Models pp 1-11 | Cite as

The Model Muddle: Proposals for an Immodest Realism

  • Marx W. Wartofsky
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 48)


The aim of this essay is to give a frankly representationalist account of the nature and role of models in science. To this end, I propose to collapse the distinctions between models, theories, analogies, and to take all of these, and more besides, as species of the genus representation; and to take representation in the most direct sense of image or copy. The realism which the thesis involves is that which takes the objects, events or processes which are represented in a model as material objects, or events and processes of a material world. The disaster of devolving upon a crude and naive realism will be avoided, hopefully, by avoiding a crude and naive concept of representation — that is, a simple copy theory. The tactic then is to enrich the concept of representation in such a way that it can accomodate a fairly sophisticated range of scientific models. Among these, there are those which seem furthest removed from any notion of representation; and if it can be shown that these too may be interpreted as representations, presumably this will operate recursively over the more explicitly and frankly representational types.


Solar System Relevant Property Direct Sense Naive Realism Complex Transformation 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marx W. Wartofsky

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