Institutt for filosofi og førstesemesterstudier


Bergen Workshop in Philosophy of Science 2018

Den årlige Philosophy of Science-workshopen arrangeres denne gang 24.-25. mai. Ingen registrering nødvendig, åpent for alle interesserte! Program og sammendrag av innleggene finnes nedenfor.

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Program og abstracts

Torsdag 24. mai

12.55             Welcome (Reidar Lie, Head of Dept.)

13.00 - 14.30 P. Kyle Stanford (UC Irvine) -- A Difference that Makes a Difference: Howard Stein on Realism, Instrumentalism, and Intellectually Nourishing Snacks

14.40 - 16.10 Kirsten Walsh (Nottingham) -- Inventing Units of Measurement: Causal Reasoning in Newton's Optics

16.20 - 17.50 Dirk Schlimm (McGill) -- Towards a cognitive and pragmatic account of notations for propositional logic

Fredag 25. mai

10.00 - 11.30 Mark Colyvan (University of Sydney and the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich) -- Analogical Reasoning via Mathematical Models

11.40 - 13.10Adrian Curie (Cambridge) -- How are moa like sheep? Pursuit and value in science

13.10 - 15.00 Lunch break

15.00 - 16.30 Julie Zahle (Univ. of Bergen) -- Data, Epistemic Values, and Multiple Methods in Case Study Research

16.40 - 18.10 Alan Baker (Swarthmore) -- Mapping Mathematics to the World


P. Kyle Stanford (UC Irvine) A Difference that Makes a Difference: Howard Stein on Realism, Instrumentalism, and Intellectually Nourishing Snacks

Here I will first try to reconstruct Howard Stein’s argument for the conclusion that there is “no difference that makes a difference” between sophisticated varieties of realism and instrumentalism. I will then suggest that this conclusion is mistaken and that even when realism and instrumentalism are sophisticated in just the ways Stein demands they nonetheless differ from one another in at least one way that really matter to how we go about conducting our further investigation of the natural world.  Finally, I will insist that both Stein and contemporary scientific realists must take a clear stand on the central issue that divides even a sophisticated and careful scientific realism from its similarly sophisticated and careful instrumentalist counterpart.


Kirsten Walsh (Nottingham) Inventing Units of Measurement: Causal Reasoning in Newton's Optics

Anyone who has studied a small amount of classical mechanics will be familiar with the newton: the metric unit of force named after Sir Isaac Newton. It’s a useful unit if you want to go rock climbing or fly a fighter jet. Fewer people have heard of the interval of fits—invented by Newton to explain why a body reflects light of one colour rather than another colour. This unit of measurement allowed Newton to offer both a quantitative theory of coloured bodies (his ‘theory of fits’) and an instrument for measuring extremely small things (in the order of 1/100,000th of an inch). The theory of fits is not recognised as one of Newton’s greatest achievements—partly because, abstracted and formalised in book 2 of the Opticks, it was nearly incomprehensible. I argue, however, that the process by which Newton invented the interval of fits and eventually arrived at his theory of fits is revelatory of the role of causal reasoning in Newton’s natural philosophy.


Dirk Schlimm (McGill) Towards a cognitive and pragmatic account of notations for propositional logic

In this talk, I will present some aspects of my current project of a comparative study of notations for propositional logic, which is a case study in the philosophy of notation. In particular, I will discuss some considerations pertaining to the choice of symbols and to the use of syntax trees as a canonical representation for propositional logic. The algebraic notation of Boole (1854) and Frege's Begriffsschrift notation (1879) will be among those presented as illustrations for particular design decisions. Various cognitive and pragmatic advantages and disadvantages of the notations will be discussed in relation to certain particular aims.


Mark Colyvan (University of Sydney and the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich) Analogical Reasoning via Mathematical Models

Analogical reasoning is often employed in science, at least in the context of discovery but also in the context of justification. Despite such  usage, the status of analogical reasoning is disputed. In this paper I will give a (limited) defence of analogical reasoning, showing how it can be justified (in some cases) by appeal to underlying explanatory structures revealed by appropriate mathematical models.


Adrian Curie (Cambridge) How are moa like sheep? Pursuit & Value in Science

The ‘context of pursuit’ asks how we should go about deciding whichscientific hypotheses, investigations and practices to follow up. I’m interested in which strategies scientists adopt in the context of pursuit, and how this might challenge common assumptions in the philosophy of science. My aim in this paper is to get my conceptual ducks in a row. In particular, I want to get straight on two related but, I hope, separate distinctions. The first is between two kinds of epistemic value, the second is between the products and the  byproducts of a scientific investigation. The former distinction allows me to articulate a notion of ‘productivity’ which, I think, plays a  critical role in deciding pursuitworthiness. The latter allows me to make sense of a fairly wide-spread hunch: that pursuit is often decided  based on the expected byproducts of a practice; that is, the surprising and the unintended. I’ll illustrate the hunch, drawing on a case study from historical ecology in Aoteaoroa. I’ll then focus on a conceptual problem: if the distinction between products and byproducts simply turns on the intentions or aims of scientists, then the hunch is not substantive. I’ll adapt some of Hasok Chang’s recent work to  argue that we can take scientific practices themselves to have aims, and thus ground the hunch in a substantive distinction. I’ll finish by considering the advantages of this approach, and considering the ways in which it undermines how philosophers have thought about  progress and success in the sciences. There will be more discussion of Chris Hemsworth baking a cake than you might expect.


Julie Zahle (Univ. of Bergen) Data, Epistemic Values, and Multiple Methods in Case Study Research

Case study research in the social sciences is characterized by the employment of multiple data gathering methods. In this paper, I examine the concurrent use of two methods: participant observation and qualitative interviews. The question I address is: what is the rationale behind their joint usage? The two most common rationales appeal to comprehensiveness and convergent confirmation respectively. I point to a third significant way to motivate their combined use: it allows the generation of complementary evidence that puts the researcher in a better position to confirm that her data manifest central epistemic values. I refer to this as the rationale of blended epistemic value enhancement.


Alan Baker (Swarthmore) Mapping Mathematics to the World

Recent philosophical work on applied mathematics has focused on the way that mathematical structures map onto the structure of physical phenomena. Debate has centered on abstraction, in which aspects of physical structure are left out in the mathematical model, and on physically non-meaningful solutions, in which aspects of the mathematical structure have no physical analogs. In this talk I focus on whether it even makes sense to speak of ‘ *the* physical structure’ in such applied mathematical contexts. Using as examples the classical problem of the bridges of Konigsberg and the more contemporary Manhattan river crossing problem, I argue that unique structure is almost never inherent in a physical phenomenon. Finally, I explore whether adopting a more game-like stance toward applied mathematics may allow conceptual progress to be made.