The World as a Process: Simulations in the Natural and Social Sciences

In Rainer Hegselmann (ed.), Modelling and Simulation in the Social Sciences from the Philosophy of Science Point of View (1996)

Authors
Stephan Hartmann
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Abstract
Simulation techniques, especially those implemented on a computer, are frequently employed in natural as well as in social sciences with considerable success. There is mounting evidence that the "model-building era" (J. Niehans) that dominated the theoretical activities of the sciences for a long time is about to be succeeded or at least lastingly supplemented by the "simulation era". But what exactly are models? What is a simulation and what is the difference and the relation between a model and a simulation? These are some of the questions addressed in this article. I maintain that the most significant feature of a simulation is that it allows scientists to imitate one process by another process. "Process" here refers solely to a temporal sequence of states of a system. Given the observation that processes are dealt with by all sorts of scientists, it is apparent that simulations prove to be a powerful interdisciplinarily acknowledged tool. Accordingly, simulations are best suited to investigate the various research strategies in different sciences more carefully. To this end, I focus on the function of simulations in the research process. Finally, a somewhat detailed case-study from nuclear physics is presented which, in my view, illustrates elements of a typical simulation in physics.
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References found in this work BETA

The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.John D. Barrow - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.
Models as a Tool for Theory Construction: Some Strategies of Preliminary Physics.Stephan Hartmann - 1995 - In William Herfel, Władysław Krajewski, Ilkka Niiniluoto & Ryszard Wójcicki (eds.), Theories and Models in Scientific Processes. Rodopi. pp. 49-67.

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Citations of this work BETA

Computer Simulations as Experiments.Sara Franceschelli - 2009 - Synthese 169 (3):557 - 574.
Varying the Explanatory Span: Scientific Explanation for Computer Simulations.Juan Manuel Durán - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (1):27-45.
How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge?Claus Beisbart - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.

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