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Varieties of Misrepresentation and Homomorphism

Pero, Francesca and Suárez, Mauricio (2015) Varieties of Misrepresentation and Homomorphism. European Journal for Philosophy of Science. pp. 1-20.

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Abstract

This paper is a critical response to Andreas Bartels’ (2006) sophisticated defense of a structural account of scientific representation. We show that, contrary to Bartels’ claim, homomorphism fails to account for the phenomenon of misrepresentation. Bar- tels claims that homomorphism is adequate in two respects. First, it is conceptually adequate, in the sense that it shows how representation differs from misrepresentation and non-representation. Second, if properly weakened, homomorphism is formally ad- equate to accommodate misrepresentation. We question both claims. First, we show that homomorphism is not the right condition to distinguish representation from mis- representation and non-representation: a “representational mechanism” actually does all the work, and it is independent of homomorphism – as of any structural condition. Second, we test the claim of formal adequacy against three typical kinds of inaccurate representation in science which, by reference to a discussion of the notorious billiard ball model, we define as abstraction, pretence, and simulation. We first point out that Bar- tels equivocates between homomorphism and the stronger condition of epimorphism, and that the weakened form of homomorphism that Bartels puts forward is not a mor- phism at all. After providing a formal setting for abstraction, pretence and simulation, we show that for each morphism there is at least one form of inaccurate representa- tion which is not accommodated. We conclude that Bartels’ theory – while logically laying down the weakest structural requirements – is nonetheless formally inadequate in its own terms. This should shed serious doubts on the plausibility of any structural account of representation more generally


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Pero, Francescafrancesca.pero@unifi.it
Suárez, Mauriciomsuarez@filos.ucm.es
Additional Information: Published online in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science
Keywords: Scientific Representation - Homomorphism - Structuralism - Idealization - Modeling
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Mauricio Suárez
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2015 02:47
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015 02:47
Item ID: 11705
Journal or Publication Title: European Journal for Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: http://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s1319...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s13194-015-0125-x
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: October 2015
Page Range: pp. 1-20
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11705

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