Models and fiction

Synthese 172 (2):251-268 (2010)
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Abstract

Most scientific models are not physical objects, and this raises important questions. What sort of entity are models, what is truth in a model, and how do we learn about models? In this paper I argue that models share important aspects in common with literary fiction, and that therefore theories of fiction can be brought to bear on these questions. In particular, I argue that the pretence theory as developed by Walton (1990, Mimesis as make-believe: on the foundations of the representational arts. Harvard University Press, Cambridge/MA) has the resources to answer these questions. I introduce this account, outline the answers that it offers, and develop a general picture of scientific modelling based on it.

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Roman Frigg
London School of Economics

Citations of this work

Metaphors in arts and science.Walter Veit & Ney Milan - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-24.
Models and representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Magnani Lorenzo & Bertolotti Tommaso Wayne (eds.), Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science. Springer. pp. 49-102.
Models and fictions in science.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 143 (1):101 - 116.

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References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science.Nancy Cartwright - 1999 - New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.

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