Director's 2008-09 Annual Review
John D. Norton
Our New Postdoctoral Fellowships
This Past Year
Officers and Staff
John D. Norton
Center Staff: Karen Kovalchick, Joyce McDonald and Carol Weber
The Center Community
Maria Carla Galavotti
Wenceslao J. Gonzalez
Renewal of Associate Membership of the Center
Request for Feedback
Our New Postdoctoral Fellowships
The most important development of the past year has been the generous provision by Provost James Maher of two Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Center. Where our Visiting Fellowships provide supplementary financial support only, these new Postdoctoral Fellowships will provide two Postdoctoral Fellows with full financial support at levels comparable with postdoctoral fellowships elsewhere in the US. For more details . . .
The program took its first steps in this past year. Erik Curiel was our inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow. The first full year of the program will be the coming year. We advertised the position and were delighted and a little overwhelmed to receive around 50 strong applications. It was only with great difficulty that the selection committee of the Center's Officers was able to select just two Fellows.
We look forward to the changes that these new Fellowships will bring to the Center. My impression has been that the average academic age of our Visiting Fellows has been decreasing in recent years. These Postdoctoral Fellowships will continue that trend. Now we must set aside two of the roughly seven positions available for scholars within 5 years of being awarded their PhD. Personally, I welcome this trend. The Center provides an entrance to a scholarly tradition and a large community of scholars--those of you reading this report--that can be of singular value to new scholars in philosophy of science.
Our hope is that these Fellowships will also enhance the broader philosophy of science community. In the sciences, a common career trajectory passes from the PhD, through a postdoctoral fellowship and then into a teaching position. The postdoctoral fellowship gives scholars the opportunity to consolidate their research, publish papers from their dissertation and make contact with a new community, before they are overtaken by the demands of their first teaching position. In philosophy of science, that middle stage is less common. Postdoctoral fellowships, if they are to be found at all, are mostly in the general humanities. The Center is now joining one or two other institutions that provide postdoctoral fellowships specifically for philosophers of science.
This Past Year
It has been a very good year in the Center. The pace of activities has remained high, as you can see from the many talks, lectures, workshops, conferences and other events held here. This year, however, has seen what is likely the last of a venerable tradition. Starting in 1991, the Center and its opposite number at the University of Konstanz have held a series of international conferences alternating between Pittsburgh and Konstanz. This past year brought the eighth and probably last of the series, coinciding with the retirement of the ever energetic and fertile Gereon Wolters from Konstanz. It was fitting that this eighth conference was dedicated to Gereon.
While the talks, lectures, workshops and conference are an engaging part of Center life, for me its core has always been the small community of Fellows, who arrive each year to take up residence in our offices. They arrive as a collection of individuals and, surprisingly rapidly, they form a community of friends and intellectual companions. The community was as international as ever. This year's Fellows were nominally from Belgium (one), Denmark (one), Germany (two), Italy (one), Switzerland (one) and US (three). However two of the Fellows were, to my non-European sensibilities, more Italian than they were Belgian or Swiss. So for me, this was the year of the young Italian women; they brought that particular sort of chaotic charm and zest that makes everyone in the US want to spend an afternoon in an Italian piazza, slurping espresso.
The focus of this new community is the weekly reading group in which we discuss a short text, commonly one of the Fellow's draft manuscripts. While the tenor of many meetings in philosophy of science can be combative, in these meetings--at my insistence--Fellows take the side of the author. The goal is to encourage and help the author enhance the text; and we are doing very well at it.
Finally, our little community was enhanced greatly by two visitors in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. In the Fall term, Jeremy Butterfield visited from Cambridge. I was delighted when he agreed to participate in our Fellows' reading group.
In the Spring term, Kyle Stanford from the University of California at Irvine visited. He allowed us to build a workshop around his expertise in underdetermination. We called it the "Kylefest."
Officers and Staff
The Officers of the Center are Adolf Grünbaum and Nicholas Rescher (co-Chairs); John D. Norton (Director); and Peter Machamer, Ken Schaffner and Mark Wilson (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. Over the past year, Al Janis (Resident Fellow, Physics, and a former Associate Director) and Ken Schaffner chaired the Annual Lecture Series committee.
