THE UNIT FOR HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SYDNEY CENTRE FOR THE FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENCE

2017 RESEARCH SEMINARS

The HPS Research Seminar Series runs on selected Mondays during Semester time.

All Welcome. No Booking Required. Free

Please note NEW START TIME: 5:30

CCANESA MEETING ROOM, MADSEN BUILDING
CAMPERDOWN CAMPUS

Best access to CCANESA is from the Eastern Avenue entrance of the Madsen Building. When you enter you will be on the 3rd floor. Please proceed across the foyer and take the stairs on the right up one floor. The door to CCANESA will be straight ahead on this landing



Research Seminar Series - Semester 2, 2017
Date Venue Speaker Topic

MONDAY

31ST JULY

CCANESA Meeting Room

Madsen Building

Hannah Landecker

University of California, Los Angeles

Antibiotic Resistance and the Biology of History

Beginning in the 1940s, mass production of antibiotics involved the industrial scale growth of microorganisms to harvest their metabolic products. Unfortunately, the use of antibiotics selects for and drives resistance at answering scale. In this talk I will discuss the history of the scientific and medical study of antibiotic resistance, focusing on the realization that individual therapies targeted at single pathogens in individual bodies are environmental events affecting bacterial evolution. In turning to biological manifestations of antibiotic use, medicine and microbiology today are staying the material outcomes of their own previous concepts and practices. Archival work with stored soil and clinical samples produces a record that could be called ‘the biology of history’: the physical registration of human history in bacterial life. The phenomena of antibiotic resistance challenge traditional divisions between human social history and natural history; the particular case of antibiotic resistance in war will be used to illustrate the importance of understanding both the materiality of history and the historicity of matter in theories and concepts of life today.

 MONDAY

7TH AUGUST

CCANESA MEETING ROOM

MADSEN BUILDING

ELAY SHECH

AUBURN DEPT OF PHILOSOPHY

 

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FICTION, DEPICTION AND THE COMPLIMENTARITY THESIS IN ART AND SCIENCE

In this paper, I appeal to a distinction made by David Lewis between identifying and determining semantic content in order to defend a complementarity thesis expressed by Anjan Chakravartty. The thesis states that there is no conflict between informational and functional views of scientific modeling and representation. I then apply the complementarity thesis to well-received theories of pictorial representation, thereby
stressing the fruitfulness of drawing an analogy between the nature of fictions in art and in science. I end by attending to the problem of depicting impossible fictions. It is suggested that progress can be made by understanding the role of impossible fictions in science, namely, allowing researchers to probe into the possible structure and representational
capacities of scientific theory.

MONDAY 14TH AUGUST

 

NO SEMINAR

 

MONDAY 21ST AUGUST  CCANESA MEETING ROOM MADSEN BUILDING

NICK SHEA

Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy,
School of Advanced Study, University of London; and
Faculty of Philosophy, Radcliffe Humanities Building, University of Oxford

 


'Representations in the Brain that Exploit Correlations'.

Theorising about the nature of content has focused mainly on personal-level mental representations like beliefs and desires. The problem also arises for subpersonal states, for example representations in the brain. This paper offers an account of the nature of representation that captures the contents found in one important class of neural representations. Content arises from the way a system exploits correlations between neural vehicles and aspects of the environment in order to perform a task or tasks – to carry out functions that have been stabilised by natural selection, learning or contribution to an organism’s persistence. The view makes sense of the way neural representations are used to explain behaviour in a range of case studies from cognitive neuroscience. The account also avoids or answers objections faced by existing theories of content that rely on correlational information and/or function.


MONDAY 28TH AUGUST  CCANESA MEETING ROOM

 DANIEL DOR

The Gershon H. Gordon Faculty of Social Science

Dept of Communication

Tel Aviv University

 

The Instruction of Imagination: Towards a Falsifiable Theory of Language

As linguist Daniel Everett shows very convincingly, the properties of the Amazonian language Pirahã refute the single most important claim of Chomsky’s generative grammar, i.e., that the capacity for recursion is the universal foundation of human language. Chomsky’s reaction to Everett’s claim, and the debate that developed from there on, has forced scholars in the linguistic community, probably for the first time, to ask themselves to what extent linguistics is a science in the Popperian sense, i.e., to what extent theoretical claims in linguistics do or should stand the test of the falsifiability principle.   

I will begin my talk with the claim that the failure to meet the challenge of falsifiability is not just based on those of Chomsky’s assumptions that Everett rejects. It is also based on some crucial  assumptions shared by both sides. Then, I will present the backbone of the general theory of language I develop in Dor (2015), which is founded on a very different set of assumptions: it characterizes language as a socially-constructed communication technology, dedicated to the specific function of the instruction of imagination. Finally, I will show how the theory analyzes Everett’s findings, and how this type of analysis allows for the maturing of linguistic claims into falsifiable hypotheses.

