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Computer simulation was first pioneered as a scientific tool in meteorology and nuclear physics in the period following World War II, but it has grown rapidly to become indispensible in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including astrophysics, high-energy physics, climate science, engineering, ecology, and economics. Digital computer simulation helps study phenomena of great complexity, but how much do we know about the limits and possibilities of this new scientific practice? How do simulations compare to traditional experiments? And are they reliable? Eric Winsberg seeks to answer these questions in Science in the Age of Computer Simulation. Scrutinizing these issue with a philosophical lens, Winsberg explores the impact of simulation on such issues as the nature of scientific evidence; the role of values in science; the nature and role of fictions in science; and the relationship between simulation and experiment, theories and data, and theories at different levels of description. Science in the Age of Computer Simulation will transform many of the core issues in philosophy of science, as well as our basic understanding of the role of the digital computer in the sciences.
This text examines issues related to the way modelling and simulation enable us to reconstruct aspects of the world we are investigating. It also investigates the processes by which we extract concrete knowledge from those reconstructions and how that knowledge is legitimated.
This book is an account of modeling and idealization in modern scientific practice, focusing on concrete, mathematical, and computational models. The main topics of this book are the nature of models, the practice of modeling, and the nature of the relationship between models and real-world phenomena. In order to elucidate the model/world relationship, Weisberg develops a novel account of similarity called weighted feature matching.
Today, a scientific explanation is not meant to ascribe agency to natural phenomena: we would not say a rock falls because it seeks the center of the earth. Even for living things, in the natural sciences and often in the social sciences, the same is true. A modern botanist would not say that plants pursue sunlight. This has not always been the case, nor, perhaps, was it inevitable. Since the seventeenth century, many thinkers have made agency, in various forms, central to science. The Restless Clock examines the history of this principle, banning agency, in the life sciences. It also tells the story of dissenters embracing the opposite idea: that agency is essential to nature. The story begins with the automata of early modern Europe, as models for the new science of living things, and traces questions of science and agency through Descartes, Leibniz, Lamarck, and Darwin, among many others. Mechanist science, Jessica Riskin shows, had an associated theology: the argument from design, which found evidence for a designer in the mechanisms of nature. Rejecting such appeals to a supernatural God, the dissenters sought to naturalize agency rather than outsourcing it to a “divine engineer.” Their model cast living things not as passive but as active, self-making machines. The conflict between passive- and active-mechanist approaches maintains a subterranean life in current science, shaping debates in fields such as evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. This history promises not only to inform such debates, but also our sense of the possibilities for what it means to engage in science—and even what it means to be alive.
In Abductive Analysis, Iddo Tavory and Stefan Timmermans provide a new navigational map for theorizing qualitative research. They outline a way to think about observations, methods, and theories that nurtures theory formation without locking it into predefined conceptual boxes. The book provides novel ways to approach the challenges that plague qualitative researchers across the social sciences—how to conceptualize causality, how to manage the variation of observations, and how to leverage the researcher’s community of inquiry. Abductive Analysis is a landmark work that shows how a pragmatist approach provides a productive and fruitful way to conduct qualitative research.
Social sciences -- Simulation methods. Social interaction -- Computer simulation. Social sciences -- Mathematical models. (publisher)

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