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Bobadilla Rodríguez Hernán | Writing-Up Fellow
2020-02-15 - 2020-08-14 | Research area: EvoDevo
Exploring and Understanding with Different Explanatory Commitments: A Case Study in Models of Earthquakes

Scientific models play a crucial role in attaining various epistemic achievements in the natural sciences. However, only recently philosophers of science have started to discuss the achievement of understanding by means of modeling. In particular, scarce attention has been given to the attainment of unerstanding via exploratory models. The purpose of this project is tho provide a philosophical model of scientific research with highly idealized exploratory models, which conduces to the attainment of different kinds of explanations and understanding. In order to achieve this goal, I conduct two case studies based on exploratory models of earthquakes. I identify the explanatory commitments that guide the construction and interpretation of the models of earchquakes by engaging in content analysis of the papers in which the models were first introduced. I also assess the influence of such explanatory commitments in attaining particular kinds of explanations and understanding. This allows me to deliver a novel philosophical model. I suggest that scientific exploration can be conducted in a programmatic or prospective mode. That is, the construction and interpretation of models can align or challenge the core ecplanatory commitments of a research program. These different modes of exploration conduce to distinct epistemic achievements. In particular, I characterize the kind of understanding attained with prospective models.