Michael T. Stuart

The Turn of the Key: Imagination and Scientific Models
Some philosophers of science claim that scientific models are, in some sense, fictitious entities. Thus, scientists learn from models in the same way that we learn about Victorian London from Sherlock Holmes novels. This is exciting. It suggests that we can incorporate facts about how humans engage with fiction using imagination into a richer theory of scientific model-based reasoning. Yet (with some exceptions), this has not really been attempted. In this talk, I focus on the role of imagination in the DEKI account, which explicates model-based reasoning in terms of the Denotation, Exemplification, Keying-up, and Interpretation of scientific models. I argue that “keying-up” should be understood as a quasi-experimental imaginative act. I will draw on new ideas from the epistemology of action to argue that we must understand keying-up this way if it is not to become a species of denotation, which would make the DEKI account susceptible to a reductio.

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