NEWS AND EVENTS

RESEARCH SEMINARS 2014

HELD IN CONJUCTION WITH Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science

SEMESTER ONE

SCIENCE MEETING ROOM 450, 4TH FLOOR CARSLAW BUILDING, CAMPERDOWN CAMPUS

PLEASE NOTE VARIED TIMES

MONDAY

10TH MARCH

4pm - 6pm

KATHERINE DUNLOP

(University of Texas)    

"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.

                                                                                                      

TUESDAY

18TH

MARCH

 

SILVIA DE MONTE

(École normale supérieure)

"The evolution of groups and microbial collectives"

Microbial populations display a number of collective forms of organisation, some of which have been integrated into complex life cycles. For instance, clusters or flakes of cells confer protection against stress to yeast and bacteria, swarming powers collective foraging in Myxobacteria, and recurrent aggregation of sparse cells allows the development of fruiting bodies in Myxobacteria and social amoebas. In this talk, I will present different ways natural selection can drive the evolution of groups composed of replicating particles in particular, I will focus on setting when collectives are composed of particles of two types, which provide different contributions to collective functionality. A classical conundrum associated with such systems is that functional collectives exist, in spite of the disruptive effects of free-riding on groups composed of cooperative particles. I will use mathematical models that take explicitly into acount the process of group formation to show that the evolution of functional collectives can stem from simple features of the composing particles, such as differential stickiness. However, something more is required if selection is to shift to the collective level.  In concluding, I will discuss the value of a mechanistic perspective on the evolutionary emergence of mutlicelluar life forms.



 MONDAY 31ST MARCH

4-6pm

 SAHOTRA SARKAR

(UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS)

"The Genomic Challenge to Adaptationism "

Since the late 1990s, the characterization of complete DNA sequences for a large and taxonomically diverse set of species has continued to gain in speed and accuracy. Sequence analyses indicate a strikingly baroque structure for most eukaryotic genomes, with multiple repeats of DNA sequences and with very little of the DNA specifying proteins. Much of the DNA in these genomes has no known function. These results have generated strong interest in the factors that govern the evolution of genome architecture. While adaptationist “just so” stories have been offered (as typically occurs in every area of biology), recent theoretical analyses based on mathematical population genetics strongly suggest that non-adaptive processes dominate genome architecture evolution. This paper critically synthesizes and develops these arguments fully, explicating a core argument along with several variants. It provides a critical assessment of the evidence that supports these arguments’ premises. It also analyzes adaptationist responses to these arguments and notes the weaknesses of the core argument. These theoretical analyses continue the molecular reinterpretation of evolution initiated by the neutral theory in 1968. The paper ends by noting that some of these arguments can also be extended to evolution at higher levels of organization which raises questions about adaptationism in general. This remains a puzzle because there is little reason to doubt that many organismic features are genuine adaptations.

 

 

MONDAY

7TH APRIL

5pm - 7pm

 JAMIE STARK

(UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS)

“Before Anthrax was Anthrax: Human-Animal Disease Dynamics in Britain and Australia”

 

 

 MONDAY

28TH APRIL

4-6pm

 SEBASTIAN SEQUOIAH-GRAYSON

(UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY)

 

MONDAY

5TH MAY

4-6pm

JAKOB SPRICKERHOF

(UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS)

 MONDAY 19TH MAY

4-6pm

LIZ IRVINE

(AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY)

MONDAY 26TH MAY 5PM - 7PM

 

MONDAY

2ND JUNE

5PM-7PM

 

NEWS ITEMS - 2011

PROFESSOR WARWICK ANDERSON AWARDED LAUREATE FELLOWSHIP

Congratulations to Professor Warwick Anderson, who has just been awarded a Laureate Fellowship! This is a huge win for history of medicine and Science studies.

Professor Anderson’s Laureate project ‘Southern racial conceptions: comparative histories and contemporary legacies’ aims to reveal intense scientific debate about what it meant to be human in the southern hemisphere during the twentieth century, placing Australian racial thought in a new context. Through comparative study, it shows the distinctive character and scope of racial ideas in southern settler societies, and assesses their global impact.The Australian reported on the awards in an article within the Higher Education section entitled “Fellowships reward shining stars” The Australian. Further information can be found on the ARC.

VICTOR BOANTZA - 2011 SYDNEY IDEAS KEY THINKERS PROGRAM

JOSEPH PRIESTLY:ENLIGHTENMENT SCIENCE AND DISSENT
24TH AUGUST 2011
Sydney Ideas

Recent delegation from Jiao Tong University, May 2011

The Unit recently hosted a delegation from the History and Philosophy of Science Department of the Jiao Tong University, Shanghai China.

Prof. Weixing, Prof. Guan, Prof. Dong and Prof Zengjian attended a talk presented to the Physics Department by Ass. Professor Ofer Gal, enjoyed a tour of the campus with Hans Pols, attended the regular Monday evening HPS research seminar and traditional pub dinner afterwards. On Tuesday members of the unit and the delegation met at the Darlington Centre which provided an opportunity to share recent research and to discuss future collaborative possibilities between the two universities. On Wednesday the delegation attended a lunch hosted by the Dean of Science.


Jiao Tong University Newsletter

2010 NEWS ITEMS

John Forge won the 2010 Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics for his book The Responsible Scientist: A Philosophical Inquiry, which examines the social, moral and legal responsibilities faced by scientists.

AND

Professor Warwick Anderson was awarded the 2010 Ludwick Fleck Prize for this work The Collectors of Lost Souls: Turning Kuru Scientists into Whitemen

FORKOSCH PRIZE

The Journal of the History of Ideas is pleased to announce the winner of the Selma V. Forkosch Prize for the best article published in the Journal of the History of Ideas each year.

The winners for 2010 are Ofer Gal and Raz Chen-Morris, for "Baroque Optics and the Disappearance of the Observer: From Kepler's Optics to Descartes' Doubt," Volume 71, Number 2, pages 191-217.