In this paper I examine the epistemic function of agent-based models (ABMs) of scientific inquiry, proposed in the recent philosophical literature. In view of Boero and Squazzoni’s (2005) classification of ABMs into case-based models, typifications and theoretical abstractions, I argue that proposed ABMs of scientific inquiry largely belong to the last category. While this means that their function is primarily exploratory, I suggest that they are epistemically valuable not only as a temporary stage in the development of ABMs of science, but by providing insights into theoretical aspects of scientific rationality. I illustrate my point with two examples of highly idealized ABMs of science, which perform two exploratory functions: Zollman’s (2010) ABM which provides a proof-of-possibility in the realm of theoretical discussions on scientific rationality, and an argumentation-based ABM (Borg et al. 2019, 2017b, 2018), which provides insights into potential mechanisms underlying the efficiency of scientific inquiry.

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