Is computer simulation changing the face of experimentation?

Philosophical Studies 143 (1):59 - 62 (2009)
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Abstract

Morrison points out many similarities between the roles of simulation models and other sorts of models in science. On the basis of these similarities she claims that running a simulation is epistemologically on a par with doing a traditional experiment and that the output of a simulation therefore counts as a measurement. I agree with her premises but reject the inference. The epistemological payoff of a traditional experiment is greater (or less) confidence in the fit between a model and a target system. The source of this payoff is the existence of a causal interaction with the target system. A computer experiment, which does not go beyond the simulation system itself, lacks any such interaction. So computer experiments cannot confer any additional confidence in the fit (or lack thereof) between the simulation model and the target system.

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Author's Profile

Ronald Giere
Last affiliation: University of Minnesota

Citations of this work

Computer Simulation, Measurement, and Data Assimilation.Wendy S. Parker - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):273-304.
Computer Simulations in Science.Eric Winsberg - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
How can computer simulations produce new knowledge?Claus Beisbart - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
Are computer simulations experiments? And if not, how are they related to each other?Claus Beisbart - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (2):171-204.

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References found in this work

A tale of two methods.Eric Winsberg - 2009 - Synthese 169 (3):575 - 592.

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