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Conferences and Workshops

Organized by the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science

From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics, 19–27 July, 2018, Taipei, Taiwan

Scientific metaphysics is based on the idea that metaphysics—the study of what the world is ultimately like—should be informed by the remarkable success of science. This project involves analyzing what kinds of practices are successful in science and then asking what the world might ultimately be like such that these kinds of practices are successful. The inference from the form of successful practice to the general nature of the world is motivated by the idea that the practices of science have been adapted to work in the real world, that is, the world that scientists actually engage.
The 2018 Summer Institute will center on themes of the sponsored research project and the research of its four principal investigators: Alan Love, C. Kenneth Waters, Marcel Weber, and William Wimsatt.

Organizers 

  • Alan C Love (University of Minnesota)
  • C Kenneth Waters (University of Calgary)
  • Marcel Weber (University of Geneva)
  • William C Wimsatt (University of Chicago/University of Minnesota)
  • Ruey-Lin Chen (National Chung Cheng University) Local organizer

Participants

  • Janella Baxter
  • William Bausman
  • LiSheng Chen
  • Ananya Chattoraj 
  • Masaki Chiba
  • HyunDeuk Cheon 
  • Wei Fang
  • Maria Ferreira Ruiz
  • Brian Hanley
  • Jenny Hung
  • JinKwon Jun
  • Marie I. Kaiser
  • KaYoung Kim
  • Oliver Lean
  • QiaoYing Lu
  • YuJing Lyu
  • Yusaku Ohkubo
  • Min Ou-Yang 
  • Lauren Ross 
  • Can Sun
  • Vida Mia Valverde
  • Martin Wasmer
  • Barbara Wimsatt
  • Karen Yan
  • ShiJian Yang
  • HsiaoFan Yeh
  • MengWen Zhang
  • QiuZhi Zhang
  • Xin Zhang
Conceptual Legacy of "On Growth and Form," St Andrews University, Scotland, June 14–17, 2018

An interdisciplinary workshop that explores the conceptual dimensions of the legacy of D’Arcy Thompson’s landmark book, On Growth and Form (1917). Thompson was prescient in recognizing the potential significance of physical forces for shaping biological morphology and mathematically representing these dynamics to understand both development and evolution. Now, one hundred years later, there is a renaissance of these kinds of efforts in many areas of contemporary biology.

Although there are several activities connected to the centennial of On Growth and Form, these tend to be either purely scientific conferences (e.g., new work on mechanical forces in biology) or attempts to canvas the broad range of influence Thompson had across art, architecture, anthropology, geography, and other disciplines. While these efforts are clearly valuable, Sahotra Sarkar, William Wimsatt, and Alan Love organized a three-day workshop devoted to the legacy of On Growth and Form in the current biological investigation to understand its conceptual basis. A small group of scientists and philosophers of science spent several days together exploring the forms of reasoning in both Thompson’s work and areas of contemporary biology with the aim of better comprehending the general significance of physical factors and their mathematical representation for investigating and explaining the development and evolution of morphology.

The workshop is organized by Alan C Love

Speakers

  • Jamie Davies (Edinburgh)
  • Alan C. Love (Minnesota)
  • Lisa Manning (Syracuse)
  • Celeste Nelson (Princeton)
  • Laura Nuño de la Rosa (Madrid)
  • Alan Rodrigues (Berkeley)
  • Sahotra Sarkar (Austin)
  • Amy Shyer (Berkeley)

Non-presenting Participants

  • Wallace Arthur (Galway)
  • Mark Chaplain (St Andrews)
  • Max Dresow (Minnesota)
  • Borja Esteva-Altava (Royal Veterinary College, London)
  • Flavia Fabris (Exeter)
  • Katrina Falkenberg (St Andrews)
  • Devin Gouvêa (Chicago)
  • Stephan Guttinger (LSE)
  • Kevin Laland (St Andrews)
  • Lenny Moss (Exeter)
  • Wilson Poon (Edinburgh)
  • Raphael Scholl (Cambridge)
  • Derek Skillings (Bordeaux)
  • Ulrich Stegmann (Aberdeen)
  • Thomas Stewart (Chicago)
  • Karina Vanadzina (St Andrews)
  • Yoshinari Yoshida (Minnesota)
Feminist Philosophy and Formal Logic Workshop, Stillwater, MN, April 19–22, 2018

