The philosophical literature on simulations has increased dramatically during the past 40 years. Many of its main topics are epistemological. For example, philosophers consider how the results of simulations help explain natural phenomena. This essay’s review treats mainly simulations in the social sciences. It considers the nature of simulations, the varieties of simulation, and uses of simulations for representation, prediction, explanation, and policy decisions. Being oriented toward philosophy of science, it compares simulations to models and experiments and considers whether simulations raise new methodological issues.The essay concludes that several features of simulations set them apart from models and experiments and make them novel scientific tools, whose powers and limits are not yet well understood.
Fields of Science
- 611 Philosophy