Agent-based Models as Fictive Instantiations of Ecological Processes

Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 4 (20130604) (2012)
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Frigg and Reiss (2009) argue that philosophical problems in simulation bear enough resemblance to recognized issues in the philosophy of modeling that they only pose challenges analogous to those found in standard analytic models used to represent natural systems. They suggest that there are no new philosophical problems in computer simulation modeling beyond those found in traditional mathematical modeling. Winsberg (2009) has countered that there appear to be genuinely new epistemological problems in simulation modeling because the knowledge obtained from them is ‘downward, motley, and autonomous.’ Here I draw out some specific ways that these epistemological problems are manifest in complex ecological simulation, especially in agent-based models. These models contain novel features that were impossible to anticipate prior to the computer revolution, and continue to present difficulties and challenges of both a practical and philosophical nature (Humphreys 2002)



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Steve Peck
Brigham Young University

References found in this work

Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2008 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Science in the age of computer simulation.Eric Winsberg - 2010 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Three Kinds of Idealization.Michael Weisberg - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.
Models and fiction.Roman Frigg - 2010 - Synthese 172 (2):251-268.

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