Multiple Models

Call for Papers

2-3 October 2018

Centre for Philosophy of Social Science
University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Complex phenomena often require complex explanations. In simple cases, a single model can explain a phenomenon by identifying its causes. But to fully explain a complex phenomenon, we often require systems of models: complex events may have multiple causes, which can only be captured by an array of models. In this workshop, we shall consider the question of how to combine and use models that differ from each other along multiple lines, for instance, in the way they represent a phenomenon, the variables they include, or even the target systems they refer to.

In the modelling debate, the philosophy of science has until now mainly focused on the relation between a particular model (e.g. the Schelling model or the Lotka-Volterra model) and its target system; only recently increasing interest has been directed to cases where we have multiple models of a certain phenomenon. Several questions arise from this, both theoretical and methodological: how can we make sense of a specific entity or phenomenon in spite of the multiplicity of models that describe it? How can scientists actually work with sets of models that are either complementary, or inconsistent, or even not clearly comparable with each other?

The aim of the workshop is to focus on the epistemic value of using multiple models and the conditions that allow scientists to compare, expand and merge different models, so as to combine the knowledge claims we derive from them and obtain new ones. To this purpose, we aim at bringing together social scientists and philosophers interested in multiple models and their use in scientific practice.

If you would like to join us please send an extended abstract (750 words) before 10 August 2018 to The authors accepted for the workshop are required to submit an extended summary of their argument (2000 - 2500 words) before the event. Extended summaries will be distributed to all participants in advance. Confirmed speakers are: N. Emrah Aydinonat, Aki Lehtinen, Chiara Lisciandra, Michiru Nagatsu and Samuli Reijula. The workshop will consist of short presentations followed by extensive discussion.

Location: University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Date: 2-3 October 2018
Deadline for abstract submission: 10 August 2018 Note the changed deadline!
Announcement of accepted abstracts: 15 August 2018
Deadline for the extended summary: 15 September 2018

Chiara Lisciandra, N. Emrah Aydinonat, and Uskali Mäki