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 (2010)
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Abstract

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 an important advantage my account has over other theories of scientific representation. All existing theories analyse scientific representation in terms of relations, such as similarity or denotation. By contrast, my account does not take representation in modelling to be essentially relational. For this reason, it can accommodate a group of models often ignored in discussions of scientific representation, namely models which are representational but which represent no actual object.

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Adam Toon
University of Exeter

Citations of this work

Models and Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Lorenzo Magnani & Tommaso Bertolotti (eds.), Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science. pp. 49-102.
Scientific Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Modeling Without Models.Arnon Levy - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (3):781-798.
The New Fiction View of Models.Fiora Salis - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (3):717-742.

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References found in this work

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Science Without Laws.Ronald N. Giere - 1999 - University of Chicago Press.
Explaining Science: A Cognitive Approach.Jeffrey S. Poland - 1988 - Philosophical Review 100 (4):653-656.

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