Feminist philosophy has, over the past few decades, engaged with both traditional epistemology and with the history and philosophy of science in deep and significant ways, resulting in a large body of important work that addresses the ways that feminist perspectives can illuminate our accounts of how we know the everyday and scientific world, as well as the ways that epistemology and the history and philosophy of science can fruitfully be brought to bear on feminist projects. Interactions between feminist philosophy and philosophical and formal logic have been less frequent and less fruitful, however. This workshop is intended to begin rectifying this imbalance by interrogating connections and tensions between logic (both philosophical and formal) and feminist philosophy. More information on the Workshop.

The workshop is organized by Jessica Gordon-Roth and Roy T Cook.

Speakers

  • Derek Anderson (Boston University)
  • Melanie Bowman (Minnesota – Twin Cities)
  • Maureen Eckert (UMass)
  • Catherine Hundleby (Windsor)
  • Frederique Janssen-Lauret (Manchester)
  • Katherine Ritchie (CUNY)
  • Gillian Russell (UNC)
  • Catharine St Croix (Michigan)
  • Sara Uckelman (Durham)
  • Audrey Yap (Victoria)

Non-presenting Participants

  • Samara Burns (MA student, Calgary)
  • Tempest Henning (PhD student, Vanderbilt)
  • Stella Moon (PhD student, UC Irvine)
  • Rebecca Morris (postdoc, Stanford)
  • Gisele Secco (faculty, Federal University of Rio do Sul)
From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics: Practices of Individuation and Classification in Science, 18 June–1 July, 2017, Alberta, Canada

Scientific metaphysics is based on the idea that metaphysics—the study of what the world is ultimately like—should be informed by the remarkable success of science. This project involves analyzing what kinds of practices are successful in science, and then asking what the world might ultimately be like such that these kinds of practices are successful. The inference from the form of successful practice to the general nature of the world is motivated by the idea that the practices of science have been adapted to work in the real world, that is, the world that scientists actually engage.

The 2017 Summer Institute will examine practices of individuation and classification. We will begin by investigating how scientists actually individuate and classify entities and processes and considering what purposes these practices are designed to serve. Then we will ask what metaphysical conclusions might be drawn from these practices. So, for example, instead of framing our philosophical inquiry with questions such as “what is a species?” we will frame it in terms of questions such as “how do biologists classify organisms into kinds they call ‘species’ and for what purposes?” We will consider what our answers to these questions might imply about the general nature of reality. 

Organizers 

  • Alan C Love (University of Minnesota)
  • C Kenneth Waters (University of Calgary)
  • Marcel Weber (University of Geneva)
  • William C Wimsatt (University of Chicago/University of Minnesota)

Invited Speakers

  • Marc Ereshefsky (University of Calgary)
  • Kathrin Koslicki (University of Alberta)
  • Andrea Woody (University of Washington)

Participants

  • William Bausman     
  • Janella Baxter     
  • Kathleen A Creel    
  • Max Dresow     
  • Antoine Dussault     
  • Devin Yagel Gouvêa    
  • Brian Hanley     
  • Marie I. Kaiser    
  • Ka Ho Lam     
  • Katherine Liu     
  • Alison McConwell     
  • Daniel James Molter     
  • Celso Alves Neto     
  • Aaron Novick     
  • Isobel Ronai     
  • Lauren Ross     
  • María José Ferreira Ruiz     
  • Mariana Salcedo     
  • Barbara Wimsatt         
  • Yoshinari Yoshida     
  • Helen Zhao
Can Biological Practice Inform Metaphysics? Cologne, June 15–16, 2017

