Minds and Machines

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 149–168 | Cite as

Verification and Validation of Simulations Against Holism

  • Julie JebeileEmail author
  • Vincent Ardourel


It has been argued that the Duhem problem is renewed with computational models since model assumptions having a representational aim and computational assumptions cannot be tested in isolation. In particular, while the Verification and Validation methodology is supposed to prevent such holism, Winsberg (Philos Compass 4:835–845, 2009; Science in the age of computer simulation, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010) argues that verification and validation cannot be separated in practice. Morrison (Reconstructing reality: models, mathematics, and simulations, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015) replies that Winsberg overstates the entanglement between the steps. The paper aims at arbitrating these two positions, by stressing their respective validity in relation to domains of application. It importantly argues for an increasing use of formal methods in verification, that makes disentanglement possible.


Scientific models Computer simulations Verification and validation Duhem problem Holism Formal methods 



We thank the guest editors Andreas Kaminski and Michael Resch, as well as to the two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. The paper has also benefited from conversations with audience members at the SPSP Conference in Ghent, and notably with Johannes Lenhard and Nic Fillion.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut supérieur de philosophieUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.IHPST, CNRS/Université Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance

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