Critical realism as an underpinning philosophy for the implementation of digital twins for urban management

Ramy Elsehrawy*, Bimal Kumar, Richard Watson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper promotes critical realism as a suitable and fruitful philosophical foundation for the development and implementation of urban digital twins. The proliferation of a-theoretical digital twin research and practices, not declaring their philosophical positions, is threatening the scientific soundness of this new paradigm and offers little evidence for reflecting on the knowledge it produces. To address this issue, first, this paper uses focus group discussions to explore digital twin experts’ perceptions of digital twin best practices for urban management and uncover the philosophical worldviews underlying these perceptions. A philosophical worldview is a general orientation about the world that is described in terms of ontological and epistemological assumptions and views on human nature. The inferred philosophical worldviews are then compared with critical realism principles, supporting the argument that critical realism provides a suitable philosophical foundation for digital twin practices in urban management envisaged by participating experts, as well as enhancing current forms of digital twin practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Critical Realism
Early online date16 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jan 2024

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