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Soziologisches Institut

Model Transfer in Science

Model transfer in science has been studied by historians and philosophers alike. However, little work has been done to identify its characteristics and discuss its implications in the context of the social sciences. This project aims at understanding the nature of model transfer in the social sciences within the various contexts it occurs. It will furthermore suggest different ways in which such transfers of models can be classified and studied. In three case studies, kinds of model transfer will be analyzed in detail, using integrated sociological, historical and philosophical methods. The two-fold goal of the project is firstly, to identify common patterns underlying model transfer across particular contexts. Secondly, it is an attempt to illustrate and discuss empirical, formal, and qualitative methods that are commonly used in history, philosophy, and sociology of science regarding their usefulness for studying processes of model transfer in an integrated way. Both aspects are innovative and important to improve our understanding of model transfer in the social sciences, to specify conditions under which it can be successful, and to assess ways in which such transfers contribute to scientific progress. Those aspects matter if science is to fulfill its epistemic, its normative and its regulative roles in society.

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