Science in the Age of Computer Simulation

Science in the Age of Computer Simulation

Eric Winsberg

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226902029

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Computer simulation was first pioneered as a scientific tool in meteorology and nuclear physics in the period following World War II, but it has grown rapidly to become indispensible in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including astrophysics, high-energy physics, climate science, engineering, ecology, and economics. Digital computer simulation helps study phenomena of great complexity, but how much do we know about the limits and possibilities of this new scientific practice? How do simulations compare to traditional experiments? And are they reliable? This book seeks to answer these questions. Scrutinizing these issues with a philosophical lens, it explores the impact of simulation on such issues as the nature of scientific evidence; the role of values in science; the nature and role of fictions in science; and the relationship between simulation and experiment, theories and data, and theories at different levels of description.