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How to Stop Worrying about Model Microfoundationality: Lessons from Multiscale Cancer ModelingMicrofoundational or bottom-up models aim to reproduce high-scale behavior of a system by modeling interactions between lower-scale entities. Epstein and Forber (2013) posit five virtues of microfoundational models, claiming they have advantages over other model types. I argue that bottom-up modeling is not so special. The virtues Epstein and Forber associate with microfoundational models are not exclusive to bottom-up models. Analysis of cancer modeling shows that middle-out modeling that spans multiple spatial and temporal scales also embodies these virtues. These virtues cannot differentiate between bottom-up and middle-out modeling, thereby suggesting we ought to be pluralists with respect to biological modeling.
Jacob P. Neal
History and Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh