Re: [OPE] Models and Marx

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sun Feb 13 2011 - 14:44:55 EST

On 2011-02-13 20:03, howard engelskirchen wrote:
> The point is that we cannot characterize a model by the problem to be
> explained. That's overbroad, as Jerry suggests. Any set of data has an
> infinite number of theories that will explain it, but not all of these could
> qualify as models of whatever causal mechanism is at work. You can badly
> characterize what is required for the propagation of light, get details
> wrong, etc., and yet still model, poorly, the electro-magnetic field. But
> you can't model imaginary entities. You may think you do, but then have to
> correct and say in fact my so-called model referred to nothing at all.
> That's the case with phlogiston. In combustion oxygen combines with other
> elements to form oxides. But phlogiston theory has it that there's a
> substance given off in the process. But there's no such causal mechanism in
> nature.

Howard, I basically agree with what you are saying. Entities such as
'phlogiston' or 'energy' are neither models of causal mechanisms; they
are entities used in theories of combustion etc., i.e. as elements in
models of causal mechanisms. It is only with respect to their role in
such theories that we can argue whether they do correspond to entities
with real causal capacities. (Speaking of 'imaginary', quantum mechanics
allows for 'imaginary time'.)

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sun Feb 13 14:46:21 2011

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