Idealized, Inaccurate but Successful: A Pragmatic Approach to Evaluating Models in Theoretical Ecology

  title={Idealized, Inaccurate but Successful: A Pragmatic Approach to Evaluating Models in Theoretical Ecology},
  author={Jay Odenbaugh},
  journal={Biology and Philosophy},
Ecologists attempt to understand the diversity of life with mathematical models. Often, mathematical models contain simplifying idealizations designed to cope with the blooming, buzzing confusion of the natural world. This strategy frequently issues in models whose predictions are inaccurate. Critics of theoretical ecology argue that only predictively accurate models are successful and contribute to the applied work of conservation biologists. Hence, they think that much of the mathematical… 

Bottled Understanding: The Role of Lab Work in Ecology

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    The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • 2020
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    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. In such a situation, we need to understand the nature of the change and to make predictions about the way in which it might affect systems of interest;

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  • Economics
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2016

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  • Jani Raerinne
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    European Journal for Philosophy of Science
  • 2017
In addition to their core explanatory and predictive assumptions, scientific models include simplifying assumptions, which function as idealizations, approximations, and abstractions. There are

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  • R. May
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    The American Naturalist
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