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Distinguishing Explanatory from Nonexplanatory Fictions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

There is a growing recognition that fictions have a number of legitimate functions in science, even when it comes to scientific explanation. However, the question then arises, what distinguishes an explanatory fiction from a nonexplanatory one? Here I examine two cases—one in which there is a consensus in the scientific community that the fiction is explanatory and another in which the fiction is not explanatory. I shall show how my account of “model explanations” is able to explain this asymmetry, and argue that realism—of a more subtle form—does have a role in distinguishing explanatory from nonexplanatory fictions.

Type
Fictions, Models and Representation
Copyright
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

I would like to thank Lina Jansson and Gordon Belot for encouraging me to respond to the objection that resulted in this paper. I am also grateful to my cosymposiasts, Mauricio Suárez and Arnon Levy, and to the audience in Montréal for stimulating discussions.

References

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