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Scientific fictions as rules of inference

In Fictions in Science: Philosophical Essays on Modeling and Idealization. Routledge. pp. 158--178 (2009)

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  1. How Could Models Possibly Provide How-Possibly Explanations?Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 73:1-12.
    One puzzle concerning highly idealized models is whether they explain. Some suggest they provide so-called ‘how-possibly explanations’. However, this raises an important question about the nature of how-possibly explanations, namely what distinguishes them from ‘normal’, or how-actually, explanations? I provide an account of how-possibly explanations that clarifies their nature in the context of solving the puzzle of model-based explanation. I argue that the modal notions of actuality and possibility provide the relevant dividing lines between how-possibly and how-actually explanations. Whereas how-possibly (...)
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  • Playing with Molecules.Adam Toon - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):580-589.
    Recent philosophy of science has seen a number of attempts to understand scientific models by looking to theories of fiction. In previous work, I have offered an account of models that draws on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of art. According to this account, models function as ‘props’ in games of make-believe, like children’s dolls or toy trucks. In this paper, I assess the make-believe view through an empirical study of molecular models. I suggest that the view gains support when we (...)
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  • Inconsistent Idealizations and Inferentialism About Scientific Representation.Peter Tan - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 89:11-18.
    Inferentialists about scientific representation hold that an apparatus’s representing a target system consists in the apparatus allowing “surrogative inferences” about the target. I argue that a serious problem for inferentialism arises from the fact that many scientific theories and models contain internal inconsistencies. Inferentialism, left unamended, implies that inconsistent scientific models have unlimited representational power, since an inconsistency permits any conclusion to be inferred. I consider a number of ways that inferentialists can respond to this challenge before suggesting my own (...)
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  • Fictions, Conditionals, and Stellar Astrophysics.Mauricio Suárez - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (3):235-252.
    This article argues in favour of an inferential role for fictions in scientific modelling. The argument proceeds by means of a detailed case study, namely models of the internal structure of stars in stellar astrophysics. The main assumptions in such models are described, and it is argued that they are best understood as useful fictions. The role that conditionals play in these models is explained, and it is argued that fictional assumptions play an important role as either background or antecedent (...)
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  • Finding Truth in Fictions: Identifying Non-Fictions in Imaginary Cracks.Gordon Michael Purves - 2013 - Synthese 190 (2):235-251.
    I critically examine some recent work on the philosophy of scientific fictions, focusing on the work of Winsberg. By considering two case studies in fracture mechanics, the strip yield model and the imaginary crack method, I argue that his reliance upon the social norms associated with an element of a model forces him to remain silent whenever those norms fail to clearly match the characteristic of fictions or non-fictions. In its place, I propose a normative epistemology of fictions which clarifies (...)
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  • 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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  • Against the New Fictionalism: A Hybrid View of Scientific Models.Chuang Liu - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (1):39-54.
    This article develops an approach to modelling and models in science—the hybrid view—that is against model fictionalism of a recent stripe. It further argues that there is a version of fictionalism about models to which my approach is neutral and which makes sense only if one adopts a special sort of antirealism. Otherwise, my approach strongly suggests that one stay away from fictionalism and embrace realism directly.
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  • What Science Fiction Can Demonstrate About Novelty in the Context of Discovery and Scientific Creativity.Clarissa Ai Ling Lee - 2019 - Foundations of Science 24 (4):705-725.
    Four instances of how science fiction contributes to the elucidation of novelty in the context of discovery are considered by extending existing discussions on temporal and use-novelty. In the first instance, science fiction takes an already well-known theory and produces its own re-interpretation; in the second instance, the scientific account is usually straightforward and whatever novelty that may occur would be more along the lines of how the science is deployed to extra-scientific matters; in the third instance, science fiction takes (...)
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  • Synthetic Fictions: Turning Imagined Biological Systems Into Concrete Ones.Tarja Knuuttila & Rami Koskinen - 2020 - Synthese 198 (9):8233-8250.
    The recent discussion of fictional models has focused on imagination, implicitly considering fictions as something nonconcrete. We present two cases from synthetic biology that can be viewed as concrete fictions. Both minimal cells and alternative genetic systems are modal in nature: they, as well as their abstract cousins, can be used to study unactualized possibilia. We approach these synthetic constructs through Vaihinger’s notion of a semi-fiction and Goodman’s notion of semifactuality. Our study highlights the relative existence of such concrete fictions. (...)
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  • Imagination Extended and Embedded: Artifactual Versus Fictional Accounts of Models.Tarja Knuuttila - 2017 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 21):5077-5097.
    This paper presents an artifactual approach to models that also addresses their fictional features. It discusses first the imaginary accounts of models and fiction that set model descriptions apart from imagined-objects, concentrating on the latter :251–268, 2010; Frigg and Nguyen in The Monist 99:225–242, 2016; Godfrey-Smith in Biol Philos 21:725–740, 2006; Philos Stud 143:101–116, 2009). While the imaginary approaches accommodate surrogative reasoning as an important characteristic of scientific modeling, they simultaneously raise difficult questions concerning how the imagined entities are related (...)
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  • How Do Models Give Us Knowledge? The Case of Carnot’s Ideal Heat Engine.Tarja Knuuttila & Mieke Boon - 2011 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (3):309-334.
