David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Rainer Hegselmann (ed.), Modelling and Simulation in the Social Sciences from the Philosophy of Science Point of View (1996)
Simulation techniques, especially those implemented on a computer, are frequently employed in natural as well as in social sciences with considerable success. There is mounting evidence that the "model-building era" (J. Niehans) that dominated the theoretical activities of the sciences for a long time is about to be succeeded or at least lastingly supplemented by the "simulation era". But what exactly are models? What is a simulation and what is the difference and the relation between a model and a simulation? These are some of the questions addressed in this article. I maintain that the most significant feature of a simulation is that it allows scientists to imitate one process by another process. "Process" here refers solely to a temporal sequence of states of a system. Given the observation that processes are dealt with by all sorts of scientists, it is apparent that simulations prove to be a powerful interdisciplinarily acknowledged tool. Accordingly, simulations are best suited to investigate the various research strategies in different sciences more carefully. To this end, I focus on the function of simulations in the research process. Finally, a somewhat detailed case-study from nuclear physics is presented which, in my view, illustrates elements of a typical simulation in physics.
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Citations of this work BETA
Wendy S. Parker (2009). Does Matter Really Matter? Computer Simulations, Experiments, and Materiality. Synthese 169 (3):483 - 496.
Roman Frigg & Julian Reiss (2009). The Philosophy of Simulation: Hot New Issues or Same Old Stew? Synthese 169 (3):593 - 613.
Anouk Barberousse, Sara Franceschelli & Cyrille Imbert (2009). Computer Simulations as Experiments. Synthese 169 (3):557 - 574.
Eran Tal (2011). From Data to Phenomena and Back Again: Computer-Simulated Signatures. Synthese 182 (1):117-129.
Igor Douven (2010). Simulating Peer Disagreements. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (2):148-157.
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