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Les simulations computationnelles dans les sciences sociales

Abstract : Since the 1990's, social sciences are living their computational turn. This paper aims at clarifying the epistemological meaning of this turn. To do this, it first shows that we have to discriminate between different epistemic functions of computation among the diverse uses of computers for modeling and simulation in the social sciences. Because of this introduction of a new - and often more user-friendly - way of formalizing and computing, the question of the realism of formalisms and of the proof value of computational treatments reemerges. Facing the spreading of computational simulations in all disciplines, some enthusiastic observers are led to the claim that we are entering a new era of unity for social sciences. Second, and finally, this article shows that the conceptual and epistemological distinctions presented in the first sections lead to a more mitigated position: the transdisciplinary computational turn is a great one, but of a methodological nature.
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Franck Varenne. Les simulations computationnelles dans les sciences sociales. Nouvelles perspectives en sciences sociales, Prise de parole (Ontario, Canada), 2010, Numéro spécial sur le thème de la simulation, 5 (2), pp.17-49. ⟨10.7202/044073ar⟩. ⟨hal-00776363⟩

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