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Profile: Adam Toon (University of Exeter)
  1. Adam Toon (2014). Empiricism for Cyborgs. Philosophical Issues 24 (1):409-425.
    One important debate between scientific realists and constructive empiricists concerns whether we observe things using instruments. This paper offers a new perspective on the debate over instruments by looking to recent discussion in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Realists often speak of instruments as ‘extensions’ to our senses. I ask whether the realist may strengthen her view by drawing on the extended mind thesis. Proponents of the extended mind thesis claim that cognitive processes can sometimes extend beyond our brains (...)
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  2. Adam Toon (2013). Friends at Last? Distributed Cognition and the Cognitive/Social Divide. Philosophical Psychology 27 (1):1-14.
    Distributed cognition (d-cog) claims that many cognitive processes are ?distributed? across groups and the surrounding material and cultural environment. Recently, Nancy Nersessian, Ronald Giere, and others have suggested that a d-cog approach might allow us to bring together cognitive and social theories of science. I explore this idea by focusing on the specific interpretation of d-cog found in Edwin Hutchins' canonical text Cognition in the wild. First, I examine the scope of a d-cog approach to science, showing that there are (...)
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  3. Adam Toon (2012). Models as Make-Believe: Imagination, Fiction, and Scientific Representation. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Models as Make-Believe offers a new approach to scientific modelling by looking to an unlikely source of inspiration: the dolls and toy trucks of children's games of make-believe.
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  4. Adam Toon, Models, Sherlock Holmes and the Emperor Claudius.
    Recently, a number of authors have suggested that we understand scientific models in the same way as fictional characters, like Sherlock Holmes. The biggest challenge for this approach concerns the ontology of fictional characters. I consider two responses to this challenge, given by Roman Frigg, Ronald Giere and Peter Godfrey-Smith, and argue that neither is successful. I then suggest an alternative approach. While parallels with fiction are useful, I argue that models of real systems are more aptly compared to works (...)
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  5. Adam Toon (2012). Similarity and Scientific Representation. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (3):241-257.
    The similarity view of scientific representation has recently been subjected to strong criticism. Much of this criticism has been directed against a ?naive? similarity account, which tries to explain representation solely in terms of similarity between scientific models and the world. This article examines the more sophisticated account offered by the similarity view's leading proponent, Ronald Giere. In contrast to the naive account, Giere's account appeals to the role played by the scientists using a scientific model. A similar move is (...)
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  6. Adam Toon (2011). Playing with Molecules. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):580-589.
    Recent philosophy of science has seen a number of attempts to understand scientific models by looking to theories of fiction. In previous work, I have offered an account of models that draws on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of art. According to this account, models function as ‘props’ in games of make-believe, like children’s dolls or toy trucks. In this paper, I assess the make-believe view through an empirical study of molecular models. I suggest that the view gains support when we (...)
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  7. Adam Toon (2010). Models as Make-Believe. In Roman Frigg & Matthew Hunter (eds.), Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science. Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science.
    In this paper I propose an account of representation for scientific models based on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of representation in art. I first set out the problem of scientific representation and respond to a recent argument due to Craig Callender and Jonathan Cohen, which aims to show that the problem may be easily dismissed. I then introduce my account of models as props in games of make-believe and show how it offers a solution to the problem. Finally, I demonstrate (...)
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  8. Adam Toon (2010). Novel Approaches to Models. Metascience 19 (2):285-288.
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  9. Adam Toon (2010). The Ontology of Theoretical Modelling: Models as Make-Believe. Synthese 172 (2):301-315.
    The descriptions and theoretical laws scientists write down when they model a system are often false of any real system. And yet we commonly talk as if there were objects that satisfy the scientists’ assumptions and as if we may learn about their properties. Many attempt to make sense of this by taking the scientists’ descriptions and theoretical laws to define abstract or fictional entities. In this paper, I propose an alternative account of theoretical modelling that draws upon Kendall Walton’s (...)
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