Symbols versus Models

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Australasian Journal of Philosophy

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Liu, Chuang
preprint description
In this paper I argue against a deflationist view that as representational vehicles symbols and models do their jobs in essentially the same way. I argue that symbols are conventional vehicles whose chief function is denotation while models are epistemic vehicles whose chief function is showing what their targets are like in the relevant aspects. It is further pointed out that models usually do not rely on similarity or some such relations to relate to their targets. For that referential relation they reply instead on symbols (names and labels) given to them and their parts. And a Goodmanian view on pictures of fictional characters reveals the distinction between symbolic and model representations.