04-08-2022  Thursday


Thursday Seminar on "Models as Epistemic Artifacts for Scientific Reasoning: A Perspective from Science Education"

Date: 04 August, 2022
Time: 15:30 - 16:30

Venue: Online Meeting/Video Conferencing

Coordinator: Dr. K. K. Mashood


Models as Epistemic Artifacts for Scientific Reasoning: A Perspective from Science Education


Prof. Tarja Knuuttila and Marvin Rost, University of Vienna.

Zoom link


Meeting ID:

940 5808 5713




Models are at the core of scientific reasoning and science education. They are especially crucial in scientific and educational contexts where the primary objects of study are unobservables. In our presentation, we look at some exemplary empirical studies through the lense of philosophy of science. The studied cases tend to identify modeling with representation, while simultaneously approaching models as tools. We argue that such a dual approach is inconsistent, and suggest considering models as epistemic artifacts instead. The artifactual account approaches models as concretely built artifacts that are constructed by employing various kinds of representational tools. Central for the epistemic functioning of models, according to the artifactual account, is their constrained design that facilitates the study of particular theoretical and empirical questions, and learning from models through their construction and manipulation. Thus, the artifactual approach offers many epistemic benefits in that it aligns very well with empirically driven suggestions from educational research. We suggest that the artifactual approach fosters interdisciplinary exchange between educational researchers and philosophers of science in contributing to a more consistent theoretical understanding of models and modeling in both fields.

About the speakers:

Tarja Knuuttila is the Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Vienna. Earlier she was appointed as an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina (US). She holds Master’s degrees both in Economics (Helsinki School of Economics) and Social and Moral Philosophy (University of Helsinki), and a PhD degree in Theoretical Philosophy (University of Helsinki). She served 2007-2010 as the Editor-in-Chief of Science & Technology Studies, and spent the academic year 2009-2010 as a visiting research associate at the California Institute of Technology. She has been awarded several projects and individual grants from the Academy of Finland, The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, and the Fulbright Program. In 2018 she was awarded the ERC Consolidator Grant for a project “Possible Life – The Philosophical Significance of Extending Biology”. Knuuttila focuses in her research on scientific representation and modelling. Her approach is comparative; she has studied modelling in neuroscience, economics, ecology, and systems and synthetic biology. She also utilizes empirical studies as part of her philosophical agenda. She has published in numerous collections and journals, including British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Science, Erkenntnis, European Journal for Philosophy of Science, Synthese, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, and Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, The Monist, and Science & Technology Studies.

Marvin Rost is a post-doctoral researcher at the Austrian Educational Competence Centre Chemistry within the Centre for Teacher Education at the University of Vienna. He received a Bachelor of Science (Freie Universität Berlin, 2013), a Master of Education (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2015), and a Ph.D. in Chemistry Education (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2020). His research interests are models and modeling in chemistry education, the nature of science in science education, and epistemology. Within his empirical research, he focuses on quantitative studies, using the Item Response Theory paradigm as well as Structural Equation Modeling. Recently, he constructed a new seminar for pre-service chemistry teachers at the University of Vienna, and evaluates the course by applying methods from Natural Language Processing. He was responsible for numerous in-service teacher training events to implement modern science education standards for elementary schools in the federal district of Brandenburg, Germany. He is a member of the GDCP (Society for Didactics of Chemistry and Physics), the VFPC (Association for Fostering Chemistry and Physics Teaching), the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA), and the GDCh (German Chemical Society).