How can computer simulations produce new knowledge?


Authors
Claus Beisbart
University of Berne
Abstract
It is often claimed that scientists can obtain new knowledge about nature by running computer simulations. How is this possible? I answer this question by arguing that computer simulations are arguments. This view parallels Norton’s argument view about thought experiments. I show that computer simulations can be reconstructed as arguments that fully capture the epistemic power of the simulations. Assuming the extended mind hypothesis, I furthermore argue that running the computer simulation is to execute the reconstructing argument. I discuss some objections and reject the view that computer simulations produce knowledge because they are experiments. I conclude by comparing thought experiments and computer simulations, assuming that both are arguments
Keywords Computer simulations  Knowledge  Arguments  Thought experiments  Reasoning  Extended mind hypothesis
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DOI 10.1007/s13194-012-0049-7
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References found in this work BETA

The Extended Mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
Who is a Modeler?M. Weisberg - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):207-233.
Explanatory Unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.

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Citations of this work BETA

Are Computer Simulations Experiments? And If Not, How Are They Related to Each Other?Claus Beisbart - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (2):171-204.
Why Monte Carlo Simulations Are Inferences and Not Experiments.Claus Beisbart & John D. Norton - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (4):403-422.
Varying the Explanatory Span: Scientific Explanation for Computer Simulations.Juan Manuel Durán - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (1):27-45.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

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