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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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  1. Fiction and Scientific Representation.Roman Frigg - 2010 - In .
    Understanding scientific modelling can be divided into two sub-projects: analysing what model-systems are, and understanding how they are used to represent something beyond themselves. The first is a prerequisite for the second: we can only start analysing how representation works once we understand the intrinsic character of the vehicle that does the representing. Coming to terms with this issue is the project of the first half of this chapter. My central contention is that models are akin to places and characters (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Modelling as Indirect Representation? The Lotka–Volterra Model Revisited.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1007-1036.
    ABSTRACT Is there something specific about modelling that distinguishes it from many other theoretical endeavours? We consider Michael Weisberg’s thesis that modelling is a form of indirect representation through a close examination of the historical roots of the Lotka–Volterra model. While Weisberg discusses only Volterra’s work, we also study Lotka’s very different design of the Lotka–Volterra model. We will argue that while there are elements of indirect representation in both Volterra’s and Lotka’s modelling approaches, they are largely due to two (...)
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  • The New Fiction View of Models.Fiora Salis - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz015.
    How do models represent reality? There are two conditions that scientific models must satisfy to be representations of real systems, the aboutness condition and the epistemic condition. In this article, I critically assess the two main fictionalist theories of models as representations, the indirect fiction view and the direct fiction view, with respect to these conditions. And I develop a novel proposal, what I call ‘the new fiction view of models’. On this view, models are akin to fictional stories; they (...)
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  • Manipulative Imagination: How to Move Things Around in Mathematics.Valeria Giardino - 2018 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 33 (2):345-360.
    In the first part of the paper, previous work about embodied mathematics and the practice of topology will be presented. According to the proposed view, in order to become experts, topologists have to learn how to use manipulative imagination: representations are cognitive tools whose functioning depends from pre-existing cognitive abilities and from specific training. In the second part of the paper, the notion of imagination as “make-believe” is discussed to give an account of cognitive tools in mathematics as props; to (...)
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  • Scientific Discovery Through Fictionally Modelling Reality.Fiora Salis - 2018 - Topoi:1-11.
    How do scientific models represent in a way that enables us to discover new truths about reality and draw inferences about it? Contemporary accounts of scientific discovery answer this question by focusing on the cognitive mechanisms involved in the generation of new ideas and concepts in terms of a special sort of reasoning—or model-based reasoning—involving imagery. Alternatively, I argue that answering this question requires that we recognise the crucial role of the propositional imagination in the construction and development of models (...)
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  • What Distinguishes Data From Models?Sabina Leonelli - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):22.
    I propose a framework that explicates and distinguishes the epistemic roles of data and models within empirical inquiry through consideration of their use in scientific practice. After arguing that Suppes’ characterization of data models falls short in this respect, I discuss a case of data processing within exploratory research in plant phenotyping and use it to highlight the difference between practices aimed to make data usable as evidence and practices aimed to use data to represent a specific phenomenon. I then (...)
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  • From Models-as-Fictions to Models-as-Tools.Adrian Currie - 2017 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4.
    Many accounts of scientific modeling conceive of models as fictions: scientists interact with models in ways analogous to various aesthetic objects. Fictionalists follow most other accounts of modeling by taking them to be revelatory of the actual world in virtue of bearing some resemblance relation to a target system. While such fictionalist accounts capture crucial aspects of modelling practice, they are ill-suited to some design and engineering contexts. Here, models sometimes serve to underwrite design projects whereby real-world targets are constructed. (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Re-Inflating the Conception of Scientific Representation.Chuang Liu - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):41-59.
    This article argues for an anti-deflationist view of scientific representation. Our discussion begins with an analysis of the recent Callender–Cohen deflationary view on scientific representation. We then argue that there are at least two radically different ways in which a thing can be represented: one is purely symbolic, and therefore conventional, and the other is epistemic. The failure to recognize that scientific models are epistemic vehicles rather than symbolic ones has led to the mistaken view that whatever distinguishes scientific models (...)
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  • Similarity and Scientific Representation.Adam Toon - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (3):241-257.
    The similarity view of scientific representation has recently been subjected to strong criticism. Much of this criticism has been directed against a ?naive? similarity account, which tries to explain representation solely in terms of similarity between scientific models and the world. This article examines the more sophisticated account offered by the similarity view's leading proponent, Ronald Giere. In contrast to the naive account, Giere's account appeals to the role played by the scientists using a scientific model. A similar move is (...)
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  • The Mind, the Lab, and the Field: Three Kinds of Populations in Scientific Practice.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Ryan Giordano, Michael D. Edge & Rasmus Nielsen - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:12-21.
    Scientists use models to understand the natural world, and it is important not to conflate model and nature. As an illustration, we distinguish three different kinds of populations in studies of ecology and evolution: theoretical, laboratory, and natural populations, exemplified by the work of R.A. Fisher, Thomas Park, and David Lack, respectively. Biologists are rightly concerned with all three types of populations. We examine the interplay between these different kinds of populations, and their pertinent models, in three examples: the notion (...)
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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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  • The Ontology of Theoretical Modelling: Models as Make-Believe.Adam Toon - 2010 - Synthese 172 (2):301-315.
    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 (...)
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  • Models in Science and Engineering: Imagining, Designing and Evaluating Representations.Michael Poznic - 2017 - Dissertation, Delft University of Technology
    The central question of this thesis is how one can learn about particular targets by using models of those targets. A widespread assumption is that models have to be representative models in order to foster knowledge about targets. Thus the thesis begins by examining the concept of representation from an epistemic point of view and supports an account of representation that does not distinguish between representation simpliciter and adequate representation. Representation, understood in the sense of a representative model, is regarded (...)
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  • Constructing Reality with Models.Tee Sim-Hui - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Scientific models are used to predict and understand the target phenomena in the reality. The kind of epistemic relationship between the model and the reality is always regarded by most of the philosophers as a representational one. I argue that, complementary to this representational role, some of the scientific models have a constructive role to play in altering and reconstructing the reality in a physical way. I hold that the idealized model assumptions and elements bestow the constructive force of a (...)
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  • Science and Fiction: Analysing the Concept of Fiction in Science and its Limits.Ann-Sophie Barwich - 2013 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 44 (2):357-373.
    A recent and growing discussion in philosophy addresses the construction of models and their use in scientific reasoning by comparison with fiction. This comparison helps to explore the problem of mediated observation and, hence, the lack of an unambiguous reference of representations. Examining the usefulness of the concept of fiction for a comparison with non-denoting elements in science, the aim of this paper is to present reasonable grounds for drawing a distinction between these two kinds of representation. In particular, my (...)
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