In a major shift during the twentieth century, philosophy of science changed its focus from scientific theories to models, measurement, and experimentation. But certain traditional concerns were slow to give way to the new directions of research thus opened. Models are a form of scientific representation, and experimental activity serves in many cases to test empirical implications against data. The focus placed almost entirely on these aspects alone, however, was soon seen as narrow and by itself inadequate in relation to scientific practice.
Three workshops under the title The Experimental Side of Modeling were held at San Francisco State University in 2009–11. In these sessions, extant philosophical approaches to modeling and experiment met intense debate and severe critique. The conceptions of model as representation and of experiment as tribunal were challenged in explorations of precisely how modeling is related to experimentation, how these two activities are intertwined in practice, how disparities between experimental results and the results of simulations of models are adjudicated, and what evaluational criteria apply, beyond assessment in terms of accuracy of representation. The main issues addressed included the construction of models in conjunction with experimentation in a scientific inquiry, with specific case studies in various scientific fields; the status of measurement and the function of experiment in the identification of relevant parameters; the consequent reconception of the phenomenon and of what is to be accounted for by a model; and the interplay between experimenting, modeling, and simulation when the results do not mesh.
THANKS ARE DUE to all the other participants in the workshops. In addition to the contributors to this volume, the presenters included Karen Barad, Mieke Boon, Elizabeth Lloyd, Alan Love, Roberta Millstein, Seppo Poutanen, and Alison Wylie. The main commentators were David Stump, Ásta Kristjana Sveinsdottir, Martin Thomson-Jones, and Rasmus Winther. Participating as commentator-at-large were Arthur Fine, James Griesemer, Edward MacKinnon, Elizabeth Potter, Shannon Vallor, and Andrea Woody.
Professor Anita Silvers, chair of the San Francisco State University Philosophy Department, provided the center of energy for support and organization of the workshops; Dean Paul Sherwin provided the financial and material resources that made it all possible; and Brandon Hopkins of Nousoul Digital Publishers helped with the graphics. To these organizers and participants, to the university itself, and to the many graduate students who willingly lent a hand with logistics and technical support, we owe our heartfelt gratitude.