Departmental Papers (Philosophy)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

12-2006

Publication Source

Philosophy of Science

Volume

73

Issue

5

Start Page

730

Last Page

742

DOI

10.1086/518628

Abstract

Modelers often rely on robustness analysis, the search for predictions common to several independent models. Robustness analysis has been characterized and championed by Richard Levins and William Wimsatt, who see it as central to modern theoretical practice. The practice has also been severely criticized by Steven Orzack and Elliott Sober, who claim that it is a nonempirical form of confirmation, effective only under unusual circumstances. This paper addresses Orzack and Sober’s criticisms by giving a new account of robustness analysis and showing how the practice can identify robust theorems. Once the structure of robust theorems is clearly articulated, it can be shown that such theorems have a degree of confirmation, despite the lack of direct empirical evidence for their truth.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2006 by Philosophy of Science Association.

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Date Posted: 04 December 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.