Agent-Based Models and Simulations in Economics and Social Sciences: from conceptual exploration to distinct ways of experimenting

In Nuno David, José Castro Caldas & Helder Coelho (eds.), Proceedings of the 3rd EPOS congress (Epistemological Perspectives On Simulations). Lisbon: pp. 51-69 (2008)
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Now that complex Agent-Based Models and computer simulations spread over economics and social sciences - as in most sciences of complex systems -, epistemological puzzles (re)emerge. We introduce new epistemological tools so as to show to what precise extent each author is right when he focuses on some empirical, instrumental or conceptual significance of his model or simulation. By distinguishing between models and simulations, between types of models, between types of computer simulations and between types of empiricity, section 2 gives conceptual tools to explain the rationale of the diverse epistemological positions presented in section 1. Finally, we claim that a careful attention to the real multiplicity of denotational powers of symbols at stake and then to the implicit routes of references operated by models and computer simulations is necessary to determine, in each case, the proper epistemic status and credibility of a given model and/or simulation.
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