David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):303-312 (2011)
Most philosophical accounts of scientific models assume that models represent some aspect, or some theory, of reality. They also assume that interpretation plays only a supporting role. This paper challenges both assumptions. It proposes that models can be used in science to interpret reality. (a) I distinguish these interpretative models from representational ones. They find new meanings in a target system’s behaviour, rather than fit its parts together. They are built through idealisation, abstraction and recontextualisation. (b) To show how interpretative models work, I offer a case study on the scientific controversy over foetal pain. It highlights how pain scientists use conflicting models to interpret the human foetus and its behaviour, and thereby to support opposing claims about whether the foetus can feel pain. (c) I raise a sceptical worry and a methodological challenge for interpretative models. To address the latter, I use my case study to compare how interpretative and representational models ought to be evaluated.
|Keywords||Scientific model Interpretation Representation Meaning Foetal pain|
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References found in this work BETA
David Benatar & Michael Benatar (2001). A Pain in the Fetus: Toward Ending Confusion About Fetal Pain. Bioethics 15 (1):57–76.
Michael Bradie (1999). Science and Metaphor. Biology and Philosophy 14 (2):159-166.
Nancy Cartwright, Models and the Limits of Theory: Quantum Hamiltonians and the BCS Model of Superconductivity.
Newton da Costa & Steven French (2000). Models, Theories, and Structures: Thirty Years On. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):127.
S. Derbyshire (2001). Fetal Pain: An Infantile Debate. Bioethics 15 (1):77-84.
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