SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

SOPhiA ToolsDE-pageEN-page

Programme - Talk

Modelling Science Through Make-Believe
(Philosophy of Science, English)

One of the more recent debates within the Philosophy of Science has been that of how one should perceive modelling in science, and what the consequences are. Lately, the concept that models should be seen as a form of imagined, and thus fictional, systems, as advocated by Godfrey-Smith (2006, 2009) Frigg (2010, 2016) and Toon (2010), has become prevalent. They see modelling as a form of imaginative process, an act of make-believe, wherein scientific models can be compared to children's games and playthings; we can imagine things that are not really there in order to play with them, just as we can when demonstrating the mechanics of scientific theories. This approach has been criticised for the idea that this forces models to no longer be accurately representative of what is found to be the objective case.

I wish to use this paper to defend the notion that models are a form of imagined system, within the framework of the theory of make-believe (Walton 1990), by demonstrating that, by using make-believe, we are able to determine that the problem of denotation; what the model is designed to denote as its target system, vanishes, by providing an account wherein the imagination can target a variety of ways and places, and thus not concern itself with creating an exact replica of what the model wishes to demonstrate. Instead, the model can be seen as an antirealist example, wherein we do not require the introduction of an object itself, and thus not worry ourselves with intersubjective identification of characters/things that are referred to by fictional names, an idea that I will develop from Salis (2013).

I will thus conclude that we can demonstrate how seeing models as make-believe provides us with a unified framework when it comes to thinking about modelling. They are able to represent the world even when the model is not an exact replica of what the model wishes to demonstrate; a problem often affiliated with realist perspectives (Magnani 2012).

Chair: Laurenz Hudetz
Time: 14:35-15:05, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006

Theodore Stone 
(The University of Exeter (The University of Amsterdam come September 2017), United Kingdom)

I am set to graduate from the University of Exeter in July 2017 with a BA (Hons) in Philosophy. In September, I shall begin studying for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam.

Testability and Meaning deco