Philosophers of science have increasingly shifted their focus away from scientific theories to scientific practice. This workshop seeks to explore what, if anything, the explanatory and investigative strategies of the biological sciences can tell us about reality. Some philosophers draw heavily from biological practices to develop accounts of individuality, the nature of kinds, causal variables, and causal selection. We wish to investigate the relationship between biological practice and metaphysics. Does the former offer a fruitful approach to the latter? What, exactly, does it mean for a metaphysical claim to account for biological practice? Does informing metaphysics with biological practice require that we rethink common views about what counts as metaphysics, what counts as a biological practice, and what sorts of methodological approaches are appropriate? This workshop aims to make explicit methodological and conceptual commitments implicit to the work of philosophers of biology who draw from biological practices.

Speakers

Organizers

  • Janella Baxter (University of Minnesota)
  • Marie I. Kaiser (University of Bielefeld)

As a cooperation between The John Templeton Foundation project “From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics” (Grant #50191) and DFG Research Group “Causation and Explanation” (Grant #FOR 1063).
Hosted by the University of Cologne, Department of Philosophy
Funded by DFG (German Research Foundation)

Integrating Generic and Genetic Explanations of Biological Phenomena: Evolvability, 27–30 April 2017, Stillwater, Minnesota

The capacity to generate selectable phenotypic variation has been treated largely from the perspective of evolutionary genetics and molecular cell biology, both of which emphasize different types of genetic explanatory approaches. However, a growing literature has emerged surrounding generic explanations of evolvability that appeal to abstract network properties, such as robustness, sparseness, and criticality. Additionally, mathematically formulated mechanical models of developmental processes have been used to explain evolutionary patterns such as convergence.

Some have urged that selection cannot maintain the complex organization that we find in living systems, and that traits behave according to self-organizational dynamics and must be generic to survive. Others argue that a population genetic perspective is essential and prevents facile appeals to natural selection when trying to explain complexity. Still others try to combine a ubiquitous generic robustness at multiple levels and specific genetic properties to account for evolvability.

At least three factors act as obstacles to progress in explanatory integration:

  1. a polarization of generic and genetic approaches to evolvability
  2. a tendency to concentrate on one or a small subset of genetic or generic properties as more important in understanding evolvability
  3. the lack of comparison between models to expose conflicting assumptions within and between genetic and generic approaches.

Invited Experts

  • Elena Álvarez-Buylla Ecology; Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México
  • Jeremy Draghi Biology; Brooklyn College (City University of New York)
  • David Houle Biological Sciences; Florida State University
  • Joanna Masel Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; University of Arizona

Core Team

  • Robert Batterman Philosophy; University of Pittsburgh
  • Doug Erwin Paleobiology; National Museum of Natural History
  • James Griesemer Philosophy; University of California, Davis
  • Alan Love Philosophy; University of Minnesota
  • Stuart Newman Cell Biology & Anatomy; New York Medical College
  • Karl Niklas Plant Biology; Cornell University
  • Thomas Stewart Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Yale University
  • Günter Wagner Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Systems Biology Institute; Yale University
  • William Wimsatt Philosophy; University of Minnesota/University of Chicago

Guests

  • Yaniv Brandvain Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Plant and Microbial Biology; University of Minnesota
  • Brett Calcott History and Philosophy of Science; University of Sydney
  • Max Dresow Philosophy; University of Minnesota
  • Juan Carlos Martínez-García Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (México)
  • Kristin Sikkink Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior; University of Minnesota
  • Emilie Snell-Rood Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior; University of Minnesota
  • Michael Travisano Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior; Biotechnology Institute, University of Minnesota
  • Barbara Wimsatt
From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics: Reconceiving and Explaining the Success of Science, 1–12 August, 2016, Basel, Switzerland

Scientific metaphysics is based on the idea that metaphysics—the study of what the world is ultimately like—should be informed by the remarkable success of science. The 2016 Summer Institute will address the idea that the success of science can inform metaphysics by: (a) considering different interpretations of the success of science, (b) examining how the success of science interpreted in various ways might be explained, and (c) exploring the metaphysical implications of these explanations. We will consider the possibility of interpreting the success of science in terms of broadly conceived investigative practices as well as the theories and models that are involved in these practices. 

