The Centre for Science and Philosophy will be officially launched on Tuesday 4th December 2012. The event will take place 6-8pm in the Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol.
The launch will host 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.
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."