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Despite their best efforts, scientists may be unable to construct models that simultaneously exemplify every theoretical virtue. One explanation for this is the existence of tradeoffs: relationships of attenuation that constrain the extent to which models can have such desirable qualities. In this paper, we characterize three types of tradeoffs theorists may confront. These characterizations are then used to examine the relationships between parameter precision and two types of generality. We show that several of these relationships exhibit tradeoffs and discuss what consequences those tradeoffs have for theoretical practice.
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-008-9366-y
Tradeoff, model, modeling, biological models, richard levins, generality, precision, theoretical virtues
Matthewson, John and Weisberg, Michael, "The Structure of Tradeoffs in Model Building" (2009). Departmental Papers (Philosophy). 16.
Date Posted: 04 December 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.