A Model‐Theoretic Account of Representation

Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1472-1483 (2003)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Recent discussions of the nature of representation in science have tended to import pre-established decompositions from analyses of representation in the arts, language, cognition and so forth. Which of these analyses one favours will depend on how one conceives of theories in the first place. If one thinks of them in terms of an axiomatised set of logico-linguistic statements, then one might be naturally drawn to accounts of linguistic representation in which notions of denotation, for example, feature prominently. If, on the other hand, one conceives of theories in non-linguistic terms, as in the model-theoretic approach, then one might look to analyses of representation in the arts where notions of resemblance tend to be brought to the fore. Thus van Fraassen, for example, has imported such an analysis into his discussion of representation in science and argued that an appropriate account of resemblance can be given in terms of the set-theoretic relation of isomorphism. This has been strongly criticised by Suarez, who argues that just as isomorphism cannot capture representation in art, so it is inappropriate in the scientific context as well. Similarly Hughes draws on Goodman`s rejection of resemblance in art in favour of denotation and, rather confusingly perhaps, favours the latter whilst also maintaining the model-theoretic view of theories. In this paper, I shall examine the debate in terms of four claims: 1. Isomorphism is not sufficient for representation; 2. Isomorphism is not necessary for representation; 3. Models represent but theories do not; 4. Models denote and do not resemble. Each of these claims will be questioned and I will conclude by suggesting that, through appropriate modifications, a form of isomorphism can serve to underpin representation in both the arts and science.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,991

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Isomorphism in Mind.Virgil Gale Whitmyer - 2000 - Dissertation, The University of Connecticut
Scientific representation: Against similarity and isomorphism.Mauricio Suárez - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (3):225-244.
Models as make-believe.Adam Toon - 2010 - In Roman Frigg & Matthew Hunter (eds.), Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science. Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science.
Misrepresentation in Context.Woosuk Park - 2014 - Foundations of Science 19 (4):363-374.
Representation and Denotation in Scientific Modeling.Demetris Portides - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 62:131-136.
Can Partial Structures Accommodate Inconsistent Science?Peter Vickers - 2009 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 13 (2):133-250.
The pragmatics of scientific representation.Mauricio Suárez - 2002 - Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
163 (#121,251)

6 months
23 (#125,057)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Steven French
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

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.
The New Fiction View of Models.Fiora Salis - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (3):717-742.
Semantics of Pictorial Space.Gabriel Greenberg - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):847-887.
Scientific representation.Mauricio Suárez - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (1):91-101.

View all 79 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Languages of Art.Nelson Goodman - 1970 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 3 (1):62-63.
Models and representation.Richard Hughes - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):336.
Reinflating the semantic approach.Steven French & James Ladyman - 1999 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (2):103 – 121.

Add more references