Scientific Images and Robustness

  • Catherine Allamel-RaffinEmail author
  • Jean-Luc Gangloff
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 292)


According to W.C. Wimsatt, the robustness of an experimental result relies on the scientist’s use of multiple independent derivations. This definition corresponds to what a laboratory ethnographer may observe concerning research practices in astrophysics. In this field, establishing experimental results or detecting new entities most commonly requires images produced by telescopes functioning on different physical principles. This study will focus on a specific astrophysics paper in order to demonstrate that: (1) images, contrary to what is usually believed, play a central role in the argumentation, with the main text only serving as a long commentary on the images; (2) researchers establish a series of converging proofs in order to elaborate their conclusions. In other words, we will insist on the fact that it is an inter-instrumental procedure that allows the community of researchers to consider their results as true, until proven otherwise, as suggested by the fallibilist perspective which prevails in scientific practice and to which W.C. Wimsatt subscribes.


Scientific Paper Radio Telescope Molecular Cloud Robustness Analysis Dust Cloud 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IRISTUniversity of StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance

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