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It's Not a Game: Accurate Representation with Toy Models

Nguyen, J; (2020) It's Not a Game: Accurate Representation with Toy Models. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science , 71 (3) pp. 1013-1041. 10.1093/bjps/axz010. Green open access

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Abstract

Drawing on ‘interpretational’ accounts of scientific representation, I argue that the use of so-called ‘toy models’ provides no particular philosophical puzzle. More specifically; I argue that once one gives up the idea that models are accurate representations of their targets only if they are appropriately similar, then simple and highly idealized models can be accurate in the same way that more complex models can be. Their differences turn on trading precision for generality, but, if they are appropriately interpreted, toy models should nevertheless be considered accurate representations. A corollary of my discussion is a novel way of thinking about idealization more generally: idealized models may distort features of their targets, but they needn’t misrepresent them.

Type: Article
Title: It's Not a Game: Accurate Representation with Toy Models
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/bjps/axz010
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axz010
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10070948
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