Epistemic Functions of Computer Simulations

  • Juan Manuel DuránEmail author
Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)


The previous chapter made a distinction between knowing and understanding. In computer simulations, this distinction allows us to set apart knowing when researchers trust the results and when they understand them. In this chapter, we explore different forms of understanding by means of using computer simulations. To this end, I have divided the chapter between epistemic functions that have a linguistic form, from those that are characterized for having a non-linguistic form. This distinction is meant to better help categorize the different ways in which researchers obtain understanding of the world that surround us by means of using computer simulations. Indeed, sometimes computer simulations open up the world to us in the form of symbols (e.g., by the use of mathematics, computer code, logic, numerical representation), whereas sometimes the world is accessed through visualizations and sounds. In the following, I analyze studies on scientific explanation, predictions, and exploratory strategies as linguistic forms that provide understanding of the world, and visualization as a case for non-linguistic forms.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Technology, Policy and ManagementDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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