May I take this opportunity to extend a special thanks to Al for his cheerful and enduring support of the Center? When I first came to the Center as a Visiting Fellow in 1983, Al had already then been a long, active member of the community. He was willing to engage a naive visitor (me), sent me an offprint I still have and invited me to the physics department to give a talk. A quarter century later, when I take my seat in the lunchtime talks, my most frequent neighbor is Al, always eager to hear the latest.
At the end of the academic year 2007-2008, Tom Ricketts stood down as Associate Director. He had become Chair of the Department of Philosophy and the dual burdens of Chair and Associate Director proved too onerous. We thank him for his service.
We were pleased when Mark Wilson from the Department of Philosophy, a frequent participant in discussion in Center talks, agreed to become an Associate Director. Mark has served in that capacity for the past year.
Here's news from the Officers
Adolf continues to maintain a record of publication and schedule of engagements too vigorous to describe in all detail here. Perhaps friends of the Center will be most interested to hear of his publication of a 155-page "Autobiographical-Philosophical Narrative," which is rich in personal and professional insights. Adolf's reply to David Malament's challenge to his analysis of simultaneity is in preprint on philsci-archive at http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00000184/. It will appear in a Festschrift for Peter Mittelstaedt and also a chapter in Vol.1 of Adolf's forthcoming Philosophy of Science in Action (Oxford University Press, New York). Major lectures included the Presidential Address “Why is there a World AT ALL, Rather than Just Nothing?” at the VIII Ontology Congress in San Sebastian, Spain, on September 29, 2008. Adolf has been elected Senior Vice President, as of 2009, of the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences, and shall officiate at its next annual meeting in Florence, Italy, Nov. 24-28, 2009.
Nick was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 20 April, 2009. He continues the tradition of giving the first lunchtime talk each term. In September 2008, he spoke on "Intelligence and Evolutionary Innovation"; and, in January 2009, "On the Implications of Oversimplification." He also gave the concluding lecture in the workshop, Underdetermination in Science. Two books dealing with his contributions to philosophy were published in 2008:
* Robert Almeder (ed.), RESCHER STUDIES: ESSAYS ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF NICHOLAS RESCHER ( Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, 2008). (A celebratory volume dealing with contributions to philosophy via essays by some two-dozen well-known scholars.)
* Michele Marsonet, IDEALISM AND PRAXIS: THE PHILOSOPHY OF NICHOLAS RESCHER ( Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, 2008).
Peter's much anticipated Descartes book, co-authored with Ted McGuire, has an August publication date! (Peter Machamer and J.E. McGuire, Descartes' Changing Mind, Princeton University Press, August 2009.) Peter also reports four new papers.
John D. Norton
My year has been busy. Getting to know the Visiting Fellows remains a special pleasure. Most of my research over the last year was on inductive inference. I am still arguing that the Bayesian system is not the One True Logic of induction. It has limited applicability and other logics are possible. See my website for more. This year saw academic trips to Arolla ( Switzerland), Ghent, Halifax, Kalamazoo, Manhattan (KS), Montreal, Notre Dame, St. Louis, Toronto, Washington (DC) and Waterloo. No wonder my suitcase has been in the repair shop twice this year and I break into a cold sweat at the smell of aviation fuel. The great achievement of the year was to demonstrate that a small sailboat can be sailed routinely and reliably on the rivers around Pittburgh's point.
Ever hard working Karen finally took the vacation out of state she's been planning for so long to visit her sister, Stephanie, in New Mexico. The difficulty, as everyone who knows Karen knows, is who should look after Gabe and Gretel. She successfully bribed two of her sisters to take turns staying at her house with them. Karen has a big heart: Gretel is a "Katrina" refugee of mixed descent. Some of you met Gabe (Karen’s Bullmastiff), when as a pup, he occasionally visited the Center, and continue to ask for updates on him.
When she's not hiding in their cabin in the Laurel Highlands with Randy, Joyce's thoughts are focused on tax deductions. Specifically, she has in mind a male tax deduction that her English teacher daughter Elizabeth and husband Brian are expecting at the end of 2009. An amazing DVD was shown to the grandparents-to-be that shows the deduction is progressing nicely.
Carol's oldest daughter, Jessica and her husband, Peter, brought Carol and Stephen their first grandchild, Elizabeth, in February. It was touch and go as Elizabeth waited past her Valentine's Day due date before making it out into the world.
