Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 293–298 | Cite as

Models and experiments? An exploration

Review of Michael Weisberg’s Simulation and Similarity: Using Models to Understand the World, Oxford, 2013.
  • William C. WimsattEmail author
Book Review

Michael Weisberg has given us a lovely book on models. It has very broad coverage of issues intersecting the nature of models and their use, an extensive consideration of long ignored “concrete” models with a rich case study, a discussion and classification of the many diverse kinds of models, and a particularly groundbreaking and innovative discussion of similarity concerning how models relate to the world. Included are insightful discussions of increasingly used “agent based” models, and the conjoint use of multiple models in looking for robust results. Weisberg fills in some discussions with modeling and simulation results of his own.

In addition, he considers and critiques other recent competing views on models, including the increasingly popular “models as fictions” account. His discussion is clear and technically precise without being needlessly so, and his distinctions are useful. The scientist is more likely to recognize his objects than the semantic theorist, and that is how...


  1. Bridges CB, Morgan TH (1919) The second chromosome group of mutant characters, Carnegie Institute of Washington Publication #278, Part II: pp. 123–304Google Scholar
  2. Bridges CB, Morgan TH (1923) The third chromosome group of characters in Drosophila melanogaster, Carnegie Institute of Washingtion Publication #327Google Scholar
  3. Fisher RA (1931) The genetical theory of natural selection. The Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Grant PR (1986) Ecology and evolution of Darwin’s finches. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  5. Kleene SC (1956) On the representation of events in nerve nets and finite automata. In: Shannon C, Weaver P (eds) Automata studies. Princeton University, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  6. Knuth DE (1997) The art of computer programming, chap 3, vol 2: seminumerical algorithms, 3rd edn. Addison-Wesley, Boston, pp 1–193. ISBN: 0-201-89684-2Google Scholar
  7. Kohler R (1993) Lords of the fly. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  8. Morgan TH, Bridges CB (1916) Sex-linked inheritance in Drosophila, Carnegie Institute of Washington #237, pp. 1–92Google Scholar
  9. Morgan TH, Bridges CB, Sturtevant AH (1925) The genetics of Drosophila. Bibliogr Genet 2:1–262Google Scholar
  10. Muller H (1916: I-IV) The mechanisms of crossing over I-IV, American Naturalist, 50, I: 193–221, II: 284–305, III: 350–366, IV: 421–434Google Scholar
  11. Putnam H (1960) Minds and machines, reprinted in his minds language and reality. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 362–385Google Scholar
  12. Wiener P (1994) The beak of the finch: evolution in real time. Random House, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Wimsatt W (1971) Some problems with the concept of feedback. In: Buck RC, Cohen RS (eds) PSA-1970 (Boston studies in the philosophy of science, volume 8). Reidel, Dordrecht, pp 241–256Google Scholar
  14. Wimsatt W (1981) Robustness, reliability and overdetermination. In: Brewer M, Collins B (eds) Scientific inquiry and the social sciences. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 124–163Google Scholar
  15. Wimsatt W (1992) Golden generalities and co-opted anomalies: Haldane vs. Muller and the Drosophila group on the theory and practice of linkage mapping. In: Sarkar S (ed) The founders of evolutionary genetics. Martinus-Nijhoff, Dordrecht, pp 107–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Woody A (2012) Concept Amalgamation and Representation in Quantum Chemistry. In: Gabbay Dov, Thagard Paul, Woods John (eds) Philosophy of chemistry. North Holland, San Diego, pp 427–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Conceptual and Historical Studies of ScienceUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations