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

Submission deadline: January 15, 2013

Conference date(s):
April 25, 2013 - April 26, 2013

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Ruhr-University Bochum
Bochum, Germany

Topic areas


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. 

We invite submissions addressing one of these (or related) questions. Although this is a classical philosophy of science topic, we encourage submissions from philosophers from a wide range of backgrounds (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language …).

Submissions should either come in full paper-length (about 6000 words) or as extended abstracts (1500 words max) of papers for about 30-50 min. presentation (discussion time not included). We also strongly encourage submissions of abstracts from graduate students for 20/20 min. presentations ( please indicate that it is a "graduate submission").

To facilitate focused discussions, abstracts/papers will be distributed in advance (pending authors' approvals).Please send papers or abstracts as well as inquiries to [email protected] [dot] de.

Please prepare papers and abstracts for blind-review. Submission deadline: 15th of January 2013. Notification of acceptance: early February.

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