Recent philosophy of science has seen a growing body of work that, in one way or another, seeks to relate scientific models to fiction. This stimulating volume brings together 13 papers that each reveal different ways in which the slogan that models are fictions may be spelled out, qualified, or resisted.
The volume takes its lead from Hans Vaihinger’s
Philosophy of “As If” (1911) and, in particular, from Arthur Fine’s recent revival of Vaihinger’s work. Fine’s 1993 article, ‘Fictionalism,’ is reprinted as the book’s first chapter and provides an excellent introduction to Vaihinger’s view. Vaihinger offers his own definition of fiction: unlike hypotheses, which are subject to verification, fictions ‘contradict’ reality and are known to do so. Despite this, some fictions may be ‘virtuous,’ since they fulfill a useful function. Vaihinger saw fictions at work in many areas of human inquiry. For Fine, Vaihinger’s ideas have particular resonance when it comes to scientific modeling:
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