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Rigorous results, cross-model justification, and the transfer of empirical warrant: the case of many-body models in physics

Abstract

This paper argues that a successful philosophical analysis of models and simulations must accommodate an account of mathematically rigorous results. Such rigorous results may be thought of as genuinely model-specific contributions, which can neither be deduced from fundamental theory nor inferred from empirical data. Rigorous results provide new indirect ways of assessing the success of models and simulations and are crucial to understanding the connections between different models. This is most obvious in cases where rigorous results map different models on to one another. Not only does this put constraints on the extent to which performance in specific empirical contexts may be regarded as the main touchstone of success in scientific modelling, it also allows for the transfer of warrant across different models. Mathematically rigorous results can thus come to be seen as not only strengthening the cohesion between scientific strategies of modelling and simulation, but also as offering new ways of indirect confirmation.

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Correspondence to Axel Gelfert.

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Gelfert, A. Rigorous results, cross-model justification, and the transfer of empirical warrant: the case of many-body models in physics. Synthese 169, 497–519 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-008-9431-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-008-9431-6

Keywords

  • Models as mediators
  • Indirect confirmation
  • Coherence
  • Model-based representation
  • Simulation
  • Many-body models