•  404
    Simulations, models, and theories: Complex physical systems and their representations
    Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3). 2001.
    Using an example of a computer simulation of the convective structure of a red giant star, this paper argues that simulation is a rich inferential process, and not simply a "number crunching" technique. The scientific practice of simulation, moreover, poses some interesting and challenging epistemological and methodological issues for the philosophy of science. I will also argue that these challenges would be best addressed by a philosophy of science that places less emphasis on the representati…Read more
  •  221
    Computer simulation and the philosophy of science
    Philosophy Compass 4 (5): 835-845. 2009.
    There are a variety of topics in the philosophy of science that need to be rethought, in varying degrees, after one pays careful attention to the ways in which computer simulations are used in the sciences. There are a number of conceptual issues internal to the practice of computer simulation that can benefit from the attention of philosophers. This essay surveys some of the recent literature on simulation from the perspective of the philosophy of science and argues that philosophers have a lot…Read more
  •  194
    In computer simulations of physical systems, the construction of models is guided, but not determined, by theory. At the same time simulations models are often constructed precisely because data are sparse. They are meant to replace experiments and observations as sources of data about the world; hence they cannot be evaluated simply by being compared to the world. So what can be the source of credibility for simulation models? I argue that the credibility of a simulation model comes not only fr…Read more
  •  155
    Laws, Chances, and Statistical Mechanics
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4): 872. 2008.
    Statistical Mechanics (SM) involves probabilities. At the same time, most approaches to the foundations of SM—programs whose goal is to understand the macroscopic laws of thermal physics from the point of view of microphysics—are classical; they begin with the assumption that the underlying dynamical laws that govern the microscopic furniture of the world are (or can without loss of generality be treated as) deterministic. This raises some potential puzzles about the proper interpretation of the…Read more
  •  148
  •  142
    Holism, entrenchment, and the future of climate model pluralism
    with Johannes Lenhard
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (3): 253-262. 2010.
  •  118
    Simulated experiments: Methodology for a virtual world
    Philosophy of Science 70 (1): 105-125. 2003.
    This paper examines the relationship between simulation and experiment. Many discussions of simulation, and indeed the term "numerical experiments," invoke a strong metaphor of experimentation. On the other hand, many simulations begin as attempts to apply scientific theories. This has lead many to characterize simulation as lying between theory and experiment. The aim of the paper is to try to reconcile these two points of viewto understand what methodological and epistemological features simul…Read more
  •  116
    Accountability and values in radically collaborative research
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 46 16-23. 2014.
    This paper discusses a crisis of accountability that arises when scientific collaborations are massively epistemically distributed. We argue that social models of epistemic collaboration, which are social analogs to what Patrick Suppes called a “model of the experiment,” must play a role in creating accountability in these contexts. We also argue that these social models must accommodate the fact that the various agents in a collaborative project often have ineliminable, messy, and conflicting i…Read more
  •  114
    A tale of two methods
    Synthese 169 (3). 2009.
    Simulations (both digital and analog) and experiments share many features. But what essential features distinguish them? I discuss two proposals in the literature. On one proposal, experiments investigate nature directly, while simulations merely investigate models. On another proposal, simulations differ from experiments in that simulationists manipulate objects that bear only a formal (rather than material) similarity to the targets of their investigations. Both of these proposals are rejected…Read more
  •  113
    Laws and chances in statistical mechanics
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4): 872-888. 2008.
    Statistical mechanics involves probabilities. At the same time, most approaches to the foundations of statistical mechanics--programs whose goal is to understand the macroscopic laws of thermal physics from the point of view of microphysics--are classical; they begin with the assumption that the underlying dynamical laws that govern the microscopic furniture of the world are deterministic. This raises some potential puzzles about the proper interpretation of these probabilities.
  •  112
    Laws and statistical mechanics
    Philosophy of Science 71 (5): 707-718. 2004.
    This paper explores some connections between competing conceptions of scientific laws on the one hand, and a problem in the foundations of statistical mechanics on the other. I examine two proposals for understanding the time asymmetry of thermodynamic phenomenal: David Albert's recent proposal and a proposal that I outline based on Hans Reichenbach's “branch systems”. I sketch an argument against the former, and mount a defense of the latter by showing how to accommodate statistical mechanics t…Read more
  •  100
    Computer Simulations in Science
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. forthcoming.
  •  94
    Quantum Life: Interaction, Entanglement, and Separation
    Journal of Philosophy 100 (2). 2003.
    Violations of the Bell inequalities in EPR-Bohm type experiments have set the literature on the metaphysics of microscopic systems to flirting with some sort of metaphysical holism regarding spatially separated, entangled systems. The rationale for this behavior comes in two parts. The first part relies on the proof, due to Jon Jarrett [2] that the experimentally observed violations of the Bell inequalities entail violations of the conjunction of two probabilistic constraints. Jarrett called the…Read more
  •  89
    Holism and Entrenchment in Climate Model Validation
    with Johannes Lenhard
    In M. Carrier & A. Nordmann (eds.), Science in the Context of Application, Springer. pp. 115--130. 2011.
