Varying the Explanatory Span: Scientific Explanation for Computer Simulations

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (1):27-45 (2017)
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This article aims to develop a new account of scientific explanation for computer simulations. To this end, two questions are answered: what is the explanatory relation for computer simulations? And what kind of epistemic gain should be expected? For several reasons tailored to the benefits and needs of computer simulations, these questions are better answered within the unificationist model of scientific explanation. Unlike previous efforts in the literature, I submit that the explanatory relation is between the simulation model and the results of the simulation. I also argue that our epistemic gain goes beyond the unificationist account, encompassing a practical dimension as well.

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Juan Manuel Durán
Delft University of Technology


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