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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2012-13 >> abstracts>>Jan

January 2013 Lunchtime Abstracts & Details

:::Ultimate Explanation
Nicholas Rescher, U. of Pittsburgh,
Dept. of Philosophy

Friday, January 11, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: The paper will offer some deliberations about the prospects for meaningfully addressing the questions of the world’s existence and nature, an issue which pushes the explanatory resources of natural science to--and perhaps over--the very edge of their capabilities.


:::The Argument from Underdetermination
Carsten Held, Center Visiting Fellow,
U. of Erfurt, Germany

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  A formal argument starting from the fact of underdetermination shows that a theory's truth does not explain its predictive success. In the talk, I will try to show that this argument rests on a tension between the very idea of abductive reasoning and our conviction that an explanation should offer a feature relevant for the explanandum. I thereby hope to uncover a problem for scientific realism that runs deeper than just questioning the miracle argument---and to propose a solution.


:::Laws, Models and Metaphysics
Jack Ritchie, Center Visiting Fellow,
U. of Cape Town, South Africa

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  I argue that a consequence of accepting a model-based conception of scientific theorising as articulated by van Fraassen, Cartwright and others is that certain metaphysical claims involving laws, like, for example, the claim that the "the laws of physics apply at all times and all places" do not have truth values. I suggest an alternative, non-literal way to understand these metaphysical claims and examine the consequences of such a view.


:::Signalling and Information in Gene Regulatory Networks
Brett Calcott
Australian Natl. University

Friday, January 25, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Information-talk about genes is still commonplace in the biological literature, despite many philosophers suggesting that it is "just" metaphorical. In this paper, I show how to make sense of some of this talk in a way that can be concretely founded on information theory, and also identifies a special role for gene regulatory networks in evolution. I put together two ideas about signalling. The first is from recent work on the evolution of signalling systems, which shows how information can be created by evolution. The second is from systems engineering, which shows how signalling is used to create modular, open-ended systems. I connect these two in a model of gene regulation, and show that a measure of mutual information in an evolving network identifies which parts of the network can be "tinkered with" to create new adaptive function.



Revised 1/25/13 - Copyright 2012