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COMPUTER SIMULATIONS IN METAPHYSICS: POSSIBILITIES AND LIMITATIONS

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posted on 23.10.2019 by BILLY WHEELER

Abstract Computer models and simulations have provided enormous benefits to researchers in the natural and social sciences, as well as many areas of philosophy. However, to date, there has been little attempt to use computer models in the development and evaluation of metaphysical theories. This is a shame, as there are good reasons for believing that metaphysics could benefit just as much from this practice as other disciplines. In this paper I assess the possibilities and limitations of using computer models in metaphysics. I outline the way in which different kinds of model could be useful for different areas of metaphysics, and I illustrate in more detail how agent-based models specifically could be used to model two well-known theories of laws: David Lewis’s "Best System Account" and David Armstrong's "Nomic Necessitation" view. Some logically possible processes cannot be simulated on a standard computing device. I finish by assessing how much of a threat this is to the prospect of metaphysical modeling in general.

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