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An Inferential Conception of Scientific Representation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

This paper defends an inferential conception of scientific representation. It approaches the notion of representation in a deflationary spirit, and minimally characterizes the concept as it appears in science by means of two necessary conditions: its essential directionality and its capacity to allow surrogate reasoning and inference. The conception is defended by showing that it successfully meets the objections that make its competitors, such as isomorphism and similarity, untenable. In addition the inferential conception captures the objectivity of the cognitive representations used by science, it sheds light on their truth and completeness, and it explains the source of the analogy between scientific and artistic modes of representation.

Type
The Pragmatics of Scientific Representation
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 by the Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

This paper was written during my tenure of a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship (2001–2002), and has thereafter been supported by projects BFF2002-01552 and BFF2002-01244 of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology. I would like to thank audiences at Oxford (2004), Sydney (2003), and at the PSA meeting in Milwaukee (2002) for comments.

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