Qualitative Theory and Chemical Explanation

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Weisberg, Michael
preprint description
Roald Hoffmann and other theorists claim that we we ought to use highly idealized chemical models (``qualitative models'') in order to increase our understanding of chemical phenomena, even though other models are available which make more highly accurate predictions. I assess this norm by examining one of the tradeoffs faced by model builders and model users --- the tradeoff between precision and generality. After arguing that this tradeoff obtains in many cases, I discuss how the existence of this tradeoff can help us defend Hoffmann's norm for modelling.