A concrete example of representational licensing: The Mississippi River Basin Model

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 92 (C):36-44 (2022)
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Previously, I (Boesch 2017) described a notion called “representational licensing”—the set of activities of scientific practice by which scientists establish the intended representational use of a vehicle. In this essay, I expand and develop this concept of representational licensing. I begin by showing how the concept is of value for both pragmatic and substantive approaches to scientific representation. Then, through the examination of a case study of the Mississippi River Basin Model, I point out and explain some of the activities of representational licensing that help to establish the representational nature of this model. Throughout the exploration of the case study, I pause to identify some important lessons which apply more generally about the nature of representational licensing in science.



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Brandon Boesch
Morningside College

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How models are used to represent reality.Ronald N. Giere - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):742-752.
Modelling and representing: An artefactual approach to model-based representation.Tarja Knuuttila - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):262-271.
Models and representation.Richard Hughes - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):336.
Scientific representation: Against similarity and isomorphism.Mauricio Suárez - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (3):225-244.

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