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Title: Simulation modelling of complex human policy issues : towards a broad interdisciplinarity
Author: Crane, David C.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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Computer simulation models are being used increasingly as decision support tools for policy-making regarding many complex human-related policy issues. This requires a different method of application than that developed for the physical sciences. Starting with a review of current thinking in the philosophy of (physical) science and other literatures dealing with the methodology of economics and with metaphor, the concept of a model is expanded to include the informal assumptions upon which form structures are founded. Two types of interdisciplinarity are identified; the 'broad' which establishes dialogue between the non-formal foundations, and the 'narrow', which does not. These issues are expanded for the case of systems modelling (including system dynamics, complex systems and quasi-formal systems) to take account of the lack of an objective stance when addressing human-related issues. These ideas are applied to the development of the discipline of economics, and the demarcation between a mainstream and 'ecological' alternative is examined. A 'thick' or rhetorical reading suggests that the division is at best useful in only some circumstances, and hides a number of other important divisions within the field. The broad interdisciplinary method is illustrated by three case studies of policy-relevant models. The ECCO model represents national and regional sustainability options in the biophysical context using conventional system dynamics. The CarteSim model represents changes in spatial land-use patterns at the regions and urban level using complex system dynamics. The IPSO model is a hybrid of ECCO and CarteSim, using complex dynamic representations of the interaction between physical capital and technology options. Taken as a whole, the three case studies comprise a broad interdisciplinary inquiry into the debate regarding the effects of natural capital, human capital and technology on economic growth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available