Original Article


, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 73-89

First online:

Scientific Representations as Limiting Cases

  • Steffen DucheyneAffiliated withCentre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, The Free University of Brussels Email author 

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In this essay, I shall show that the so-called inferential (Suárez 2003 and 2004) and interpretational (Contessa 2007) accounts of scientific representation are respectively unsatisfactory and too weak to account for scientific representation (pars destruens). Along the way, I shall also argue that the pragmatic similarity (Giere 2004 and Giere 2010) and the partial isomorphism (da Costa and French 2003 and French 2003) accounts are unable to single out scientific representation. In the pars construens I spell out a limiting case account which has explanatory surplus vis à vis the approaches which I have previously reviewed. My account offers an adequate treatment of scientific representation, or so I shall try to argue. Central to my account is the notion of a pragmatic limiting case, which will be characterized in due course.