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How do models give us knowledge? The case of Carnot’s ideal heat engine

Knuuttila, Tarja and Boon, Mieke (2009) How do models give us knowledge? The case of Carnot’s ideal heat engine. In: UNSPECIFIED.


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Our concern is in explaining how and why models give us useful knowledge. We argue that if we are to understand how models function in the actual scientific practice the representational approach to models proves either misleading or too minimal. We propose turning from the representational approach to the artefactual, which implies also a new unit of analysis: the activity of modelling. Modelling, we suggest, could be approached as a specific practice in which concrete artefacts, i.e., models, are constructed with the help of specific representational means and used in various ways, for example, for the purposes of scientific reasoning, theory construction and design of experiments and other artefacts. Furthermore, in this activity of modelling the model construction is intertwined with the construction of new phenomena, theoretical principles and new scientific concepts. We will illustrate these claims by studying the construction of the ideal heat engine by Sadi Carnot.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Knuuttila, Tarja
Boon, Mieke
Keywords: models, modelling, representation, epistemic artefacts, engineering sciences
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Mieke Boon
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2009
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:18
Item ID: 4896
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2009

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