Journal Article

How Theories Represent

Otávio Bueno and Steven French

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 4, pages 857-894
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axr010
How Theories Represent

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An account of scientific representation in terms of partial structures and partial morphisms is further developed. It is argued that the account addresses a variety of difficulties and challenges that have recently been raised against such formal accounts of representation. This allows some useful parallels between representation in science and art to be drawn, particularly with regard to apparently inconsistent representations. These parallels suggest that a unitary account of scientific and artistic representation is possible, and our article can be viewed as laying the groundwork for such an account—although, as we shall acknowledge, significant differences exist between these two forms of representation.

1Introduction

2Partial Structures View

3An Example: Representation and Analogy in Superconductivity

4Representation and Isomorphism in Art

5Inconsistent Representations

6Reduction and Disentangling: Callendar and Cohen and Contessa

7From Art to Science

8Challenges to the Formal Account

  8.1Necessity

  8.2Sufficiency

  8.3Logic

  8.4Mechanism

  8.5Style

  8.6Misrepresentation

  8.7Ontology

9The Formal Account Defended

  9.1Preamble: ‘informational’ versus ‘functional’ accounts

  9.2Necessity

  9.3Logic and sufficiency

  9.4Mechanism

  9.5Style

  9.6Misrepresentation

  9.7Ontology

10Conclusion

Journal Article.  16140 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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