Modeling and realism: Strange bedfellows?

Arnon Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The practice of modeling involves intentional deviations from completeness and accuracy, such as idealization and abstraction. At first glance, modeling appears to be in tension with realism. This chapter discusses whether this tension is real or merely apparent. I first look at whether modeling conflicts with a realist understanding of the aims of science - roughly, that science aims (inter alia) to discover truths about the world. I then ask whether modeling conflicts with realist claims about the achievements of science - roughly, that science often succeeds in the aforementioned aim, providing knowledge. I suggest several ways for reconciling these tensions, noting questions and issues that remain to be worked out. In closing, I discuss whether modeling challenges the validity of the method of inference to the best explanation.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781351362917
ISBN (Print)9781138888852
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 selection and editorial matter, Juha Saatsi; individual chapters, the contributors.


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling and realism: Strange bedfellows?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this