::: about
::: news
::: links
::: giving
::: contact

::: calendar
::: lunchtime
::: annual lecture series
::: conferences

::: visiting fellows
::: postdoc fellows
::: senior fellows
::: resident fellows
::: associates

::: visiting fellowships
::: postdoc fellowships
::: senior fellowships
::: resident fellowships
::: associateships

being here
::: visiting
::: the last donut
::: photo album

::: center home >> events >> annual lecture series >> lectures 2018-19

59th Annual Lecture Series, 2018-19


Constructing Time from Space: Philosophy of Geologic Time
Alisa Bokulich
Boston University, Ctr. for Philosophy and History of Science
Friday, 5 Oct 2018, 3:30 pm
1008 Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: Traditionally, discussions of time in the philosophy of science literature have focused almost exclusively on time as it is understood and investigated in physics. My aim in this talk is to offer an introduction to the philosophy of geologic time. The term 'geologic time' is used to refer to time as it is conceptualized and operationalized in the geosciences. In this talk I will examine three prominent issues in the foundations of geologic time: the problem of simultaneity, the problem of clock synchronization, and space-time diagrams and the problem of missing time.

What Does 'It All' Mean?:  some questions about the physics of totality
Jenann Ismael
Columbia University, Dept. of Philosophy
Friday, 9 Nov, 2018, 3:30 pm
1008 Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: Questions about whether there is such a thing as totality, and how it relates to the local matters of particular fact that make up the physical universe are right at the heart of issues about the interpretation of determinism, because determinism holds only at the level of totality.  They are connected to questions about the nature of time, because the presumption among those that defend a Block Universe conception of time is that there is such a thing as the totality of physical events.  They also open up a cluster of questions that range across logic, metaphysics, and modern cosmology. I will examine these questions and the relationships between them, and (perhaps) unsettle ways of thinking that have become customary in philosophy of physics. 

Science, Progress, and The Desire for Credit

Kevin Zollman
Carnegie Mellon University, Dept. of Philosophy
Friday, 25 Jan, 2019, 3:30 pm
1008 Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: Since the pioneering work of sociologist Robert Merton, scholars have been interested in how the desire for credit and acclaim influences science. For many decades, study of scientific motivation was mostly confined to sociologists and cultural studies. In recent years, philosophers have become intrigued. In this talk I argue that understanding acclaim and credit is intricately connected to both normative and descriptive philosophy of science. I will point to what is known – and what we still have to learn – about how the motivations of scientist inform the study of scientific method and the progress of science.

Prediction Versus Understanding in Computationally Enhanced Neuroscience

Mazviita Chirimuuta
University of Pittsburgh, Dept. of History & Philosophy of Science
Friday,15 Feb, 2019, 3:30 pm
1008 Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: The use of artificial intelligence instead of traditional models in neuroscience raises significant questions about the epistemic benefits of the newer methods. Following two case studies on the use of artificial neural networks to model motor cortex and the visual system, I argue that the benefit of providing the scientist with understanding of the brain trades off against the predictive accuracy of the models. This trade-off between prediction and understanding is better explained by a non-factivist account of scientific understanding.

Smart Search Through Complex Landscapes: Unification as a Methodological Strategy
Andrea Woody
University of Washington-Seattle, Dept. of Philosophy
Friday, 22 March, 2019, 3:30 pm
1008 Cathedral of Learning


Explanatory chance
Mauricio Suarez
University Complutense-Madrid, Logic & Philosophy of Science
Friday, 5 April, 2019, 3:30 pm
1008 Cathedral of Learning

ABSTRACT: I first argue that chance is a complex nexus with at least three distinct parts (dispositional propensities, formal probability distributions, and statistical
frequency data), displaying explanatory power in stochastic models. I then distinguish two different inquiries in connection with chance. There is first the traditional endeavor to define the ontology of chance, which has characterized much of 20th century philosophy of probability, in the form of both the frequency and propensity interpretations. There is then a distinct methodological inquiry into the application of the explanatory chance nexus to all sorts of deterministic and indeterministic phenomena. This kind of inquiry has been less studied by philosophers, yet stochastic modeling is common across the sciences, including the eminent tradition in mathematical statistics initiated by Von Kries and Poincaré, known as the method of arbitrary functions.





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 4/12/19 - Copyright 2012