Our indispensable Peter has been working in the Center for two years. We were all elated when he was awarded the PSA Graduate Student Essay Prize at the PSA’s most recent meeting which was held here in Pittsburgh. Now that he has completed his PhD in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, it is time for him to move on to greater glory. In the Fall he will be an Assistant Professor at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. He, Berry and their four-legged Pablo will take two extra legs with them in the form of Celeste. The proud parents brought Celeste to the Center on July 28, so that the well-experienced grandmothers (and the rest of us) could admire what Peter, who works in philosophy of biology, calls his "proof of fitness."
Peter and Berry are adapting to parenthood quickly. They packed Celeste into their car and went to see the new Harry Potter movie at one of the few "Drive-In" theaters. We will miss them and wish them well.
Dennis will be the new "Peter" in our Center Offices, starting this September. Like Peter, Jim, and Brian before him, Dennis is a senior graduate student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. He is working on a comparison of ideas of addiction in moral, clinical and neuroscientific psychology.
The Center Community
He reports: "My main news is this: I have a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for the year 2010 to work on a book on conscious experience."
Al gave a paper titled "Physics and Science Fiction" at a conference called "Science, Technology, and the Humanities: A New Synthesis" at Stevens Institute of Technology in April of this year; the conference was sponsored by the Institute's College of Arts and Letters. He also chaired the conference session on "Metaphysical and Epistemological Issues".
Nuel reports a couple of papers published, an invited talk at a conference in Dresden, and another at a conference in Luxembourg, and "Logics of Consequence," a celebratory conference in his honor in Pittsburgh. Also consultation with Thomas Mueller and speaker at a Colloquium at the University of Utrecht, and consultation with Tomasz Placek in Pittsburgh .
Sandy published “Explaining Complex Behavior” (pp.19-38) and “Taming Causal Complexity” (pp.125-131) in K. S. Kendler and J. Parnas (eds), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry: Explanation, Phenomenology and Nosology, Johns Hopkins Press 2008, and “Exporting Causal Knowledge in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology” Philosophy of Science. 75 (December 2008), pp. 697-706. She organized a session “Emergence: Philosophy Meets Science” in the Chicago Humanities Festival in October 2008. She also taught the first Pittsburgh-Tsinghua Summer School in philosophy of science in Beijing in August 2008.
Our website provides links to keep you up to date on the activities of past and present Fellows. We are pleased to note the following news communicated to us for this review and congratulate our Fellowship on its many, continuing successes.
Many Fellows maintain a personal page on the Center's website and you can find more information about their activities there.
Has updated his web page.
Lindley Darden was the Clark-Way-Harrison Visiting Professor of Philosophy, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, Jan-May, 2008, where she taught an advanced philosophy of biology course and worked on a book with Carl Craver, tentative title: In Search of Biological Mechanisms. She served as the Faculty Co-Organizer of the International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) Graduate Training Workshop, Future Directions in Genetics Studies, Washington University, St. Louis, August 6-10, 2008, where she coordinated a workshop on "Mechanisms in Hierarchical Context." During 2008, she presented talks on reasoning in mechanism discovery at Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis University, and Georgia State University in Atlanta. She and Kevin Elliott co-organized a workshop on "Anomaly in Contemporary Philosophy of Science" for the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting, Pittsburgh, Nov. 6-9, 2008 and she presented a paper, "Reasoning in Anomaly Resolution for Biological Mechanisms." She enjoyed an invited book signing at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, in October 2008 for her book, Reasoning in Biological Discoveries (Cambridge University Press, 2006). She published "Thinking Again About Mechanisms," Philosophy of Science 75 (5) (2008): 958-969. At the University of Maryland, she served as faculty advisor to Ben Barros, whose paper won the PSA Graduate Student Essay Prize and was published: Barros, D. Benjamin (2008), "Natural Selection as a Mechanism," Philosophy of Science 75: 306-322.
Has updated his web page with "Forge's The Responsible Scientist” which was published by University of Pittsburgh Press last October. Forge continues to edge away from mainstream philosophy of science; his most recent publication (Science and Engineering Ethics 2009) shows that the proportionality requirement of Just War Theory is compromised by the activity of weapons research, and he is writing a monograph which argues that weapons research is never morally justified.
Maria Carla Galavotti
Has updated her web page.
Wenceslao J. Gonzalez
Has updated his web page.
