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What Is the Epistemic Function of Highly Idealized Agent-Based Models of Scientific Inquiry?

Frey, Daniel and Šešelja, Dunja (2018) What Is the Epistemic Function of Highly Idealized Agent-Based Models of Scientific Inquiry? Philosophy of the Social Sciences.

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Abstract

In this paper we examine the epistemic value of highly idealized agent-based models (ABMs) of social aspects of scientific inquiry. On the one hand, we argue that taking the results of such simulations as informative of actual scientific inquiry is unwarranted, at least for the class of models proposed in recent literature. Moreover, we argue that a weaker approach, which takes these models as providing only “how-possibly” explanations, does not help to improve their epistemic value. On the other hand, we suggest that if ABMs of science underwent two types of robustness analysis, they could indeed have a clear epistemic function, namely by providing evidence for philosophical and historical hypotheses. In this sense, ABMs can obtain evidential and explanatory properties and thus be a useful tool for integrated history and philosophy of science. We illustrate our point with an example of a model—building on the work by Kevin Zollman—which we apply to a concrete historical case study.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Frey, Danielfreyda87@gmail.com
Šešelja, Dunjadunja.seselja@rub.de0000-0001-5679-5787
Keywords: agent-based models, robustness analysis, how-possibly explanations, scientific interaction, integrated history and philosophy of science
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr. Dunja Šešelja
Date Deposited: 28 May 2018 18:45
Last Modified: 28 May 2018 18:45
Item ID: 14715
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Publisher: Sage Journals
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0048393118767085
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1177/0048393118767085
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14715

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