International Postdoc Forum
The effects of COVID-19 and associated economic downturn have had a disproportionate effect on recent PhDs and emerging scholars without tenured positions across the globe. For example, many have lost conference and workshop opportunities to present their research due to cancellations and restrictions on travel. In response to this situation, the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science (MCPS) is introducing the International Postdoc Forum for the Philosophy of Science as of Fall 2020. This program will showcase virtual research presentations from international scholars with commentaries from local MCPS community members. These opportunities are a complement to our existing colloquium series and will facilitate interactions with scholars who would not otherwise be able to visit Minnesota due to prohibitive costs. The presentations will by Zoom and start at 3:35 pm, Please join our mailing list or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a link. Please direct any questions about the program to Alan Love.
March 26, 2021, 3:35 pm CDT (UTC-5)
A Category Theoretic Framework for Physical Representation
Sarita Rosenstock (Philosophy, Australian National University)
Abstract: It is increasingly popular for philosophers of physics to use category theory, the mathematical theory of structure, to adjudicate debates about the (in)equivalence of formal physical theories. In this talk, I discuss the theoretical foundations of this strategy. I introduce the concept of a “representation diagram" as a way to scaffold narrative accounts of how mathematical gadgets represent target systems and demonstrate how their content can be effectively summarized by what I call a “structure category". I argue that the narrative accounts contain the real content of an act of physical representation, and the category-theoretic methodology serves only to make that content precise and conducive to further analysis. In particular, one can use tools from category theory to assess whether one physical formalism thus presented has more "properties", "structure", or "stuff" than another according to a given narrative about how they both purport to represent the same physical systems.
Commentator: Samuel Fletcher, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota
Link to Youtube recording
April 23, 2021, 3:35 pm CDT (UTC-5)
Pursuitworthiness, Inductive Risk and Female Viking Warriors
Rune Nyrup (University of Cambridge)
Abstract: Debates overvalues in science usually focus on acceptance. The use of nonepistemic values to guide decisions about pursuit is often seen as unproblematic but uninteresting. Elliott and McKaughan (2009, Phil. Sci. 76:598-611) have questioned this division, pointing out that decisions about pursuit can indirectly influence acceptance, by shaping what types of evidence and well-developed hypotheses become available. This paper further complicates these pictures, by highlighting influences running in the opposite direction, from acceptance to pursuit. I focus on an argument by feminist archaeologist Joan Gero (2007, J. Archaeological Method and Theory, 14:311-327), which criticizes the tendency to overvalue certainty and avoid ambiguity in archaeological interpretation. I argue that this can be interpreted in terms of inductive risk considerations: traditional archaeology overvalues the avoidance of false or poorly supported interpretations and undervalues new interpretative hypotheses, especially ones that are more tentative or speculative. As this tends to disincentivize archaeologists from pursuing certain kinds of questions—ones concerning marginal groups that were less likely to leave behind unambiguous material evidence—this methodological norm is not value neutral. In this paper, I propose an account of the complex interplay between pursuit and acceptance which underpins Gero's argument, and use it to analyze a recent debate in archaeology over whether there is evidence for the existence of female Viking warriors.
Commentator: Alan Love, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota
Link to Youtube recording
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