Article ID: CBB001420762

When do Models Provide Genuine Understanding, and Why Does It Matter? (2013)


In spite of a number of remarkable advances over the last few decades, the question of how scientific models provide explanations remains rather controversial. In the case of biology, this question is quite pressing, since according to many specialists we do not find genuine universal explanatory laws in biology, and yet, biologists constantly use models as explanatory devices. It is probably not possible to reduce all of the ways in which models explain to one unifying pattern. If there is a common trait in all of these different ways it is perhaps that they achieve a better understanding of phenomena. It is argued in this paper that the notion of understanding is not irremediably subjective. Various contextual but objectively justifiable criteria are suggested in order to establish when a feeling of understanding corresponds to a genuine understanding.

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Authors & Contributors
Beaulieu, Armand
Israel, Giorgio
Randalls, Samuel
Donaghy, Josephine
Krasnodębski, Marcin
Mahony, Martin
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Social Studies of Science
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
British Journal for the History of Science
University of Exeter (United Kingdom)
University of Exeter
Clarendon Press
University of Chicago Press
Amsterdam University Press
Models and modeling in science
Controversies and disputes
Philosophy of science
Science and politics
Hubble, Edwin Powell
Little, Clarence Cook
Rader, Karen A.
Darwin, Charles Robert
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
18th century
Great Britain
Himalayan Mountains (Nepal)
New Guinea

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