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

September 2012 Lunchtime Abstracts & Details

::: How Physics Works
Nicholas Rescher
University of Pittsburgh
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  The paper explores some of the implications of the fact that our explanation of physical nature is mediated by observational and experimental technology. For the technological entanglement of physical inquiry exerts a decisive formative pressure upon the way in which physical science works.


::: The Relativized A Priori in 20th Century Philosophy of Science
David Stump (CPS Visiting Fellow)
University of San Francisco
Friday, September 14, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  The relativized (or dynamic or pragmatic) a priori is an idea that is pursued by a wide range of philosophers of science in the 20th century, including Reichenbach (early), Cassirer, Lewis, Pap, Kuhn and Friedman.  I will introduce the concept and discuss its sources and its prospects as an explanation of conceptual change in science.  I will also sketch a novel position on the relativized a priori which is pragmatic in origin and avoids the extremes of Kantian and the Quinean perspectives.


::: Why Einstein Never Really Cared for Geometrization
Dennis Lehmkuhl (CPS Visiting Fellow)
University of Wuppertal
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  I argue that, contrary to folklore, Einstein never really cared for geometrizing the gravitational or (subsequently) the electromagnetic field. Indeed, he thought that the very idea of geometrization was "meaningless". I will show that instead, Einstein saw the unification of inertia and gravity as one of the major achievements of GR. Interestingly, he did not locate this unification primarily in the field equations but in the geodesic equation, the law of motion of test particles. I will investigate in what sense Einstein thought a "geometrization of gravity" to be meaningless, and how exactly he distinguished it from a "physicalization of geometry" on the one hand, and a "unification of inertia and gravity" on the other.


::: Optimality Models, Explanation, and Idealization
Collin Rice (CPS Postdoctoral Fellow)
University of Missouri–Columbia
Friday, September 21, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  A prominent approach to explanation claims that for a model to provide an explanation it must accurately represent some of the actual causes—or causal mechanisms—in the event’s causal history; e.g. at least those that made a difference to the explanandum.  In this paper, I argue that many highly idealized optimality models provide explanations without accurately representing causes and it is often in virtue of their independence of causes that these models are able to provide the best explanation available. As a result, our account of explanation (and modeling) must expand beyond the causal approach.


:::Making Mental Disorders Amenable to Empirical Investigation:  Beyond Natural Kinds
Serife Tekin (CPS Postdoctoral Fellow)
Dalhousie University
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  Empirical research on mental disorders aims to “carve nature at the joints.”  Philosophers consider the viability of this goal primarily by discussing whether mental disorders are natural kinds, such as animals and quarks.  Natural kinds are thought to provide a framework for formulating scientifically relevant inductive generalizations and predictions about psychopathology and thus some philosophers of psychiatry argue that it is necessary for mental disorders to be taken as natural kinds in order to make them amenable to empirical investigation. In the first part of my talk I challenge this claim.  I demonstrate that the debate on the ontological status of mental disorders has so far overlooked the complexity of the self, as well as the complexity of the encounter with mental disorder, and thus has failed to make a fruitful contribution to the empirical investigation of psychopathology.  With an aim to reintroduce these complexities into the debate, in the second part of my talk, I develop an empirically and philosophically plausible model of the self, which I have termed as the multitudinous self.  Multitudinous self, incorporating insights offered by cognitive sciences and first-person accounts of psychopathology, offers a richer understanding of mental disorders.  By virtue of being empirically tractable, multitudinous self undercuts the need to take mental disorders as natural kinds to make them amenable to scientific investigation. 


Revised 8/22/12 - Copyright 2009