Title
Holistic idealization: An artifactual standpoint
Abstract
Idealization is commonly understood as distortion: representing things differently than how they actually are. In this paper, we outline an alternative artifactual approach that does not make misrepresentation central for the analysis of idealization. We examine the contrast between the Hodgkin-Huxley (1952a, b, c) and the Heimburg-Jackson (2005, 2006) models of the nerve impulse from the artifactual perspective, and argue that, since the two models draw upon different epistemic resources and research programs, it is often difficult to tell which features of a system the central assumptions involved are supposed to distort. Many idealizations are holistic in nature. They cannot be locally undone without dismantling the model, as they occupy a central position in the entire research program. Nor is their holistic character mainly related to the use of mathematical and statistical modeling techniques as portrayed by Rice (2018, 2019). We suggest that holistic idealizations are implicit theoretical and representational assumptions that can only be understood in relation to the conceptual and representational tools exploited in modeling and experimental practices. Such holistic idealizations play a pivotal role not just in individual models, but also in defining research programs.
Keywords
ModelingIdealizationArtifactual account of modelingScientific representationNerve impulseHodgkin and Huxley model
Object type
Language
English [eng]
Persistent identifier
https://phaidra.univie.ac.at/o:1588335
Appeared in
Title
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Volume
91
ISSN
0039-3681
Issued
2022
From page
49
To page
59
Publisher
Elsevier BV
Date issued
2022
Access rights
Rights statement
© 2021 The Author(s)

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