Contrasting Cases: The Lotka-Volterra Model Times Three

Knuuttila, Tarja; Loettgers, Andrea (2016). Contrasting Cases: The Lotka-Volterra Model Times Three. In: Sauer, T.; Scholl, R. (eds.) The Philosophy of Historical Case Studies. Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science: Vol. 319 (pp. 151-178). Cham: Springer International Publishing 10.1007/978-3-319-30229-4_8

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How do philosophers of science make use of historical case studies? Are their accounts of historical cases purpose-built and lacking in evidential strength as a result of putting forth and discussing philosophical positions? We will study these questions through the examination of three different philosophical case studies. All of them focus on modeling and on Vito Volterra, contrasting his work to that of other theoreticians. We argue that the worries concerning the evidential role of historical case studies in philosophy are partially unfounded, and the evidential and hermeneutical roles of case studies need not be played against each other. In philosophy of science, case studies are often tied to conceptual and theoretical analysis and development, rendering their evidential and theoretic/hermeneutic roles intertwined. Moreover, the problems of resituating or generalizing local knowledge are not specific to philosophy of science but commonplace in many scientific practices—which show similarities to the actual use of historical case studies by philosophers of science.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Loettgers, Andrea


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
100 Philosophy
500 Science
500 Science > 530 Physics




Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science


Springer International Publishing




Danielle Zemp

Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2017 11:03

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:03

Publisher DOI:



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