Synthese 169 (3):539 - 555 (2009)
It is often claimed that artificial society simulations contribute to the explanation of social phenomena. At the hand of a particular example, this paper argues that artificial societies often cannot provide full explanations, because their models are not or cannot be validated. Despite that, many feel that such simulations somehow contribute to our understanding. This paper tries to clarify this intuition by investigating whether artificial societies provide potential explanations. It is shown that these potential explanations, if they contribute to our understanding, considerably differ from potential causal explanations. Instead of possible causal histories, simulations offer possible functional analyses of the explanandum . The paper discusses how these two kinds explanatory strategies differ, and how potential functional explanations can be appraised.
|Keywords||Agent-based simulations Complex systems Explanation|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.Wesley Salmon - 1984 - Princeton University Press.
Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Citations of this work BETA
How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge?Claus Beisbart - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
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