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Qualitative theory and chemical explanation

By Michael Weisberg, Related Papers John Brauman, Marc Feldman, Paul Needham and Joan Roughgarden


Roald Hoffmann and other theorists claim that we we ought to use highly idealized chemical models (“qualitative models”) in order to in-crease our understanding of chemical phenomena, even though other models are available which make more highly accurate predictions. I assess this norm by examining one of the tradeoffs faced by model builders and model users — the tradeoff between precision and gener-ality. After arguing that this tradeoff obtains in many cases, I discuss how the existence of this tradeoff can help us defend Hoffmann’s norm for modelling

Year: 2004
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