Scientific representation

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2016)
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Abstract

Science provides us with representations of atoms, elementary particles, polymers, populations, genetic trees, economies, rational decisions, aeroplanes, earthquakes, forest fires, irrigation systems, and the world’s climate. It's through these representations that we learn about the world. This entry explores various different accounts of scientific representation, with a particular focus on how scientific models represent their target systems. As philosophers of science are increasingly acknowledging the importance, if not the primacy, of scientific models as representational units of science, it's important to stress that how they represent plays a fundamental role in how we are to answer other questions in the philosophy of science. This entry begins by disentangling ‘the’ problem of scientific representation, before critically evaluating the current options available in the literature.

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Author Profiles

James Nguyen
Stockholm University
Roman Frigg
London School of Economics

Citations of this work

Metaphors in arts and science.Walter Veit & Ney Milan - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-24.
Rational endorsement.Will Fleisher - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2649-2675.
What Theoretical Equivalence Could Not Be.Trevor Teitel - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (12):4119-4149.
Perspectival Modeling.Michela Massimi - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (3):335-359.

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References found in this work

How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Reason, Truth and History.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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