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What Kind of Explanations Do We Get from Agent-Based Models of Scientific Inquiry?

Šešelja, Dunja (2022) What Kind of Explanations Do We Get from Agent-Based Models of Scientific Inquiry? [Preprint]

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Abstract

Agent-based modelling has become a well-established method in social epistemology and philosophy of science but the question of what kind of explanations these models provide remains largely open. This paper is dedicated to this issue. It starts by distinguishing between real-world phenomena, real-world possibilities, and logical possibilities as different kinds of targets which agent-based models (ABMs) can represent. I argue that models representing the former two kinds provide how-actually explanations or causal how-possibly explanations. In contrast, models that represent logical possibilities provide epistemically opaque how-possibly explanations (Šešelja et al., 2022). While highly idealised ABMs in the form in which they are initially proposed typically fall into the last category, the epistemic opaqueness of explanations they provide can be reduced by validation procedures. To this purpose, an examination of results of simulations in terms of classes of models can be particularly helpful. I illustrate this point by discussing a class of ABMs of scientific interaction and the claim that a high degree of interaction can impede scientific inquiry.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Šešelja, Dunjad.seselja@tue.nl0000-0001-5679-5787
Additional Information: Forthcoming in: Hanne Andersen, Tomáš Marvan, Hasok Chang, Benedikt Löwe, and Ivo Pezlar (eds.), Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology. Proceedings of the Sixteenth International Congress, Bridging Across Academic Cultures. Rickmansworthe: College Publications, 2022.
Keywords: agent-based models, highly idealised models, epistemically opaque how-possibly explanation, robustness analysis, scientific interaction.
Subjects: General Issues > Computer Simulation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Depositing User: Dr. Dunja Šešelja
Date Deposited: 09 May 2022 04:04
Last Modified: 09 May 2022 04:04
Item ID: 20532
Subjects: General Issues > Computer Simulation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Date: 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20532

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