Organizers

  • Alan C Love (University of Minnesota)
  • C Kenneth Waters (University of Calgary)
  • Marcel Weber (University of Geneva)
  • William C Wimsatt (University of Chicago/University of Minnesota)

Invited Speakers

  • Nancy Nersessian (Harvard University/Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Alyssa Ney (UC Davis)

Participants

  • William Bausman
  • Janella Baxter
  • Lorenzo Casini
  • Haixin Dang
  • Max Dresow
  • Steve Elliott
  • Flavia Fabris
  • Brian Hanley
  • Michal Hladky
  • Maximillian Huber
  • Marie Kaiser
  • Nina Kranke
  • Oliver Lean
  • Dijana Magđinski
  • Danke Radjenović
  • Lauren Ross
  • Lida Sarafrazarpatapeh
  • Derek Skillings
  • Megan Welle
Integrating Generic and Genetic Explanations of Biological Phenomena: Evolutionary Novelty 21–24 April 2016, Stillwater, Minnesota

The problem of explaining novelty involves understanding how developmental systems are transformed in order to generate new ranges of variation through evolutionary time.

Some have advanced an argument for the physico-genetic origination of novelties that claims major morphological characteristics of metazoans originated from physical forces—diffusion, viscoelasticity, phase separation—operating on soft condensed materials early in evolution. Generic properties of cells and tissues would interact with environmental forces to yield basic morphologies with minimal developmental genetic machinery. These forms would then be stabilized via genetic assimilation, becoming more robust in each generation, as we now observe experimentally.

This contrasts with developmental genetic explanations that appeal to the origination of new patterns of gene expression, especially the emergence of networks of expression among regulatory genes, to account for the origin of new traits in the history of life. “The evolution of new morphological features is due predominantly to modifications of spatial patterns of gene expression”; “novelty requires the evolution of a new gene regulatory network”.

Invited Experts

  • Vivian Irish Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Yale University
  • Jukka Jernvall Developmental Biology Program, Institute of Biotechnology; University of Helsinki
  • Artyom Kopp Ecology and Evolution; University of California, Davis
  • Armin Moczek Department of Biology; Indiana University

Core Team

  • Robert Batterman Philosophy; University of Pittsburgh
  • Doug Erwin Paleobiology; National Museum of Natural History
  • James Griesemer Philosophy; University of California, Davis
  • Alan Love Philosophy; University of Minnesota
  • Stuart Newman Cell Biology & Anatomy; New York Medical College
  • Karl Niklas Plant Biology; Cornell University
  • Thomas Stewart Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Yale University
  • Günter Wagner Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Systems Biology Institute; Yale University
  • William Wimsatt Philosophy; University of Minnesota/University of Chicago

Guests

  • Max Dresow Philosophy; University of Minnesota
  • Emilie Snell-Rood Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior; University of Minnesota
  • Michael Travisano Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior; Biotechnology Institute, University of Minnesota
  • Barbara Wimsatt
Integrating Generic and Genetic Explanations of Biological Phenomena: Development, 23–26 April 2015, Stillwater, Minnesota

