Scientific Images as Circulating Ideas: An Application of Ludwik Fleck’s Theory of Thought Styles

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Abstract
Without doubt, there is a great diversity of scientific images both with regard to their appearances and their functions. Diagrams, photographs, drawings, etc. serve as evidence in publications, as eye-catchers in presentations, as surrogates for the research object in scientific reasoning. This fact has been highlighted by Stephen M. Downes who takes this diversity as a reason to argue against a unifying representation-based account of how visualisations play their epistemic role in science. In the following paper, I will suggest an alternative explanation of the diversity of scientific images. This account refers to processes which are caused by the social setting of science. What exactly is meant by this, I will spell out with the aid of Ludwik Fleck’s theory of the social mechanisms of scientific communication.
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Archival date: 2019-03-29
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