, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 37–41 | Cite as

Robustness analysis versus reliable process reasoning

Robert Hudson: Seeing things: The philosophy of reliable observation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, xii+274pp, £41.99, $58.50 HB
  • Chiara Lisciandra
Essay Review

Robert Hudson’s book is a contribution to the recent debate on robustness analysis in scientific practice, with a specific focus on the empirical sciences. In this context, robustness analysis is defined as a way to increase the probability of a certain hypothesis by showing that the same result is obtained from several, alternative methods. The rationale underlying this practice is that it would be highly unlikely if different, independent means of observation provided the same wrong outcome.We do not believe in miracles; hence, the probability of the initial hypothesis being true increases if the same result occurs across conditions.

Simple as this notion sounds, according to Hudson, the various attempts that have been offered in the literature to formalize it have proved to be unsuccessful. Hudson’s skeptical argument is formulated at the outset of the book and illustrated throughout by means of several episodes from the recent history of science, mainly from physics and biology....



With thanks to Alessandra Basso, Aki Lehtinen and Caterina Marchionni who took part in the reading group on Seeing Things at the University of Helsinki.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social and Moral Philosophy, Department of Political and Economic StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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