Self-ascription and “Perfect Model Model”

From Bas C van Fraassen Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective

p. 45 “Agreed, we cannot demonstrate that in principle, as a matter of logic, mathematical modeling must inevitably be a distortion of what is modeled, although models actually constructed cannot have perfection reachable in principle. But on the other hand, the conviction that perfect modeling is possible in principle – what Paul Teller calls the “perfect model model” – does not have an a priori justification either!

p. 83 “Suppose now that science gives us a model which putatively represents the world in full detail. Suppose even we believe that this is so. Suppose we regard ourselves as knowing that it is so. Then still, before we can go on to use that model, to make predictions and build bridges, we must locate ourselves with respect to that model. So apparently we need to have something in addition to what science has given us here. The extra is the self-ascription of location.”

p. 83 “Have we now landed in a dilemma for our view of science as paradigmatically objective? If we say that the self-ascription is a simple, objective statement of fact, then science is inevitably doomed to be objectively incomplete. If instead we say it is something irreducibly subjective, then we have also admitted a limit to objectivity, we have let subjectivity into science.”

Discussion

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