Monday, August 16, 2010

Metaphysics in the Philosophy of Science Conference

May 13-15, 2011

University of Toronto


Presented by the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto and the Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine, University of Chicago 

The philosophy of science has an illustrious history of attraction and antipathy towards metaphysics. The latter was famously exemplified in the Logical Positivist contention that metaphysical questions are meaningless, but in the wake of the demise of Positivism, metaphysics has found its way back into the philosophy of science. Increasingly, questions about the nature of natural laws, kinds, dispositions, and so on have taken a metaphysical cast. The metaphysics of science commands significant attention in contemporary philosophy.
While many philosophers embrace the increased contact between metaphysics and the philosophy of science, others are wary. Should science (and its philosophical study) lead us into doing metaphysics? If so, which metaphysical issues are genuine and which are illusory, and how might we tell? Interestingly, these questions dovetail with similar soul-searching in metaphysics proper (sometimes under the banner of "meta-metaphysics", sometimes simply as methodology).
This conference will examine ground-level debates about metaphysics within the philosophy of physics and the philosophy of biology, and broader methodological questions about the role of metaphysics in the philosophy of science. Participation is open and welcome from all parties to these questions: from those who hold that metaphysics must have a place within the philosophy of science, to those who hold it should not.


Call for Papers:

13–15 May 2011
The University of Toronto
Craig Callender (University of California, San Diego)
Anjan Chakravartty (University of Toronto)
Katherine Hawley (University of St. Andrews)
Jenann Ismael (University of Arizona)
James Ladyman (University of Bristol)
Kyle Stanford (University of California, Irvine)
Michael Strevens (New York University)
Robert Wilson (University of Alberta)
Essays of 4,000-5,000 words (30 minutes allotted for presentations) concerning any aspect of metaphysics and the natural or social sciences will be accepted for review until January 10, 2011. Please include a short abstract (200 words or so), a few keywords, prepare your essayfor blind review (do not include your name or other identifying references in the document), and submit it in PDF format here.
By early February 2011.
If you would like to act as a session chair, please contact <> with your areas of competence.

Chris Haufe (University of Chicago) 
Matthew H. Slater (Bucknell University)
Zanja Yudell (California State University, Chico)
Please direct general conference inquiries to
Additional information about this conference will be posted here shortly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Putting Powers to Work: A Conference on Causal Powers in Metaphysics

April 28-30, 2011
Saint Louis University


This conference aims to build on the existing literature concerning what causal powers (or dispositions or capacities) are by asking what causal powers can do. Many contemporary metaphysicians think that accepting irreducible causal powers enables one to give accounts of, say, laws of nature, causation, and modality that are preferable to other contemporary accounts. But is that right? What should those accounts look like? Are there other areas in metaphysics—metaphysics of mind and agency, or metaphysics of science—that can be accounted for at least in part in terms of irreducible causal powers? In other words, supposing for the sake of argument that you accepted irreducible causal powers or dispositions, what good might they do for us in metaphysics?

Speakers include Nancy Cartwright, Alexander Bird, Anjan Chakravartty, John Heil, Max Kistler, Stephen Mumford, Timothy O'Connor, David Robb, and Neil Williams. Funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and by the Department of Philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Workshop Call for Papers

A workshop will follow the conference on the afternoon of April 30. The workshop will be a roundtable discussion of papers on the theme and questions of the conference. Presentations will be 20-30 minutes. A committee may select papers from the workshop for inclusion in the conference edited collection. We invite submissions for the workshop program. Email an abstract to If the committee cannot reach a decision on the basis of the abstract, it may ask for the full paper. Deadline for submission is December 1, 2010.

For more information, see the conference website, or email Jonathan D. Jacobs at Registration is free.