The Monist

Volume 97, Issue 3, July 2014

Models and Simulations

Seth Bullock
Pages 301-320

Levins and the Lure of Artificial Worlds

What is it about simulation models that has led some practitioners to treat them as potential sources of empirical data on the real-world systems being simulated; that is, to treat simulations as ‘artificial worlds’within which to perform computational ‘experiments’? Here we use the work of Richard Levins as a starting point in identifying the appeal of this model building strategy, and proceed to account for why this appeal is strongest for computational modellers. This analysis suggests a perspective on simulation modelling that makes room for ‘artificial worlds’ as legitimate science without having to accept that they should be treated as sources of empirical data.