[SydPhil] Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science Events for March 2014

Debbie Castle debbie.castle at sydney.edu.au
Tue Mar 4 13:44:41 AEDT 2014

Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science Events for March 2014

* Wednesday 5 March, 3.30-5.30, Muniment Room, Philosophy Seminar, Katherine Dunlop (Univ Texas, SCFS visitor): 'Kant on "Transcendental" and Ordinary Logic'.
The Critique of Pure Reason is structured as an (eighteenth-century) treatise on logic.  In particular, the Categories are identified through their supposed correspondence with logically basic forms of judgment.  But while Kant claims logic abstracts from thought's content, i.e. its relation to an object, his own theory of cognition-which he designates "transcendental logic"-is supposed to concern "pure thinking of objects".  To solve the puzzle of how Kant can regard his theory as a logic, I argue that the content thematized in transcendental logic is already presupposed in ordinary logic.  Like many other eighteenth-century thinkers, Kant conceives logic as rules for the use of mental faculties, and on his view the proper use of our understanding is to relate to objects (through intuition). On this interpretation, Kant's view is undeniably psychologistic.  As such it faces the classic objection that it wrongly narrows logic's scope, to things we can think about.  In particular, on this interpretation logic is inapplicable to things in themselves.  I argue that this consequence should be accepted: logical knowledge, as Kant conceives it, exceeds what we can claim about things in themselves.

* Monday 10 March, 4.00-6.0 Science Meeting Room (450): HPS seminar, Katherine Dunlop (Univ Texas, SCFS visitor): 'Arithmetic and Geometry in Poincaré's Science and Hypothesis'
It is usually supposed that Poincaré's Science and Hypothesis contains a unified view of mathematics and physical science.  But its defense of a role for intuition in arithmetic does not fit well with the conventionalism Poincaré advocates elsewhere in the book.  After bringing out the conflict, I argue that the most usual way of resolving it does not succeed.  That is to suppose the sciences are arranged in a hierarchy such that arithmetic is presupposed by geometry, which is presupposed by mechanics, etc.  On the usual reading, Poincaré takes arithmetic to depend on an a priori intuition which underlies the notion of natural number (and with it the principle of mathematical induction), and is thereby seen to underlie all science.  In contrast, I maintain that Poincaré conceives mathematical reasoning as a general type, of which the justification of arithmetical notions is just one instance, distinct from its application to geometry.  The sense in which intuition is foundational for all science is that it helps us to decide on conventions, by showing them to be appropriate in light of our experience. So Poincaré's account of arithmetic has a place in his overall view of science, just a different place than is usually supposed.

* Wednesday 19 March 1.00-2.30 Muniment Room: Stefan Hartmann (Univ Munich): 'The No Alternatives Argument'.
Scientific theories are hard to find, and once scientists have found a theory H, they often believe that there are not many distinct alternatives to H. But is this belief justified? What should scientists believe about the number of alternatives to H, and how should they change these beliefs in the light of new evidence? These are some of the questions that we will address in this paper. We also ask under which conditions failure to find an alternative to H confirms the theory in question. This kind of reasoning (which we call the No Alternatives Argument) is frequently used in science and therefore deserves a careful philosophical analysis.

* Thursday 20 March 9.15-5.00 SOPHI Common Room, Level 8, Main Quad
Workship: 'Methodology and Mathematics from Newton to Euler': Participants: Peter Anstey, Katherine Dunlop, Stephen Gaukroger, Kristen Walsh
*     9.15 Katherine Dunlop (Texas): 'Christian Wolff on Newtonianism and Exact Science'
*     11.00 Peter Anstey (Sydney): 'From scientific syllogisms to mathematical certainty'
*     12.30 Lunch
*     2.00 Kirsten Walsh (Otago): 'Newton's method'
*     3.30 Stephen Gaukroger (Sydney):  'D'Alembert, Euler and mid-18th century rational mechanics: what mechanics does not tell us about the world'

Details on SCFS website
Space is limited. To register contact Professor Peter Anstey (peter.anstey at sydney.edu.au<mailto:peter.anstey at sydney.edu.au>) by 18 March.

* Thursday 20 March (from 6.00PM)- Sat 22 March: 'Evolutionary Thinking: 7th Munich-Sydney-Tilburg Philosophy of Science Conference' (Mark Colyvan/Paul Griffiths)
Details on SCFS website

Sara Langston
Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science
Rm N293
Quadrangle A14
e: scfs.enquiries at sydney.edu.au<mailto:scfs.enquiries at sydney.edu.au>
w:: sydney.edu.au/foundations_of_science
University of Sydney   NSW 2006

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