We are delighted to be able to announce that Jonah N. Schupbach has been awarded the 2018 BJPS Popper Prize for his article ‘Robustness Analysis as Explanatory Reasoning‘.
The BJPS Popper Prize is awarded to the article judged to be the best published in that year’s volume of the Journal, as determined by the Editors-in-Chief and the BSPS Committee. The prize includes a £500 award to the winner(s). More information about the prize and previous winners can be found here.
Here is the citation from Co-Editors-in-Chief Wendy Parker and Steven French:
The robustness of scientific results is a significant feature of scientific practice that has recently come into sharp focus within the philosophy of science. Typically, a result—whether an observation, a prediction, or, more generally, a theoretical outcome—is said to be ‘robust’ if it has been obtained in a variety of ways. Characterizing this variety is then a major issue, one to which Jonah Schupbach offers a novel and thought-provoking approach in his article ‘Robustness Analysis as Explanatory Reasoning’ (British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2018, 69, pp. 275–300). Here, after criticizing current accounts by drawing on paradigmatic cases of robustness such as Brownian motion and predator–prey models, he proposes an approach that has, at its heart, the notion of explanatory discrimination: additional means of detection of the result in question have the power to discriminate between the target explanation of that result and competing potential explanations. These means can be regarded as ‘diverse’ to the extent that the relevant discriminating pieces of evidence can be put into a sequence that successfully eliminates more and more of the target explanation’s competitors. This offers a unitary framework that, Schupbach argues, better accommodates the range of cases covered in recent discussions. Importantly, when allied with considerations drawn from formal work on the logic of explanatory power, the framework illuminates the epistemic virtues of robustness analysis by demonstrating how it allows hypotheses to be incrementally confirmed. By bringing together case studies and formal considerations in a way that constitutes a novel and significant advance in this debate, Schupbach’s article is, in the opinion of the Co-Editors-in-Chief and the BSPS Committee, a very worthy recipient of the BJPS Popper Prize for 2018.