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Is Simulation an Epistemic Substitute for Experimentation?

Peschard, Isabelle (2011) Is Simulation an Epistemic Substitute for Experimentation? [Preprint]

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It is sometimes said that simulation can serve as epistemic substitute for experimentation. Such a claim might be suggested by the fast-spreading use of computer simulation to investigate phenomena not accessible to experimentation (in astrophysics, ecology, economics, climatology, etc.). But what does that mean?
The paper starts with a clarification of the terms of the issue and then focuses on two powerful arguments for the view that simulation and experimentation are ‘epistemically on a par’. One is based on the claim that, in experimentation, no less than in simulation, it is not the system under study that is manipulated but a system that ‘stands-in’ for it. The other one highlights the pervasive use of models in experimentation.
It will be argued that these arguments, as compelling as they might seem, are each based on a mistaken interpretation of experimentation and that, far from simulation and experimentation being epistemically on a par, they do not have the same epistemic function, do not produce the same kind of epistemic results.

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Item Type: Preprint
Peschard, Isabelle
Keywords: simulation, experiment, experimentation, substitute, modeling, target system, surrogate.
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Isabelle Peschard
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2012 13:27
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2012 13:27
Item ID: 9010

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