PhilSci Archive

A Model-Theoretic Account of Representation

French, Steven (2002) A Model-Theoretic Account of Representation. [Preprint]

[img] Microsoft Word (.doc)
Download (122Kb)

    Abstract

    Recent discussions of the nature of representation in science have tended to import pre-established decompositions from analyses of representation in the arts, language, cognition and so forth. Which of these analyses one favours will depend on how one conceives of theories in the first place. If one thinks of them in terms of an axiomatised set of logico-linguistic statements, then one might be naturally drawn to accounts of linguistic representation in which notions of denotation, for example, feature prominently. If, on the other hand, one conceives of theories in non-linguistic terms, as in the model-theoretic approach, then one might look to analyses of representation in the arts where notions of resemblance tend to be brought to the fore. Thus van Fraassen, for example, has imported such an analysis into his discussion of representation in science and argued that an appropriate account of resemblance can be given in terms of the set-theoretic relation of isomorphism. This has been strongly criticised by Suarez, who argues that just as isomorphism cannot capture representation in art, so it is inappropriate in the scientific context as well. Similarly Hughes draws on Goodman`s rejection of resemblance in art in favour of denotation and, rather confusingly perhaps, favours the latter whilst also maintaining the model-theoretic view of theories. In this paper, I shall examine the debate in terms of four claims: 1. Isomorphism is not sufficient for representation; 2. Isomorphism is not necessary for representation; 3. Models represent but theories do not; 4. Models denote and do not resemble. Each of these claims will be questioned and I will conclude by suggesting that, through appropriate modifications, a form of isomorphism can serve to underpin representation in both the arts and science.


    Export/Citation:EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
    Social Networking:

    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: Models and Idealization, General Philosophy of Science
    Conferences and Volumes: [2002] Philosophy of Science Assoc. 18th Biennial Mtg - PSA 2002: Contributed Papers (Milwaukee, WI; 2002) > PSA 2002 Contributed Papers
    Depositing User: Program Committee
    Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2003
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:11
    Item ID: 1068
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/1068

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads