Digital Ecologies as Tractarian Systems

Philosophy Study 3 (1) (2013)


This paper explores Wittgenstein’s early work as it relates to emerging philosophical problems in ecological modeling. Here I use his thought to structure a logical framework from which to discuss ecological simulation models in a way that captures how these dynamic representations describe a world from which we can draw logical inferences about real-world ecological processes. I argue that Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus provides a way of reading problems that arise in using simulation as a way to make inferences about the world. Conversely, ecological simulation provides an illustration of a Tractarian system, because the digital world it creates completely describes and is defined by the programing language. This reading is a novel, but productive, way that notes that the language used in modeling requires a hermeneutical approach to make inferences about modeling/real-world relationships.

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Steve Peck
Brigham Young University

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