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::: center home >> events >> annual lecture series >> lectures 2017-18

58th Annual Lecture Series, 2017-18

Gravity and GRACE: Does Underdetermination Undermine Objectivity?
Gordon Belot, University of Michigan, Philosophy
Friday, 20 October 2017, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: I will present an underdetermination argument that targets scientific objectivity rather than scientific realism — and argue that the considerations raised should unsettle scientific realists.


Dark Galaxies and Integrated Knowledge: The View from 116 Megaparsecs Away
Michael Weisberg, University of Pennsylvania, Philosophy
Friday, 10 November 2017, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: Astronomers believe that dark matter rings all luminous galaxies in gigantic halos. While this is widely accepted, these halos only account for a fraction of the total mass of dark matter believed to exist in the universe. Where is the rest? Is it possible to find it? And how can such a feat be possible? The search for dark matter provides an important case study of the use of models in science and of how knowledge can be integrated across multiple types of evidence. In this talk, I will describe a collaborative search for missing dark matter undertaken by philosophers and astrophysicists. My collaborators and I defend the view that a large fraction of dark matter resides in dark galaxies, dark matter halos that either never possessed or have totally lost their baryonic matter at some time in the past. Finding these dark galaxies, which are invisible to any known detector, requires integrating knowledge across many scientific disciplines and modalities. Only through the use of multiple highly idealized models can we even begin to understand observations made through our telescopes. I will explore the nature of this integration and what it can tell us about the epistemology of science more generally.


The Epistemology of Data Use: Conditions for Inferential Reasoning in the Age of Big Data Science
Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter, Sociology, Philosophy, & Anthropology
Friday, 1 December 2017, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: This talk examines the epistemology of data by addressing the challenges raised by ‘big data science’, and particularly the dissemination and re-use of large datasets via intricate and nested infrastructures such as digital databases. Empirically, my analysis is grounded on the in-depth qualitative study of “data journeys”, that is ways in which datasets are circulated and used for a variety of purposes across several different contexts. Conceptually, the talk brings my previous work on the relational nature of data to bear on existing philosophy of inductive reasoning and the triangulation of multiple lines of evidence (most prominently by John Norton, Alison Wylie and William Wimsatt), with the aim of outlining conditions under which big data can be used to reliably inform inferential reasoning. I conclude by highlighting five ways in which data science that fails to operate under such conditions could significantly damage scientific methods and the credibility of research outputs.


Eroteticism: Aristotle on the Epistemic Centrality of Curiosity
James Lennox, University of Pittsburgh, History and Philosophy of Science
Friday, 9 February 2018, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: In this paper I “dig into” a feature of Aristotle’s thought which is familiar to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with his philosophy—the centrality of “questions and answers” to it. I shall refer to this as the erotetic character of Aristotle’s thought, or his “eroteticism.” This paper is an historically oriented exercise in meta-philosophy, since it has to do not so much with the content of Aristotle’s philosophy, as with the way in which he approaches philosophy and the consequences of him doing so. In this paper special attention will be devoted to the centrality of erotetic frameworks in his philosophic method. This is one way in which Aristotle is at least as much an heir to the Socratic method in philosophy as is Plato.

My title stresses the epistemic centrality of Aristotle’s eroteticism. What I have in mind by this is that Aristotle not only sees the pursuit of knowledge as the seeking of answers to questions—he sees the successful pursuit of knowledge as critically dependent on the kinds of questions that are asked and on the order in which they are asked and answered. My central concern in this paper will be to explore this normative dimension to Aristotle’s eroteticism, and to display its pervasive impact on his philosophic and scientific inquiries.

Local “Theory” of Mind and Why it Matters
Tanya Luhrmann, Stanford University, Anthropology & Psychology
Friday, 16 March 2018, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: This talk makes the argument that the way we think about minds matters, and may shape our mental events. It makes the case that people find evidence of God’s presence in mental events; that different practices of attending to mental events have identifiable consequences; and that different cultures and different theologies emphasize mind and mental process in distinctive ways. The talk then goes on to present evidence that this has consequences for the way charismatic Christians experience God and the way people who meet criteria for schizophrenia experience psychosis in the US, Accra and Chennai. The data suggests that one consequence of the different ways of representing mind and mental experience is that Americans have a harsher experience of psychosis, and less spiritual experience.


Bases for Trust in Scientific Expertise
Heather Douglas, University of Waterloo, Philosophy
Friday, 13 April 2018, 3:30 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: There seems to be a crisis of confidence in scientific expertise. Although public figures will often still attempt to draw from science to validate their views, there is a lack of willingness to rely upon the judgment of scientists. I will argue in this talk that pointing to the anti-intellectualism of the day is no remedy for this problem, that rather there are some good reasons for a growing unease about many forms of scientific expertise. The solution to this problem is neither to reject such expertise nor to place blind trust in it. Rather we should excavate bases for trust in experts and use those bases to evaluate experts. Using such bases does not require one to acquire expertise oneself, but it does require some knowledge about (or even better, engagement with) the experts and their community.






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 4/10/18 - Copyright 2012