A tale of two methods

Synthese 169 (3):575 - 592 (2009)
Simulations (both digital and analog) and experiments share many features. But what essential features distinguish them? I discuss two proposals in the literature. On one proposal, experiments investigate nature directly, while simulations merely investigate models. On another proposal, simulations differ from experiments in that simulationists manipulate objects that bear only a formal (rather than material) similarity to the targets of their investigations. Both of these proposals are rejected. I argue that simulations fundamentally differ from experiments with regard to the background knowledge that is invoked to argue for the “external validity” of the investigation.
Keywords Models  Simulations  Validation  Experiments  Methodology  Computers
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DOI 10.2307/40271310
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Miles MacLeod & Nancy J. Nersessian (2013). Coupling Simulation and Experiment: The Bimodal Strategy in Integrative Systems Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):572-584.

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