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Article

Thumper the Infinitesimal Rabbit: A Fictionalist Perspective on Some "Unimaginable" Model Systems in Biology

Philosophy of Science. 2019. Vol. 86. No. 4. P. 662-671.

Fictionalists believe that scientific models are about model systems that are imaginary. Michael Weisberg has claimed that fictionalism is indefensible because many scientific models are about model systems that are unimaginable. According to a certain account of imagination, what Weisberg says is plausible. According to another, more defensible account of imagination, it is not. I discuss these issues within the context of an allegedly unimaginable model system in ecology, but the conclusions I draw are more general. I then describe how fictionalism should be recast in order to deal with Weisberg’s critique.