  •  79
    In his recent book, Time and Chance, David Albert claims that by positing that there is a uniform probability distribution defined, on the standard measure, over the space of microscopic states that are compatible with both the current macrocondition of the world, and with what he calls the “past hypothesis”, we can explain the time asymmetry of all of the thermodynamic behavior in the world. The principal purpose of this paper is to dispute this claim. I argue that Albert's proposal fails in hi…Read more
  •  65
    Confirmation via Analogue Simulation: What Dumb Holes Could Tell Us about Gravity
    with Radin Dardashti and Karim P. Y. Thébault
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1). 2017.
    In this article we argue for the existence of ‘analogue simulation’ as a novel form of scientific inference with the potential to be confirmatory. This notion is distinct from the modes of analogical reasoning detailed in the literature, and draws inspiration from fluid dynamical ‘dumb hole’ analogues to gravitational black holes. For that case, which is considered in detail, we defend the claim that the phenomena of gravitational Hawking radiation could be confirmed in the case that its counter…Read more
  •  60
    Hawking radiation and analogue experiments: A Bayesian analysis
    with Radin Dardashti, Stephan Hartmann, and Karim Thébault
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 67 1-11. 2019.
    We present a Bayesian analysis of the epistemology of analogue experiments with particular reference to Hawking radiation. Provided such experiments can be externally validated via universality arguments, we prove that they are confirmatory in Bayesian terms. We then provide a formal model for the scaling behaviour of the confirmation measure for multiple distinct realisations of the analogue system and isolate a generic saturation feature. Finally, we demonstrate that different potential analog…Read more
  •  57
    Handshaking Your Way to the Top: Simulation at the Nanoscale
    Philosophy of Science 73 (5): 582-594. 2006.
    Should philosophers of science be paying attention to developments in "nanoscience"? Undoubtedly, it is too early to tell for sure. The goal of this paper is to take a preliminary look. In particular, I look at the use of computational models in the study of nano-sized solid-state materials. What I find is that there are features of these models that appear on their face to be at odds with some basic philosophical intuitions about the relationships between different theories and between theories…Read more
  •  55
    Sanctioning Models: The Epistemology of Simulation
    Science in Context 12 (2): 275-292. 1999.
  •  49
    The adventures of climate science in the sweet land of idle arguments
    with William Mark Goodwin
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 54 9-17. 2016.
  •  44
    Philosophy and Climate Science
    Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    There continues to be a vigorous public debate in our society about the status of climate science. Much of the skepticism voiced in this debate suffers from a lack of understanding of how the science works - in particular the complex interdisciplinary scientific modeling activities such as those which are at the heart of climate science. In this book Eric Winsberg shows clearly and accessibly how philosophy of science can contribute to our understanding of climate science, and how it can also sh…Read more
  •  44
    Values and evidence: how models make a difference
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (1): 125-142. 2018.
    We call attention to an underappreciated way in which non-epistemic values influence evidence evaluation in science. Our argument draws upon some well-known features of scientific modeling. We show that, when scientific models stand in for background knowledge in Bayesian and other probabilistic methods for evidence evaluation, conclusions can be influenced by the non-epistemic values that shaped the setting of priorities in model development. Moreover, it is often infeasible to correct for this…Read more
  •  36
    All of the pundits, prognosticators, and policymakers are in agreement: research into the science and technology of the nano-scale is going to be one of the hot scientific topics of the 21st Century. According to the web page of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, moreover, this should make nanotechnology and nano-science “of great interest to philosophers.” Admittedly, the kind of philosophers being imagined by the authors of the initiative web page are most likely something like the nano-t…Read more
  •  34
    Science in the Age of Computer Simulation
    University of Chicago Press. 2010.
    Introduction -- Sanctioning models : theories and their scope -- Methodology for a virtual world -- A tale of two methods -- When theories shake hands -- Models of climate : values and uncertainties -- Reliability without truth -- Conclusion.
  •  34
    Introduction to the Special Issue on Philosophy and Climate Science
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (2): 337-338. 2015.
  •  34
    In a large and impressive body of published work, Quayshawn Spencer has meticulously articulated and defended a metaphysical project aimed at resuscitating a biological conception of race—one free from many of the pitfalls of biological essentialism. If successful, such a project would be highly rewarding, since it would provide a compelling response to philosophers who have denied the genuine existence of race while avoiding the very dangers that they sought to avoid. I argue that if a “new bio…Read more
  •  29
    Models and Theories at the Nano-scale
    Spontaneous Generations 2 (1): 139. 2008.
    One of the most interesting things about science and engineering at the nanoscale, from the point of view of the philosophy of science, is the frequent use they make of models constructed out of theories belonging to different levels of description. We usually take it for granted that every level of description falls under the domain of its own theory. For example, we generally presume there is some fundamental level of description. And with that presumption comes the hope that we will be able t…Read more