Abstract: I propose a framework that explicates and distinguishes the epistemic roles of data and models within empirical inquiry through consideration of their use in scientific practice. After arguing that Suppes’ characterization of data models falls short in this respect, I discuss a case of data processing within exploratory research in plant phenotyping and use it to highlight the difference between practices aimed to make data usable as evidence and practices aimed to use data to represent a specific phenomenon. I then argue that whether a set of objects functions as data or models does not depend on intrinsic differences in their physical properties, level of abstraction or the degree of human intervention involved in generating them, but rather on their distinctive roles towards identifying and characterizing the targets of investigation. The paper thus proposes a characterization of data models that builds on Suppes’ attention to data practices, without however needing to posit a fixed hierarchy of data and models or a highly exclusionary definition of data models as statistical constructs.
Comment: This article deepens the role of model an data in the scientific investigation taking into account the scientific practice. Obviously, a general framework of the themes the author takes into account is needed.