Scientific misrepresentation and guides to ontology: the need for representational code and contents
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In this paper I show how certain requirements must be set on any tenable account of scientific representation, such as the requirement allowing for misrepresentation. I then continue to argue that two leading accounts of scientific representation—the inferential account and the interpretational account—are flawed for they do not satisfy such requirements. Through such criticism, and drawing on an analogy from non-scientific representation, I also sketch the outline of a superior account. In particular, I propose to take epistemic representations to be intentional objects that come with reference, semantic contents and a representational code, and I identify faithful representations as representations that act as guides to ontology.
KeywordsRepresentation Methodology Ontological guides Surrogative reasoning Phase transitions Intentionality
Parts of this paper were presented at the “Ontology and Methodology” conference at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and at the “Work in Progress” workshop of the graduate students of the History and Philosophy of Science department at University of Pittsburgh. I am grateful to those audiences for stimulating discussions. I would especially like to thank John Norton, David de Bruijn, Michael Miller, Erik Angner, Isabel Ranner, Greg Gadenberger, and two anonymous referees for their excellent insight and comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Thank you to Naharin Shech for help with figures. Special thanks also to Ben Jantzen, Deborah Mayo, and Lydia Patton for editing this volume of Synthese.
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