Experiments, Simulations, and Epistemic Privilege

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Philosophy of Science, ISSN: 0031-8248, Vol: 81, Issue: 4, Page: 516-536

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Parke, Emily C.
University of Chicago Press
Arts and Humanities
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article description
Experiments are commonly thought to have epistemic privilege over simulations. Two ideas underpin this belief: first, experiments generate greater inferential power than simulations, and second, simulations cannot surprise us the way experiments can. In this article I argue that neither of these claims is true of experiments versus simulations in general. We should give up the common practice of resting in-principle judgments about the epistemic value of cases of scientific inquiry on whether we classify those cases as experiments or simulations, per se. To the extent that either methodology puts researchers in a privileged epistemic position, this is context sensitive.