Representation and Similarity: Suárez on Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Scientific Representation

Abstract

The notion of scientific representation plays a central role in current debates on modeling in the sciences. One or maybe the major epistemic virtue of successful models is their capacity to adequately represent specific phenomena or target systems. According to similarity views of scientific representation, models should be similar to their corresponding targets in order to represent them. In this paper, Suárez’s arguments against similarity views of representation will be scrutinized. The upshot is that the intuition that scientific representation involves similarity is not refuted by the arguments. The arguments do not make the case for the strong claim that similarity between vehicles and targets is neither necessary nor sufficient for scientific representation. Especially, one claim that a similarity view wants to uphold, still, is the following thesis: only if a vehicle is similar to a target in relevant respects and to a specific degree of similarity then the vehicle is a scientific representation of that target.

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Michael Poznic
Universität Karlsruhe

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