Models and Methodology: More Problems for Perspectival Realism
One of the goals of scientific perspectivism is to address problems that arise as a result of the use of inconsistent or incompatible models. In Morrison (2015) I argued that perspectivism is unsuccessful in this respect because for difficult cases it collapses into a form of instrumentalism. And, where it is a successful methodology, as in cases of scaling, it is already implicit in the practice and so philosophically redundant. However, as a general philosophical thesis or methodology for modelling, perspectivism faces further problems in that there are a variety of modelling practices for which perspectivism, as a form of realism, is difficult, if not impossible, to motivate. I discuss some of these cases, in particular toy models, fictional models and simplified models which are currently fashionable in high energy physics. In each of these cases we are often able to extract useful information without advocating any “realist” claims (perspectival or otherwise) about the models themselves. Although the model can provide a perspective from which to formulate hypotheses or explanations, such a perspective is extremely limited in scope. While perspectivism may have interesting implications as a global epistemic position, it seems to offer little hope of underwriting any form of scientific realism.