University of Toronto, Canada
Fall Term 2004
Foundations of Scientific Realism:
Structuralism, Causation, Laws, and Kinds
Anjan is an Associate Professor cross-appointed in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and the Department of Philosophy. After initial degrees in biophysics and philosophy at Toronto, terminal degrees in HPS at Cambridge (PhD 2001), and international development work in India and Canada, he is now settling down to a proper life of philosophy. His first book, A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable (Cambridge University Press, 2007), has just been published.
Anjan’s research focuses on central issues in the philosophy of science and metaphysics, including topics in the philosophy of physics and biology. Much of this work revolves around epistemological debates concerning scientific realism (especially versions of entity realism and structural realism), antirealism, and empiricism. Structural realism in particular raises fascinating questions about the interpretation of theories in modern physics, with consequences for our understanding of the nature and constitution of scientific entities. He is interested in metaphysical issues such as the nature of dispositions, causation, laws of nature, and natural kinds, and his current research concerns scientific models, representation, and attendant issues such as the nature of abstraction and idealization, and the consequences these practices have for concepts such as knowledge and truth. Plans for future work include the nature and constitution of alpacas, which are – ostensibly – miniature llamas.
When not worrying about dispositions, Anjan likes to run, lift, swim, and play the guitar (but only in private). He also loves films, though he knows practically nothing about them, and all forms of music (even country music) . He is also excited by the dramatic strides taken in HPS at Toronto in recent years towards realizing a top-notch, international research institute and graduate program. Five new faculty members have signed on in the past year alone. News of the ongoing reinvention of HPS in Toronto can be found at http://www.hps.utoronto.ca.
Anjan spent an excellent year of research leave interacting with HPS colleagues across the four corners of the globe, focusing on recent work on the rationality of different and conflicting epistemic commitments in the sciences, the latest developments in structural realism, and the nature of scientific representation. Especially enjoyable was a stint at the newly established Centre for the Foundations of Science at the University of Sydney, which comes highly recommended - the HPS community in Australia and New Zealand is extremely dynamic and welcoming. He has now returned to earth as Director of Graduate Studies at the IHPST in Toronto.
• ‘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).
• ‘Realism in the Desert and in the Jungle: Reply to French, Ghins, and Psillos’, Erkenntnis 78: 39-58 (2013).
It was another busy year at the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values at Notre Dame, where we hosted ‘The Collaboration Conundrum’ – on whether and how public and private interests can combine to pursue research for the common good. My new book Scientific Ontology: Integrating Naturalized Metaphysics and Voluntarist Epistemology is imminent, and some forthcoming work includes a piece on case studies and historical evidence arising from the last EPSA conference, one on epistemic stances and voluntarism for a new Routledge handbook on scientific realism, and articles on causation, symmetries, and dispositions in physics. I was honored to receive the J. S. Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a Values-Driven Leadership Award from Benedictine University. There were wonderful meetings of the Philosopher’s Rally (Lublin), the Metaphysics of Science Summer School (Helsinki), the Philosophy of Science Group in India (Mumbai), and the latest Models and Simulations conference (Barcelona). I’m excited to be spending the coming year at Pitt! – where I’ll be working on the epistemology of scientific disagreement.