This paper will not present a case study of the historical development of a virtual entity. Rather, I will develop an outlook on virtual entities in the sciences and propose a corresponding method for studying them (historically). In essence, my presentation can be considered a synthesis of different observations from the history and philosophy of science and has its roots in my dissertational research on the development of the virtual particle. Starting with a reflection on the role of presentism for the study of concept formation and development processes, I will show, through the example of the virtual particle, how current debates and interpretations can inform our access to a historical reconstruction. Following these reflections, I will argue for a pragmatist account of concepts as tools for the scientific practitioners. According to the approach presented in my article, concepts perform their functions through representations, and I will lay special focus on verbal representations and their different functions within scientific reasoning. In conclusion, I will frame the outcome of my discussion in terms of a proposal that might, through further research, enrich our understanding of virtual entities in the sciences.

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