Riccardo Boero and Flaminio Squazzoni (2005)
Does Empirical Embeddedness Matter? Methodological Issues on Agent-Based Models for Analytical Social Science
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
vol. 8, no. 4
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Received: 02-Oct-2005 Accepted: 02-Oct-2005 Published: 31-Oct-2005
|Figure 1. A representation of ABMs taxonomy according to target and model richness of empirical detail (on the left), and the example of fish markets (on the right)|
2As Coser stressed (Coser 1977), there are different kinds of “ideal types” in the Weberian means, three at least. The first is historical routed ideal types, such as the well known cases of “the protestant ethics” or “capitalism”. The second one refers to abstract concepts of social reality, such as “bureaucracy”, while the third one refers to a rationalised typology of social action. This last is the case of economic theory and rational choice theory. These are different possible meanings of the term “ideal type”. In our view, the first two meanings refer to a heuristic theoretical constructs that aim at understanding empirical reality, while the third one refers to “pure” theoretical (as well as normative) aims. Such a redundancy in the meaning of the term has been strongly criticised. According to our taxonomy, typifications include just the first two meanings of the Weberian “ideal type”, while the third meaning refers to what we call abstractions.
3The choice of the research path to effectively address the scholar's question and the choice of the kind of ABM to be exploited in such attempt are out of the scope of the present work. We just want to further underline that the introduction of the ABMs taxonomy is intended to shed light on the relationship between models and empirical data and that such classification does not represent a bound to the flexibility of research paths.
4For a good introduction to Anasazi, see Stuart 2000 and Morrow and Price 1997.
5The model is based on Sugarscape platform developed by Epstein and Axtell 1996.
6Most of these efforts have been supported by the findings of a previous survey on the ground, called “Long House Valley Project”, realised by a multidisciplinary team from Museum of Northern Arizona, Laboratory of Tree-Riding Research of the Arizona University and Southwestern Anthropological Research Group. The result has been a database which has been translated and integrated into the Anasazi model.
7It is also important to consider that in the 200 A.D. to 1450 A.D. period, in the area, the only technological innovation introduced has been a more efficient way to grind the maize.
8Even if the case of the water demand model allows to show how the stakeholder involvement has brought into the model relevant qualitative data, which were unknowable for the model maker before, it is worth outlining that, in many cases, such an involvement could allow the model maker to access also quantitative data that, in other ways, were unknowable, for instance, because they weren't a common knowledge, or they were protected from outside access. This may be a common situation when, for example, the model target includes a firm or a corporate actor.
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