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Les simulations sont-elles des expériences numériques?



Some philosophers see an analogy between simulation and experiment. But, once we acknowledge some similarities between computer simulations and experiments, can we conclude from them that simulations generate empirical knowledge, as experiments do? In this paper, I argue that the similarities between simulation and experiment give the scientist at most the illusion that she is conducting an experiment, but cannot seriously ground the analogy. However, it does not follow that experiments are always epistemologically superior to simulations. I analyze the cases when simulations and experiments equally yield new empirical knowledge.

Certains philosophes ont défendu qu’une analogie existait entre simulations et expériences. Mais, une fois que l’on a reconnu quelques similitudes entre elles, peut-on réellement conclure qu’en vertu de celles-ci les simulations produisent de nouvelles connaissances empiriques comme les expériences? Je soutiens que ces similitudes donnent tout au plus à l’utilisateur d’une simulation l’illusion qu’il a affaire à une expérience, mais ne peuvent fonder sérieusement une analogie entre simulation et expérience. Cependant il ne faudrait pas conclure que l’expérience est épistémologiquement supérieure à la simulation. J’analyse les cas pour lesquels simulation et expérience engendrent également des connaissances nouvelles.


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