Events 2016

Science and Nature in the Long Eighteenth Century

August 19 2016
Kevin Lee Room,
Level 6, Lobby H,
Quadrangle Building A14

Sponsored by The Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science

This workshop will examine a broad range of issues pertaining to the study of nature in Germany from the period of the renouvellement of the Berlin Academy in the 1740s, to the writings of Hegel in the early nineteenth century. Moving from discussions of disciplinary boundaries and disciplinary interrelations to the contents of specific writings in natural philosophy, the workshop will engage with the thought and writings of Maupertuis, Formey, Kant, Schelling, Fichte and Hegel.

  • 9.00 Peter Anstey, ‘The four classes of the Berlin Academy’
  • 9.45 Short break
  • 9.50 Eric Watkins, ‘Kant on Laws’
  • 10.35 Coffee break
  • 11.00 Michael Olsen, ‘Empirical theories of aether and Kant's Opus optimum’
  • 11.45 Short break
  • 11.50 Jennifer Mensch, ‘Kant and the Skull Collectors: Teleology and Empiricism in the Science of Man’
  • 12.35 Lunch
  • 2.00 Dalia Nassar, ‘Schelling on experience and experiment’
  • 2.45 Short break
  • 2.50 Clinton Tolley, ‘Overcoming skepticism after Fichte: Schelling on the identity of nature and science’
  • 3.35 Coffee break
  • 4.00 Ulrich Schloesser, ‘Natural laws, Life and Self-Consciousness: Hegel's Argument in Chapter
    3 of the Phenomenology’
  • 4.50 Debrief
  • 5.00 Close and drinks

Registration has closed

For more information please contact Professor Peter Anstey or Dr. Dalia Nassar

Philosophical and Historical Dimensions of Biological Individuality

July 18- 21, 2016
The nature of biological individuality has excited considerable debate and controversy during the past decade or more. The problem of what constitutes a biological individual is an old one, but philosophers and historians recently have refreshed and transformed the conceptual field. In this winter school we bring into conversation leading historians and philosophers of biology who have studied different aspects of the problem, and have diverse opinions on the matter. In particular, we hope to explore similarities and differences between the individual of evolutionary theory and the organismal or physiological individual posited in, for example, developmental biology or modern immunology. That is, we ask how the individual of natural selection might be related to, or distinguished from, physiological concepts such as the immunological self or other temporally framed entities.

Until recently, evolutionary questions have dominated discussion of biological individuality. Which units function as distinct members of an evolving population? How do new levels of individuality emerge through evolution? Increasingly, however, philosophers and historians have come to focus on other forms of individuality, such as physiological individuality, which involves identifying individuals by their organizational and functional properties rather than their capacity to play a role in evolutionary processes. Microbial communities are a compelling application for this organismal approach, whether considered in their own right or as a component of a holobiont (a multicellular organism and its microbial symbionts). Organizational perspectives on individuality shift the focus (or enlarge it?) from how entities replicate themselves to how metabolic and developmental processes allow recognition, maintenance, and propagation of selves. In the light of these developments, it may make sense to think of a biological individual as an interactive process without a single, unified telos.

We are looking forward to discussing these issues and many others, according to the interests of participants. Through a mix of seminars, small group discussions, and case studies, graduate students and early-career researchers will find themselves on the frontiers of knowledge of biological individuality. The workshop faculty will illustrate their arguments with examples of their own recent and forthcoming research. We expect participants to shape these discussions and to contribute ideas and examples from their own studies. Additionally, there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy Sydney’s harbor, beaches, food, and cultural activities.

Participating faculty:

  • Lynn K. Nyhart (University of Wisconsin-Madison), a distinguished historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century biology, author of Modern Nature: The Rise of Biological Perspective in Germany (2009), and co-editor of Biological Individuality: Integrating Historical, Philosophical, and Scientific Perspectives (forthcoming).
  • Alan Love (University of Minnesota), director of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, a leading philosopher focusing on conceptual issues in evolutionary and developmental biology, giving special attention to the epistemology of scientific practice (e.g., “Individuation, Individuality, and Experimental Practice in Developmental Biology” [forthcoming]).
  • Paul Griffiths (University of Sydney), a leading philosopher of biology, who has written extensively on concepts of biological individuality, genomics, and developmental biology.
  • Warwick Anderson (University of Sydney), an historian of science and medicine, whose inquiries into concepts of the immunological self, and biological individuality more generally, resulted in Intolerant Bodies: A Short History of Autoimmunity (2014).
  • The Winter School is supported by the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science, the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science, and the International Research Collaboration Fund of the University of Sydney.

Click here for more information

EU Erasmus Program

SCFS Researchers received funding under the EU Erasmus program to enhance cooperation between LMU Munich and University of Sydney.

Dr Brian Hedden taught an intensive course in the philosophy of decision theory at LMU in February 2016 and Dr Pierrick Bourrat, Prof. Paul Griffiths and Prof. Mark Colyvan will teach an intensive course in philosophy of science at LMU in May 2016. Click here for more information

MuST 9: Evidence, Inference, and Risk

Munich: 31 March - 2 April 2016

Idea and Motivation

This 9th conference of the Munich-Sydney-Tilburg (MuST) conference series aims at gathering philosophers and scientists of the natural and social sciences in order to examine the theoretical and methodological issues involved in evidence evaluation, statistical inference and causal inference in relation to risk assessment and management in various disciplines, with a special attention to pharmacology. In particular, following questions will be on focus:

How should we collect, evaluate, and use evidence for the purpose of risk management and prevention? What methods should be adopted in causal inference for preventing harm? What kinds of scientific inferences are we allowed to draw from data-mining techniques? What are the relevant decision-theoretic dimensions involved in different kinds of risks, and what kinds of decision rules are more advisable in diverse contexts? What types of uncertainties can we identify when dealing with hazards?

This series of annual conferences is a joint undertaking between the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science (SCFS), the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS) and, since 2012, the MCMP. Click here for a list of previous conferences