Article

Computational Science

Paul Humphreys

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online July 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0100
Computational Science

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Computational science is a recent addition to the stock of scientific methods. Many scientists and philosophers hold the view that it constitutes a third principal mode of scientific investigation that supplements the traditional methods of theory and experiment. Its most frequently discussed form is that of digital computer simulations, but data analysis, computer proofs and proof assistants in mathematics, computer-assisted scientific instruments, visualization techniques, and the study of emergent phenomena are all part of computational science. Modern computer simulations were introduced in the 1940s. Philosophers initially focused their attention on uses in artificial intelligence rather than in scientific computation more generally, with the result that most of the philosophical literature on the topic of computational science is of relatively recent origin. Because of this, what counts as the boundaries of this field and the topics within it are still evolving. Some of the features of computational science that make for distinctive philosophical issues are the dependence on the available technology of which theoretical methods can be effectively used, a lack of epistemic access by humans to the details of many evidential processes, the replacement in some cases of data drawn from material experiments by data generated from simulations, problems of validating and interpreting enormously complex models, claims that the universe is itself a computational device, and connections with artificial intelligence and the philosophy of mind. In addition, some of the sources clearly indicate that familiar philosophical issues, such as realism and empiricism, epistemological externalism and internalism, theory and experiment, take an interesting twist within this new area. The articles in this bibliography have been selected with an eye to illustrating the novel character of problems raised by computational science. They include some drawn from the social studies of science literature as well as a majority that appeared in squarely philosophical sources. Articles and books that are especially suitable for neophytes and those that require a technical background are identified as such. All other sources are accessible to those with a solid background in philosophy. Thanks to Anouk Barberousse, Mark Bedau, Cyrille Imbert, Tarja Knuuttila, Johannes Lenhard, Margaret Morrison, Wendy Parker, and Michael Stoeltzner for helpful suggestions in compiling this bibliography.

Article.  6495 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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