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CSS Colloquium: Sherrilyn Roush, Kings College London

The Epistemic Superiority of Experiment to Simulation

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Wednesday 27 September 2017,  at 14:15 - 15:45



I defend the naïve thesis that the method of experiment has per se an epistemic superiority over the method of computer simulation, a view that has been rejected by some philosophers writing about simulation, and whose grounds have been hard to pin down by its defenders. I further argue that this superiority does not depend on the experiment’s object being materially similar to the target in the world that the investigator is trying to learn about, as both sides of dispute over the epistemic superiority thesis have assumed. The superiority depends on features of the question and on a property of natural kinds that has been mistaken for material similarity. Awareness of this superiority and of the general distinction between experiment and simulation is, I argue, important for maintaining motivation to seek answers to new questions.