Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):73-96 (2017)

Authors
Cedric Paternotte
Université Paris-Sorbonne
Abstract
Robustness analysis is widespread in science, but philosophers have struggled to justify its confirmatory power. We provide a positive account of robustness by analysing some explicit and implicit uses of within and across-model robustness in evolutionary theory. We argue that appeals to robustness are usually difficult to justify because they aim to increase the likeliness that a phenomenon obtains. However, we show that robust results are necessary for explanations of phenomena with specific properties. Across-model robustness is necessary for how-possibly explanations of multiply instantiated phenomena, while within-model robustness is necessary for explanations of phenomena with multiple evolutionary starting points. In such cases, the appeal of robustness is explanatory rather than confirmatory.
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-016-9539-x
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