Browsing by Subject "scientific representation"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-1 of 1
  • Pääkkönen, Juho (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    The thesis examines deflationist and substantivist formulations of theories of scientific representation within the context of philosophy of modelling. The main question considered is whether deflationary representation can be used to make sense of theoretical modelling in science. The focus is on Mauricio Suárez’s formulation of deflationary representation as a normative practice. The main argument of the thesis is that Suárez’s account can be used to conceptualise the norms which govern scientific modelling, and thus that deflationary representation can be a useful analytical concept in philosophy of modelling. The thesis consists of eight chapters. The first chapter briefly introduces the notions of theoretical modelling, representation, and deflationism about representation and describes the aims and structure of the thesis. The second chapter provides historical background for the subsequent discussion, focusing on the rise of the semantic view of theories as the predominant conception of scientific theories in the latter part of the 20th century. The chapter argues that the adoption of deflationism about representation can be seen as a reaction to the semantic view’s failure to solve problems facing its associated substantivist conception of the representational relationship between scientific models and the world. The third chapter examines in greater detail the problems involved in the substantivist conception of representation and classifies them as ontological, semantic, and epistemological problems. The problems are framed by introducing an account of modelling according to which models serve as surrogate systems in reasoning about phenomena in the world. The surrogate system view and the problems of representation are discussed using examples of modelling in the social sciences. The fourth chapter presents Suárez’s account of deflationism and distinguishes it from substantivism about representation. Suárez is argued to be contrasting his deflationism with a naïve dyadic formulation of substantivism which should be resisted. An amended formulation of substantivism is proposed, and five different forms of deflationism are distinguished on the basis of its rejection. The fifth and sixth chapters discuss two examples of theories of scientific representation, Suárez’s deflationary inferential conception and Michael Weisberg’s substantivist weighted feature matching account, in order to examine how they deal with the problems of representation presented in Chapter 3. Chapter 5 is dedicated to introducing the theories and arguing that they are deflationist and substantivist theories, respectively. Chapter 6 discusses the theories as answers to the problems of representation and articulates their strengths and weaknesses on this basis. In particular, Weisberg’s substantivist theory is argued to be problematic in its assumption that representation necessarily involves similarity, while Suárez’s deflationary conception is criticised for being vague in its characterisation of representation as a norm of inferential practice. The seventh chapter addresses the main question of the thesis, basing on the preceding discussion. Suárezian deflationism is contrasted with the roles that substantivism and another version of deflationism, stipulationism, reserve for representation in philosophy of modelling. The chapter argues that Suárez’s deflationism gives a more informative characterisation of representation than stipulationism, but is still deflationary in its characterisation of representation in terms of normative practices. Chapter eight concludes and proposes that the future development of Suárezian deflationism requires that the notion of normative practice be further clarified.