Symbolic versus Modelistic Elements in Scientific Modeling



Published Jun 20, 2015
Chuang Liu


In this paper, we argue that symbols (or the symbolic) are conventional vehicles whose chief function is denotation, while models (or the modelistic) are epistemic vehicles, and their chief function is to show what their targets are like in the relevant aspects.  Although the same object may serve both functions, the two vehicles are conceptually distinct and most models employ both elements.  Together with this point we offer an alternative to the deflationary view on scientific models.  In addition, we point out there are non-referring models in which symbols label model components.  We show how Goodman's view on pictures of fictional characters provides a way to understand such models and how it further reveal the distinction between the symbolic and the modelistic representation. 

How to Cite

Liu, C. (2015). Symbolic versus Modelistic Elements in Scientific Modeling. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 30(2), 287–300.
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symbol, model, scientific representation, reference, denotation, conventional, epistemic, pragmatic