Validation of Computer Simulations from a Kuhnian Perspective

von Eckhart Arnold

1 Introduction
2 Kuhn's philosophy of science
3 A revolution, but not a Kuhnian revolution: Computer simulations in science
4 Validation of Simulations from a Kuhnian perspective
5 Summary and Conclusions

5 Summary and Conclusions

Putting it all together, we arrive at fairly conservative conclusions: Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions and his concept of a paradigm does not have any particular consequences for the validation of simulations. At least it does not have consequences that are any different from those it has for the validation of theories or non-simulation models. And neither do computer simulations require us to reconsider Kuhn's theory or related topics like the Duhem-Quine-thesis. This result is somewhat unspectacular, but it may be clarifying. With regard to the discussion about the novelty of computer simulations it means that, whatever the novelty may be, neither the introduction of computer simulations nor their validation is or requires a Kuhnian revolution.

The co-existence of multiple paradigms in the social sciences is a challenge for Kuhn's theory in its original form. But, again, the validation of simulations does not raise any specific problems in this context. Presently, many social simulations suffer from the fact that for the lack of proper validation they are quite uninformative about their target system. Although, there are also examples where social simulations do contribute to the understanding of the target system, the field as a whole does not yet seem to have become normal science in the sense of Kuhn. This is most notably due to the fact that - as of now - there exists no commonly shared understanding of the validation requirements of social simulations.

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