MONDAY

11TH SEPTEMBER

CCANESA MEETING ROOM

PROFESSOR LORRAINE DASTON

MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIEMCE

 
 MONDAY OCTOBER 2ND  CCANESA MEETING ROOM

 Dr Maurizio Meloni


 

 

 CANCELLED - PUBLIC HOLIDAY

MONDAY

23RD OCTOBER

 CCANESA

DR Cat Moir Germanic Studies Department,

 

University of Sydney

Mining Pleasant Island:Justus Liebig and the World-Ecology of Colonialism

 The film Chasing Asylum won the 2016 AACTA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary with its frank portrayal of Australia’s mandatory detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru. The film casts life on Nauru in an unflinching light. Massive environmental degradation caused by strip-mining is evident: the makeshift accommodation housing detainees stands on bare white phosphate rock. Conditions are cramped and unsanitary, and asylum seekers are often held there for months, even years, before a decision on their application is reached. Against a background of environmental disaster and humanitarian catastrophe, the film advocates for Australia to increase its intake of on-shore refugees. It names Germany’s open door policy during the European migrant crisis of 2015 as an example to follow. Historically, however, Germany had its own part to play in Nauru’s political and environmental history. Before Australian troops occupied the island at the onset of the First World War, Nauru had been a German protectorate for almost three decades. It was during this period that colonial rule was imposed, and phosphate mining began.

Taking Nauru as a case study, this paper uses the conceptual framework of world-ecology to connect debates in the fields of German Studies and Pacific Studies about the entangled histories of colonial science, politics, and environment. The concept of world-ecology stems from environmental historian Jason W. Moore, who in his work on 'capitalism in the web of life' has shown how socio-economic processes play a significant role in shaping environments, while environmental forces both make possible and set limits to practices of human social organization. As this article will argue, the case of phosphate mining in Nauru highlights some of these tensions in an exemplary way, as the very intellectual history of world-ecology itself is implicated in the events it sets out to explain.    


MONDAY 30TH OCTOBER CCANESA

DR ARGYRIS ARNELLOS

Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, IAS-Research Centre for Life, Mind and Society, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain.


 

 

Animal body complexity and the evolution of agency

Abstract: Animals and their relation to a macroscopic environment composed of various media available for locomotion and recognizable objects are central to agency. I claim that neither animals as freely moving multicellular (MC) organizations nor the macroscopic environment in which they act can be taken as a self-evident starting-point for the evolution of agency. I argue that acquiring the fundamental sensorimotor features of the animal body may be better explained as a consequence of dealing with internal bodily complexity materialized through a special type of integration. Specifically, I will discuss how an epithelial organization and its properties can be cast as the key enabling factor for the emergence and evolution of the animal sensorimotor interaction, and how a focus on the epithelial organization integrates animal sensing and moving with the physiology and development of its MC body; all essential features of the organizational basis of animal agency. Last, I will discuss the implications of this organizational framework with respect to the status of individuality of early (simple and complex) multicellularity.

 FRIDAY 3RD NOVEMBER

1PM TO 5.30PM

The COMMON ROOM

SANCTA SOPHIA COLLEGE

LOCATION MAP:

www.sanctasophiacollege.edu.au/

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 HPS RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS

 PROGRAM

KEYNOTE
1.00 - 2.15    NASSER ZAKIRAYA
       UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY

'FOUR GENRES OF SYNTHESIS IN 20TH CENTURY SCIENCES'
COMPLETING HONOURS STUDENTS
2.30 - 2.55 ANGUS CORNWELL ~ "HOMO SERVONOMICUS: ZOMBIE CYBERNETICS IN POSTWAR ECONOMIC MODELS"
3.00 - 3.25 BYRON DICKSON ~" THOUGHTS ABOUT DELUSION:THE CONSEQUENCES OF PHILIP GERRANS' THEORY ON THE RATIONALITY OF SUFFERERS OF DILLUSION"
3.30              AFTERNOON TEA
4.00-4.25 ARIN HARMAN ~"SOMETHING FISHY  ABOUT THE POISSON ASSUMPTION"
4.30 -5.30 HDR GRADUATES
CLAIRE KENNEDY ~
"POWERFUL ARMS AND FERTILE SOIL."
KEVIN KEITH ~ "GOAL-CORRECTED PARTNERSHIP' IN ATTACHMENT THEORY:A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAMME."
5.30  DRINKS AND CANAPES

RSVP:hps.admin@sydney.edu.au