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James Nguyen
School of Advanced Study, University of London
  1. Models and Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Lorenzo Magnani & Tommaso Bertolotti (eds.), Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science. pp. 49-102.
    Scientific discourse is rife with passages that appear to be ordinary descriptions of systems of interest in a particular discipline. Equally, the pages of textbooks and journals are filled with discussions of the properties and the behavior of those systems. Students of mechanics investigate at length the dynamical properties of a system consisting of two or three spinning spheres with homogenous mass distributions gravitationally interacting only with each other. Population biologists study the evolution of one species procreating at a constant (...)
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  2. The Fiction View of Models Reloaded.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016 - The Monist 99 (3):225-242.
    In this paper we explore the constraints that our preferred account of scientific representation places on the ontology of scientific models. Pace the Direct Representation view associated with Arnon Levy and Adam Toon we argue that scientific models should be thought of as imagined systems, and clarify the relationship between imagination and representation.
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  3.  84
    Scientific Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    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 (...)
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  4.  55
    The Turn of the Valve: Representing with Material Models.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (2):205-224.
    Many scientific models are representations. Building on Goodman and Elgin’s notion of representation-as we analyse what this claim involves by providing a general definition of what makes something a scientific model, and formulating a novel account of how they represent. We call the result the DEKI account of representation, which offers a complex kind of representation involving an interplay of, denotation, exemplification, keying up of properties, and imputation. Throughout we focus on material models, and we illustrate our claims with the (...)
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  5.  36
    Mirrors Without Warnings.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2427-2447.
    Veritism, the position that truth is necessary for epistemic acceptability, seems to be in tension with the observation that much of our best science is not, strictly speaking, true when interpreted literally. This generates a paradox: truth is necessary for epistemic acceptability; the claims of science have to be taken literally; much of what science produces is not literally true and yet it is acceptable. We frame Elgin’s project in True Enough as being motivated by, and offering a particular resolution (...)
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  6.  48
    It’s Not a Game: Accurate Representation with Toy Models.James Nguyen - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):1013-1041.
    Drawing on ‘interpretational’ accounts of scientific representation, I argue that the use of so-called ‘toy models’ provides no particular philosophical puzzle. More specifically; I argue that once one gives up the idea that models are accurate representations of their targets only if they are appropriately similar, then simple and highly idealized models can be accurate in the same way that more complex models can be. Their differences turn on trading precision for generality, but, if they are appropriately interpreted, toy models (...)
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  7.  60
    Scientific Representation and Theoretical Equivalence.James Nguyen - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):982-995.
    In this article I connect two debates in the philosophy of science: the questions of scientific representation and both model and theoretical equivalence. I argue that by paying attention to how a model is used to draw inferences about its target system, we can define a notion of theoretical equivalence that turns on whether models license the same claims about the same target systems. I briefly consider the implications of this for two questions that have recently been discussed in the (...)
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  8.  57
    Mathematics is Not the Only Language in the Book of Nature.James Nguyen & Roman Frigg - 2017 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 24):1-22.
    How does mathematics apply to something non-mathematical? We distinguish between a general application problem and a special application problem. A critical examination of the answer that structural mapping accounts offer to the former problem leads us to identify a lacuna in these accounts: they have to presuppose that target systems are structured and yet leave this presupposition unexplained. We propose to fill this gap with an account that attributes structures to targets through structure generating descriptions. These descriptions are physical descriptions (...)
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  9.  54
    Objectivity, Ambiguity, and Theory Choice.James Nguyen & Alexandru Marcoci - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (2):343-357.
    Kuhn argued that scientific theory choice is, in some sense, a rational matter, but one that is not fully determined by shared objective scientific virtues like accuracy, simplicity, and scope. Okasha imports Arrow’s impossibility theorem into the context of theory choice to show that rather than not fully determining theory choice, these virtues cannot determine it at all. If Okasha is right, then there is no function from ‘preference’ rankings supplied by scientific virtues over competing theories to a single all-things-considered (...)
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  10.  65
    On the Pragmatic Equivalence Between Representing Data and Phenomena.James Nguyen - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (2):171- 191.
