EPSA19 will take place 11-14 September 2019 at the University of Geneva's Uni Mail building. It will mark the 7th biennial meeting of the European Philosophy of Science Association since it was founded in 2006. The printed programme is available to view and download here. The book of abstracts is available to read here. For more information about planning your trip and visiting Geneva look here.
We are excited to announce our three plenary speakers for EPSA19:
Tarja Knuuttila – University of Vienna
Model-based Theorizing: An Artefactual Account
In the current discussion, several philosophers have argued that model-based theorizing makes use of a particular epistemic strategy: surrogate reasoning. More often than not, models as surrogate objects are envisaged in terms of abstract structures or fictions. In contrast, I will argue for an artefactual approach to modelling. The artefactual account focuses on the erotetic function of modelling and the various external representational tools used in model construction that enable, but also delimit scientific reasoning. Models as epistemic artefacts are designed in view of some pending scientific questions, allowing for further exploration and repurposing. I will exemplify the artefactual account through an example from synthetic biology that showcases the different modes and media that models can embody.
Francesco Guala – University of Milan
Bad arguments against naturalism in the philosophy of social science
In the philosophy of social science naturalism is still facing a strong opposition from influential scholars who argue that philosophical analysis must be autonomous from scientific investigation. Anti-naturalists exploits philosophers’ traditional diffidence toward social science and nurture the ambition to provide new foundations for social research. A classic anti-naturalist strategy is to identify a feature of social reality that prevents scientific explanation and prediction. An all-time favourite is the dependence of social phenomena on human representation. I will examine two prominent versions of the dependence thesis and conclude that they both fail. Contemporary social science is capable of accounting for the causal dependence of social reality on representation, and there is no reason to believe that social entities are ontologically dependent on the acceptance of so-called constitutive rules.
Henk de Regt – Free University, Amsterdam
Understanding Scientific Understanding
It is widely acknowledged that a central aim of science is to achieve understanding of the world around us. But what precisely is scientific understanding, and when is it achieved? In my book Understanding Scientific Understanding (OUP, 2017), I present a philosophical theory of scientific understanding that answers these questions. This contextual theory describes and explains the historical variation of criteria for understanding actually employed by scientists. In my talk I will outline the theory and illustrate it with a historical case study of the genesis of quantum theory in the first decades of the twentieth century. I will show that debates about the nature of scientific understanding, and about the conditions for the intelligibility of physical theories, played a crucial role in this important period in the history of physics.
Women's Caucus Keynote
Heather Douglas – Michigan State University
Contours of Science and Justice
What is the relationship between science and distributive justice? Science is a resource, a source of power for supporting decisions, for categorizing, and for revealing levers of action. As such, it is a matter of justice how this resource is distributed. The history of science over the past century reveals many ways in which the pursuit of science can be structurally unjust as well as ways it can be part of the pursuit of a more just society. I will describe aspects of science and justice in the access to science, the use of human subjects, the relationship with communities, and the shaping of the research agenda. This overview of some of the key aspects of science and justice will be used to show that the values that drive research agendas are not just an ethical matter, but also a political matter. Scientists, and philosophers of science, need to attend not just to ethical values in science but also to power, and how science can ameliorate past injustices and current inequalities.
Women's Caucus Meeting
The Women's Caucus Meeting will take place on Thursday September 12th, 13:30-14:30 in Room M1170. Everybody is welcome, there is no need to register. As this is a lunchtime meeting, please feel free to bring your lunch to the meeting venue. A full meeting agenda will be available at the registration desk in Geneva. The most notable points on the schedule include a report from the current co-chairs (Sabina Leonelli and Lena Kästner) about the Caucus activities during the past two years, the election of a new senior co-chair and a discussions of current and future projects of the Caucus.
Junior Scholars Event
On Thursday 12 September 17:00-18:30 the EPSA will host a special Junior Scholars Event. The aim of the Junior Scholars Event is to help junior members of the EPSA to navigate the complex world of academia and to teach them valuable skills for a career in philosophy of science.
This year’s Junior Scholars Event focuses on publication. Journal publications are often a “make or break” criterion for aspiring junior philosophers. The chances for acquiring funding at postdoc stage and to get a tenure track position are greatly improved by having publications in international peer-reviewed journals; and there are also traditional dissertations. How to make it into a publishable book and how to decide whether that is worthwhile?
By understanding the mechanics of the publication business, and the incentives of the parties involved, junior philosophers of science will improve their publication-related skills, which will accompany researchers throughout their career.
The event will start with a panel discussion (30 min), with various stakeholders in the publication circuit present, e.g. editors of journals, representatives of publishers, and senior as well as junior scholars with experience in publishing.
After the panel discussion, there will be two workshops (60 min), in which we will discuss:
No registration is necessary. Just come and join the discussion! Since the program is already packed with intellectually demanding activities and people will likely be tired, we would like to keep the session informal and enjoyable. Feel free to bring drinks and food!
Organized by Phyllis Illari, Maria Kronfeldner, Federica Russo, Jan Sprenger and Javier Suárez, on behalf of the EPSA Steering Committee and the European Journal for Philosophy of Science.