Centre news

Interview Series

Joe Boswell of Science and Philosophy blog Adam's Opticks has recently worked with the Centre for Science and Philosophy to create a series of filmed interviews with scientists and philosophers from the Centre and further afield. These films investigate the relationship between science and philosophy.

James Ladyman at HowTheLightGetsIn

James Ladyman speaks at the Institute of Art and Idea's HowTheLightGetsIn festival on Many Worlds and Multiverse Theory.

James Ladyman Royal Institute of Philosophy debate with Raymond Tallis

Melvyn Bragg presides over a debate between James Layman and Raymond Tallis on the motion: ‘Human Nature is Better Understood Through Science Than Through Philosophical And Artistic Reflection’.

Sense about Science

The Centre for Science and Philosophy has recently been in communication with Sense about Science, an organisation that equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion.

As part of their Ask for Evidence campaign, which works with young people to help them develop the skills they need to critically assess claims online and prevent the spread of unquestioned information, Sense about Science have produced an excellent teaching resource which can be downloaded here.

Summary and Review: 'Philosophy and the Sciences' (Manchester, May 2015)

James Ladyman spoke at the recent conference entitled ‘Philosophy and the Sciences’ organised by Helen Beebee and Michael Rush at the University of Manchester.

The Centre for Science and Philosophy invited Joe Boswell of the science and philosophy blog Adam's Opticks to write about the event.



Centre for Science and Philosophy launch event

The Centre for Science and Philosophy was officially launched on Tuesday 4 December 2012. The event took place in the Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol.

The launch hosted four expert speakers from diverse areas in the philosophy of science:

Professor John Dupré: 'Why Philosophy of Biology?: Beyond Stamp Collecting'

Abstract: 40 years ago philosophy of science was pretty much synonymous with philosophy of physics.  Since then philosophy of biology has grown steadily, and is now at least as active an area of research as philosophy of physics.  Over the same period, fundamental biological knowledge has experienced an explosive growth perhaps unequalled in the history of science.  Reflection on this emerging knowledge is dramatically changing our views of, among many other basic questions, scientific method, causation, and (literally) the meaning of life.  Philosophy of biology, therefore, has become an essential contributor both to our understanding of science, and to our general philosophical interpretation of the world.

John Dupré is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Exeter and President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science.

Dr Eleanor Knox: 'The Curious Case of the Vanishing  Spacetime: philosophy and quantum gravity'

Abstract: The greatest challenge facing theoretical physics is how to find a theory that explains and combines the successes of both quantum mechanics and general relativity. However, many approaches to solving this problem have a surprising feature: they do not appear to involve space and time at the most fundamental level. Such theories raise deep conceptual puzzles, both in terms of how they can generate empirical results, and in terms of the world-picture they generate. I'll examine the role philosophy has to play in helping to make sense of and develop these theories.

Eleanor Knox is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at King's College, London.

Professor David Papineau: 'Consciousness and the Brain'

Abstract: Modern neuroscience has helped philosophy to understand that the conscious mind is not separate from the physical brain. But the conscious mind remains a very puzzling phenomenon, and perhaps philosophy can also help neuroscience to understand what kind of issues it raises for scientific study.

David Papineau is Professor of Philosophy of Science at King's College, London.

Dr Richard Pettigrew: 'How should we think?'

Abstract: Over the past fifty years, psychologists have revealed how badly we fail to follow basic principles of probabilistic reasoning. This raises a question for philosophers:  What is so good about these principles?  In what way does a person go wrong if she violates them?  Is there a reliable way to generate new principles of this sort?  I will present a new way of answering these sorts of question.

Richard Pettigrew is a Reader in Philosophy here at the University of Bristol.

Introductory addresses

There were also introductory addresses from Professor James Ladyman, Director of the Centre, and Professor Jon Keating, Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Richard Pettigrew and Hannes Leitgeb in the Philosopher's Annual

Richard Pettigrew, British Academy Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, and Hannes Leitgeb co-wrote a paper that has been chosen by the Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles published in philosophy in 2010.

The article, entitled ‘An Objective Justification of Bayesianism II: The Consequences of Minimizing Inacurracy', appeared in Philosophy of Science, vol. 77, no. 2, in April 2010.

Dr Pettigrew explained the thinking behind the article: "Suppose that I know that a die will be rolled; and suppose that I believe that it will land on three more strongly than I believe that it will land on an odd number. We would say that I am irrational. But why?  In this article, we sought to answer this and other questions about how our degrees of beliefs ought to relate to one another. We argued that people whose degrees of beliefs do not relate to one another in the prescribed ways can expect themselves to have less accurate beliefs than those whose degrees of beliefs do."

Professor James Ladyman, Head of the Department of Philosophy, said: "The Philosopher’s Annual is compiled by an international panel of editors of the very best philosophy journals. Articles in all areas of philosophy are considered and only ten are chosen. It is an exceptional achievement for a young philosopher to have a paper appear in this compilation."

Blocks of coloured light, Oslo

Photography © Chris Bertram (all rights reserved), used with permission