What We Are Reading Today: Generative Social Science

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Updated 05 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Generative Social Science

Author: Joshua M. Epstein

Agent-based computational modeling is changing the face of social science. In Generative Social Science, Joshua Epstein argues that this powerful, novel technique permits the social sciences to meet a fundamentally new standard of explanation, in which one “grows” the phenomenon of interest in an artificial society of interacting agents: heterogeneous, boundedly rational actors, represented as mathematical or software objects.
After elaborating this notion of generative explanation in a pair of overarching foundational chapters, Epstein illustrates it with examples chosen from such far-flung fields as archaeology, civil conflict, the evolution of norms, epidemiology, retirement economics, spatial games, and organizational adaptation.
In elegant chapter preludes, he explains how these widely diverse modeling studies support his sweeping case for generative explanation.
This book represents a powerful consolidation of Epstein’s interdisciplinary research activities in the decade since the publication of his and Robert Axtell’s landmark volume, Growing Artificial Societies.



What We Are Reading Today: Our Bodies, Their Battlefields by Christina Lamb

Updated 25 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Our Bodies, Their Battlefields by Christina Lamb

This is a searing account of women’s suffering during war time. 

Rape, Christina Lamb writes, is the “most neglected” war crime of the 1949 Geneva Convention. 

“The Rwandan conviction of Mayor Akaseyu, who himself was directly responsible for the rape and killing of Tutsis, is touted as the first war case where a high-profile person was punished along with rape charges,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

“Going further, the tales of atrocities committed by Serbians against the Bosnian muslims shows how neighbors and acquaintances take part in crime against women without any remorse,” said the review.

It added: “There are also narratives of the Rohingya women at Cox Bazaar, Bangladesh who had suffered hardships in the hands of the Burmese military.”

The review said: “In the wake of the #MeToo movement, rape crimes have begun to be treated seriously, however the author contends that conviction of such crimes during war time is still very minimal and serious steps are needed to overcome this mindset.”

It added: “The topic of war is usually associated with nationalism, military powers and strategies, while its tragic consequences are only measured in terms of the number of live lost.”