Capturing the Representational and the Experimental in the Modelling of Artificial Societies

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Abstract

Even though the philosophy of simulation is intended as a comprehensive reflection about the practice of computer simulation in contemporary science, its output has been disproportionately shaped by research on equation-based simulation in the physical and climate sciences. Hence, the particularities of alternative practices of computer simulation in other scientific domains are not sufficiently accounted for in the current philosophy of simulation literature. This article centres on agent-based social simulation, a relatively established type of simulation in the social sciences, to exemplify this claim. The analysis advanced has a twofold goal. First, it shows that the philosophy of agent-based social simulation, mostly developed by practitioners themselves, is, on one hand, heavily influenced by the methodological features of agent-based modelling and by the loose and fragmented character of social theory and, on the other hand, distinctively shaped by contrasting views of what it implies to do social research with virtual or artificial societies. Second, it suggests ways in which cross-fertilisation could enrich the philosophical understanding of computer simulation both in agent-based social simulation and in the philosophy of simulation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number63
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages30
JournalEuropean Journal for Philosophy of Science
Volume11
Issue number63
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jun 30 2021

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