Living with the abstract: realism and models

Synthese 180 (1):3 - 17 (2011)
A natural way to think of models is as abstract entities. If theories employ models to represent the world, theories traffic in abstract entities much more widely than is often assumed. This kind of thought seems to create a problem for a scientific realist approach to theories. Scientific realists claim theories should be understood literally. Do they then imply (and are they committed to) the reality of abstract entities? Or are theories simply—and incurably—false (if there are no abstract entities)? Or has the very idea of literal understanding to be abandoned? Is then fictionalism towards scientific theories inevitable? This paper argues that scientific realism can happily co-exist with models qua abstracta
Keywords Scientific realism  Models  Abstract entities  Duhem  Quine
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    References found in this work BETA
    Stacie Friend (2007). Fictional Characters. Philosophy Compass 2 (2):141–156.
    Roman Frigg (2010). Models and Fiction. Synthese 172 (2):251 - 268.

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