The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Social simulations: improving interdisciplinary understanding of scientific positioning and validity

Rossiter, Stuart, Noble, Jason and Bell, Keith R.W. (2010) Social simulations: improving interdisciplinary understanding of scientific positioning and validity Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 13, (1), p. 10.

Record type: Article


Because of features that appear to be inherent in many social systems, modellers face complicated and subjective choices in positioning the scientific contribution of their research. This leads to a diversity of approaches and terminology, making interdisciplinary assessment of models highly problematic. Such modellers ideally need some kind of accessible, interdisciplinary framework to better understand and assess these choices. Existing texts tend either to take a specialised metaphysical approach, or focus on more pragmatic aspects such as the simulation process or descriptive protocols for how to present such research. Without a sufficiently neutral treatment of why a particular set of methods and style of model might be chosen, these choices can become entwined with the ideological and terminological baggage of a particular discipline. This paper attempts to provide such a framework. We begin with an epistemological model, which gives a standardised view on the types of validation available to the modeller, and their impact on scientific value. This is followed by a methodological framework, presented as a taxonomy of the key dimensions over which approaches are ultimately divided. Rather than working top-down from philosophical principles, we characterise the issues as a practitioner would see them. We believe that such a characterisation can be done 'well enough', where 'well enough' represents a common frame of reference for all modellers, which nevertheless respects the essence of the debate's subtleties and can be accepted as such by a majority of 'methodologists'. We conclude by discussing the limitations of such an approach, and potential further work for such a framework to be absorbed into existing, descriptive protocols and general social simulation texts.

PDF rossiter2010a.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
Download (1MB)

More information

Published date: 31 January 2010
Keywords: social simulation, methodology, epistemology, ideology, validation
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity, Social Sciences


Local EPrints ID: 198875
PURE UUID: 6c43b8d4-27c7-4e36-9849-d37c522178dd

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Oct 2011 13:14
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:17

Export record


Author: Stuart Rossiter
Author: Jason Noble
Author: Keith R.W. Bell

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.