While Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions does not specifically deal
with validation, the validation of simulations can be related in various ways to
Kuhn's theory: 1) Computer simulations are sometimes depicted as located between
experiments and theoretical reasoning, thus potentially blurring the line
between theory and empirical research. Does this require a new kind of research
logic that is different from the classical paradigm which clearly distinguishes
between theory and empirical observation? I argue that this is not the case. 2)
Another typical feature of computer simulations is their being ``motley''
(Winsberg 2003) with respect to the various premises that enter into
simulations. A possible consequence is that in case of failure it can become
difficult to tell which of the premises is to blame. Could this issue be
understood as fostering Kuhn's mild relativism with respect to theory choice? I
argue that there is no need to worry about relativism with respect to computer
simulations, in particular. 3) The field of social simulations, in particular,
still lacks a common understanding concerning the requirements of empirical
validation of simulations. Does this mean that social simulations are still in a
pre-scientific state in the sense of Kuhn? My conclusion is that despite ongoing
efforts to promote quality standards in this field, lack of proper validation is
still a problem of many published simulation studies and that, at least large
parts of social simulations must be considered as pre-scientific.
Published: Beisbart, C. and Saam, N. J. (Ed.): Computer Simulation Validation - Fundamental Concepts, Methodological Frameworks, and Philosophical Perspectives, Springer 2018.