Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow residents of the US out there. Been meaning to post on something that's been in the background as I've been thinking about a project lately, and holiday post-meal beached football time is as good as any to do a little relaxed writing.
The question, then: What exactly is it that we mean when we talk about the ability of a scientific theory or model to offer predictions?
This is by no means a new question, but let me say something about why it's been on my mind lately. In a paper draft I've been hacking around on, and a recent talk at Mississippi State, I've been thinking about a distinction that's become very common in the philosophy of biology, one between what's been called "predictive" and "vernacular" notions of fitness (originally from Matthen and Ariew 2002).