Is computer simulation changing the face of experimentation?

Philosophical Studies 143 (1):59 - 62 (2009)
Morrison points out many similarities between the roles of simulation models and other sorts of models in science. On the basis of these similarities she claims that running a simulation is epistemologically on a par with doing a traditional experiment and that the output of a simulation therefore counts as a measurement. I agree with her premises but reject the inference. The epistemological payoff of a traditional experiment is greater (or less) confidence in the fit between a model and a target system. The source of this payoff is the existence of a causal interaction with the target system. A computer experiment, which does not go beyond the simulation system itself, lacks any such interaction. So computer experiments cannot confer any additional confidence in the fit (or lack thereof) between the simulation model and the target system.
Keywords Models  Computer simulation  Experimentation  Epistemological warrant
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DOI 10.2307/27734388
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Claus Beisbart (2012). How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge? European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
Michela Massimi & Wahid Bhimji (forthcoming). Computer Simulations and Experiments: The Case of the Higgs Boson. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.

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