Reconstructing Reality: Models, Mathematics, and Simulations

Hardcover | January 26, 2015

byMargaret Morrison

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Attempts to understand various aspects of the empirical world often rely on modelling processes that involve a reconstruction of systems under investigation. Typically the reconstruction uses mathematical frameworks like gauge theory and renormalization group methods, but more recentlysimulations also have become an indispensable tool for investigation. This book is a philosophical examination of techniques and assumptions related to modelling and simulation with the goal of showing how these abstract descriptions can contribute to our understanding of the physical world. Particular issues include the role of fictional models in science, howmathematical formalisms can yield physical information, and how we should approach the use of inconsistent models for specific types of systems. It also addresses the role of simulation, specifically the conditions under which simulation can be seen as a technique for measurement, replacing moretraditional experimental approaches. Inherent worries about the legitimacy of simulation "knowledge" are also addressed, including an analysis of verification and validation and the role of simulation data in the search for the Higgs boson. In light of the significant role played by simulation inthe Large Hadron Collider experiments, it is argued that the traditional distinction between simulation and experiment is no longer applicable in some contexts of modern science. Consequently, a re-evaluation of the way and extent to which simulation delivers empirical knowledge is required.

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Attempts to understand various aspects of the empirical world often rely on modelling processes that involve a reconstruction of systems under investigation. Typically the reconstruction uses mathematical frameworks like gauge theory and renormalization group methods, but more recentlysimulations also have become an indispensable tool ...

Margaret Morrison is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. Her publications span many fields including general philosophy of science, history and philosophy of physics, and the history of early modern philosophy (especially Kant). She has also published articles on methodological issues related to the development of po...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:344 pages, 8.39 × 5.91 × 1.42 inPublished:January 26, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199380279

ISBN - 13:9780199380275

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Table of Contents

PrefacePart One: Mathematics, Explanation and Understanding1. Abstraction and Idealisation: Understanding via Models2. From the Pure to the Concrete: How Mathematics Yields Physical InformationPart Two: Where Models Meet the World: Problems and Perspectives3. More than Make-Believe: Fictions, Models and Reality4. Mediated Knowledge: Representation and The Theory-Model Axis5. Making the Best of It: Inconsistent vs. Complementary ModelsPart Three: Computer Simulation: The New Reality6. Why Materiality is Not Enough: Models, Measurement and Computer Simulation7. Legitimating Simulation: Methodological Issues of Verification and Validation8. Without it there's Nothing: The Necessity of Simulation in the Higgs SearchIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This is a, lively, stimulating, and important book by one of the main scholars contributing to current topics and debates in our field. It will be a major resource for philosophers of science, their students, scientists interested in examining scientific practice, and the generalscientifically literate public." --Bas van Fraassen, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, San Francisco State University