Epistemic Opacity, Confirmation Holism and Technical Debt: Computer Simulation in the light of Empirical Software Engineering
Julian Newman  1  
1 : Birkbeck College, University of London

Epistemic opacity vis a vis human agents has been presented as an essential, ineliminable characteristic of computer simulation models resulting from the characteristics of the human cognitive agent. This paper argues, on the contrary, that such epistemic opacity as does occur in computer simulations is not a consequence of human limitations but of a failure on the part of model developers to adopt good software engineering practice for managing human error and ensuring the software artefact is maintainable. One consequence of such failures is to create a “technical debt” which manifests itself in the so-called novel confirmation holism confronted by complex systems models. The argument from the supposed essential epistemic opacity of computational science to a non-anthropocentric epistemology runs counter to best practice in software engineering and overlooks empirical results of software engineering science.


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