Explanatory Power II: Understanding through Modeling? Epistemology, Semantics, and Metaphysics of "Inadequate" Representation

April 25, 2013 - April 26, 2013
Ruhr-University Bochum


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  • VolkswagenStiftung


Markus Eronen
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Till Grüne-Yanoff
Kungliga Tekniska högskolan Stockholm
Christoph Kelp
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Paul Teller
University of California, Davis
Adam Toon
Universität Bielefeld
Henk de Regt
Free University Amsterdam
Raphael van Riel
Universität Bochum


Markus Eronen
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Raphael van Riel
Universität Bochum

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Part of the value of many scientific models depends upon their representational inadequacy. Idealization, approximation, and simplification are merits rather than defects of such models. Pragmatists and instrumentalists have argued extensively that this does not matter, as long as these models serve their descriptive or predictive purposes. However, such models seem to play a vital role in understanding and explaining reality and in giving us descriptions of what there is; prima facie, their function does not reduce to merely enabling us to somehow get along. As long as notions of understanding, explanation, ontology and knowledge are interpreted in non-pragmatist or non-instrumentalist terms, it is not at all clear how idealized models may help us understand the world, or how they can possibly exhibit something like explanatory power. In this workshop, we will address the representational nature of inadequate models on one hand, and the relation between the epistemic and explanatory nature of such models (and similar forms of representation) on the other. 

Contact: vanriel@gmx [dot] de.

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