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A Pragmatic Reading of Friedman's Methodological Essay and What It Tells Us for the Discussion of ABMs

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Abstract

The issues of empirical calibration of parameter values and functional relationships describing the interactions between the various actors plays an important role in agent based modelling. Agent-based models range from purely theoretical exercises focussing on the patterns in the dynamics of interactions processes to modelling frameworks which are oriented closely at the replication of empirical cases. ABMs are classified in terms of their generality and their use of empirical data. In the literature the recommendation can be found to aim at maximizing both criteria by building so-called 'abductive models'. This is almost the direct opposite of Milton Friedman's famous and provocative methodological credo 'the more significant a theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions'. Most methodologists and philosophers of science have harshly criticised Friedman's essay as inconsistent, wrong and misleading. By presenting arguments for a pragmatic reinterpretation of Friedman's essay, we will show why most of the philosophical critique misses the point. We claim that good simulations have to rely on assumptions, which are adequate for the purpose in hand and those are not necessarily the descriptively accurate ones.

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File URL: http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/12/4/6/6.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation in its journal Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation.

Volume (Year): 12 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 6

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Handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2009-61-1

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Keywords: Methodology; Agent-Based Modelling; Assumptions; Calibration;

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Cited by:
  1. Giorgio Fagiolo & Andrea Roventini, 2012. "Macroeconomic Policy in DSGE and Agent-Based Models," Working Papers 07/2012, University of Verona, Department of Economics.

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