The Epistemic Superiority of Experiment to Simulation

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Roush, Sherrilyn
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conference paper description
This paper defends the naïve thesis that the method of experiment is epistemically superior to the method of simulation, other things equal, a view that has been rejected by some philosophers writing about simulation, and whose grounds have been hard to pin down by its defenders. There are three challenges I take on in defending this thesis. One is to say how “other things equal” can be defined, another to identify and explain the source of the epistemic advantage of experiment in a hypothetical comparison so defined. Finally, I explain why this theoretical point matters since practical constraints like feasibility and morality mean that scientists do not often face an other-things-equal comparison when they choose between experiment and computer simulation.