Philosophy and Ethics Seminar at Eindhoven University of Technology

Most scientific models are not physical objects, and this raises important questions. What sort of entity are models, what is truth in a model, and how do we learn about models? In this paper I argue that models share important aspects in common with literary fiction, and that therefore theories of fiction can be brought to bear on these questions. In particular, I argue that the pretence theory as developed by Walton (1990, Mimesis as make-believe: on the foundations of the representational arts. Harvard University Press, Cambridge/MA) has the resources to answer these questions. I introduce this account, outline the answers that it offers, and develop a general picture of scientific modelling based on it.

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