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::: center home >> people >> visiting fellows, howard sankey

Howard Sankey
Visiting Fellow
Fall 1998

University of Melbourne


I spent three weeks in January and February this year in India as a Visiting Professor in Philosophy at the University of Hyderabad, where I gave a series of lectures on incommensurability, scientific realism, relativism, and some other issues. I also gave some lectures at the National Institute for Advanced Study, Bangalore.

In addition, there were several publications that have come out in the last year:

Co-authored book:

R. Nola and H. Sankey, Theories of Scientific Method: An Introduction, Philosophy and Science Series, Acumen: Chesham (2007) 384 pages.

Collection of my papers on realism:

Scientific Realism and the Rationality of Science Ashgate: Aldershot (2008), 154 pages.

Handbook entry

'Scientific Method', forthcoming in S. Psillos & M. Curd (eds.), The Routledge Companion To The Philosophy of Science, Routledge, New York [in press].

Edited volume

L. Soler, H. Sankey, & P. Hoyningen-Huene, (eds.), Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison: Stabilities, Ruptures, Incommensurabilities? Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 255, Springer: Dordrecht [in press].

Contribution to the above

'Some Reflections on Experimental Incommensurability: Comment on Lena Soler', in Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison: Stabilities, Ruptures, Incommensurabilities? [in press].

Journal article

'Scientific Realism and the Inevitability of Science', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science [in press].


In July of 2008, I spoke at a conference in Munster on Kuhn and Fleck.

I’m organizing a conference on Metaphysics of Science at Melbourne from 2-5 July this year.

I had a couple of books published:

SCIENTIFIC REALISM AND THE RATIONALITY OF SCIENCE (Ashgate 2008) – some of the papers within which were written while I was at the Center.

Soler, Hoyningen & Sankey (eds) RETHINKING SCIENTIFIC CHANGE AND THEORY COMPARISON (Springer 2008)

And, currently, an exchange with Paul Hoyningen-Huene and Eric Oberheim is published this month in STUDIES IN HISTORY AND PHILOSPHY OF SCIENCE.  My contributions to the exchange are as follows:

Sankey, ‘Scientific Realism and the Semantic Incommensurability Thesis’, SHPS 40 2009 196-202

Sankey, ‘A Curious Disagreement: Response to Hoyningen-Huene and Oberheim’ SHPS 40 2009 210-212

I’ve been working on the relation between science and common sense, as well as the relation between scepticism and relativism.  Some of this work has appeared already or is forthcoming.  In addition, I’ve been involved in a couple of editorial projects:  one is a book on the metaphysics of science co-edited with Brian Ellis and Alexander Bird that comes out of the 2009 Metaphysics of Science conference in Melbourne; the other is a special issue of a journal devoted to scientific realism, co-edited with Dimitri Ginev.

Publications since 2010 are as follows:

‘Witchcraft, Relativism and the Problem of the Criterion’, Erkenntnis (2010) 72: 1, pp. 1-16.

‘Descartes’s Language Test and Ape Language Research’, Teorema XXIX/2 (2010), pp. 111-123.
‘A View From Sydney: How To Stove the Enemies of Science’, Review of James Franklin, What Science Knows And How It Knows It, Metascience 19: 2 (2010), pp. 289-292.
‘El cambio en el concepto de incommensurabilidad de Kuhn’, Cuadernos de Epistemologia 4: reflexiones en torno a la filosofía de la ciencia y la metodología, 2010, 11-31
‘Ciencia, sentido común y realidad’, DISCUSIONES FILOSOFICAS, 16 Enero-Junio 2010, pp. 41-58
‘Incommensurability and Theory Change’, in S. Hales (ed.), A Companion to Relativism, Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, 2011, pp. 456-474
‘Science, Common Sense and Reality’, forthcoming in J. E. Ford (ed.) The Ontic Return: The Current Epochal Shift from Meaning to Being, Palgrave MacMillan.
‘Reference, Success and Entity Realism’, forthcoming in P. Basu & S.G. Kulkarni (ed), volume on experiment.
Review of Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science, forthcoming Metascience


For the first half of 2012, I’ve been a visitor at the Centre Philosophies des Sciences et Sociétés at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium).

I presented a talk ‘Chisholm, scepticisme et relativisme’ both at Louvain-la-neuve and at the Université de Liege.  I also presented a talk entitled ‘Science, Common Sense and Reality’ at a workshop on scientific realism at UCL in April.  In June, I will present a talk on ‘Methodological Incommensurability and Epistemic Relativism’ at the Incommensurability 50 conference at the National University of Taiwan.

Two papers on epistemic relativism and its relation to the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion appeared in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.

‘Epistemic Relativism and the Problem of the Criterion’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2011), 562-570

‘Scepticism, Relativism and the Argument from the Criterion’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 43 (2012), 182–190

A book entitled Properties, Powers and Structure: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism which I co-edited with Alexander Bird and Brian Ellis has recently appeared with Routledge.


1. Smith, A., and Sankey, H., ‘Thinking About Religion: Examining Progress in Religious Cognition’, in G. Dawes and J. MacLaurin (eds.), A New Science of Religion, Routledge, New York, 2013, pp. 111-130.

2. Sawyer, K.R., Sankey, H., and Lombardo, R., ‘Measurability Invariance, Continuity and a Portfolio Representation’, Measurement 46 (2013), 89-96.

3. ‘On the Evolution of Criteria of Theory Choice: Review of Anastasios Brenner, Raison Scientifique et Valeurs Humaines’, 22: 1 (2013), Metascience, 169-172.

4. ‘How the epistemic relativist may use the sceptic’s strategy: A reply to Markus Seidel’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science A 44:1 (2013), 140-144.

5. ‘Methodological Incommensurability and Epistemic Relativism’, Topoi 32:1 (2013), 33-41.

6. ‘On Reason and Rationality: Review of Maria Cristina Amoretti and Nicla Vassallo (Eds.), Reason and Reality’, Metascience 22: 3 (2013) 677-679.

7. ‘Revisiting Structure: Review of Vasso Kindi and Theodore Arabatzis (Eds.), Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Revisited’, Metascience, 23: 1 (2014), 43-47.

8. ‘Chisholm, scepticisme et relativisme’, Bulletin d’analyse phénoménologique X 2, Actes 6, (2014), pp. 8-15.

9. ‘On relativism and pluralism: response to Steven Bland’, Studies



In 2014, I participated in the Rotman Summer Institute on Causal Powers at the University of Western Ontario (late June and early July).  In July, I presented a talk at the retirement symposium for Paul Hoyningen-Huene at the University of Hanover.

In addition, the following publications appeared since my last update:

‘Scientific Realism and Basic Common Sense’, Kairos 10 (2014), 11-24.

‘Relativism, Particularism and Reflective Equilibrium’, Journal for General Philosophy of Science 45 (2014), 281-292.



I spent a week in June 2015 visiting the Department of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Athens (Greece).  While there, I presented a talk entitled “Scientific Realism and Basic Common Sense”.  In addition, Stathis Psillos and I presented a session entitled “Sankey vs. Psillos on Scientific Realism”.

Publications for 2015 include:

‘Scepticism, Relativism and a Naturalistic Particularism’, Social Epistemology 29: 4 (2015), 395-412

Book review of: M. Seidel, Epistemic Relativism: A Constructive Critique, Metascience 24: 2 (2015), 265-9


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