How models are used to represent reality

Philosophy of Science 71 (5):742-752 (2004)
Most recent philosophical thought about the scientific representation of the world has focused on dyadic relationships between language-like entities and the world, particularly the semantic relationships of reference and truth. Drawing inspiration from diverse sources, I argue that we should focus on the pragmatic activity of representing, so that the basic representational relationship has the form: Scientists use models to represent aspects of the world for specific purposes. Leaving aside the terms "law" and "theory," I distinguish principles, specific conditions, models, hypotheses, and generalizations. I argue that scientists use designated similarities between models and aspects of the world to form both hypotheses and generalizations.
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DOI 10.1086/425063
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