[SydPhil] Reminder: Milena Ivanova @ Mon 22 Apr 2013 13:00 - 14:30 (Current Projects)

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Sun Apr 21 12:59:57 AEST 2013

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Title: Milena Ivanova
Conventionalism, Structuralism and Neo-Kantianism in Poincaré’s Philosophy  
of Science

Milena Ivanova

Two of the most prominent debates in the philosophy of science literature –  
namely the scientific realism debate and the conventionalism debate –  
originate in the work of Henri Poincaré. However, Poincaré is notoriously  
attributed conflicting positions when it comes to his stance towards  
scientific theories and geometry. While some hold that Poincaré's  
conventionalism is generalised to all scientific theories, equating his  
position with instrumentalism, others claim he is the founder of structural  
realism but fail to show how this view can be incorporated into his general  
philosophy of science and especially his conventionalism.

In this paper I argue against the above readings by showing that they  
misrepresent Poincaré's geometric conventionalism and his philosophy of  
science. I examine the arguments, offered by Poincaré, that are usually  
taken to establish geometric conventionalism: (1) his argument for the  
underdetermination of geometry by experience; and (2) his argument for the  
conventional status of geometry in physics, and explain their  
epistemological significance. I discuss Poincaré's arguments against  
instrumentalism, his defence of convergence and continuity in science,  
which is taken to motivate some form of structural realism. After  
explaining the neo-Kantian element of Poincaré's philosophy of science and  
his layered approach to science, I address the question whether Poincaré  
can be properly interpreted as a structural realist. I show that Poincaré's  
view is much more complex than the standard structural realist reading  
presupposes and his neo-Kantian commitments separate him significantly from  
a realist position.

When: Mon 22 Apr 2013 13:00 – 14:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: Philosophy Common Room, University of Sydney
Calendar: Current Projects
     * kristiemiller4 at gmail.com- creator

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