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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides a state-of-the-art review of the philosophical literature on scientific representation. It first argues that the topic emerges historically mainly out of what may be called the modelling tradition. It then introduces a number of helpful analytical distinctions and goes on to divide contemporary approaches to scientific representation into two distinct kinds, substantive and deflationary. Analogies with related discussions of artistic representation in aesthetics and the nature of truth in metaphysics are pursued. It is finally urged that the most promising approaches—and the ones most likely to feature prominently in future developments—are deflationary. In particular, a defense is provided of a genuinely inferential conception of representation.

Keywords: philosophy of science, scientific representation, modelling, deflationism, inferential conception

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