Fictions in Science

Philosophical Essays on Modeling and Idealization

Edited by Mauricio Suárez

© 2009 – Routledge

282 pages

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Paperback: 9780415887922
pub: 2010-11-09
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About the Book

Science is popularly understood as being an ideal of impartial algorithmic objectivity that provides us with a realistic description of the world down to the last detail. The essays collected in this book—written by some of the leading experts in the field—challenge this popular image right at its heart, taking as their starting point that science trades not only in truth, but in fiction, too.

With case studies that range from physics to economics and to biology, Fictions in Science reveals that fictions are as ubiquitous in scientific narratives and practice as they are in any other human endeavor, including literature and art. Of course scientific activity, most prominently in the formal sciences, employs logically precise algorithmic thinking. However, the key to the predictive and technological success of the empirical sciences might well lie elsewhere—perhaps even in scientists’ extraordinary creative imagination instead. As these essays demonstrate, within the bounds of what is empirically possible, a scientist’s capacity for invention and creative thinking matches that of any writer or artist.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Part I: INTRODUCTION

  1. Fictions in Scientific Practice (Mauricio Suárez)

Part II: THE NATURE OF FICTIONS IN SCIENCE

2. Fictionalism (Arthur Fine)

3. Laboratory Fictions (Joseph Rouse)

4. Models as Fictions (Anouk Barberousse and Pascal Ludwig)

Part III: THE EXPLANATORY POWER OF FICTIONS

5. Exemplification, Idealization, and Scientific Understanding (Catherine Elgin)

6. Explanatory Fictions (Alisa Bokulich)

7. Fictions, Representations and Reality (Margaret Morrison)

Part IV: FICTIONS IN THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES

8. When Does a Scientific Theory Describe Reality? (Carsten Held)

9. Scientific Fictions as Rules of Inference (Mauricio Suárez)

10. A Function for Fictions: Expanding the Scope of Science (Eric Winsberg)

Part V: FICTIONS IN THE SPECIAL SCIENCES

11. Model Organisms as Fictions (Rachel Ankeny)

12. Representation, Idealization and Fiction in Economics: From the Assumptions Issue to the Epistemology of Modeling (Tarja Knuuttila)

Part VI: FICTIONS AND REALISM

13. Fictions, Fictionalization and Truth in Science (Paul Teller)

14. Why Scientific Models Should Not Be Regarded as Works of Fiction (Ronald N. Giere)

Notes on Contributors

Bibliography

Index

About the Editor

Mauricio Suárez is Associate Professor in Logic and Philosophy of Science at Madrid’s Complutense University. His main research interests lie in the philosophy of physics and general epistemology of science, and he has published widely in both areas.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Science

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHI000000
PHILOSOPHY / General
PHI016000
PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Modern
SCI075000
SCIENCE / Philosophy & Social Aspects