There is no controversy about whether genetic and generic approaches are required to explain ontogeny: “both the physics and biochemical signaling pathways of the embryo contribute to the form of the organism” (Von Dassow et al. 2010). In this sense they are not competing causal explanations of the same phenomenon. Recent empirical work suggests that the aim is to capture how their productive interactions yield specific outcomes (e.g., neural tubes and kidneys): “an increasing number of examples point to the existence of a reciprocal interplay between expression of some developmental genes and the mechanical forces that are associated with morphogenetic movements” (Brouzés and Farge 2004).
But even in cases where the need for an integration of genetic and generic approaches is fully acknowledged—“there has been a renewed appreciation of the fact that to understand morphogenesis in three dimensions, it is necessary to combine molecular insights (genes and morphogens) with knowledge of physical processes (transport, deformation and flow) generated by growing tissues” (Savin et al. 2011)—the actual combining or integration is often absent. At least three factors act as obstacles to progress in explanatory integration: (1) a continued orientation toward exclusively genetic explanations of ontogeny; (2) incompatible experimental models for discovering the relative significance of generic versus genetic explanation; and, (3) the inherent difficulty in finding a common currency for comparing the causal factors.
This workshop addresses research questions such as: What aspects of development are explained genetically? generically? What are the best examples of each type of explanation in isolation? Are there examples of integrated explanations involving genetic and generic approaches? If so, what are their characteristics? Are they successful? What empirical, theoretical, and conceptual barriers exist to integrating genetic and generic explanations of development? What conflicting assumptions exist among different explanatory models?

Invited Experts

  • Lance Davidson Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh
  • Michael Levin Biology, Tufts University
  • Claudio Stern Cell & Developmental Biology, University College London
  • Eric Wieschaus Molecular Biology, Princeton University

Core Team

  • Robert Batterman Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh
  • Doug Erwin Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History
  • James Griesemer Philosophy, University of California, Davis
  • Alan Love Philosophy, University of Minnesota
  • Stuart Newman Cell Biology & Anatomy, New York Medical College
  • Karl Niklas Plant Biology, Cornell University
  • Thomas Stewart MCPS/Biology, University of Minnesota/Yale University
  • Günter Wagner Biology, Yale University
  • William Wimsatt Philosophy, University of Minnesota/University of Chicago

Guests

  • Robert Herman Genetics, Cell Biology, & Development, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Jura Newman
  • Aidan Peterson Genetics, Cell Biology, & Development, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Emilie Snell-Rood Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior, University of Minnesota
  • Barbara Wimsatt
Beyond the Meme: Articulating Dynamic Structures in Cultural Evolution October 16–19, 2014

Theories of cultural evolution have been oriented substantively around “dual-inheritance” theories inspired by population genetic models. However, despite this emphasis on “dual inheritance”, most theoretical elaborations and developments have concentrated on the cultural level, not on gene-culture interaction. As a consequence, we are arguably afflicted with what Ernst Mayr might have called a “beanbag theory of memetics.” At the strictly cultural level, we no longer believe in selfish memes, but most of our biologically inspired theory of cultural evolution remains woefully unstructured. This is a profound limitation and distortion. Culture is full of dynamic elements that change at different rates and exhibit heterogeneous dependencies that constrain and direct evolutionary change. Some of these elements change much more slowly than others, and thus act as structuring constraints on the evolutionary dynamics of the faster changing elements of culture, which is rarely reflected in our theories. First, developmental dependencies shape the acquisition of complex skills, and give us cumulatively increasing competencies. Second, culturally-induced population structure (induced by our organizations and institutions) affects who we interact with, and how. These two factors, developmental structure and population structure, are particularly central, and provide a kind of complementary “endogenetics” and “exogenetics” for culture. Additionally, our technology scaffolds our activities, expanding our range of possibilities, but also plays a formative element in our cognition and social interactions, such that external influences directly influence internal structure in positive and negative feedback loops, providing a kind of cultural niche construction. The focus of this workshop is to explore the varieties of structure that are integral to the transmission, elaboration, and evolution of culture, and where possible to explore how the different modes of structure interact on different size and time scales. The aim is to have a mixture of data-intensive and theory-intensive papers in the hope that the workshop leads to an increased articulation of data and models in the elaboration of more adequate theory.

