ERIC ALDEN SMITH PUBLISHED a devastating critique of the uses ofsystems ecol- ogy and simulation modeling in anthropology. While this article is in part a defense of these methods, we do not take issue with any of Smith’s conclusions. Instead, we hope to demonstrate that systems models can serve a different heuristic purpose than the naive functionalist, energy-maximization or group-selection models skillfully demolished by Smith. In particular, we hope to show that simulation models are uniquely appropriate for addressing the issues of adaptation and determinism in the development of complex social systems like the water temples of Bali. But before we turn to the uses of simulation models, it may be useful to sketch out how our approach differs from those criticized by Smith. Although simulation models have always been a rarity in anthropology, they continue to be used extensively in biology as a tool to investigate complex interactive processes….
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