Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 16, No 2 (2020)

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On Computer Simulation, with Particular Regard to their Application in Contemporary Astrophysics

Stefan Gruner, Matthias Bartelmann


In this survey contribution, which extends [GBa19], we consider and discuss computer simulations from a variety of perspectives with particular attention to computer simulations in astrophysics and cosmology. We begin by reviewing earlier, related science-philosophical literature on this topic. Then we point out several fundamental limitations which computer simulations are, as a matter of principle, not able to overcome. We conclude our considerations with the conjecture that computer simulations are technically amplified gedankenexperiments (thought experiments). Another important insight which follows from our considerations concerns the epistemic value of such simulations: the more complex the underlying models, the less we are able to learn from them.

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