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Models in science: essays on scientific virtues, scientific pluralism and the distribution of labour in science

(2010)
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Abstract
In my research I have been concerned with the existence of multiple models of the same phenomenon. A common explanation for this multiplicity is that different models serve different virtues. As such, the multiplicity disappears once the virtues that are required for a given purpose are made explicit (the consensual view); the existence of multiple models does not undermine the possibility of a single standard for scientific assessment. I have indicated two complications for this view, respectively demonstrating that this view is necessary nor sufficient to analyse all scientific controversies. The first controversy is drawn from economics: Neoclassical economics’ a priori preference for generality, regardless of the purpose at hand. The second concerns a debate in history, the Historikerstreit, from which I drew the conclusion that if political views and personal interests of the scientists coincide with the different sides in a debate, then the question what virtues should be served by the model is no longer given but becomes an integral part of the debate. The shortcomings of the consensual view (Rawls, Giere) in providing adequate guidance in dealing with multiple models have led me to the literature on pluralism in philosophy of science and political science. From that literature I distilled two additional views on the interplay between different models, an agonist (Mouffe, Rescher) and an antagonist (Kuhn, Lawson) view. In contrast to consensualism, both views hold that multiplicity will not eventually disappear; multiple standards for scientific assessment remain possible at all time. As a consequence, the dynamics of such a community is much more complex than on the consensual view, a complexity not captured in traditional (consensualist) models of the distribution of labour in science. On the consensual view a scientific community will tend toward consensus, which is a single, optimal equilibrium. In order to find out what the dynamics of a community under multiple standards for scientific assessments would look like I developed a model describing the dynamics of standards competing for adoption, in analogy to the models used to describe the dynamics of technological standards competing for adoption which were used during the Microsoft antitrust trial. This model retains the consensual model as a special case. My main finding was that the insights derived from consensual models (single standard models) are not robust against an increase in the number of standards. Most importantly, such systems boast multiple equilibria which are not necessarily optimal. The behaviour of the system I have been studying appeared to be remarkably similar to the dynamics sketched by Kuhn in his “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. Therefore in my future research I wish to elaborate on this finding and make explicit the fruitful new interpretation of SSR it suggests.
Keywords
increasing returns, standards network industries, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn, distribution of labour, scientific change, division of labour, epistemic interests, epistemic values, methodological pluralism scientific theoretical virtues, explanatory pluralism, network externalities, antagonist pluralism, generality, DLG-model, De Langhe, Greiff model

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
De Langhe, Rogier. 2010. “Models in Science: Essays on Scientific Virtues, Scientific Pluralism and the Distribution of Labour in Science”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy.
APA
De Langhe, R. (2010). Models in science: essays on scientific virtues, scientific pluralism and the distribution of labour in science. Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent, Belgium.
Vancouver
1.
De Langhe R. Models in science: essays on scientific virtues, scientific pluralism and the distribution of labour in science. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy; 2010.
MLA
De Langhe, Rogier. “Models in Science: Essays on Scientific Virtues, Scientific Pluralism and the Distribution of Labour in Science.” 2010 : n. pag. Print.
@phdthesis{1064438,
  abstract     = {In my research I have been concerned with the existence of multiple models of the same phenomenon. A common explanation for this multiplicity is that different models serve different virtues. As such, the multiplicity disappears once the virtues that are required for a given purpose are made explicit (the consensual view); the existence of multiple models does not undermine the possibility of a single standard for scientific assessment. I have indicated two complications for this view, respectively demonstrating that this view is necessary nor sufficient to analyse all scientific controversies. The first controversy is drawn from economics: Neoclassical economics{\textquoteright} a priori preference for generality, regardless of the purpose at hand. The second concerns a debate in history, the Historikerstreit, from which I drew the conclusion that if political views and personal interests of the scientists coincide with the different sides in a debate, then the question what virtues should be served by the model is no longer given but becomes an integral part of the debate. 
The shortcomings of the consensual view (Rawls, Giere) in providing adequate guidance in dealing with multiple models have led me to the literature on pluralism in philosophy of science and political science.  From that literature I distilled two additional views on the interplay between different models, an agonist (Mouffe, Rescher) and an antagonist (Kuhn, Lawson) view. In contrast to consensualism, both views hold that multiplicity will not eventually disappear; multiple standards for scientific assessment remain possible at all time. As a consequence, the dynamics of such a community is much more complex than on the consensual view, a complexity not captured in traditional (consensualist) models of the distribution of labour in science. On the consensual view a scientific community will tend toward consensus, which is a single, optimal equilibrium.  In order to find out what the dynamics of a community under multiple standards for scientific assessments would look like I developed a model describing the dynamics of standards competing for adoption, in analogy to the models used to describe the dynamics of technological standards competing for adoption which were used during the Microsoft antitrust trial. This model retains the consensual model as a special case. My main finding was that the insights derived from consensual models (single standard models) are not robust against an increase in the number of standards. Most importantly, such systems boast multiple equilibria which are not necessarily optimal. The behaviour of the system I have been studying appeared to be remarkably similar to the dynamics sketched by Kuhn in his {\textquotedblleft}Structure of Scientific Revolutions{\textquotedblright}. Therefore in my future research I wish to elaborate on this finding and make explicit the fruitful new interpretation of SSR it suggests.},
  author       = {De Langhe, Rogier},
  isbn         = {9789490695163},
  keyword      = {increasing returns,standards network industries,Structure of Scientific Revolutions,Kuhn,distribution of labour,scientific change,division of labour,epistemic interests,epistemic values,methodological pluralism scientific theoretical virtues,explanatory pluralism,network externalities,antagonist pluralism,generality,DLG-model,De Langhe,Greiff model},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {VII, 132},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Models in science: essays on scientific virtues, scientific pluralism and the distribution of labour in science},
  year         = {2010},
}