Why Monte Carlo Simulations Are Inferences and Not Experiments

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (4):403-422 (2012)
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Abstract

Monte Carlo simulations arrive at their results by introducing randomness, sometimes derived from a physical randomizing device. Nonetheless, we argue, they open no new epistemic channels beyond that already employed by traditional simulations: the inference by ordinary argumentation of conclusions from assumptions built into the simulations. We show that Monte Carlo simulations cannot produce knowledge other than by inference, and that they resemble other computer simulations in the manner in which they derive their conclusions. Simple examples of Monte Carlo simulations are analysed to identify the underlying inferences.

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Author Profiles

Claus Beisbart
University of Bern
John D. Norton
University of Pittsburgh

References found in this work

Models and Analogies in Science.Mary B. Hesse - 1963 - [Notre Dame, Ind.]: University of Notre Dame Press.
Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics.Peter Galison (ed.) - 1997 - University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
Models and Analogies in Science.Mary Hesse - 1965 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (62):161-163.
Science in the age of computer simulation.Eric Winsberg - 2010 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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