Scientific Models Are Distributed and Never Abstract

A Naturalistic Perspective
  • Lorenzo MagnaniEmail author
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 25)


In the current epistemological debate scientific models are not only considered as useful devices for explaining facts or discovering new entities, laws, and theories, but also rubricated under various new labels: from the classical ones, as abstract entities and idealizations, to the more recent, as fictions, surrogates, credible worlds, missing systems, make-believe, parables, functional, epistemic actions, revealing capacities. This article discusses these approaches showing some of their epistemological inadequacies, also taking advantage of recent results in cognitive science. I will substantiate my revision of epistemological fictionalism reframing the received idea of abstractness and ideality of models with the help of recent results related to the role of distributed cognition (common coding) and abductive cognition (manipulative).


Models Abstract models Idealization Abduction Fictions Distributed cognition Creativity 



For the instructive criticisms and precedent discussions and correspondence that helped me to develop my critique of fictionalism, I am indebted and grateful to John Woods, Shahid Rahman, Alirio Rosales, Mauricio Suárez, and to my collaborators Tommaso Bertolotti and Selene Arfini.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities, Philosophy Section, and Computational Philosophy LaboratoryUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

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