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Modelling Theory Communities in Science

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Abstract

This position paper presents a framework for modelling theory communities where theories interact as agents in a conceptual network. It starts with introducing the difficulties in integrating scientific theories by discussing some recent approaches, especially of structuralist theory of science. Theories might differ in reference, extension, scope, objectives, functions, architecture, language etc. To address these potential integration barriers, the paper employs a broad definition of "scientific theory", where a theory is a more or less complex description a describer puts forward in a context called science with the aim of making sense of the world. This definition opens up the agency dimension of theories: theories "do" something. They work on a - however ontologically interpreted - subject matter. They describe something, and most of them claim that their descriptions of this "something" are superior to those of others. For modelling purposes, the paper makes use of such description behaviour of scientific theories on two levels. The first is the level where theories describe the world in their terms. The second is a sub-case of the first: theories can of course describe the description behaviour of other theories concerning this world and compare with own description behaviour. From here, interaction and potential cooperation between theories could be potentially identified by each theory perspective individually. Generating inclusive theory communities and simulating their dynamics using an agent-based model means to implement theories as agents; to create an environment where the agents work as autonomous entities in a self-constituted universe of discourse; to observe what they do with this environment (they will try to apply their concepts, and instantiate their mechanisms of sense-making); and to let them mutually describe and analyse their behaviour and suggest areas for interaction. Some mechanisms for compatibility testing are discussed and the prototype of the model with preliminary applications is introduced.

Suggested Citation

  • Petra Ahrweiler, 2011. "Modelling Theory Communities in Science," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 14(4), pages 1-8.
  • Handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2011-60-1
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    File URL: http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/14/4/8/8.pdf
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    1. Nigel Gilbert, 1997. "A Simulation of the Structure of Academic Science," Sociological Research Online, Sociological Research Online, vol. 2(2), pages 1-3.
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    1. repec:spr:scient:v:105:y:2015:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-015-1630-6 is not listed on IDEAS

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