Tools or Toys?
On Specific Challenges for Modeling and the Epistemology of Models in the Social Sciences

Eckhart Arnold

1 Introduction
2 The role of models in science
3 Why computer simulations are merely models and not experiments
    3.1 Computer simulations are just elaborate models
    3.2 Computer simulations are not experiments
        3.2.1 The simulations-experiments dispute
        3.2.2 Resolving the simulations-experiments dispute
4 The epistemology of simulations at work: How simulations are used to study chemical reactions in the ribosome
5 How do models explain in the social sciences?
6 Common obstacles for modeling in the social sciences
7 Conclusions

3.2 Computer simulations are not experiments

Having thus established that the alleged novelty of computer simulations does not distinguish them with respect to validation from models, the question remains how computer simulations are related to experiments. The philosopher's opinions could not be more diverse on this question. There are those who believe that computer simulations are experiments and can just like experiments be used to test hypotheses. And there are others that believe that simulations are more like miniature theories and therefore - quite the contrary - in need of empirical testing themselves.

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