Gurol will be moving to teach at Sabanci University, Istanbul, beginning this Fall. He lists the following publications in English:
G. Irzik and Robert Nola, “Worldviews and Their Relation to Science,” Science & Education, vol. 18, 2009: 729-745.
”Kuhn, Thomas Samuel,” Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography (ed. N. Koertge), Vol. 22. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008, pp. 170-177.
”'World' in Worldviews, the Universal and the Local,” in 2007 World Philosophy Day (ed. I. Kuçuradi), Philosophical Society of Turkey, 2009, pp. 196-201.
Diego Marconi has been lecturing around on truth and relativism, the topics of his book, Per la verità (Einaudi, Torino 2007), which won the "Alessandro Tassoni" Award for non-fiction in 2008. He published an article ("Being and Being Called," Journal of Philosophy, March 2009) on paradigm case arguments and the reference of natural kind words. He will be on leave next year, working on a book about misunderstandings originating from the confusion between truth conditional semantics and the (cognitive) theory of semantic competence.
He reports: "A book about my work was published in February 2009. It is called Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell, edited by Leemon McHenry (Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt). I contribute the first chapter, "How Can Life of Value Best Flourish in the Real World?" - an outline of my work during the last forty years. Eleven scholars then comment on my work, and I reply. A paperback edition of Wisdom in the University (Routledge), which I contributed to, and edited with R. Barnett, was published early in 2009. I managed to publish an article outlining my argument for the need for a scientific revolution in a scientific journal: see my “Do We Need a Scientific Revolution?” Journal for Biological Physics and Chemistry, vol. 8, no. 3, September 2008, pp. 95-105. I gave a number of lectures, in London, Boston, Plymouth, and Sussex, expounding the case for an academic revolution. And I broadcast two interviews about my work: see http://www.weeklysignals.com/weeklysignalsarc-2008.html#nicholasmaxwell and http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/science/#episode24 - the latter episode 24 of the “How To Think About Science” series on the Ideas Programme of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Friends of Wisdom, which I founded in 2003, continues to grow. See http://www.nick-maxwell.demon.co.uk/."
He reports : Ernan McMullin: "The Galileo Affair: Two Decisions", Journal of the History of Astronomy, 40, 2009, 191-212.
Helmut has sent us a lengthy update to his website.
Johannes reports a rather normal rainy Swedish summer so far. But... "Nothing else is normal any longer: Annika and I had a daughter in early April. She is fantastic." We congratulate Johannes and Annika heartily! Johannes reports five new publications:
J. Persson, (in press) “Semmelweis’s methodology from the modern stand-point: intervention studies and causal ontology,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
J. Persson, (in Press) “Mechanisms: Are activities up to the job?” EPSA 07: Launch of the European Philosophy of Science Association, (Red.) Su á rez, M., Dorato, M., and R é dei, M. Springer.
J. Persson and N.E. Sahlin. (2009). “A philosophical account of interventions and causal representation in nursing research: a discussion paper.,” International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46(4): 547-556. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.11.008
Blennow, K and J. Persson. (2009), “Climate change: Motivation for taking measure to adapt,” Global Environmental Change, 19(1), 100-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.10.003
Sahlin, N.E., Wallin, A. and J. Persson, (2009, online first), “Decision Science: From Ramsey to Dual Process Theories,” Synthese DOI: 10.1007/s11229-009-9472-5
Thanos reports eleven new items on his web page. He is also a Visiting Fellow in the Center again in the Fall Term 2009.
John T. Roberts (a 2002-2003 Fellow) published The Law-Governed Universe this year with Oxford University Press
He reports: In July of 2008, I spoke at a conference in Munster on Kuhn and Fleck. I’m organizing a conference on Metaphysics of Science at Melbourne from 2-5 July this year. Here’s the link for the conference: http://www.philosophy.unimelb.edu.au/research/events/09/metaphysics-of-science/
I had a couple of books published:
SCIENTIFIC REALISM AND THE RATIONALITY OF SCIENCE (Ashgate 2008) - some of the papers within which were written while I was at the Center.
