Introduction: the plurality of modeling

Abstract

Philosophers of science have recently focused on the scientific activity of modeling phenomena, and explicated several of its properties, as well as the activities embedded into it. A first approach to modeling has been elaborated in terms of representing a target system: yet other epistemic functions, such as producing data or detecting phenomena, are at least as relevant. Additional useful distinctions have emerged, such as the one between phenomenological and mechanistic models. In biological sciences, besides mathematical models, models now come in three forms: in vivo, in vitro and in silico. Each has been investigated separately, and many specific problems they raised have been laid out. Another relevant distinction is disciplinary: do models differ in significant ways according to the discipline involved—medicine or biology, evolutionary biology or earth science? Focusing on either this threefold distinction or the disciplinary boundaries reveals that they might not be sufficient from a philosophical perspective. On the contrary, focusing on the interaction between these various kinds of models, some interesting forms of explanation come to the fore, as is exemplified by the papers included in this issue. On the other hand, a focus on the use of models, rather than on their content, shows that the distinction between biological and medical models is theoretically sound.

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Correspondence to Philippe Huneman.

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Huneman, P., Lemoine, M. Introduction: the plurality of modeling. HPLS 36, 5–15 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40656-014-0002-5

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Keywords

  • Models
  • Explanation
  • Simulation
  • Model organisms
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • In vivo, in vitro, in silico
  • Simulation
  • Disciplinary boundaries