Fictions, Conditionals, and Stellar Astrophysics

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Suárez, Mauricio
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preprint description
This article argues in favour of an inferential role for fictions in scientific modelling. The argument proceeds by means of a detailed case study, namely models of the internal structure of stars in stellar astrophysics. The main assumptions in such models are described, and it is argued that they are best understood as useful fictions. The role that conditionals play in these models is explained, and it is argued that fictional assumptions play an important role as either background or antecedent conditions. I then expand on the argument for the compatibility of fictions and scientific realism. I argue that realism and antirealism plausibly offer correspondingly different accounts of the semantics of these fictional conditionals.