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Extra resources for Analysis of the Stability of Astrophysical Objects and a New Mechanism for Freeing Their Energy

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Consider the planetary model of the atom, which may be best thought of as involving two kinds of models – a purely mathematical model that is taken to structurally resemble actual atoms, and a hypothetical physical system that is proposed as a useful concrete analogy of the system modeled. The way in which atoms are proposed to be like planetary systems is exhausted, it seems, by the structural resemblance postulated in the mathematical equations governing the Bohr atom. That is, one can grant that a concrete fitting out of structural representation plays an important role in physics, while nevertheless maintaining that the representational commitments of physicists ought to be understood as concerning the structural part of a model alone.

Continuum models can successfully represent the wave behavior of water, whereas particle models are used to represent diffusive behavior. The lesson of examples such as this is supposed to be that different types of model of one and the same system, constructed for different purposes, may make incompatible assumptions about a given system and that there is no single type of model that represents all aspects of a phenomenon adequately. Scientific foundationalists reply to this argument by maintaining that although the incompatible idealized and distorting macro models of water may be pragmatically useful, there exist perfectly accurate fundamental models, constructed with the help of our most fundamental theories, such as quantum mechanics, from which we could in principle derive the idealized higher-level models we use in practice.

2008, 250) Thus, van Fraassen apparently wants to be committed to two ideas that seem to be in tension with each other: on the one hand, the idea that “we would like to say” that if a theory formally has an appropriate solution, then it does represent the phenomenon in question even if the solution has not been explicitly constructed; and on the other hand, the idea that there is no representation independent of its being used as such and that “there is nothing useful to be found in 2-place structure-phenomenon relations alone when we try to understand representation” (2008, 258).

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Analysis of the Stability of Astrophysical Objects and a New Mechanism for Freeing Their Energy


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