Models, Pictures, and Unified Accounts of Representation: Lessons from Aesthetics for Philosophy of Science

Perspectives on Science 17 (4):417-428 (2009)
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Abstract

Several prominent philosophers of science, most notably Ron Giere, propose that scientific theories are collections of models and that models represent the objects of scientific study. Some, including Giere, argue that models represent in the same way that pictures represent. Aestheticians have brought the picturing relation under intense scrutiny and presented important arguments against the tenability of particular accounts of picturing. Many of these arguments from aesthetics can be used against accounts of representation in philosophy of science. I rely on Dominic Lopes' recent summary of arguments against various views of picturing and reformulate some of them to fit the philosophy of science context. My specific targets here are Giere and Steven French. I go on to argue that assuming all scientific models and images represent in the same way is not the best guide to understanding scientific practice

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Stephen M. Downes
University of Utah

Citations of this work

Scientific representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
How Theories Represent.Otávio Bueno & Steven French - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):857-894.
Scientific Models.Stephen M. Downes - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (11):757-764.
Similarity and Scientific Representation.Adam Toon - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (3):241-257.

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References found in this work

Science without laws.Ronald N. Giere - 1999 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Language and reality: an introduction to the philosophy of language.Michael Devitt & Kim Sterelny - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Edited by Kim Sterelny.
Languages of Art.Nelson Goodman - 1970 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 3 (1):62-63.
How models are used to represent reality.Ronald N. Giere - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):742-752.

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