Scientific Models, Fiction and Imagination

Project leader: Fiora Salis

This project develops at the intersection between philosophy of science, aesthetics and philosophy of mind and language. Modern science crucially relies on scientific models. Scientists construct, develop, manipulate and test models in order to learn about the real world phenomena they stand for. What are models? How do we learn with them? How do they represent? The key hypotheses are that models are akin to the fictions of literature and the arts, that learning with models is learning through the imagination, and that the representation relation between models and the world is a kind of indirect denotation that involves a necessary detour in the imagination. 



  • forthcoming Fictionalism About Scientific Models, in Bradley Armour-Garb and Fred Kroon (eds), Philosophical Fictionalism. Oxford University Press (with Roman Frigg).
  • forthcoming, Capturing the Scientific Imagination. In Peter Godfrey-Smith and Arnon Levy (Eds.), The Scientific Imagination, Oxford University Press (with Roman Frigg).
  • 2017 Models and exploratory modelsStudies in History and Philosophy of Science  63: 58-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2017.04.004
  • 2016 The Nature of Model-World Comparisons. The Monist 99(3): 243-259. DOI: 10.1093/monist/onw003.
  • 2016 Scientific Fiction Making The Monist 99 (3). Oxford University Press.


  • On Predators and Prey. Scientific Models, Fiction and Imagination

EPSA (European Philosophy of Science Association), Exeter University (UK)

ECAP9 (The ninth European Congress of Analytic Philosophy), LMU Munich (Germany)


  • In Defence of Fictionalism about Scientific Models

II Workshop on Ontology of Physics, Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, Pontifical Catholic University, Buenos Aires (Argentina)


  • A Fictionalist Approach to Models as Representations

The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, Atlanta Georgia (US)

PH551 Research Seminar in the Philosophy of Natural Sciences, Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, LSE, London (UK)

Annual Conference of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, University of Cardiff (UK)

Models and Simulations 7, University of Barcelona (Spain)


  • Scientific Imagination: Thought Experiments and Modelling (with Roman Frigg)

Workshop on Scientific Imagination and Epistemic Representation, Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, LSE (UK)  

Project Workshops

Public engagement activities