    Van Fraassen argues that data provide the target-end structures required by structuralist accounts of scientific representation. But models represent phenomena not data. Van Fraassen agrees but argues that there is no pragmatic difference between taking a scientific model to accurately represent a physical system and accurately represent data extracted from it. In this article I reconstruct his argument and show that it turns on the false premise that the pragmatic content of acts of representation include doxastic commitments.
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  11.  5
    Scientific Representation Is Representation-As.James Nguyen & Roman Frigg - 2017 - In Hsiang-Ke Chao & Julian Reiss (eds.), Philosophy of Science in Practice: Nancy Cartwright and the Nature of Scientific Reasoning. Springer Verlag. pp. 149-179.
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  12.  15
    Of Barrels and Pipes: Representation - as in Art and Science.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Otávio Beuno, George Darby, Steven French & Dean Rickles (eds.), Thinking About Science, Reflecting on Art: Bringing Aesthetics and Philosophy of Science Together. London, U.K.: Routledge.
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  13.  25
    Scientific Rationality by Degrees.Alexandru Marcoci & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Michela Massimi, Jan-Willem Romeijn & Gerhard Schurz (eds.), EPSA15 Selected Papers: The 5th conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association in Düsseldorf. Springer International Publishing. pp. 321-333.
    In a recent paper, Okasha imports Arrow’s impossibility theorem into the context of theory choice. He shows that there is no function (satisfying certain desirable conditions) from profiles of preference rankings over competing theories, models or hypotheses provided by scientific virtues to a single all-things-considered ranking. This is a prima facie threat to the rationality of theory choice. In this paper we show this threat relies on an all-or-nothing understanding of scientific rationality and articulate instead a notion of rationality by (...)
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  14.  29
    How Models Represent.James Nguyen - 2016 - Dissertation,
    Scientific models are important, if not the sole, units of science. This thesis addresses the following question: in virtue of what do scientific models represent their target systems? In Part i I motivate the question, and lay out some important desiderata that any successful answer must meet. This provides a novel conceptual framework in which to think about the question of scientific representation. I then argue against Callender and Cohen’s attempt to diffuse the question. In Part ii I investigate the (...)
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    Of Barrels and Pipes: Representation - as in Art and Science.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Otávio Bueno, Gerorge Darby, Steven French & Dean Rickles (eds.), Thinking About Science, Reflecting on Art.
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  16. .Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016
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  17. Understanding Philosophy.Michael Hannon & James Nguyen - manuscript
    What is the epistemic aim of philosophy? The standard view is that philosophy aims to provide true answers to philosophical questions. But if our aim is to settle controversy by answering philosophical questions, our discipline is an embarrassing failure. Moreover, taking philosophy to aim at true answers to such questions leads to a variety of puzzles: How do we account for philosophical expertise? How is philosophical progress possible? Why do job search committees not care about the truth or falsity of (...)
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  18.  16
    Judgement Aggregation in Scientific Collaborations: The Case for Waiving Expertise.Alexandru Marcoci & James Nguyen - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 84:66-74.
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  19.  13
    Do Fictions Explain?James Nguyen - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3219-3244.
    I argue that fictional models, construed as models that misrepresent certain ontological aspects of their target systems, can nevertheless explain why the latter exhibit certain behaviour. They can do this by accurately representing whatever it is that that behaviour counterfactually depends on. However, we should be sufficiently sensitive to different explanatory questions, i.e., ‘why does certain behaviour occur?’ versus ‘why does the counterfactual dependency invoked to answer that question actually hold?’. With this distinction in mind, I argue that whilst fictional (...)
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    The Limitations of the Arrovian Consistency of Domains with a Fixed Preference.James Nguyen - 2019 - Theory and Decision 87 (2):183-199.
    In this paper I investigate the properties of social welfare functions defined on domains where the preferences of one agent remain fixed. Such a domain is a degenerate case of those investigated, and proved Arrow consistent, by Sakai and Shimoji :435–445, 2006). Thus, they admit functions from them to a social preference that satisfy Arrow’s conditions of Weak Pareto, Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives, and Non-dictatorship. However, I prove that according to any function that satisfies these conditions on such a domain, (...)
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