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Why Monte Carlo Simulations are Inferences and not Experiments

Beisbart, Claus and Norton, John D. (2012) Why Monte Carlo Simulations are Inferences and not Experiments. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Monte Carlo Simulations arrive at their results by introducing randomness, sometimes derived from a physical randomizing device. Nonetheless, we argue, they open no new epistemic channels beyond that already employed by traditional simulations: the inference by ordinary argumentation of conclusions from assumptions built into the simulations. We show that Monte Carlo simulations cannot produce knowledge other than by inference; and that they resemble other computer simulations in the manner in which they derive their conclusions. Simple examples of Monte Carlo simulations are analyzed to identify the underlying inferences.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Beisbart, Claus
Norton, John D.
Keywords: Monte Carlo method, computer simulations, inference, experiment, randomness
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Experimentation
Depositing User: Claus Beisbart
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2012 06:03
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2012 06:03
Item ID: 9238
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9238

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