David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
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
Nancy Cartwright (2002). Against Modularity, the Causal Markov Condition, and Any Link Between the Two: Comments on Hausman and Woodward. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (3):411-453.
Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Joshua M. Epstein (1999). Agent-Based Computational Models and Generative Social Science. Complexity 4 (5):41-60.
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Stephan Hartmann (1996). The World as a Process: Simulations in the Natural and Social Sciences. In Rainer Hegselmann (ed.), Modelling and Simulation in the Social Sciences from the Philosophy of Science Point of View.
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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