On the Epistemology of Computer Simulations
Grient, L. van der
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This thesis explores the epistemological problems concerning computer simulations. It first gives some background on epistemology and simulations in a more general setting. A definition of 'computer simulation' is given. It then deals with epistemological issues that concern computer simulations. A possible solution is discussed. A large part of the thesis focuses on the novelty debate - i.e. whether or not computer simulations raise new philosophical questions. After a brief introduction and some comments on general issues it will be argued that there are in fact new philosophical problems, but that these problems are less numerous than claimed by most advocates. As a final point there will be looked at a recent claim that computer simulations are ‘just’ opaque thought experiments. If so, this could mean that the philosophy of computer simulations is not novel after all. However, it will be argued that computer simulations are similar to thought experiments in use only and differ at the level of epistemic justification.