PhilSci Archive

Do Fictions Explain?

Nguyen, James (2020) Do Fictions Explain? [Preprint]

WarningThere is a more recent version of this item available.
[img] Text
SyntheseFinalArchive.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 31 December 2021.

Download (308kB)

Abstract

I argue that fictional models, construed as models that misrepresent certain ontological aspects of their target systems, can nevertheless explain why the latter exhibit certain behaviour. They can do this by accurately representing whatever it is that that behaviour counterfactually depends on. However, we should be sufficiently sensitive to different explanatory questions, i.e., ‘why does certain behaviour occur?’ vs. ‘why does the counterfactual dependency invoked to answer that question actually hold?’. With this distinction in mind, I argue that whilst fictional models can answer the first sort of question, they do so in an unmysterious way (contra to what one might initially think about such models). Moreover, I claim that the second question poses a dilemma for the defender of the idea that fictions can explain: either these models cannot answer these sorts of explanatory questions, precisely because they are fictional; or they can, but in a way that requires reinterpreting them such that they end up accurately representing the ontological basis of the counterfactual dependency, i.e., reinterpreting them so as to rob them of their fictional status. Thus, the existence of explanatory fictions does not put pressure on the idea that accurate representation of some aspect of a target system is a necessary condition on explaining that aspect.


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

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Nguyen, Jamesjames.nguyen@sas.ac.uk0000-0002-6919-1365
Additional Information: Accepted for publication in Synthese
Keywords: models, fictions, representation, explanation
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: James Nguyen
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2020 14:38
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2020 14:38
Item ID: 18301
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 21 October 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18301

Available Versions of this Item

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item