Synthese 172 (2):301-315 (2010)

Authors
Adam Toon
University of Exeter
Abstract
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 ‘make-believe’ theory of representation in art. I argue that this account allows us to understand theoretical modelling without positing any object of which scientists’ modelling assumptions are true.
Keywords Philosophy   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language   Logic   Epistemology   Computer Science, general   Philosophy of Science
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Reprint years 2009, 2010
DOI 10.1007/s11229-009-9508-x
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Explaining Science: A Cognitive Approach.Jeffrey S. Poland - 1988 - Philosophical Review 100 (4):653-656.
How Models Are Used to Represent Reality.Ronald N. Giere - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):742-752.

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Citations of this work BETA

Models as Make-Believe.Adam Toon - 2010 - In Roman Frigg & Matthew Hunter (eds.), Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science. Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science.
Playing with Molecules.Adam Toon - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):580-589.
Models, Fictions, and Realism: Two Packages.Arnon Levy - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (5):738-748.

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