to a realist interpretation than the models themselves.

Introduction

Perspectival models from singular perturbation problems

Unification of perspectives without losses of explanatory power

Perspectives as different levels of a system

Perspectival models, idealizations and pluralism

Journal Article.  6806 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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