Is computer simulation changing the face of experimentation?

Philosophical Studies 143 (1):59 - 62 (2009)

Ronald Giere
University of Minnesota
Morrison points out many similarities between the roles of simulation models and other sorts of models in science. On the basis of these similarities she claims that running a simulation is epistemologically on a par with doing a traditional experiment and that the output of a simulation therefore counts as a measurement. I agree with her premises but reject the inference. The epistemological payoff of a traditional experiment is greater (or less) confidence in the fit between a model and a target system. The source of this payoff is the existence of a causal interaction with the target system. A computer experiment, which does not go beyond the simulation system itself, lacks any such interaction. So computer experiments cannot confer any additional confidence in the fit (or lack thereof) between the simulation model and the target system.
Keywords Models  Computer simulation  Experimentation  Epistemological warrant
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-008-9314-1
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A Tale of Two Methods.Eric Winsberg - 2009 - Synthese 169 (3):575 - 592.

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Computer Simulation and the Features of Novel Empirical Data.Greg Lusk - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56:145-152.
Computer Simulation, Measurement, and Data Assimilation.Wendy S. Parker - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):273-304.
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.
How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge?Claus Beisbart - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
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.

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