Show Reference: "The Role of Models in Science"

The Role of Models in Science Philosophy of Science, Vol. 12, No. 4. (1945), pp. 316-321, doi:10.2307/184253 by Arturo Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener
    author = {Rosenblueth, Arturo and Wiener, Norbert},
    doi = {10.2307/184253},
    issn = {00318248},
    journal = {Philosophy of Science},
    keywords = {experiments, modelling, models, research, science},
    number = {4},
    pages = {316--321},
    posted-at = {2013-12-18 11:20:44},
    priority = {2},
    publisher = {The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Philosophy of Science Association},
    title = {The Role of Models in Science},
    url = {},
    volume = {12},
    year = {1945}

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"The intention and the result of a scientific inquiry is to obtain an understanding and control of some part of the universe."

"No substantial part of the universe is so simple that it can be grasped and controlled without abstraction."

"the best material model for a cat is another, or preferably the same cat."

A theoretical model of (a significant part of) the world would have comparable complexity as (that part of) the world and we would be unable to understand and use it.

Using a material model instead of the actual object of study is useful in two cases:

  • that physical model is better understood,
  • it is easier to use the model than the original.

Biorobotics is a case of using a material model to understand biological organisms for both reasons given by Rosenblueth and Wiener:

  • robots are generally better understood than the real thing (because we construct them)
  • they are easier studied for technical and for ethical reasons.