Holism, or the Erosion of Modularity: A Methodological Challenge for Validation

Philosophy of Science 85 (5):832-844 (2018)
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Abstract

Modularity is a key concept in building and evaluating complex simulation models. My main claim is that in simulation modeling modularity degenerates for systematic methodological reasons. Consequently, it is hard, if not impossible, to accessing how representational structure and dynamical properties of a model are related. The resulting problem for validating models is one of holism. The argument will proceed by analyzing the techniques of parameterization, tuning, and kludging. They are – to a certain extent – inevitable when building complex simulation models, but corrode modularity. As a result, the common account of validating simulations faces a major problem and testing the dynamical behavior of simulation models becomes all the more important. Finally, I will ask in what circumstances this might be sufficient for model validation.

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References found in this work

Holism, entrenchment, and the future of climate model pluralism.Johannes Lenhard & Eric Winsberg - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (3):253-262.
Values and uncertainties in climate prediction, revisited.Wendy Parker - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 46:24-30.

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