Re-inflating the Conception of Scientific Representation

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Liu, Chuang
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This paper argues for an anti-deflationist view of scientific representation. Our discussion begins with an analysis of the recent Callender-Cohen deflationary view on scientific representation. We then argue that there are at least two radically different ways in which a thing can be used to represent: one is purely symbolic and therefore conventional, and the other is epistemic. The failure to recognize that scientific models are epistemic vehicles rather than symbolic ones has led to the mistaken (deflationary) view that whatever distinguishes scientific models from other representational vehicles must merely be a matter of pragmatics. It is then argued that even though epistemic vehicles also contain conventional elements, they do their job of demonstration (or showing) despite of such elements.