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Epistemology in a nutshell


In the Western tradition, at least since the 14th century, the philosophy of knowledge has been built around the idea of knowledge as a representation [Boulnois 1999]. The question of the evaluation of knowledge refers at the same time (1) to the object represented (which one does one represent?), (2) to the process of knowledge formation, in particular with the role of the knowing subject (which one does one represent and how does one represent it?), and finally (3) to the relationship between the representation and the represented object. Criteria of evaluation such as “validity”, “adequacy” or “truth”, as mentioned in chapter 4, make sense only with respect to these three dimensions. An evaluation can thus (1) depend on the ontological nature of the object of knowledge, (2) relate to the relationship between subject and object—including the structures (cognitive, social) which organize this relationship, or (3) relate to the relation of similarity between the object and its representation as well. The relevant criteria of evaluation thus depend on the points of view adopted on these questions. As there are indeed a plurality of points of view in this field, the goal of this appendix is to summarize, as briefly as possible, the vari- ous positions adopted by the philosophers and to refer to the relevant texts of reference for more information. The first section introduces useful discussions about the philosophy of theoretical knowledge and general epistemology, from a quasi-historical perspective. Section two discusses the intermediary but central notion of models. Section three, more exploratory, intro- duces an approach to simulation as “concrete experiment”. It suggests that such a frequent claim in the literature, when precisely evaluated, can, to some extent, renew both the representational and the linguistic views on simulation.
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halshs-04004535 , version 1 (24-03-2023)




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Denis Phan, Anne-Françoise Schmid, Franck Varenne. Epistemology in a nutshell: Theory, model, simulation and Experiment. Denis Phan; Frédéric Amblard. Agent Based Modelling and Simulations in the Human and Social Siences, The Bardwell Press, pp.357-392, 2007, Gemas Studies in Social Analysis, 13: 978-1-905622-01-6. ⟨halshs-04004535⟩
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