Models, explanation, representation, and the philosophy of computer simulations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


The philosophical study of computer simulations has been largely subordinated to the analysis of sets of equations and their implementation on the computer. What has received less attention, however, is whether simulation models can be taken as units of analysis in their own right. Here I present my own experimental work investigating this issue. This article explores the capacity of programming languages to represent target systems and submits that, in a number of cases, the representation of simulation models differs in non-trivial ways from sets of equations. If my claim is correct, then a few important methodological and epistemological concerns emerge that need our attention. This article finishes by briefly addressing some implications for the philosophy of computer simulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Studies Series
EditorsBjörn Lundgren, Nancy Abigail, Nuñez Hernández
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-75267-5
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePhilosophical Studies Series
ISSN (Print)0921-8599
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8349


  • Computer simulations
  • Scientific modes
  • Mathematical models
  • Scientific explanation
  • Scientific representation
  • Scientific experimentation


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