How Models Fail
A Critical Look at the History of Computer Simulations of the Evolution of Cooperation

Eckhart Arnold

1 Introduction
2 The empirical failure of simulations of the evolution of cooperation
3 Justificatory narratives
    3.1 Axelrod's narrative
    3.2 Schüßler's narrative
    3.3 The story of “slip stream altruism”
    3.4 The social learning strategies tournament
4 Bad excuses for bad methods and why they are wrong
5 History repeats itself: Comparison with similar criticisms of naturalistic or scientistic approaches

3 Justificatory narratives

If the simulations studies in this research tradition do not bear any explanatory value for empirical research, then the question naturally arises what they are good for. Some authors present explanations that are meant to justify the method. I will go through some of them before entering on the discussion of the general arguments in favor for the simulation method.

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