ZiF Cooperation Group

Breaking Confines: Interdisciplinary Model-Building for a Complex World (BreaCon)

March 2018 - December 2020

Convenors: Martin Carrier (Bielefeld, GER), Armin Gölzhäuser (Bielefeld, GER)
Breaking confines

Model-building is a methodological centerpiece for addressing the challenges of a complex world. The Breaking Confines (BreaCon) cooperation group is intended to deal with modeling practices by interdisciplinary reflection and exchange. Its participants come from physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, the social sciences, history, and philosophy. They join forces in combining model-building as a central epistemic activity with studies on and analysis of model-building. The envisaged cooperative research process is essentially interdisciplinary in that the migration of models across disciplinary boundaries is pursued. Problems from different fields are supposed to be tackled by comparing, adjusting, elaborating and redesigning modeling approaches and techniques. At the same time, methodological characteristics of these endeavors are scrutinized by an interdisciplinary collaboration of the involved scientists with philosophers and historians of science. Such reciprocal disciplinary fertilization offers the prospect of enhancing research in substantive and methodological respect. The cooperation group is organized into three research fields that focus on distinctive aspects of model-building. These fields deal with how macroscopic properties are related to micro-level interactions, how diversity and heterogeneity is to be taken care of in model-building, and what are promising ways of using models for heuristic purposes. The cooperation group is intended to perform a conceptual and social experiment on reciprocal interdisciplinary interaction and the fertilization through methodological analysis. Setting up such an interdisciplinary backbone running through and interconnecting various fields of the natural and social sciences is intended to provide a proof of concept that doing research jointly across disciplinary boundaries is beneficial to the fields involved.