Master of Arts (MA)
Philosophy and Religious Studies
In the ongoing philosophical debates between scientific realists and antirealists, scientific modeling is often taken as an exemplar antirealist scientific methodology due to the abstract, idealized, and metaphorical nature of most scientific models. I argue against the antirealist view and in favor of a realist view of scientific modeling as it is performed in biological morphology. On my view, morphological modeling is a type of what I call multiperspectival modeling, which involves multiple related models deployed to represent a single target phenomenon. I show how multiperspectival morphological modeling can be incorporated into the version of scientific realism developed by Richard Boyd, known as accommodationism, based on the role modeling plays in informing the definitions of natural kind terms and on the role theoretical judgments play in model construction and deployment. I claim that multiperspectival morphological models contribute to the inductive and explanatory successes of biological morphology by playing a central role in accommodating (on the one hand) the inferential, conceptual, and classificatory practices of morphology to (on the other hand) independently existing causal phenomena. I intend for the realist view of morphological models presented here to serve as an example for how scientific modeling can be interpreted realistically across scientific disciplines.
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Wood, Bradley Morgan, "Scientific modeling & scientific realism : a view from biological morphology" (2013). LSU Master's Theses. 2860.