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Publication - Dr Jonathan Grose

    Robustness in evolutionary explanations

    a positive account

    Citation

    Paternotte, C & Grose, J, 2017, ‘Robustness in evolutionary explanations: a positive account’. Biology and Philosophy, vol 32., pp. 73-96

    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 (under certain conditions) 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.

    Full details in the University publications repository