Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Tarja Knuuttila


Increasingly, many philosophers of science agree that an account of representation in science must include an irreducible reference to the intentions, actions, and agency of a scientist. Though these pragmatic accounts of scientific representation have numerous advantages over alternatives, very little has been said about the reference to agency found within. My dissertation uses work from the philosophy of action to fill in some of the missing details, offering a better foundation and more complete picture of the nature of representation in science. I begin with an overview of the literature in an encyclopedia article. I then argue for the communal nature of representation in science, suggesting that we cannot understand scientific representation without first understanding how scientists license representational vehicles to be used for particular purposes. Next, I argue that an account of scientific representation reduced to mental states is mistaken precisely because it leaves out the communal element of licensing. The following paper offers the first ever account of the nature of scientific, representational actions. The Means-End Account of Scientific, Representational Actions relies on the work on the nature of intentional actions of G.E.M. Anscombe and suggests that representational actions in science can be demarcated from other forms of action in virtue of features that hold of their internal form. Relying on a similar point about the relationship between pragmatic accounts of scientific representation and the nature of intentional action, my fourth paper argues that the many pragmatic accounts of scientific representation are complementary with one another and allow a more complete understanding of scientific representation.


© 2018, Brandon Boesch

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