Models and fiction

Synthese 172 (2):251 - 268 (2010)
Most scientific models are not physical objects, and this raises important questions. What sort of entity are models, what is truth in a model, and how do we learn about models? In this paper I argue that models share important aspects in common with literary fiction, and that therefore theories of fiction can be brought to bear on these questions. In particular, I argue that the pretence theory as developed by Walton (1990, Mimesis as make-believe: on the foundations of the representational arts. Harvard University Press, Cambridge/MA) has the resources to answer these questions. I introduce this account, outline the answers that it offers, and develop a general picture of scientific modelling based on it.
Keywords Models  Fiction  Pretence  Truth in fiction  Semantic view of theories  Structuralist view of models
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DOI 10.2307/40496038
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References found in this work BETA
Bertrand Russell (2005). On Denoting. Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.

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Citations of this work BETA
Peter Godfrey-Smith (2009). Models and Fictions in Science. Philosophical Studies 143 (1):101 - 116.

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