    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 (...)
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  • Explaining with Models: The Role of Idealizations.Julie Jebeile & Ashley Graham Kennedy - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (4):383-392.
    Because they contain idealizations, scientific models are often considered to be misrepresentations of their target systems. An important question is therefore how models can explain the behaviours of these systems. Most of the answers to this question are representationalist in nature. Proponents of this view are generally committed to the claim that models are explanatory if they represent their target systems to some degree of accuracy; in other words, they try to determine the conditions under which idealizations can be made (...)
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  • Interdisciplinarity as Hybrid Modeling.Rolf Hvidtfeldt - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):35-57.
    In this paper, I present a philosophical analysis of interdisciplinary scientific activities. I suggest that it is a fruitful approach to view interdisciplinarity in light of the recent literature on scientific representations. For this purpose I develop a meta-representational model in which interdisciplinarity is viewed in part as a process of integrating distinct scientific representational approaches. The analysis suggests that present methods for the evaluation of interdisciplinary projects places too much emphasis non-epistemic aspects of disciplinary integrations while more or less (...)
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  • How Simulations Fail.Patrick Grim, Robert Rosenberger, Adam Rosenfeld, Brian Anderson & Robb E. Eason - 2011 - Synthese 190 (12):2367-2390.
    ‘The problem with simulations is that they are doomed to succeed.’ So runs a common criticism of simulations—that they can be used to ‘prove’ anything and are thus of little or no scientific value. While this particular objection represents a minority view, especially among those who work with simulations in a scientific context, it raises a difficult question: what standards should we use to differentiate a simulation that fails from one that succeeds? In this paper we build on a structural (...)
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  • Science Fictions: Comment on Godfrey-Smith.Arthur Fine - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 143 (1):117 - 125.
    This is a comment on Peter Godfrey-Smith’s, “Models and Fictions in Science”. The comments explore problems he raises if we treat model systems as fictions in a naturalized and deflationary framework.
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  • Models as Felicitous Falsehoods.Catherine Elgin - 2022 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 26 (1):7-23.
    I argue that models enable us to understand reality in ways that we would be unable to do if we restricted ourselves to the unvarnished truth. The point is not just that the features that a model skirts can permissibly be neglected. They ought to be neglected. Too much information occludes patterns that figure in an understanding of the phenomena. The regularities a model reveals are real and informative. But many of them show up only under idealizing assumptions.
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  • Models As Fictions, Fictions As Models.Gregory Currie - 2016 - The Monist 99 (3):296-310.
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  • The role of disciplinary perspectives in an epistemology of scientific models.Mieke Boon - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-34.
    The purpose of this article is to develop an epistemology of scientific models in scientific research practices, and to show that disciplinary perspectives have crucial role in such an epistemology. A transcendental approach is taken, aimed at explanations of the kinds of questions relevant to the intended epistemology, such as “How is it possible that models provide knowledge about aspects of reality?” The approach is also pragmatic in the sense that the questions and explanations must be adequate and relevant to (...)
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  • Incompatible Models in Chemistry: The Case of Electronegativity.Hernán Lucas Accorinti - 2019 - Foundations of Chemistry 21 (1):71-81.
    During the second half of the nineteenth century, electronegativity has been one of the most relevant chemical concepts to explain the relationships between chemical substances and their possible reactions. Specifically, EN is a property of the substances that allows them to attract external electrons in bonding situations. The problem arises because EN cannot be measured directly. Indeed, the only way to measure it is through different properties that do can be directly measured, for instance enthalpy, ionization energies or electron affinities. (...)
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  • Fictions, Inference and Realism.Mauricio Suárez - 2010 - In John Woods (ed.), Fictions and Models: New Essays. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.
    Abstract: It is often assumed without argument that fictionalism in the philosophy of science contradicts scientific realism. This paper is a critical analysis of this assumption. The kind of fictionalism that is at present discussed in philosophy of science is characterised, and distinguished from fictionalism in other areas. A distinction is then drawn between forms of fictional representation, and two competing accounts of fiction in science are discussed. I then outline explicitly what I take to be the argument for the (...)
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  • Philosophy of Modeling: Neglected Pages of History.Karlis Podnieks - 2018 - Baltic Journal of Modern Computing 6 (3):279–303.
    The work done in the philosophy of modeling by Vaihinger (1876), Craik (1943), Rosenblueth and Wiener (1945), Apostel (1960), Minsky (1965), Klaus (1966) and Stachowiak (1973) is still almost completely neglected in the mainstream literature. However, this work seems to contain original ideas worth to be discussed. For example, the idea that diverse functions of models can be better structured as follows: in fact, models perform only a single function – they are replacing their target systems, but for different purposes. (...)
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  • Contrasting Cases: The Lotka-Volterra Model Times Three.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2016 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 319:151-178.
    How do philosophers of science make use of historical case studies? Are their accounts of historical cases purpose-built and lacking in evidential strength as a result of putting forth and discussing philosophical positions? We will study these questions through the examination of three different philosophical case studies. All of them focus on modeling and on Vito Volterra, contrasting his work to that of other theoreticians. We argue that the worries concerning the evidential role of historical case studies in philosophy are (...)
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