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What are general models about?

Elliott-Graves, Alkistis (2022) What are general models about? [Preprint]

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Abstract

Models provide scientists with knowledge about target systems. An important group of models are those that are called general. However, what exactly is meant by generality in this context is somewhat unclear. The aim of this paper is to draw out a distinction between two notions of generality that has implications for scientific practice. Some models are general in the sense that they apply to many systems in the world and have many particular targets. Another sense is captured by models that are aimed at understanding the fundamental or underlying dynamics of a phenomenon, as opposed to how it manifests in each particular case. They have non-specific, i.e. generic targets. While both notions of generality and genericness are legitimate and correspond to different aspects of scientific practice, they must be distinguished. Failing to do so obscures the danger of overgeneralisation faced by general models and facilitates the illegitimate use of generic models as general models. This can lead to a reduction of the explanatory and predictive power of both.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Elliott-Graves, Alkistisa.elliott-graves@uni-bielefeld.de0000-0002-5211-2229
Keywords: generality; scientific models; target system; ecological modelling; segregation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr. Alkistis Elliott-Graves
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2022 14:23
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2022 14:23
Item ID: 21502
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21502

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