Philosophical Modeling

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Philosophical modeling is as old as philosophy itself. Examples range from Plato's Allegory of the Cave and the Divided Line to Rawls's original position. What is new are the astounding computational resources now available for philosophical modeling. Although the computer cannot substitute for philosophical research, it can offer an important new environment for philosophical research. Computational models can aid in the development of philosophical views concerning the structure and growth of scientific knowledge. In cognitive psychology, computational models have proved valuable for describing the structures and processes of thought and for testing these models by writing and running computer programs using the techniques of artificial intelligence.

Similarly, in the philosophy of science models can be developed that shed light on the structure, discovery, and justification of scientific theories. In this long essay, I will be presenting a series of exploratory examples proffered by Paul Thagard on computer modeling, using a range of computational techniques to illuminate a variety of questions in the philosophy of science. I will also describe a computational model of problem-solving and learning that has been used by Paul Thagard to simulate several kinds of scientific reasoning known as PI (Process of Induction), the program implements in the LISP programming language.