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How Models Are Used to Represent Reality

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

Most recent philosophical thought about the scientific representation of the world has focused on dyadic relationships between language-like entities and the world, particularly the semantic relationships of reference and truth. Drawing inspiration from diverse sources, I argue that we should focus on the pragmatic activity of representing, so that the basic representational relationship has the form: Scientists use models to represent aspects of the world for specific purposes. Leaving aside the terms “law” and “theory,” I distinguish principles, specific conditions, models, hypotheses, and generalizations. I argue that scientists use designated similarities between models and aspects of the world to form both hypotheses and generalizations.

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

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