Characterizing the Robustness of Science

Volume 292 of the series Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science pp 61-87


Robustness, Reliability, and Overdetermination (1981)

  • William C. WimsattAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy and Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, The University of ChicagoCenter for Philosophy of Science, University of Minnesota Email author 

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The use of multiple means of determination to “triangulate” on the existence and character of a common phenomenon, object, or result has had a long tradition in science but has seldom been a matter of primary focus. As with many traditions, it is traceable to Aristotle, who valued having multiple explanations of a phenomenon, and it may also be involved in his distinction between special objects of sense and common sensibles. It is implicit though not emphasized in the distinction between primary and secondary qualities from Galileo onward. It is arguably one of several conceptions involved in Whewell’s method of the “consilience of inductions” (Laudan 1971) and is to be found in several places in Peirce.