What is stability?

Synthese 136 (2):219 - 235 (2003)
Abstract
Although stability is a central notion in several academic disciplines, the parallelsremain unexplored since previous discussions of the concept have been almostexclusively subject-specific. In the literature we have found three basic conceptsof stability, that we call constancy, robustness, and resilience. They are all foundin both the natural and the social sciences. To analyze the three concepts we introducea general formal framework in which stability relates to transitions between states. Itcan then be shown that robustness is a limiting case of resilience, whereas neitherconstancy nor resilience can be defined in terms of the other. Hence, there are twobasic concepts of stability, both of which are used in both the social and the naturalsciences. This congruence in the concepts of stability is of particular interest forendeavours to construct models that represent both natural and social phenomena.
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