Soler, Hoyningen & Sankey (eds), RETHINKING SCIENTIFIC CHANGE AND THEORY COMPARISON (Springer 2008). And, currently, an exchange with Paul Hoyningen-Huene and Eric Oberheim is published this month in STUDIES IN HISTORY AND PHILOSPHY OF SCIENCE. My contributions to the exchange are as follows:
Sankey, “Scientific Realism and the Semantic Incommensurability Thesis,” SHPS 40 2009 196-202
Sankey, “A Curious Disagreement: Response to Hoyningen-Huene and Oberheim,” SHPS 40 2009 210-212
David Schrader serves as Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association. This past year he was elected to a five-year term on the Steering Committee of the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie (FISP). He also serves as Chair of the FISP Commission on Bioethics and Ethics in Science. Additionally David serves on the Board of Directors of the National Humanities Alliance. In that capacity he organized and chaired a session on “The Humanities and Science” at the NHA’s annual Humanities Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. David also serves on the Science and Human Rights Working Group that is a part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Human Rights Coalition. Finally, this past year David was appointed to serve on the Delaware Public Health and Medical Ethics Advisory Board.
Neil was awarded an NEH Fellowship for AY 2009-2010 for a project titled 'Rational Belief Revision.'
Derek recently published a paper on evolutionary trends in Biology and Philosophy that is the result of his work at the Center in the spring of 2008. "How much can we know about the causes of evolutionary trends?" Biology and Philosophy (2009) 24: 341-357.
He reports: "I continue to work as the First Vice President, Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, IUHPS, for the next Nancy Congress in 2011. In the meantime I have finished a book on Darwin which is scheduled for publication in August. And other recent activities are as follows:
Invited Lecture, "Quantum Gravity and Philosophy", Hokkaido University, Jan. 27, 2009
A series of lectures: “Let us brush up our logical sense,” NHK culture center, Kyoto , April-September, 2009."
philsci-archive.pitt.edu is run by the Center for Philosophy of Science in collaboration with the University Library System. (Not reading philsci-archive.pitt.edu? Not posting to philsci-archive.pitt.edu ? You are missing out!)
The Executive Committee presently consists of John Earman (Dept. of HPS, University of Pittsburgh), John D. Norton (Dept. of HPS, University of Pittsburgh) and Zvi Biener (Dept. of Philosophy, Western Michigan University).
The Archive Manager has been Justin Sytsma (Dept. of HPS) since May 2005. At the end of August he is handing over his duties to Bryan Roberts (Dept. of HPS). Justin will become a member of the Executive Committee.
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:
Eighth Pittsburgh-Konstanz Colloquium
Thursday - Friday, 3-4 October 2008
Delimiting Aristotle's Science of Nature
Friday-Saturday, 21-22 November 2008
Doing Without Concepts Workshop
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Underdetermination in Science (donuts)
Saturday-Sunday, 21-22 March 2009
Philosophy of Gauge Theory (donuts)
Saturday-Sunday, 18-19 April 2009
Speakers in the Annual Lecture Series were:
Philip Pettit, Princeton University
Jeremy Butterfield, University of Cambridge, Trinity College
Karen Detlefsen, University of Pennsylvania
Sean Carroll, California Institute of Technology
James Griesemer, University of California-Davis
Rob Boyd, University of California-Los Angeles
Speakers in the Lunchtime Colloquia were:
Nicholas Rescher, University of Pittsburgh , Department of Philosophy
Erik Curiel, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pittsburgh
Ulrich Krohs, University of Hamburg
Claus Beisbart, University of Dortmund
Christopher Pincock, Purdue University
Daniel Parker, Virginia Tech
Flavia Padovani, University of Geneva, Switzerland
John D. Norton, University of Pittsburgh, History & Philosophy of Science/Center for Philosophy of Science
Hanne Andersen, University of Aarhus, Denmark
Alexander Afriat, University of Urbino
Michael Strevens, New York University, Philosophy
Laura Felline, University of Cagliari
Federica Russo, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium
Michael Weisberg, University of Pennsylvania
Martin Bertman, University of Akron
Kyle Stanfod, University of California, Irvine
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 James Maher and Vice Provost George Klinzing), 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.
As Director, my personal thanks go to the staff-- Karen, Joyce, Carol and Peter. 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. A Director can imagine what might be. But the staff are the ones who make it happen. They take vaguely formed suggestions and turn them into letters, phone calls, websites, meetings, and much more. They know when there is trouble coming before I see it. They make sure that every one of our events is carried off flawlessly. I take an unearned pride in our successes. They too take pride in these successes, but they have earned it. My thanks to them for another great year!
John D. Norton