Model Transfer in Science

A conspicuous feature of contemporary modelling practices is the use of the same mathematical forms and modelling methods across different scientific domains. This model transfer raises many philosophical questions concerning, for example, the exact object of transfer, the relationship between the model and the target domain, the specific challenges such transfer confronts, and the ways in which model transfer relates to scientific progress. While the interest in studying model transfer has increased among philosophers of science in recent years, the phenomenon has not yet received its due attention. The literature is scattered and much of it has addressed questions around the factors that might explain model transfer, such as whether the different target phenomena to which a model is applied eventually prove to be structurally and dynamically similar, or whether they have to share more fundamental ontological features that explain the interdisciplinary success of distinct models. This chapter surveys the existing literature on model transfer with the main goal of highlighting the main findings of existing discussions and pointing out open issues whose discussion would improve our understanding of this highly relevant phenomenon in science.

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