How do models give us knowledge? The case of Carnot's ideal heat engine

Our concern is in explaining how and why models give us useful knowledge. We argue that if we are to understand how models function in the actual scientific practice the representational approach to models proves either misleading or too minimal. We propose turning from the representational approach to the artefactual, which implies also a new unit of analysis: the activity of modelling. Modelling, we suggest, could be approached as a specific practice in which concrete artefacts, i.e., models, are constructed with the help of specific representational means and used in various ways, for example, for the purposes of scientific reasoning, theory construction and design of experiments and other artefacts. Furthermore, in this activity of modelling the model construction is intertwined with the construction of new phenomena, theoretical principles and new scientific concepts. We will illustrate these claims by studying the construction of the ideal heat engine by Sadi Carnot
Keywords Modelling  Engineering sciences  Representation  Carnot  Epistemic tools  Heat engine
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DOI 10.1007/s13194-011-0029-3
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Mark Pexton (2016). Emergence and Interacting Hierarchies in Shock Physics. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):91-122.

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