Models, Sherlock Holmes and the Emperor Claudius

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Toon, Adam
conference paper description
Recently, a number of authors have suggested that we understand scientific models in the same way as fictional characters, like Sherlock Holmes. The biggest challenge for this approach concerns the ontology of fictional characters. I consider two responses to this challenge, given by Roman Frigg, Ronald Giere and Peter Godfrey-Smith, and argue that neither is successful. I then suggest an alternative approach. While parallels with fiction are useful, I argue that models of real systems are more aptly compared to works that portray real people, like the Emperor Claudius. This approach will allow us to avoid problems with fictional characters.