Kinds of models

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Sterrett, Susan G.

Sterrett, Susan G. 2003. Kinds of models. Preprint. Durham, NC: Duke University.


In this paper, I survey a broad variety of models with an eye to asking what kind of model each is in the following sense: in virtue of what is each of them regarded as a model? It will be seen that when we classify models according to the answer to this question, it comes to light that the notion of model predominant in philosophy of science covers only some of the kinds of models used in scientific contexts. The notion of a model predominant in philosophy of science requires that a model be related to some thing formal, such as equations or statements. Not all the examples provided in the brief survey in this paper fit that notion of a model. I identify another kind of model that ought to be taken more seriously in philosophical and foundational studies of scientific models, which I call a “piece of the world” kind of model, to contrast with a “realm of thought” kind of model.

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Based on a contribution to a panel discussion: STS Interdisciplinary Roundtable: “The Multiple Meanings of Models” March 20, 2003, John Hope Franklin Center, Duke University, Durham, NC.