PhilSci Archive

Going Outside the Model: Robustness Analysis and Experimental Science

Bycroft, Michael Trevor (2010) Going Outside the Model: Robustness Analysis and Experimental Science. Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, 3 (1). 123 - 141. ISSN 1913-0465

[img]
Preview
Text
6118-Article Text-21402-2-10-20100112.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Download (186kB) | Preview

Abstract

In 1966 the population biologist Richard Levins gave a forceful and in?uential defence of a method called “robustness analysis” (RA). RA is a way of assessing the result of a model by showing that different but related models give the same result. As Levins put it, “our truth is the intersection of independent lies” (1966, 423). Steven Orzack and Elliott Sober (1993) responded with an equally forceful critique of this method, concluding that the idea of robustness “lacks proper de?nition and that its bearing on the question of whether a proposition is true is highly problematic” (533). Replies to Orzack and Sober, from Levins (1993) and Weisberg (2006b), have rejected the idea that RA, on its own, can con?rm the results of models. I argue that these replies have not properly addressed Orzack and Sober’s real criticisms, which focus not on the role of empirical data in RA but on the problem of ensuring that the models used in RA are independent. By drawing on accounts of RA in experimental science, I argue that there is in fact a fallible but viable form of RA that can both con?rm the results of models and incorporate empirical data. However, for reasons other than those of Orzack and Sober, I conclude that RA may be of limited use in model-based science, as the example of ?shery biology can show.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bycroft, Michael Trevor
Keywords: Scientific Realism; Epistemic Issues; Epistemology of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Jordan Miller
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2021 16:40
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2021 16:40
Item ID: 17939
Journal or Publication Title: Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: The University of Toronto
Official URL: https://spontaneousgenerations.library.utoronto.ca...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.4245/sponge.v3i1.6118
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 11 January 2010
Page Range: 123 - 141
Volume: 3
Number: 1
ISSN: 1913-0465
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17939

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Altmetric.com

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item