Scientific Realism

Requirement:Tuesday’s lecture looked at some cases where scientific theories use deliberate simplifications, or idealizations. When dealing with very complex systems, scientists sometimes consider how things would go if just a few of the factors in the complex system were operating. They try to understand a simpler version of the real system, and then try to work out how the lessons we get from the simpler system relate to the more complex system. This is a kind of ‘model-building’ in science.
The lecture described an example from biology (animal fighting), and also listed these other examples:
Movement over frictionless planes, infinitely large populations in biology, ecologies with only two species interacting, perfectly rational agents within economic markets, neural networks where the neurons are influenced only by (a few) synaptic connections, many climate models.
Choose one of these, or some other example, and describe how it works. What deliberate simplifications do scientists make in or
What is this thing…? Lecture 22. Realism
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