Organizers

  • Alan Love Philosophy, University of Minnesota
  • William Wimsatt Winton Chair in the Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota

Participants

  • Colin Allen History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University
  • Claes Andersson Complex Systems, Chalmers University, Goteborg, Sweden
  • Mark Bedau  Philosophy, Reed College
  • Linnda Caporael Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • James Evans Sociology, University of Chicago
  • Marcus Feldman Biology, Stanford University
  • Jacob Foster Sociology, UCLA
  • Jim Griesemer Philosophy, UC Davis
  • Michel Janssen HSTM, University of Minnesota
  • Katherine Liu EEB, University of Minnesota (graduate student)
  • Alan Love Philosophy, University of Minnesota
  • Massimo Maiocchi The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
  • Joe Martin Lyman Briggs College, Michigan State University
  • Salikoko Mufwene Linguistics, University of Chicago
  • Nancy Nersessian Harvard
  • Paul Smaldino Center for Advanced Modeling, Johns Hopkins University
  • Georg Theiner Philosophy, Villanova University
  • Mike Travisano EEB, University of Minnesota
  • Gil Tostevin Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  • William Wimsatt Winton Chair, University of Minnesota
  • Barbara Wimsatt MCPS Resident Fellow
The Language of Nature: Reconsidering the Mathematization of Science October 11–14, 2012

The book of reality is written in the language of mathematics … without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it. (Galileo, 1623)

This workshop will inaugurate a partnership between the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, and will continue the Minnesota Center's tradition of inviting leading scholars for workshops, and then publishing the products of these workshops as volumes in Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science. The aim of the workshop project is to re-evaluate a prominent historiographical orientation of twentieth century research on the Scientific Revolution—the mathematization of nature (Koyré, Dijksterhius, Burtt)—in light of the proliferation of novel methodological orientations and studies in the last generation of scholars. By examining the relation between mathematical and scientific knowledge from a variety of perspectives, including philosophical, social, and rhetorical, the workshop and volume will shed new light on the complex gestation and nurture of modern science.

The workshop will take place at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
Participants
Roger Ariew Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida
Pamela Long Independent Scholar
Richard Arthur Professor, Department of Philosophy, McMaster University
Emily Carson Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, McGill University
Carla Rita Palmerino Universitair docent, Faculty of Philosophy and Center for Medieval and Renaissance Natural Philosophy, Radboud University
Lesley Cormack Professor and Dean, Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta
Eileen Reeves Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University
Dennis Des Chene Professor, Department of Philosophy, Washington University
J. B. Shank Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Mary Domski Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of New Mexico
Alan Shapiro Professor, Department of Physics and Program in the History of Science, University of Minnesota
Daniel Garber Professor, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University
Edward Slowik Professor, Department of Philosophy. Winona State University
Geoffrey Gorham Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Macalester College
Chris Smeenk Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario
Benjamin Hill Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario
Justin Smith Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Concordia University
Douglas Jesseph Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida
Kurt Smith Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University
Matthew Jones Associate Professor, Department of History, Columbia University
C. Kenneth Waters Professor, Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science and Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota
Organizers
Geoffrey Gorham (Philosophy, Macalester College)
Benjamin Hill (Philosophy, University of Western Ontario)
Edward Slowik (Philosophy, Winona State University)
C Kenneth Waters (Philosophy, University of Minnesota)

Philosophical Perspectives on Causal Reasoning in Biology May 5–7, 2011 and May 3–6, 2012

This workshop will consist of two meetings. The first meeting will bring together a small group of biologists, philosophers working in the general area of causation, and philosophers of biology to discuss issues involving causal concepts in biology. Participants will prepare for the meeting by reading classic philosophical works on causation. Biologists will make presentations describing causal phenomena or issues in their research areas that they believe are both important and in need of careful causal analysis. Philosophers of biology will give brief talks describing cases from biology that raise intriguing causal issues. This will stimulate all of those invited to explore these examples and problems in more detail, bringing tools and expertise from their respective backgrounds to bear on them. It should also help shape topics for further research. Project participants will then write papers on these topics to be discussed at the second meeting, which after further revision will be published in Minnesota Studies for the Philosophy of Science.

