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Simulated Experiments: Methodology for a Virtual World

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between simulation and experiment. Many discussions of simulation, and indeed the term “numerical experiments,” invoke a strong metaphor of experimentation. On the other hand, many simulations begin as attempts to apply scientific theories. This has lead many to characterize simulation as lying between theory and experiment. The aim of the paper is to try to reconcile these two points of view—to understand what methodological and epistemological features simulation has in common with experimentation, while at the same time keeping a keen eye on simulation's ancestry as a form of scientific theorizing. In so doing, it seeks to apply some of the insights of recent work on the philosophy of experiment to an aspect of theorizing that is of growing philosophical interest: the construction of local models.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

I thank Arthur Fine, Mathias Frisch, Karen Darling, and Joanne Waugh for their comments and criticisms, as well as many people who offered helpful comments when I presented earlier versions of this paper at the University of South Florida and at Wichita State University. I am greatly indebted to three anonymous reviewers—especially one, whose efforts went well beyond the norm.

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