, 172:269

An agent-based conception of models and scientific representation


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-009-9506-z

Cite this article as:
Giere, R.N. Synthese (2010) 172: 269. doi:10.1007/s11229-009-9506-z


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. Moreover, since just about anything can be used to represent anything else, there can be no unified ontology of models. 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 criticize the recently much discussed idea that claims involving scientific models are really fictions.


AgentsCognitive linguisticsFictionsIntentionsModelsScientific representation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA