Director's 2012-13 Annual Review
In This Review
This Past Year
The Center Community
Annual Lecture Series
This Past Year
People and the Office
Eric and Yoichi
In addition to our permanent staff—Karen, Joyce and Cheryl—each year we also have a half-time graduate student working in the Center. This past year, that graduate student was Eric Hatleback. He is completing his PhD in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and is becoming an expert in history and philosophy of cosmology. It was a tough year for Eric, since, through circumstances beyond his control, he found himself committed to a heavy teaching load, dissertation research and work in the Center. Yet there was no trace of this in his unfailing enthusiasm and good cheer, every day in the Center. It brightened us all. He also proved quite inventive and suggested lots of small changes in our routine that we’d never realized needed adjustment.
He has been replaced this year by Yoichi Ishida, who is also a graduate student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.
The Facilities Plan
It all started innocently. The art on the walls of the Center has not changed in at least a decade and likely longer. We cannot now quite remember how long it’s been when we look at something that has “always been there.” We started meeting to decide how to redecorate in a way that would promote the best functioning of the Center. Walking into the Center should give an immediate sense of the creativity and collaborative fellowship.
The more we thought and talked, the more we realized that a bigger change was needed. Step by step, the plans grew. By the end of the year, we had passed through a series of meetings with facilities staff and architects. We have more or less well-developed plans that include taking out walls, moving rooms and putting in glass. We still do not know how much it will cost and whether our budget is as lofty as our ambitions.
Sometime in the early summer, after a fulsome rainstorm, the roof leak over our hall came alive again. It’s been there for several years and there have been efforts of varying strength to plug it. None has been successful. Since the leak is sporadic, we’ve been able to live with it, barely. Finally this summer, our facilities people made a concerted, and then relentless effort to plug the leak. It proved enormously difficult to locate, even after the pavers on the flat roof above us had been lifted. Eventually, just before the start of term, the leak stopped. We still have no clear sense of just what of the many things done actually plugged it. While these efforts persisted, we got used to having a leak diverter as a fixture in our hall. When it finally left, I missed it, although I cannot really say why. It somehow had become a part of my day.
The Center always has something of an international flavor. That was all the more so in this past year. Our Fellows came from Germany, Italy, South Africa, Turkey and USA. The German representation was especially strong. There were four. At various times, I found myself repeating the strained quip that we should declare German the official Center language. (It is a good thing we did not do that, since the new term in Fall 2013 has no native German speakers.)
The strongest presence among the Fellows was Kyle Stanford, our Senior Visiting Fellow. Kyle brought a novel range of interests and taught me a lot. I learned from him that I am one of many quietists in philosophy of science, who lurk quietly in the corners of the profession.
Most importantly, Kyle took his obligations as a Senior Visiting Fellow very seriously. I had sketched vaguely our hope that he, as Senior person, would take on a mentoring role for more junior Fellows and generally try to foster the collaborative and creative culture that is so critical to success in the Center. He did that with a quiet energy that made it seem effortless. No doubt his mentoring of junior Fellows, puzzled by bizarre referee reports, was strengthened by his ability to speak as the Associate Editor of Philosophy of Science.
Conferences & Events
Our full schedule of events is listed below.
The past year has been busy. We have hosted five conferences or workshops, two name lecture series and more lunchtime talks than I have patience to count. Each event brought its own philosophical illumination and I cannot do better than to refer you to the various reports elsewhere, such as in the “donuts” pages.
A few of the events, however, were quite memorable to me. Through the Carnap and Kuhn conference I developed a new appreciation of Thomas Kuhn. He had always protested that this work was misunderstood. Thanks especially to George Smith’s talk, I finally learned how Kuhn viewed himself. He became a tragic figure, in my eyes, for his work had quite the opposite effect on his readers that what he seems to have intended.
We had two physics conferences, back to back. We’d planned only one. But Giovanni Valente’s energy is limitless and he quite correctly saw that this was the time to add an extra day or two devoted to graduate students entering the field. It was heartening to see the new generation of philosophers of physics work through the material that will become the core topics of the decades to come.
Kyle Stanford’s conference on the social organization of science revived my long dormant interest in the topic, showing how it could be of great philosophical interest.
Click on names in blue to visit each scholar's web page.
The Board of Officers is the central decision-making body of the Center. Its composition remains the same as last year's: Adolf Grünbaum and Nicholas Rescher (co-Chairs); John D. Norton (Director); and Robert Batterman, Peter Machamer, James Woodward (Associate Directors). These Officers are responsible for the major planning and decision making in the Center.
They are sometimes assisted by Resident Fellows who serve in various capacities, often on program committees for conferences. The Annual Lecture Series Committee was chaired by Giovanni Valente, Department of Philosophy and had members:
Sandra Mitchell, Dept. of HPS
Kieran Setiya, Dept. of Philosophy
James Shaw, Dept. of Philosophy
James Woodward, Dept. of HPS
Julia Bursten, Departments HPS & Philosophy graduate student sponsor
John Norton, Department of HPS & Director, Center for Philosophy of Science
News from the Officers
1. The President of the Republic of Germany has conferred on Adolf the “Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany [Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz] ” for his “outstanding achievements.”
2. The Faculty of the University of Cologne has voted to confer on Adolf an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy.
One of the year’s highlights for me was the opening on 14 December 2012 of an exhibit mounted by the University of Pittsburgh Library System devoted to my rediscovery and reconstruction of G. W. Leibniz’s 1670s cipher machine. This machine, now on exhibit in Hillman Library, is a remarkable anticipation of cipher machines that did not reach a comparable level of sophistication until after World War I.
As regards new publications, please note:
Leibniz And Cryptography. Pittsburgh (University of Pittsburgh Library System), 2012.
Reflexivity. Frankfurt (ONTOS), 2012. With Patrick Grim.
Pragmatism. New Brunswick (Transaction Books), 2012.
Philosophische Vorstellungen: Studien Ueber Die Menschliche Erkenntnis. Frankfurt (ONTOS), 2012.
John D. Norton
This past year has been busy and academically quite productive. My paper on computer simulations with past Fellow Claus Beisbart has been published. I am writing more chapters for my book on inductive inference, including a revised chapter arguing that the material theory of dissolves the venerable problem of induction. (Yes, I know—no need to say it.) Over the summer, I developed significantly my on-going critique of the thermodynamics of computation. There are two new papers, still in manuscript, but available on my website. They include what I think is the most robust exorcism of Maxwell’s demon to date. It makes no use of the notion of information.
I traveled too much over the year and somehow managed to coordinate the trips with unbearably hot weather in both Western Ontario and Munich. But the events there were otherwise quite wonderful.
In March 2013, a page on my website that gives a popular account of Einstein’s Zurich notebook was posted to Reddit. The resulting flood of traffic to the site threatened to overload the University servers and the University shut the site down. When I last checked, the computer people told me that they had they had logged 4,439,719 attempts to access the site.
Center Staff News
Karen Kovalchick, Assistant Director
Karen will celebrate her 40th year as an employee of the University of Pittsburgh this coming May. She spent the first 20 of those in the Office of the Provost, and the last 20 here in the Center. She claims that, even after all those years, the Commons Room in the Cathedral still awes her as much as it did that very first day. She doesn’t travel much because (a) her dogs will not tolerate such frivolity, and (b) she gets home sick as soon as she pulls out of her driveway. But that’s one of the best things about working at the Center – the Center brings the world to us! You Fellows generously share your culture, your language, your vision of the world, and your knowledge with us every day. Each day we learn some fascinating new piece of information from you. Now how many people can say that about their jobs?
Joyce McDonald, Administrative Assistant/Event Planner
When asked to report on what she’s done the past year, Joyce said she’s been very busy then asked herself, “What was I busy about?” The Center is a bustling place during the academic year and with Pittsburgh traffic, she’s away from home 10 hours a day. Balancing time and energy is challenging but Joyce manages to fill evenings and weekends enjoying her roles in life. In the summer she does a little of everything – keeps two homes, does gardening, reading, walking the dog, spending time with her husband (when he’s not golfing, boating, etc.), hanging out with the kids, visiting parents, and this year spending more time with friends. Joyce enjoys cooking and shares home-cooked meals with sick or care-giving friends and extended family or fills days helping someone else. She tells, “The first day of summer break I had a long list of chores but my day began with a phone call about a friend whose dog was killed by a motorist. I was delighted to have the day available to spend with her. I never pen my ‘to do’ list in ink.”
She likes the quote, “Today, just take time to smell the roses, enjoy those little things about your life, your family, spouse, friends, job. Forget about the thorns -the pains and problems they cause you- and enjoy life” ― Bernard Kelvin Clive
Cheryl Greer, Administrative Assistant/Technology Manager
Since last year's report, Cheryl has undergone two major life changes: getting a dog and moving. Perhaps as a result of peer pressure from the Center's resident Dog People, a long and grueling search finally led to the adoption of Seamus (a Lab/Pitbull mix) from Animal Friends on Memorial Day weekend. While it has been a major life adjustment, Seamus is a happy addition to the Greer family and respects his feline overlords. Cheryl wants to reassure the readership that despite this change, she remains a firmly committed Cat Person.
After seven years in Pittsburgh's Greenfield neighborhood, another long and grueling search led Cheryl and her husband to buy a charming little home in Shadyside, close to all of the excellent amenities of the East End. Since moving, they have been in full redecorating/remodeling mode.
Cheryl devoutly wishes for 2014-15 to be an uneventful year.
The Center Community
Here I report news from the Center community. To find the specifics of papers and books mentioned, please visit the particular scholar's website elsewhere on this website.
Resident, Visiting, and Postdoctoral Fellows
2012-13 Visiting Fellows
Marta Bertolaso, Fall Term
University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Italy
Carsten Held, Spring Term
University of Erfurt, Germany
Maria Kronfeldner, Academic Year
Bielefeld University, Germany
Dennis Lehmkuhl, Academic Year
University of Wuppertal, Germany
Alexander Reutlinger, Academic Year
University of Cologne, Germany
Jack Ritchie, Spring Term
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Kyle Stanford, Senior VF/Academic Year
University of California, Irvine
David J. Stump, Fall Term
University of San Francisco, USA
2012-13 Postdoctoral Fellows
University of Missouri
Dalhousie University, Canada
News from Resident Fellows
I gave the Brain Korea 21 Lectures at Seoul National University, Korea, in July 2012. I published an essay on Sellars's theory of perception in Mélanie Frappier et al. (eds.), Analysis and Interpretation in the Exact Sciences.
I am presently Director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and Director of Programming and Special Projects, University Honors College.
My recent publications include the book: The Value of Species (Yale University Press, 2012) And the cover story: “The Value of Species,” National Parks (Spring 2013).
Lisa S. Parker was appointed to the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Genomics & Society Working Group that will advise the Director and Council regarding the Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Program and related training and research activities.
She reports four recent articles. See webpage.
Jeffrey H. Schwartz (Pitt Anthropology and History and Philosophy of Science) continues research in human evolution, theoretical/evolutionary biology, and bioarchaeology.
Articles appearing 2012-13 include:
“Evolution of human-ape relationships open for investigation”, J. Biogeogr 38: 2397-2404. (J. Grehan & JHS); “Developmental biology and human evolution”; Hum Origins Res 1: 7-17; “Molecular Anthropology and the subversion of Paleoanthropology: an example of “the emperor’s clothes” effect?” Special Issue, HPLS 43: 253-275; “Systematics and Evolution”. In Encyclopedia of Molecular Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine (EMCBMM), (R. A. Meyer, ed.). Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim,; “Systematics and Evolution.” In Systems Biology (R. A. Meyer, ed.). Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim, pp. 169-206 (reprinted); “Bones, teeth, and estimating age of perinates: Carthaginian infant sacrifice revisited”, Antiquity 86: 738-745 (JHS, F. Houghton, L. Bondioli & R. Macchiarelli); “Organismal biology, molecular systematics, and phylogenetic reconstruction”. In Leaping Ahead: Advances in Prosimian Biology (J. Masters, M. Gamba, and F. Génin, eds.), Springer Science, NY, pp. 33-40. Book review, “Race and Reality: what everyone should know about our biological diversity” (G. P. Harrison). HPLS 34: 646-649.
An upcoming documentary will feature his research on supposed Carthaginian sacrifice. He will participate in the analysis of new, ground-breaking human fossils from China.
News from Past Fellows
Fellows from 20 and 30 Years Ago: Where are They Now?
Class of 1982-83
After 25 years of a satisfying career at the Ohio State University I
took advantage of a one-time only, early retirement plan and left the
philosophy business in 1995 to finish a law degree at the University
of Chicago. I had earlier completed, on sabbatical, the first year
of law school at Yale under a special program for journalists and
academics. For reasons that elude me, I fell in love with the
complexities of business law and practiced commercial litigation at
Jones Day. Did this for nearly ten years before retiring from the
full-time practice of law. Was very fortunate in my practice, and
played a major role in several mega-million dollar cases involving
securities fraud and contract disputes. Also served as second chair
in a US Supreme Court case, and did pro bono work regarding capital
punishment, employment discrimination and FDA criminal appeal. I
recently developed an interest in molecular biology and Joe
Thornton’s work on the resurrection of ancient genes. I presented
papers on Thornton’s methodology at Virginia Tech, the University of
Colorado at Boulder, and the 2011 Epistemology of Modeling and
Simulation conference at Pittsburgh. Found some time as well to
resurrect my professional auto racing photography with several
newspaper and AP assignments.
Class of 2002-2003
Donald C. Ainslie
Principal, University College
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
University of Toronto
I seem to have been consumed by academic administration after my time at the Centre. In 2003, I became Chair of the Philosophy of Department at the University of Toronto, and served in that role until 2011, when I was appointed Principal of University College. (The University of Toronto is a collegiate institution and University College is its founding college.) Though I have not had as much time for research as I would have liked during this period, I am in the process of finishing a book on Hume’s scepticsm, Hume’s Bundle: Scepticism and Self-understanding in the Treatise.
The big news in my neck of the woods is that Randall Holmes has probably proved the consistency of Quine's NF. I have two Ph.D. students working on trying to understand the proof as i speak. Another one (possibly two) starting next year. I continue to teach in Cambridge, tho' increasingly these days I tend to spend my summers in New Zealand - I now have a flat in Auckland.
I was thinking of Andreas Blank the other day, and a remark he made to me when I said to him that Schumann was the most German of all composers, and he replied ``except possibly Brahms..''
Past Visiting Fellows
I’m currently a Visiting Fellow at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy. I’ve just re-submitted “Logic of gauge” to the Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
A couple of recent publications:
“Weyl’s gauge argument” Foundations of Physics 43 (2013) 699-705; DOI: 10.1007/s10701-013-9712-x
“Topology, holes and sources” International Journal of Theoretical Physics 52 (2013) 1007-12; DOI: 10.1007/s10773-012-1413-2
I finally got a tenure-track job at Tokyo University of Agriculture,
Okhotsk, Japan (But notice: I do not live in Tokyo but in Hokkaido, a
northern island of Japan).
I also published a couple of articles and a book review:
Amitani, Y., (2013) "The communication puzzle of the species problem,"
Annals of the Japan Association for the Philosophy of Science, 21, pp. 1-20.
Amitani, Y., (2013) "What a theory of two minds can be," Proceedings of
CAPE International Workshops, 2012, CAPE Publications, Kyoto, Japan, pp.
Book Review: Thinking Twice: Two Minds in One Brain (Jonathan St. B.
T. Evans, Oxford University Press), Philosophy in Review, 32(3):174-6.
Pierluigi Barrotta has recently edited the volume Il rischio. Aspetti
tecnici, sociali, etici, Armando, Roma 2012.
He is currently organizing a series of seminars on "Science and Moral
Values". The papers presented at the seminars will published in a volume
by the publishing house Armando in 2014.
Marta reports six papers and a book. See webpage.
Over the past academic year Daniel Burston published some reflections on "the Freud wars" and the current crisis of psychiatry entitled:
“Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry in the 21st Century: Historical Reflections” (The Psychoanalytic Review. 99, 1, 63-80).
He gave invited talks at the History Division of the Eastern Psychological Association (Pittsburgh), Cheiron (Montreal), The New School for Social Research (New York) and the Mt. Sinai Hospital Psychotherapy Seminar (New York) on a variety of subjects. He also had 5 entries accepted to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, edited by Thomas Teo (Springer: New York.)
Anjan had a exhilarating year settling into new surroundings in Philosophy and HPS at Notre Dame. Among other things, a few projects engaging the idea of naturalized metaphysics came to fruition:
* ‘On the Prospects of Naturalized Metaphysics’, in D. Ross, J. Ladyman, & H. Kincaid (eds.), Scientific Metaphysics, Oxford University Press (2013).
* ‘Ontological Priority: The Conceptual Basis of Non-Eliminative, Ontic Structural Realism’, in E. M. Landry & D. P. Rickles (eds.), Structural Realism: Structure, Object, and Causality, pp. 187-206, Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science, Springer (2012).
* ‘Dispositions for Scientific Realism’, in R. Groff & J. Greco (eds.), Powers and Capacities in Philosophy: The New Aristotelianism, pp. 113-127 Routledge (2012).
Equal parts exciting and challenging was a book symposium in which _A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism_ was stretched on the rack by Steven French, Michel Ghins, and Stathis Psillos. Anjan's best attempts (you be the judge!) at replies to their searching commentaries are out in:
* ‘Realism in the Desert and in the Jungle: Reply to French, Ghins, and Psillos’, Erkenntnis 78: 39-58 (2013).
Some highlights of the year included the wonderful Virginia Tech Graduate Philosophy of Science Conference, where Anjan spoke on voluntarism and scientific epistemologies, an eye-opening trip to China, and a one-day workshop at Notre Dame on ‘Skepticism, Voluntarism, and Science’, featuring Richard Bett, Otavio Bueno, Casey Perin, and Michael Williams. Watch for the results, forthcoming as a special issue of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism.
The book "String Theory and the Scientific Method" came out
with CUP in May. The paper "Theory Assessment and Final Theory Claim" was
published in January in Foundations of Physics, the paper 'The No
Alternatives Argument' with Stephan Hartmann and Jan Sprenger will appear
in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science later this year.
I finished some more papers this year, which are on the Pitt archive. Two
papers with Karim Thebault on Everettian QM: 'Many worlds: Decoherent or
Incoherent' and 'Against the Empirical Viability of the Deutsch Wallace
Approach to Quantum Mechanics'; 'Higgs Discovery and the Look Elsewhere
Effect'; and 'Novel Confirmation and the Underdetermination of Scientific
Up in Canada, the science policy situation seems to be worsening, as I wrote recently in The Scientist (http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/34958/title/Opinion--Canadian-Science-Under-Attack/). While working on Canadian science policy, I have also published essays started at my year in Pittsburgh, including “Weighing Complex Evidence in a Democratic Society” [Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 2012, vol. 22, pp. 139-162], “Why novel prediction matters,” (co-authored with P.D. Magnus) [Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0039368113000198], and “The Value of Cognitive Values,” Philosophy of Science, forthcoming.
(i) the following paper appeared:
“The Absolute Arithmetic Continuum and the Unification of All Numbers Great and Small”, The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 18 (1) 2012, pp. 1-45.
(ii) I won a Baker Research Fund Award to support the completion of the following work:
“The Rise non-Archimedean Mathematics and the Roots of a Misconception II: the emergence of non-Archimedean geometry and the theory of non-Archimedean ordered algebraic systems ,” Archive for History of Exact Sciences
John Forge's Designed to Kill: The Case against Weapons Research was
published by Springer in January of this year. But it's not his last
book (see notes from last year): Forge has a contract to publish On
the Morality of Weapons Research - sounds a bit like the last one? -
in Ashgate's series on Military and Defense Ethics. Be assured,
however, that he continues to swim, drink burgundy, enjoy himself,
and sometimes even turn up to HPS seminars at Sydney University.
This has been a good year for me. My book, Shifting Standards: Experiments in Particle Physics in the Twentieth Century, is in press with the University of Pittsburgh Press. I was also selected as Senior Visiting Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh and I will spend the academic year 2013-2014 at the Center. This will allow me to complete a new book, What Makes a Good Experiment?, for which I have already written a few chapters. I have also recovered from an accident in which I was hit by a car while riding my bike. I seem to have a large cross section for such collisions. It will not stop me from using my bicycle as my primary means of transportation in Pittsburgh.
Wenceslao J. Gonzalez
Wenceslao J. Gonzalez has organized a Workshop of the European Science Foundation at the University of Bologna on 18-19 October 2012. The topic was “New Approaches in the Social Concern on Science: Social Constructivism and Realism on the Cultural and Social Sciences.” He is also the editor of the Gallaecia Series: Studies in Contemporary Philosophy and Methodology of Science.
Wenceslao reports two recent books any many recent papers. See his webpage.
The major outcome of my activities in 2012 was the publication of an edited volume on inferentialism: Gurova, L. (Ed.) (2012). Inference, Consequence and Meaning: Perspectives on Inferentialism. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
The essays in the volume present the results of a three-year project, which was planned to assess the research program of inferentialism in semantics, logic, epistemology, and philosophy of science.
Irzık, G. "Kuhn and logical positivism: gaps, silences, and tactics
of SSR", Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Revisited,
Kindi, Vasso and Arabatzis, Theodore (eds.), N.Y. and London:
Routledge, 2012, 15-40.
Eden, A. and Irzik, G. "German mathematicians in exile in Turkey:
Richard von Mises, William Prager, Hilda Geiringer, and their impact
on Turkish mathematics", Historia Mathematica, Vol.39, No.4, November
• I was promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor at Middlebury College
• I spent the month of July in Tucson, Arizona, as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Experimental Philosophy at the University of Arizona
• I published five articles—many of which were sparked during my time at Pitt. See webpage.
• I got engaged! Date to be determined.
The book that P.D. wrote while visiting the Center was published in October (Scientific Enquiry and Natural Kinds: From Planets to Mallards, Palgrave Macmillan). A paper that he and Heather Douglas devised when they were officemates at the Center is forthcoming in Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science ("Why novel prediction matters"). He also has some published articles which didn't incubate in his semester at the Center. He continues to teach at SUNY Albany, where he will be department chair next year.
Diego Marconi has been acting as coordinator of Philosophy in the Italian Agency for the Evaluation of Research. He has published papers in Cortex, Review of Philosophy and Psychology, dialectica, and humana.mente. He is currently working both on the semantics of artifactual words and on the neuropsychology of lexical competence. He is also writing a book (intended for a general audience) on the cultural effects of the professionalization of philosophy.
Two especially significant papers in the same issue of Philosophia, one my intellectual autobiography:
1. ‘Arguing for Wisdom in the University: An Intellectual Autobiography’, Philosophia, vol. 40, no. 4, 2012, pp. 663-704.
2. ‘In Praise of Natural Philosophy: A Revolution for Thought and Life’, Philosophia, vol. 40, no. 4, 2012, pp. 705-715.
Nick also reports four further papers and three book chapters. See his webpage.
Jesús reports several books and lectures. See his webpage.
Recently I accomplished two researches:
(1) "On the Nature of Mathematics and the Limitation of Peano Arithmetic: The empirical epistemology of mathematics and how confused epistemologies affect the working of mathematicians."
(2) "Logic Is an Empirical Science: All Knowledge Is Based on Our Experience and Epistemic Logic Is the Cognitive Representation of Our Experiential Confrontation in Reality."
I received two awards from the American Psychological Association in August, 2012: 1) The Theodore Sarbin Award for innovative theoretical work from the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology; and 2) Science as Psychology, co-authored with Center Fellow Nancy Nersessian is the co-winner of the William James Book Award from the Society for General Psychology.
In 2010 edited a book on Filosofia della medicina (Carocci, Rome).
He is now founder and President of BIOM, Italian Society of History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology and Medicine (www.sibiom.it); Director of the Florence Center for the History and Philosophy of Science; Editor of a series of studies in history and philosophy of biology and medicine (ETS, Pisa).
He is Editor-in-chief of the international philosophical journal Philosophical Inquiries (see www.philinq.it) and Editor of the journal of history and philosophy of medicine and healthcare Medicina & Storia (ETS, Pisa).
A Philosophy of Material Culture (Routledge 2012) is out. A podcast interview with Carrie Figdor on the New Books in Philosophy network is here: http://newbooksinphilosophy.com/2013/02/15/beth-preston-a-philosophy-of-material-culture-action-function-and-mind-routledge-2012/
I. Book and special issue
(2013) A Theory of Causation in the Biological and Social Sciences,
New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
(in progress) Special issue of Erkenntnis on ceteris paribus
conditions and laws; co-editor: Matthias Unterhuber.
II. Recent refereed journal articles
(forthcoming) (with Matt Farr) “A Relic of a Bygone Age? Causation,
Time Symmetry and the Directionality Argument”, Erkenntnis.
(forthcoming) “Can Interventionists be Neo-Russellians?
Interventionism, the Open Systems Argument and the Arrow of Entropy”,
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
III. New job
From October 2013 on, I will work at the LMU Munich and the Munich
Center for Mathematical Philosophy.
"Fine-Tuning and the Infrared Bull's Eye" came out in Philosophical Studies; "Chance without Credence" came out in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science; "Laws, Measurement, and Counterfactuals," is finally going to be coming out in the volume Science and Metaphysics edited by Stephen Mumford and Matthew Tugby (Oxford University Press). Among the many things I've been working on that won’t be appearing eminently are a new version of the agency approach to causation, a new version of the frequency interpretation of objective probabilities, and a way of reviving D. C. Williams's solution to Hume's problem of induction which enables it solve Goodman's "New Riddle" as well.
In June of 2012 I presented a keynote address at the Incommensurability 50 conference in Taiwan. My paper from that conference, ‘Methodological Incommensurability and Epistemic Relativism’, subsequently appeared in a special issue on Kuhn in Topoi ( 32: 1 (2013), 33-41). I was invited to participate in the Feyerabend 2012 conference, which was held in Berlin in September 2012 where I presented some remarks on ‘Feyerabend’s Philosophical Significance’ in a round-table discussion. I continue to develop my ideas about the relationship between epistemic relativism and Pyrrhonian scepticism. Among other things on this topic, I published a short paper which was a response to criticism of my work, ‘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.
Paul Griffiths’ and my book, Genetics and Philosophy is now available from Cambridge University Press. http://www.cambridge.org/9780521173902
I have been working on music, rather than philosophy, these two years. The outcome so far is a set of 12 CD's of my performance of the recorder. However, a new book (updated version) "Lessons on Logical Thinking" will appear soon from Chikuma Shobo, Tokyo. And aside from music, I am now working on Leibniz, and writing a book on my "informational interpretation" of Leibniz's physics and Metaphysics.
Jean Paul Van Bendegem
In the past period, two publications appeared related to strict finitism:
- “The Possibility of Discrete Time”. In: Craig Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 145-162.
- “A defense of strict finitism”. Constructivist Foundations, volume 7, nr. 2, 2012, pp. 141-149,
and one publication related to the philosophy of mathematical practice:
- (editor, co-editors: Valeria Giardino, Amirouche Moktefi & Sandra Mols), From Practice to Results in Mathematics and Logic. Special issue of Philosophia Scientiae, volume 16, cahier 1, 2012.
At the beginning of the current academic year I wrote up the results of last year’s AHRC project, as a paper entitled ‘A Confrontation of Convergent Realism’. This is coming out in Philosophy of Science (see here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/669212).
Also coming out, in Erkenntnis, is the paper I wrote whilst at Pitt: ‘Scientific Theory Eliminativism’ (available here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10670-013-9471-2#). Finally, my book Understanding Inconsistent Science should definitely be out later this year (see here for details: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199692026.do).
Since October 2012 I am a regular visiting fellow at the University of Athens for the EU-Greek Government funded project ‘Aspects and Prospects of Realism in the Philosophy of Science and Mathematics,’ headed by Stathis Psillos.
In the past year I have also been co-editing two special issues: one on novel predictions (to appear in SHPS), the other on theory-ladenness (to appear in the JGPS). Aside from my editing duties, I have written various papers.
Two of these are already published: one is a form of perspectivalist realism
(Philosophica, 2012), the other is on structural realism and the caloric (SHPS, 2012) and was co-authored with Gerhard Schurz. Three other papers are scheduled for publication (subject to final approval). Two of them are contributions to the aforementioned special issues. The third concerns structural realism and phlogiston (to appear in a Springer volume on Linguistics and Philosophy and co-authored with Gerhard Schurz). In terms of talks, I have given a number of contributed (e.g. BSPS2012, PSA2012 [kindly presented by Otavio Bueno in my absence], PSF2013) and invited talks (e.g. Barcelona, Athens, Wuhan) as well as a plenary talk at the 7th Quadrennial International Pittsburgh Fellows Conference in Mugla.
My main news is that I got a new job. I am now a "wissenschaftlicher
Mitarbeiter" in History of Science at the "Institut fuer Philosophie,
Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte" at the Technical University
Berlin. As a consequence, my new personal homepage is
We report the sad news that Allan Gotthelf passed away on August 30, 2013. Allan was a Resident Fellow of the Center, and an obituary can be found here.
The events of the past year are recorded in greater detail in the Center website. For an informal account of some of them, see the "donuts" page and for photos, "photo album."
Major events of the past year included the following conferences and workshops:
Carnap and Kuhn: A Reappraisal
20-21 October 2012
Early Modern Medicine and Natural Philosophy
2-4 November 2012
Irvine-Pittsburgh-Princeton Conference on the Mathematical and Conceptual Foundations of Physics
4-5 April 2013
Relativistic Causality Between Quantum Field Theory and General Relativity
5-7 April 2013
Salmon Memorial Lecture: Collective Inquiry by Philip Kitcher
19 April 2013
Co-sponsored with the Department of Philosophy and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Choosing the Future of Science: The Social Organization of Scientific Inquiry
20-21 April 2013
Speakers in the Annual Lecture Series were:
Nancy Nersessian, Georgia Institute of Technology,
School of Interactive Computing
Alison Gopnik, University of California, Berkeley,
Department of Psychology
Peter Godfrey-Smith, City University of New York,
James Woodward, University of Pittsburgh, Department of History & Philosophy of Science
James Ladyman, Bristol University,
Department of Philosophy
Eric Watkins, University of California, San Diego,
Department of Philosophy
Sheldon Smith, University of California, Los Angeles,
Department of Philosophy
Speakers in the Lunchtime Colloquia were:
Nicholas Rescher, University of Pittsburgh
David Stump, University of San Francisco
Dennis Lehmkuhl, University of Wuppertal
Collin Rice, University of Missouri–Columbia
Serife Tekin, Dalhousie University
Maria Kronfeldner, University of Bielefeld
Alexander Reutlinger, University of Cologne
Marta Bertolaso, University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome
Kyle Stanford, University of California, Irvine
John D. Norton, University of Pittsburgh HPS
Richard Healey, University of Arizona
John Michael, GNOSIS Research Centre, Aarhus University
Carsten Held, University of Erfurt
Jack Ritchie, University of Cape Town
Brett Calcott, Australian Natl. University
Andy Norman, Carnegie Mellon University
James Tabery, University of Utah
Niki Pfeifer, Center for Formal Epistemology (CMU)
Markus Schrenk, Universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf
Eleanor Knox, Kings College
Brad Weslake, University of Rochester
Adam Caulton, Cambridge University
Kevin Zollman, Carnegie Mellon University
Mazviita Chirimuuta, University of Pittsburgh HPS
Renewal of Associate Membership of the Center
May we take this opportunity to remind Center Associates that their appointments are for three years. Re-appointment is not automatic. If your three-year Associate's appointment is expiring or has expired and you would like to renew it, please let us know through email to the Assistant Director, Karen Kovalchick. Your appointment will then be renewed for a further three years. If you choose not to renew your appointment, your name will remain on our mailing list, so you will continue to hear news of the Center's activities, unless you request otherwise. Associates receive no compensation and have no regular duties. However, the Center views acceptance of an appointment as an Associate as a commitment to attend a few of the Center's many activities each year. Annually, these activities include, but are not limited to, the Annual Lecture Series (6 to 8 lectures per year), special lectures, the Lunchtime Colloquium (usually meets twice a week), conferences and workshops (2 or 3), occasional social functions, and occasional study groups.
Request for Feedback
Dear Reader who has had the fortitude to read through to the end of this review: We would appreciate very much some indication of whether you found this review interesting or helpful in any way--or otherwise. Drop us a short email with any remarks you care to make.
This review would be incomplete without thanks to the many people who make the Center possible. Our thanks go to the Center Officers, who take time from their busy academic schedules to serve the Center; to the Office of the Provost of the University of Pittsburgh (including Provost Patricia Beeson and Vice Provost Alberta Sbragia), whose support is both visionary and unflagging; to the Visiting Fellows, who populate the Center each year with new energies and new ideas; and to the many who come to give talks, to hear talks, to enliven discussion, and to keep an eye on the donuts.
Finally my thanks go to the staff who worked so hard for the Center last year -- Karen, Joyce, Cheryl and Eric. Only someone who has carried the responsibility of an office like the Center's can truly appreciate just how much depends upon the energy and dedication of the staff.
John D. Norton