Departmental Papers (Philosophy)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

9-2009

Publication Source

Synthese

Volume

170

Issue

1

Start Page

169

Last Page

190

DOI

10.1007/s11229-008-9366-y

Abstract

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.

Copyright/Permission Statement

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-008-9366-y

Keywords

Tradeoff, model, modeling, biological models, richard levins, generality, precision, theoretical virtues

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Date Posted: 04 December 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.