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::: center home >> events >> annual lecture series >> lectures 2016-17

57th Annual Lecture Series, 2016-17


Typical Worlds
Jeffrey Barrett, UC Irvine
Friday, 28 October 2016, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  Hugh Everett III presented pure wave mechanics, sometimes referred to as the many-worlds interpretation, as a solution to the quantum measurement problem. While pure wave mechanics is a deterministic physical theory with no probabilities, Everett sought to show how the theory might be understood as making the standard quantum statistical predictions as appearances to observers who were themselves described by the theory. We will consider his argument and how it depends on a particular notion of branch typicality. We will also consider the relationship between typical quantum worlds and quantum probabilities.


What Is "Orthodox" Quantum Mechanics?
David Wallace, University of Southern California
Friday, 18 November 2016, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: What is called "orthodox'' quantum mechanics, as presented in standard foundational discussions, relies on two substantive assumptions --- the projection postulate and the eigenvalue-eigenvector link --- that do not in fact play any part in practical applications of quantum mechanics. I argue for this conclusion on a number of grounds, but primarily on the grounds that the projection postulate fails correctly to account for repeated, continuous and unsharp measurements (all of which are standard in contemporary physics) and that the eigenvalue-eigenvector link implies that virtually all interesting properties are maximally indefinite pretty much always. I present an alternative way of conceptualising quantum mechanics that does a better job of representing quantum mechanics as it is actually used, and in particular that eliminates use of either the projection postulate or the eigenvalue-eigenvector link, and I reformulate the measurement problem within this new presentation of orthodoxy.

Expressive Means and Intelligibility (In Mathematics)
Kenneth Manders, University of Pittsburgh
Friday, 2 December 2016, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Intellectual accomplishment fundamentally consists in improved intelligibility. Direct attacks on "What is Knowledge?'' must diagnose intelligibility enhancements. Mathematical contexts can provide relatively straightforward criteria of improvement. What kind of differences matter, and how? Many examples indicate:
Transformation of expressive usages is a first mover in intelligibility enhancement. Expressive modifications can enhance intelligibility by facilitating strategic information management, and structuring of search spaces.

Although declarative contents must indeed be importantly intertranslatable across such transformations ("straightforward criteria of improvement''), those translations fundamentally cannot preserve epistemically crucial intelligibility contributions. This limits the extent to which "contents'' of expressions may be abstracted from expressive usage (Russell: propositions).


The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: An Epigenetic Perspective
Eva Jablonka, Tel Aviv University
Friday, 20 January 2017, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning


Abstract: Studies of developmental plasticity, inclusive inheritance (i.e., genetic, epigenetic behavioral and symbol-based inheritance), and niche construction collectively –  and controversially – suggest that our concepts of heredity, evolution, and development need to be expanded. My focus in this lecture is on the implications of an extended notion of inheritance, in particular epigenetic inheritance, for evolution. I examine the evidence for epigenetic inheritance in different taxa, present models of population epigenetics, and discuss the involvement of epigenetic inheritance in adaptive evolution and macro-evolution. I argue that the incorporation of the evolutionary effects of epigenetic inheritance requires the extension of the evolutionary synthesis (EES) beyond the current neo-Darwinian model.

Normative Practice in Other Animals
Kristen Andrews, York University
Friday, 3 February 2017, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  Naïve normativity can be understood as sensitivity to the way we should do things around here, or to the appropriateness of different kinds of actions. Children show this sort of naïve normativity at an early age, and there is evidence that other primate species demonstrate it as well.  While naïve normativity may be taken as evidence of moral development, I argue it should instead be understood as the foundation for the development of social and moral norms, and moral practice. I defend the position that naïve normativity is a cognitive capacity, early developing in humans and existent in other animals, that is required for the development of both social and moral norms. Given this foundation, I examine how we should look for evidence of social and moral norms in other species, and present some preliminary evidence in favor of norms in other species.

Immunity and Individuality: An Instance of Philosophy in Science
Thomas Pradeu, CNRS/Univ. of Bordeaux
Friday, 7 April 2017, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: Philosophy of biology is dominated by the study of evolution. In this talk, I claim that immunology, one of the most dynamic fields in contemporary biological science and medicine, is just as philosophically fascinating. One of immunology’s major philosophical contribution concerns biological individuality, a topic wherein the lessons of evolutionary biology must be combined with those of immunology – and other fields as well. Using examples of host-microbiota interactions and cancer surveillance, I will show why the immune system plays a crucial role in the delineation of biological boundaries (Pradeu, The Limits of the Self: Immunology and Biological Identity. Oxford University Press, New York, 2012).

I will then explain why, with my group in Bordeaux, we have chosen to join an immunology lab. We practice what we call “philosophy in science” (rather than philosophy of science): a daily collaboration with scientists, leading to papers in science journals as much as in philosophy publications. Conceptual, theoretical, and philosophical inputs can intervene at all levels of the scientific process, not least suggesting new experimental hypotheses. This philosophical approach to science, practiced elsewhere but not widely yet, is expanding and transforming the practice of philosophy of science.




The Annual Lecture Series is hosted by the Center for Philosophy of Science.

Generous financial support for this lecture series has been provided by
the Harvey & Leslie Wagner Endowment.      

Revised 5/4/17 - Copyright 2012