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The principle of stability

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How can inferences from idealized models to the phenomena they represent be justified when those models deliberately distort the phenomena? Pierre Duhem considered just this problem, arguing that inferences and explanations from mathematical models of phenomena to real physical applications must also be demonstrated to be approximately correct when the (idealized) assumptions of the model are only approximately true. Despite being little discussed among philosophers, mathematicians and physicists both contemporaneous with and subsequent to Duhem took up this challenge (if only sometimes implicitly), yielding a novel and rich mathematical theory of stability with epistemological consequences.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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