Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2023-24: Session 22

Aboutness and Scientific Modelling

Quentin Ruyant (Complutense University of Madrid)


17 May 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: According to the semantic conception of scientific theories, theories should be identified with families of models, each typically conceived of as a “possible world if the theory is true”. A “mapping” hypothesis relates these models to real-world phenomena. Although it purports to be closer to scientific practice than its predecessor the syntactic view, the semantic view is still idealistic: firstly, the mapping hypothesis is typically thought to be independent from contexts and model users, which is at odds with most analyses of scientific representation, and secondly, actual theoretical models are typically intensional and represent bounded situations instead of representing complete extensional worlds. All this has already been noted by various authors, but no well worked-out alternative to the semantic conception has been proposed so far. In order to move forward, I examine how the hyper-intensional notion of “aboutness”, used in philosophy of language and philosophical logic to capture intentionality and relevance, could be transposed to scientific modeling, so as to flesh out a pragmatic conception of scientific theories that would qualify for being a viable alternative to the semantic conception.