science is the inheritor of a distinguished lineage, the more pragmatically oriented approach sketched by Weisberg is more suitable for understanding contemporary complex systems sciences. As we saw in Section 6.3.2, the question of whether or not a non-chaotic approximation of our solar system’s behavior is a “good” approximation is purpose-relative. There’s no interesting way in which one or another model of the solar system’s long-term behavior is “good” without reference to our predictive goals. Pragmatic idealization lets us start with a goal--a particular prediction, explanation, or decision--and construct models that help us reach that goal. These idealizations are good ones not because they share a particular kind of correspondence with an a priori defined target system, but because they are helpful tools. We will revisit this point in greater detail Section 6.4.2.
6.3.4 Pragmatic Idealization
The solar system, while chaotic, is a system of relatively low dynamical complexity. The advantages of pragmatic MMI-style accounts of idealization over Norton-style hard-nosed realist accounts of idealization become increasingly salient as we consider more dynamically complex systems. Let’s return now to the question that prompted this digression. How can we reconcile a strongly pluralistic view of scientific laws with the assertion that the greenhouse effect’s explanatory grounding in the patterns of physics should give us reason to ascribe a strong anthropogenic component to climate change even in the face of arguments against the veracity of individual computational climate simulations? At the close of Section 6.3.1, I suggested that perhaps the resolution to this question lay in a consideration of the fact that models like the GISS approximate the dynamics of the global climate. In light of the discussion in Sections 6.3.2 and 6.3.3, though, this doesn’t seem quite right. Computational models are not approximations of the