The workshop is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Organizers

  • Ken Waters Philosophy, University of Minnesota
  • Mike Travisano Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, & BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota
  • Jim Woodward Division of Humanities, California Institute of Technology

Participants

  • William Bausman Philosophy, University of Minnesota (graduate student)
  • John Beatty Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia
  • Carl Craver Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Washington University in St Louis
  • David Danks Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Laura Franklin-Hall Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, New York University
  • Patricia Adair Gowaty Distinguished Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Ned Hall Professor, Department of Philosophy, Harvard University
  • Chris Hitchcock Professor, Department of Philosophy, California Institute of Technology
  • Stephen Hubbell Distinguished Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Paul Humphreys Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
  • Benjamin Jantzen Philosophy, Virginia Tech (graduate student)
  • Marie Kaiser Philosophy, University of Cologne (graduate student)
  • Bob Krueger Hathaway Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • Alan Love Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota
  • Roberta Millstein Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Davis
  • Marco Nathan Philosophy, Columbia University (graduate student)
  • Jay Odenbaugh Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College
  • Catherine Putonti Assistant Professor, Departments of Biology and Computer Science, Loyola University
  • Beckett Sterner Philosophy, University of Chicago (graduate student)
  • Michael Strevens Professor, Department of Philosophy, New York University
  • Michael Travisano Associate Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota
  • C Kenneth Waters Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota
  • Marcel Weber Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva
  • James F Woodward Distinguished Professor, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh; Koepfli Professor Emeritus, California Institute of Technology
Integration in contemporary biology: philosophical perspectives on the dynamics of interdisciplinarity September 23–25, 2011

This workshop features several prominent scholars which will present on and discuss the nature of intellectual integration in contemporary biology. The aim is to shed light on the epistemology of interdisciplinary research, with attention to the fact that integration is a dynamic process. Different areas of biology are covered, including evolutionary biology and experimental biology.

Issues to be addressed include:

  • Is integration the merging of different approaches into a unified whole or rather intellectual coordination among different approaches (that retain their identity)?
  • To what extent is integration in contemporary biology accompanied with (the opposing tendency) of disciplinary specialization?
  • Which factors promote integration, and which inhibit integration?
  • If the philosophical focus should not just be on integration as a finished product (as reductive explanations are sometimes understood), how to capture the dynamic history of interdisciplinary research and explanatory projects? Is the study of integrative explanations inseparable from the study of scientific discovery?
  • What epistemological notions are germane to accounting for integrative research: models, mechanisms, scientific questions and explanatory aims, standards, …?
  • Is talk about 'levels' important and even coherent? Is integration inevitable a process addressing entities on different levels of organization?

This workshop is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Standard Research Grant 410-2008-0400).

Organizers

  • Ingo Brigandt (Philosophy, University of Alberta)
  • Alan C Love (Philosophy, University of Minnesota)
Psychology, Philosophy, and the Study of the Capacities of Wisdom July 29–31, 2010

The purpose of this workshop is to bring together philosophers and psychologists to explore the possibility of collaboration on the topic of wisdom and to learn from each other about the complexities of this virtue. The specific content of the workshop will depend on the participants and their research interests, but the following general description conveys some idea of what an exciting opportunity this could be.

A starting assumption is that wisdom comprises various capacities and characteristics that constitute wisdom when they function together well or excellently. In particular, wisdom seems to include (among other things) deep understanding about what matters (understanding of values), self-knowledge, sound moral judgment (autonomous judgment), and an appropriate emotional outlook (empathy, kindness). Understanding how these capacities function is mainly an empirical question that is the province of psychology. Understanding what it means for these capacities to function well, ideally, or virtuously, is mainly a philosophical question that is in the domain of philosophy. It is my hope that bringing psychologists and philosophers together to discuss these elements of wisdom will highlight the ways in which questions about functioning and questions about virtuous functioning are importantly related.

This workshop has as its goal not only the advancement of interdisciplinary understanding of wisdom, but also the creation and dissemination of a general model of interdisciplinary collaboration across academic disciplines.

The report from the workshop can be found here.

The workshop is funded by a Defining Wisdom grant from the University of Chicago and the Templeton Foundation.

Organizer

  • Valerie Tiberius (Philosophy, University of Minnesota)