Thesis defence M. Poznic: models

03 July 2017 15:00 - Location: Aula, TU Delft - By: Webredactie

The central question of this thesis is how one can learn about particular targets by using models of those targets. A widespread assumption is that models have to be representative models in order to foster knowledge about targets. Thus the thesis begins by examining the concept of representation from an epistemic point of view and supports an account of representation that does not distinguish between representation simpliciter and adequate representation. Representation, understood in the sense of a representative model, is regarded as a success term. That is, a representative model is one relatum in a relation of adequate representation. When a representative model represents a target, it allows users of this model to learn something about the target. It is argued that a representative model can have this epistemic function because it shares relevant features with the target. This presupposes a similarity view of representation. Similarity views of representation face serious objections, which will be rebutted. One way of spelling out a similarity view of representation is to defend an indirect view of representation. In this thesis, which does not argue for an indirect view, it is assumed that the indirect view is a good option, if not the best, for articulating the similarity view. It is demonstrated how such an indirect view can be expanded to account for cases of technological modeling. A case study in bioengineering is used to show that the indirect view of representation must acknowledge a distinction between two directions of fit in relations between vehicles and targets. In this context the notion of design is interpreted as a relation between a vehicle and a target, thereby connecting ideas from philosophy of science with ideas from philosophy of technology. Fictionalist accounts of models are intended to tackle the issue of the ontology of models. In this thesis, however, two prominent fictionalist accounts are discussed from an epistemological point of view in light of the central question regarding how one can learn about targets by using models. This question is addressed from the standpoint of Waltonian fictionalism. The result of the discussion is that the two discussed Waltonian fictionalist accounts cannot sufficiently answer the question. These accounts are criticized for their inability to deliver a satisfactory epistemology of representation. Although Waltonian fictionalism is criticized, the present thesis also shows that the foundational theory of Waltonian fictionalism, the theory of make-believe can nevertheless be used to account for the distinction between projections and predictions that is made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Models in Science and Engineering: Imagining, Designing and Evaluating Representations. Promotor: P.A. Kroes (TBM); Promotor 2: Prof.dr.dr. R.C. Hillerbrand (KIT Karlsruhe).

More information?
For access to theses by the PhD students you can have a look in TU Delft Repository, the digital storage of publications of TU Delft. Theses will be available within a few weeks after the actual thesis defence.