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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2013-14 >> abstracts>> September

September 2013 Lunchtime Abstracts & Details

::: Goedel and Leibniz
Nicholas Rescher
Dept. of Philosophy
University of Pittsburgh
Friday, September 6, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: The paper explains the Goedelian aspect of Leibniz’s metamathematical views, and goes on to examine the ramifications of Goedel’s suspicion that Leibniz had somehow anticipated him.


::: Probability in Population Genetics
Peter Gildenhuys, Assistant Professor
Dept. of Philosophy, Lafayette College
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: The reason why evolutionary theory, and more specifically population genetics, is a probabilistic theory has attracted considerable attention from philosophers.  In what follows, I offer a novel account of what motivates the introduction of probabilities into classical population genetics. Probabilities make the theory easier to apply for researchers given their epistemic limitations and are crucial for giving the theory a recursive structure, thereby making possible inferences about the dynamics of systems over many generations. Contrary to Lyon (2011), I argue that probabilities in population genetics can be given a credentist interpretation according to which the probabilities reflect facts about degrees of confidence or belief.


::: What Makes a Good Experiment? Mendel, Millikan and Others
Allan Franklin, Sr. Visiting Fellow
Dept. of Physics, University of Colorado
Friday, September 13, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Good experiments come in several varieties. They can be conceptually important, technically good, and pedagogically important. They also play many roles in science, beyond the testing of theory. These other roles include exploratory experiments, designed to investigate a subject for which a theory does not exist so that a theory may be formulated; experiments that help to articulate an existing theory; experiments that call for a new theory either by demonstrating the existence of a new phenomenon in need of explanation or by demonstrating that an existing theory is wrong; experiments that provide evidence for the entities involved in out theories, or new entities; experiments that measure quantities that are of physical interest such as Planck’s constant or the charge of the electron; and experiments which have a life of their own, independent of high-level theory. An experiment may also correct previous incorrect or misinterpreted results. In this talk I will illustrate this by discussing Mendel’s experiments on plant hybridization, Millikan’s measurement of Planck’s constant, and, if time permits, the Ellis and Wooster experiment on the energy spectrum in β decay.


::: Collaborative Explanation
Melinda Fagan, Visiting Fellow
Dept. of Philosophy, Rice University
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  I present a new account of a kind of explanation that is prevalent in experimental life sciences such as molecular biology, stem cell research, neuroscience, and immunology.  These explanations answer questions about how some complex system works, by describing how that system’s parts work together.  Explanations of this kind have previously been characterized in terms of causal mechanisms (e.g., Glennan 1996, Machamer et al 2000, Woodward 2002, Bechtel and Abrahamsen 2005, and Craver 2007).  I offer an alternative analysis, focused on the concept of jointness: interdependence among components that distinguishes collaborative from individualistic activities.  I examine several important aspects of jointness and discuss their bearing on scientific understanding. 


::: The Philosophy of Space and Time and the Metaphysics of Presence
Ori Belkind, Visiting Fellow
Dept. of Philosophy, University of Richmond
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Contemporary philosophy of physics often construes the philosophy of space and time as divided into two camps, absolute and relational theories. The
issue between these camps revolves around the question of whether an
independent spacetime structure is required to explain the existence of
inertial effects. However, while this is a key and ought to be a central
question in these discussions, most debates leave out the conceptual role
space and time has in making the existence of physical entities possible.
In this talk I argue that a key theme in the history of philosophy is a
metaphysics of presence, according to which the existence of a physical
object (event) is made possible via the presence of a property at a
spatial place (temporal instant). I will argue that while relational
theories of space and time have attempted to separate existence from being
present in space and time, such theories have not properly dealt with the
problems peculiar to this metaphysics.


Revised 8/27/13 - Copyright 2009