An Agent-Based Conception of Models and Scientific Representation

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Giere, Ronald N
preprint description
Beginning with hierarchical view of theories and models, I argue for an intentional conception of representation in science that requires bringing scientific agents and their intentions into the picture. So the formula is: Agents 1) intend; 2) to use model, M; 3) to represent a part of the world, W; 4) for some purpose, P. This conception legitimates using similarity as the basic relationship between models and the world. This whole approach is further supported by a brief exposition of some recent work in cognitive, or usage-based, linguistics. Finally, with all the above as background, I examine the recently much discussed idea that abstract scientific models should be thought of as fictional entities.