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Reconstructing RealityModels, Mathematics, and Simulations$
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Margaret Morrison

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199380275

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199380275.001.0001

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Why Materiality is not Enough

Why Materiality is not Enough

Models, Measurement, and Computer Simulation

(p.199) 6 Why Materiality is not Enough
Reconstructing Reality

Margaret Morrison

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that we should take simulations seriously as a method for providing experimental knowledge. The use of the term “experimental” is meant to indicate that in some cases and under certain conditions it is legitimate to claim that simulations can measure theoretical quantities. Part of the argument for the “simulation as measurement” thesis requires showing that the practices involving experimental measurement reveal a reliance on models that is strikingly similar to that found in simulation. In addition to discussing how models function as ”measuring instruments,” the chapter examines the different ways in which simulation can be seen to constitute an experimental activity. Using different examples, it highlights the way various modelling strategies form essential features of experimentation and how that, in turn, allows us to clarify the contexts in which we can legitimately call computer simulation a form of experimental measurement.

Keywords:   measurement, models, experimentation, molecular dynamics simulation, particle methods, simulation

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