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Scientific Representation, Interpretation, and Surrogative Reasoning*

Gabriele Contessa
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 74, No. 1 (January 2007), pp. 48-68
DOI: 10.1086/519478
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/519478
Page Count: 21
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Scientific Representation, Interpretation, and Surrogative Reasoning*
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Abstract

In this paper, I develop Mauricio Suárez’s distinction between denotation, epistemic representation, and faithful epistemic representation. I then outline an interpretational account of epistemic representation, according to which a vehicle represents a target for a certain user if and only if the user adopts an interpretation of the vehicle in terms of the target, which would allow them to perform valid (but not necessarily sound) surrogative inferences from the model to the system. The main difference between the interpretational conception I defend here and Suárez’s inferential conception is that the interpretational account is a substantial account—interpretation is not just a “symptom” of representation; it is what makes something an epistemic representation of a something else.

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