Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


Simulation Modelling in Fiction [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Conrad Aquilina
Topics: Aesthetics, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind, Philosophy of science

This essay assesses the claim that model structures have features in common with narratology and fiction-making. It proposes that simulation—a form of modelling—is amenable to literary narratives which are hypermimetic, in the sense that their cognitive or material reception by the reader demands a phenomenology attained through the heightening of a mimetic secondary reality. Simulation models construct frames of reference for target systems through self-validating mechanisms, and the same is true of narratology. I specifically argue that the modelling of a world out of text, one which is written and…

Unlocking Limits [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: James Nguyen, Roman Frigg
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of science

In a series of recent papers we have developed what we call the DEKI account of scientific representation, according to which models represent their targets via keys. These keys provide a systematic way to move from model-features to features to be imputed to their targets. We show how keys allow for accurate representation in the presence of idealisation, and further illustrate how investigating them provides novel ways to approach certain currently debated questions in the philosophy of science. To add specificity, we offer a detailed analysis of a kind of…

Fiction, Models and the Problem of the Gap [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Frederick Kroon
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of science

An increasingly popular view holds that scientific modeling involves something akin to the imaginative construction of a fictional story along with its cast of fictional characters, not just the positing of entities (models) that yield a false but useful representation of their targets. The present paper focuses on the following problem for this view of models. If a model is a fiction how can it possibly be said to represent some aspect of the real world? How can the unreal represent the real, and in a way that allows modelers to…

Learning through the Scientific Imagination [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Fiora Salis
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of science

Theoretical models are widely held as sources of knowledge of reality. Imagination is vital to their development and to the generation of plausible hypotheses about reality. But how can imagination, which is typically held to be completely free, effectively instruct us about reality? In this paper I argue that the key to answering this question is in constrained uses of imagination. More specifically, I identify make-believe as the right notion of imagination at work in modelling. I propose the first overarching taxonomy of types of constraints on scientific imagination that…

Spoiler Alert! Unveiling the Plot in Thought Experiments and other Fictional Works [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Daniele Molinari
Topics: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of science

According to a recent philosophical claim, “works of fiction are thought experiments” (Elgin 2007: 47), though there are relevant differences, as the role of spoilers shows—they can ruin a novel but improve the understanding we can gain through a thought experiment. In the present article I will analyze the role of spoilers and argue for a more differentiated perspective on the relation between literature and thought experiments. I will start with a short discussion of different perspectives on thought experiments and argue that the mental-model view and the conception of…

From Fictional Disagreements to Thought Experiments [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Louis Rouillé
Topics: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology, Philosophy of science

In this paper, I present a conceptual connection between fictional disagreements and thought experiments. Fictional disagreements happen when two readers disagree about a fictional detail. The “great beetle debate” is a paradigmatic case. Nabokov once argued that Gregor Samsa, in The Metamorphosis, metamorphosed into a beetle. Yet many critics and readers imagine Gregor to be a big cockroach. Analysing a fictional disagreement is interesting because it exhibits the informational structure which is common to all fictions. First, it shows the distinction between the fictional foreground (what is expressed by the…

Fiction, Imagination, and Normative Rationality [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 11 • Author/s: Malvina Ongaro
Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of science, Theoretical philosophy

Rationality is a cornerstone of economics. The properties defining rationality are embodied by the Rational Agent, whose actions are prescriptive for economic agents. However, the Rational Agent is a fictional character: so why should real agents act like it? The Rational Agent takes its normative force from the arguments in support of the properties it embodies. In this paper, I explore the grounds for the normative force of the Rational Agent by looking at one of them. I explain the compelling pull of the famous Dutch Book argument using tools…