PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Modeling: Neutral, Null, and Baseline

Within ecology, Hubbell's neutral theory is said to play the role of a 'null model' for testing competition theory with respect to patterns of abundance and diversity. Using the null modeling reasoning strategy, causal conclusions are drawn in a line of argumentation that privileges neutral theory as accepted until rejected. To analyze and critically evaluate this, I propose two distinctions: Theory Choice Question vs Relative Significance Question, and Null Modeling vs Baseline Modeling. I argue that the causal conclusions do not follow from this line of argumentation because these distinctions are not respected.

Author Information:

William Bausman    
Philosophy
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

 

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