Representation and the Theory-Model Axis
This chapter discusses how the notion of representation can be understood within the modelling context without an accompanying philosophical theory that constrains its boundaries. Not only do we not need a sophisticated theory of representation to illustrate the representational power of models, but any such theory is likely to be too general to capture its many nuances. To demonstrate this point the chapter examines the Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer (BCS) model of superconductivity, showing how it provides a theoretical representation of a superconducting system and illustrates the ways in which models can serve as the source of “mediated knowledge.” The lack of a “theory” of representation does not suggest that the representational features of models are arbitrary, that BCS could have successfully represented superconductivity in a variety of different ways. But any further explanation of what constitutes a representation or how we learn from representational features of models will likely fall under the domain of cognitive psychology.
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