Computer Simulations as Experiments

Synthese 169 (3):557 - 574 (2009)
Abstract
Whereas computer simulations involve no direct physical interaction between the machine they are run on and the physical systems they are used to investigate, they are often used as experiments and yield data about these systems. It is commonly argued that they do so because they are implemented on physical machines. We claim that physicality is not necessary for their representational and predictive capacities and that the explanation of why computer simulations generate desired information about their target system is only to be found in the detailed analysis of their semantic levels. We provide such an analysis and we determine the actual consequences of physical implementation for simulations
Keywords Experiments  Data  Machine implementation  Programs
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