Group of Methods of Scientific Representation (MSR)

Department of Logic and Theoretical Philosophy
Faculty of Philosophy

Methods of Scientific Representation (MSR) is a pioneering research group in Spain, founded by Mauricio Suárez in 2004 and based at Complutense University of Madrid. Its members conduct research on a variety of topics within the philosophy and history of science, with a special focus on the methodology and metaphysics of causation and probability, modelling and idealization, and a number of topics in the foundations of the natural sciences.

MSR members are involved in several research projects. The activities of the group aim at consolidating research links with other international groups working on the diverse aspects of causal inference, philosophy of probability, and the foundations of science, as well as on topics related to scientific representation and modelling. MSR is also part of the following research networks:

The Reasoning Club
Culturas, Representaciones, Espacios, Prácticas (netCREP)
Causation in Science Collaborative Network (CauSci)

The group has work space, and all those facilities required for carrying out philosophical research, including computer provision and library access to some of the largest collections in philosophy in the spanish speaking world.

Chance and Propensities: Methodological, Metaphysical and Epistemic Issues
We are working on a new theory of objective chance and probability, where propensities appear as explanatory posits of theory (see Suárez, “Propensities and Pragmatism”, Journal of Philosophy, 2013 and related publications). We aim at a full elucidation of this elusive concept that does justice to the complex distinctions and interrelations between propensities, probabilities and frequency statistics (Suárez, “Propensities, Probabilities and Experimental Statistics”, EPSA15 Selected Papers: European Studies in Philosophy of Science 5, Springer, 2017). Our research aims at a new metaphysics for all these notions, but one that is fully in line with the practice of statistical modelling across the sciences. Our methodology is thus deeply interdisciplinary, calling for expertise in metaphysics, philosophy of probability, statistical methodology, and the philosophy of scientific practice.

Scientific Representation: The Inferential Conception
The group’s research on scientific representation focuses in particular on the so-called inferential conception (Suárez, “An Inferential Conception of Scientific Representation”, Philosophy of Science, 2004 and related publications), and has as a main target to defend the applicability of such conception to the fictional entities characteristic of scientific models. We also like to look historically back at the founding of what we like to call the modeling attitude in the works of Kelvin and Maxwell, on the one hand, and Helmholtz, Hertz and Boltzmann, on the other.