Giora Hon is Professor Emeritus at the University of Haifa, Israel. He has published widely on the theme of error in science and especially in experiments from historical and philosophical points of view. He authored with Bernard R. Goldstein two monographs, From Summetria to Symmetry: The Making of a Revolutionary Scientific Concept (2008) and Reflections on The Practice of Physics: James Clerk Maxwell’s Methodological Odyssey in Electromagnetism (2020). In a recent publication they studied the transition from model into modeling(Stud His Phil Sci 88: 321–333). Giora Hon was awarded the Humboldt fellowship at several German academic institutions (Konstanz, Berlin, Bielefeld) and was a fellow at several Research Centers such as CNRS (Paris), NIAS (Wassenaar), Center for Philosophy of Science (Pittsburgh), Dibner (MIT), Zukunftskolleg (Konstanz) and the Vienna Circle Institute (Vienna).


Forschungsprojekt - To Probe Simulation with Error: A Novel Perspective on the Methodology of Modeling

The guiding idea is to use error as a probe. Evidently, errors arise in the execution of simulation. Different kinds of errors occur, depending on their sources and contexts. My analysis consists of characterizing errors in simulation. The principal claim is that the determination of errors uncovers the relevant constitutive elements of simulation and their dynamical relations. In this way the negative approach to simulation results in a positive perspective on the functioning of this method.

Error is a multifarious epistemological phenomenon. It consists essentially in a separation between elements that may be either concrete or abstract. In the former case material objects that have been intended to coincide in some functional way, are in fact distanced apart and dysfunctional; in the latter, incoherence produces a breach between propositions that are assumed to concur. Error is an expression of divergence whose mark is discrepancy which becomes known from a procedure of comparison with a chosen standard. The nature of this discrepancy, the reason for its occurrence, how to treat it and what can be learnt from it once it has been comprehended and identified, constitute the vast subject of the problem of error. The idea then is to study simulation from the perspective of the occurrence of error.

In practice a claim to knowledge in the form of a proposition may be found in time, by various means, to be either true or false. A conceptual system contains by its very nature such claims of which some are found, whatever the system, to be erroneous. It is therefore expected of the proponent of a conceptual system to address the problem of error and to explain failures to attain knowledge. The most habitual approach is to analyze errors in terms of the system itself. By doing so, the entire structure of the system becomes exposed. An epistemological inquiry consists, inter alia, in explaining how errors occur, how they may be eliminated, and indeed prevented. To explain away the undermining phenomenon of error, one uses the very concepts of the system in question. One is thereby engaged in exhibiting the structure of the system, how it functions, how it can guard itself against error. We may shed light, for example, on the concept of beauty by studying its many opposites. Similarly, we may shed light on knowledge by studying the nature of false propositions and the reasons for their occurrences—we never really know what a thing is unless we are also able to give a sufficient account of its opposite. The idea of studying philosophical systems from the perspective of the occurrences of errors may be applied to any conceptual system with the fruitful result of laying bare the structure of the system and the principles that govern its functioning. The project is designed to throw new light on the methodology of modeling in which simulation plays in recent times a key role.