I argue for the causal character of modeling in data-intensive science, contrary to widespread claims that big data is only concerned with the search for correlations. After discussing the concept of data-intensive science and introducing two examples as illustration, several algorithms are examined. It is shown how they are able to identify causal relevance on the basis of eliminative induction and a related difference-making account of causation. I then situate data-intensive modeling within a broader framework of an epistemology of scientific knowledge. In particular, it is shown to lack a pronounced hierarchical, nested structure. The significance of the transition to such “horizontal” modeling is underlined by the concurrent emergence of novel inductive methodology in statistics such as non-parametric statistics. Data-intensive modeling is well equipped to deal with various aspects of causal complexity arising especially in the higher level and applied sciences.
Philosophy & Technology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 19, 2015