Tarja Knuuttila

Synthetic Models: Concrete and Fictional?

This paper discusses the commonalities of the artifactual and fictional approaches to modeling. While both approaches are able to accommodate surrogative reasoning – a crucial feature of scientific modeling – they differ from each other in that the artifactual approach focuses on the culturally established external representational tools that enable, embody and extend scientific imagination and reasoning. While from the fictional perspective such representational tools provide means for model description, the artifactual account considers them as ineliminable parts of scientific models themselves. Can the two perspectives be reconciled? The answer I suggest is yes, but in this case one would need to let go the assumptions that fictions are non-existent, false, or reside in the imaginings of scientists only. Interestingly, this option would accommodate many scientific models and objects as kind of concrete fictions. I will study synthetic models such as synthetic genetic circuits and minimal cells from the fictional perspective.