David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 169 (3):539 - 555 (2009)
It is often claimed that artificial society simulations contribute to the explanation of social phenomena. At the hand of a particular example, this paper argues that artificial societies often cannot provide full explanations, because their models are not or cannot be validated. Despite that, many feel that such simulations somehow contribute to our understanding. This paper tries to clarify this intuition by investigating whether artificial societies provide potential explanations. It is shown that these potential explanations, if they contribute to our understanding, considerably differ from potential causal explanations. Instead of possible causal histories, simulations offer possible functional analyses of the explanandum . The paper discusses how these two kinds explanatory strategies differ, and how potential functional explanations can be appraised.
|Keywords||Agent-based simulations Complex systems Explanation|
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References found in this work BETA
Peter Lipton (2004). Inference to the Best Explanation. Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Wesley Salmon (1984). Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World. Princeton University Press.
James Woodward (2003). Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation. Oxford University Press.
David Lewis (1986). Philosophical Papers Vol. II. Oxford University Press.
Cristina Bicchieri (2006). The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Claus Beisbart (2012). How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge? European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
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