Agent-Based Simulation as an Implementation of Methodological Individualism
The Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series, No. 2017-23, December 2017
43 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017 Last revised: 21 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 1, 2017
This paper investigates the relationship between methodological individualism (MI) and Agent-Based Simulation (ABS). We discuss and analyze a thesis defended by philosophers Caterina Marchionni and Petri Ylikoski (2013). The thesis maintains that, since MI is often considered to be a reductionist approach, it is confusing and meaningless to assume that ABS, which is a non-reductionist and emergentist explanatory model, is committed to MI. We reject this thesis arguing that, from a philosophical standpoint, addressing the problem of the consistency between MI and ABS from a strictly utilitarian perspective is unsatisfactory. We analyze this problem in more substantial terms, i.e. focusing on its more theoretical and conceptual aspects. Moreover, we maintain that ABS explanations must be regarded as individualist explanations and provide a set of logical and historical arguments against the widespread interpretation of MI in terms of reductionism.
Keywords: Agent-Based Simulation, Methodological Individualism, Emergence, Reductionism, Downward/Upward Causation
JEL Classification: B10, B40, B41, B53, C60, C92
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation