Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, October 21 - 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Third Floor, Research Hall

Title: Analytical Sociology, the Philosophy of Social Science, and Agent-based Simulations

Daniel Little
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Abstract: There is a nice convergence between agent-based simulation research and the fundamentals of "analytical sociology", an emerging paradigm in contemporary sociology. Analytical sociologists argue that social explanations need to be constructed as demonstrations of how lower-level activity (often individual actions and reasonings) aggregate into higher-level patterns. The philosophy of social science aims to clarify and explicate the characteristic modes of explanation in the social sciences. Agent-based simulations make use of models of agents' strategies and goals conjoined with powerful computational techniques to forecast collective modes of behavior. The talk will examine the basics of the analytical sociology framework; it will offer a few criticisms of that framework from the point of view of the philosophy of social science; and it will offer a few indications of how agent-based simulations and computational social science can contribute strongly to the AS perspective.