How do models relate to reality?

30 Sep, 2018 at 10:42 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments



  1. This is a nice talk, but sadly Asad Zaman (like other so-called “realists”) has nothing useful to say regarding the “central question” which he poses at about 35 minutes into the video, namely ” How to differentiate between USEFUL and USELESS models?”
    His answer is little more than a tautology, merely that:
    “Good models are GOOD GUESSES about underlying reality which generates the observations. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be CERTAIN about Good models”.
    Zaman’s answer on his blog is even more unsatisfactory. He seems to claim that a good model is one about which a lot of people agree.
    A commentator asked:
    “Sir, Reality is totally a subjective term so for example for same object different people have different perception then it could be possible that for same object different models exist. My question is which should be declared as true model in that case?”
    Zaman replied:
    “Reality is not totally subjective — it is objective, but it is not available to us for viewing, except via our subjective apparatus, so we cannot directly perceive reality. The closest approximation we can get is the inter-subjective — something on which there is widespread consensus — a lot of people agree on what is out there. ”

    Prof. Syll, perhaps you can elucidate this perplexing idea of subjective/objective/inter-subjective “reality”?

    • “To see science as a social activity, and as structured and discriminating in its thought, constitutes a significant step in our understanding of science. But, I shall argue, without the support of a revised ontology, and in particular a conception of the world as stratified and differentiated too, it is impossible to steer clear of the Scylla of holding the structure dispensable in the long run (back to empiricism) without being pulled into the Charybdis of justifying it exlusively in terms of the fixed or changing needs of the scientific community … In this study I attempt to show how such a revised ontology is in fact presupposed by the social activity of science. The basic principle of realist philosophy of science, viz. that perception gives us access to things and experimental activity access to structures that exist independently of us, is very simple. Yet the full working out of this principle implies a radical account of the nature of causal laws, viz. as expressing tendencies of things, not conjunctions of events. And it implies that a constant conjunction of events is no more a necessary than a sufficient condition for a causal law.”

      Roy Bhaskar: A Realist Theory of Science

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