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Inference and Representation

A Study in Modeling Science

The first comprehensive defense of an inferential conception of scientific representation with applications to art and epistemology.
Mauricio Suárez develops a conception of representation that delivers a compelling account of modeling practice. He begins by discussing the history and methodology of model building, helpfully charting the emergence of what he calls the modeling attitude, a nineteenth-century and fin de siècle development. Prominent cases of models, both historical and contemporary, are used as benchmarks for the accounts of representation considered throughout the book. After arguing against reductive naturalist theories of scientific representation, Suárez sets out his own account: a case for pluralism regarding the means of representation and minimalism regarding its constituents. He shows that scientists employ a plurality of different modeling relations in their representational practice—which also help them to assess the accuracy of their representations—while demonstrating that there is nothing metaphysically deep about the constituent relation that encompasses all these diverse means.
The book also probes the broad implications of Suárez’s inferential conception outside scientific modeling itself, covering analogies with debates about artistic representation and philosophical thought over the past several decades.

352 pages | 16 halftones | 6 x 9

History of Science

Philosophy: Aesthetics

Philosophy of Science


“Beautifully bringing together historical and contemporary research on representations in science with themes from aesthetics and the philosophy of art, Suárez’s book is an outstanding interdisciplinary contribution to the philosophy of science. It is essential reading for anyone interested in modeling practices, their connections with the arts, and what this insightful combination of science, art, and practice might bring to the epistemology of science.”

Chiara Ambrosio, University College London

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