© 2014

Bas van Fraassen’s Approach to Representation and Models in Science

  • Wenceslao J. Gonzalez

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 368)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Philosophical Coordinates

  3. Models and Representations

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 77-77
    2. Bas C. van Fraassen
      Pages 79-100
    3. Maria Carla Galavotti
      Pages 101-118
  4. Models and Reality

  5. Scientific Explanation and Epistemic Values Judgments

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 167-167
    2. Bas C. van Fraassen
      Pages 189-211
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 213-233

About this book


This book analyzes Bas van Fraassen’s characterization of representation and models in science. In this regard, it presents the philosophical coordinates of his approach and pays attention to his structural empiricism as a framework for his views on scientific representations and models. These are developed here through two new contributions made by van Fraassen. In addition, there are analyses of the relation between models and reality in his approach, where the complexity of this conception is considered in detail. Furthermore, there is an examination of scientific explanation and epistemic values judgments. This volume includes a wealth of bibliographical information on his philosophy and relevant philosophical issues.

Bas van Fraassen is a key figure in contemporary philosophy of science, as the prestigious Hempel Award shows. His views on scientific representation offer new ideas on how it should be characterized, and his conception of models shows a novelty that goes beyond other empiricists’ approaches of recent times. Both aspects — the characterization of scientific representation and the conception of models in science — are part of a deliberate attempt to forge a “structural empiricism,” an alternative to structural realism based on an elaborated version of empiricism.


Bas van Fraassen’s Structural Empiricism Constructivist Empiricism and Scientific Realism Empirical Grounding in the Sciences Empiricism, Constructivism and Pragmatism Philosophical Context of Representation and Models in Science Scientific Models and Reality Theory, Model and Measurement Values in Science and Epistemic Choices Van Fraassen’s Scientific Representation and Models

Editors and affiliations

  • Wenceslao J. Gonzalez
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities, Department of HumanitiesUniversity of A CoruñaFerrol (A Coruña)Spain

Bibliographic information


“This book is a valuable contribution both to the understanding of van Fraassen’s philosophy and to the present state of the philosophy of science in general. It covers the most relevant issues of these aspects of the philosophical panorama and discusses them with particular clarity and insight. So its reading and study … is highly advisable for scholars interested in current approaches in the philosophy of science.” (José F. Martínez-Solano, Journal for General Philosophy of Science, Vol. 47 (1), April, 2016)

“A useful overview of van Fraassen’s work focusing on models and representation. … this book is not a mere compilation of contributions making exegesis of an author, but a philosophical contribution in itself. … It deserves the attention of philosophers of science, not just of those interested in van Fraassen’s work.” (Xavier de Donato Rodríguez, Theoria, Vol. 30 (3), 2015)