MODEL / MODELS
A model can be a representation for the purpose of revealing the structure of something.1 However, almost conversely, a model can be utilized to represent the behavior of a system. 2 So, in one case, a model may represent what something is: in another case, what something does. If we opt for a very general definition, we might say that a model is a representation of a certain aspect or certain aspects of something. This "something" may be an entity, a state of affairs3, a device, a system or an object.4 The word "system" may best cover the different types of "things" a model may represent and the system need not be tangible. (i.e., the system may be a social system5 and the model may be abstract or conceptual--ordinary or technical languages may constitute a model.6)
It is important to note that a model may represent some or all of the properties of the system. However, if the model represents more properties, it will be more complex and more difficult to construct.7
One of the advantages of the use of models, is that experiments may be performed that would be difficult, impossible (or even immoral) on the original system. The parameter of time may be accelerated, stopped or slowed. Large-scale problems become small-scale problems. Environments may be controlled in ways not possible with the system being modelled. The model itself may often be readily changed where the modelled system structure may be relatively static.8
Models can become quite controversial--sometimes in ways not imagined by the modeler. A sampling of issues:
Definition--All of the definitions contained in the texts cited in this paper differ somewhat and at least one author felt compelled to spend two pages defining models before tackling his subject.9
Accuracy--Some models have been attacked because one existing system is simply assumed to model another (because of outward similarities).10 Some experimental data suggests that such models can be poor representations. It is charged that some scientists fail to develop sufficiently accurate models because of an allergy "to algebra" or because of a "poor understanding of what science is all about."11 It is further charged that some scientist simply succumb to "scientific fraud."12
Ethics--Models have even become the focus of ethical debates. Although the debate of the use of humans in experiments as models for other humans continues to be an issue,13,14 in recent years a discussion of the use of animals as models of humans has become a part of major works of philosophers15,16 and the subject of at least one journal of ethics. The use of conceptual models can mitigate ethical complexities, although ethics will again come into play when findings are applied.17
1 The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 1968, p. 857.
2 D. W. Ver Planck and B.R. Teare, Jr., Engineering Analysis--An Introduction to Professional Method (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1954), p. 284.
3 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1975, p. 739.
4 "Model (Scientific)," Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, 1983, p. 1900.
5 F. F. Martin, "Models," Encyclopedia of Computer Science (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), p. 935.
6 Irwin D. Bross, "Mathematical Models Vs. Animal Models", Perspectives On Animal Research, Vol. I., Ed. Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D. and Betsy Todd, R.N. (New York: Medical Research Modernization Committee, 1989), p. 84.
7 Martin, p. 935.
8 Ibid., pp. 936-937.
9 Bross, pp. 84-85.
10 Martin L. Stephens, Maternal Deprivation Experiments in Psychology: A Critique of Animal Models (Jenkintown, Pa: The American Anti-Vivisection Society et al., 1986) pp. vii-viii.
11 Bross, p. 83.
12 Ibid., p. 104.
13 Hans Ruesch, Slaughter of the Innocent (New York: CIVITAS, 1983), pp. 348-373.
14 Brandon Reines, Heart Research on Animals--A Critique of Animal Models of Cardiovascular Disease (Jenkintown, Pa: The American Anti-Vivisection Society, 1984), pp. vi-vii.
15 Tom Regan, The Case For Animal Rights (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 264-296.
16 Peter Singer, Animal Liberation--A New Ethics For Our Treatment of Animals (New York: Avon Books, 1975), pp.27-91.
17 Bross, pp. 84-85.
of David Lee Winston Miller.
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