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Models are commonly used across sciences. What is more, they are of central importance in the production of scientific knowledge. Yet, how exactly we can learn from them, how do we determine what a model represents, and what kind of explanation it provides – are questions that are not easy to answer, which is why they have been hotly debated by philosophers. Take, for instance, highly idealized computer simulations, frequently developed in social sciences and in philosophy. What do such models represent? How are they related to the real-world? And when can we take results of such models seriously, for example, as the basis for policy guidance? Or consider opaque machine learning models, which can be used to make predictions. When do they help to increase our understanding of the world? This course will consist of three parts: 1. In October and November we will discuss some of the central publications written on the above topics. The readings will be aimed at preparing students for talks by experts on the topic, which constitute part 2. 2. On the 6th of December, 2023 we will have a (full day) workshop in which experts working in this field will come to RUB and present their work. No further classes will take place in December. Instead, students will choose a topic related to one of the talks in the workshop and start their project on it. The topics for student projects will be agreed upon in (individual) online meetings. The project should result in a presentation and an essay. 3. In January classes will consist of student presentations, focusing on the projects agreed upon in December. We will also cover some additional readings, supplementing the student presentations. | | | The reading list will be provided at the start of the course.