Friday, December 2, 2011

2012 Central APA Sessions: Kinds: Natural and Scientific

Thursday, February 12, 2012
9:00 a.m.-Noon

Topic: Kinds: Natural and Scientific

Chair: Carl Gillett (Northern Illinois University)

Speakers: Anjan Chakravarty (Northern Illinois University)
“Perspectival Frameworks for Scientific Taxonomy”

Matthew H. Slater (Bucknell University)
“Is Our Epistemology Writing Checks That Our Metaphysics Can’t Cash?”

Neil E. Williams (University at Buffalo (SUNY))
“‘Disease’ Is Not a Natural Kind Term: A Tale of Two Diseases”

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CFA: Individuals Across Sciences (Paris, May 2012)

Call for abstracts: “Individuals Across Sciences: A Revisionary Metaphysics?”
Paris, Paris-Sorbonne University, May 18-19, 2012

Organized by Alexandre Guay & Thomas Pradeu, with the support of Paris-Sorbonne University, the Institut d’histoire et de philosophie des sciences et des techniques (IHPST) and the Institut universitaire de France (IUF)

This conference will gather metaphysicians, philosophers of biology and philosophers of physics to offer a reflection on criteria of individuality in different sciences and to try to develop a unified account on the notion of what an individual is.

The conference will welcome nine invited speakers, and a selection of submitted papers.

The language of the conference is English.

Information, submission of abstracts:

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: December 15, 2011
Please submit a short (maximum 200 words) and a long (maximum 1000 words) abstract.

The question of knowing what individuals are and how they can be identified has been recurring throughout the history of philosophy. It was, for example, pointedly studied by Aristotle and Leibniz. Most contemporary philosophers consider the problem from a general, metaphysical, point of view, as is the case for Peter Strawson in his landmark book Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics (Strawson 1959). On the other hand, in philosophy of science, the preferred approach aims to define the ontological status of this or that individual, or this or that class of individuals, typically in the fields of physics (French & Krause 2006, Ladyman & Ross 2007, Morganti 2009) and biology (Hull 1978, Hull 1992, Dupré & O'Malley 2009, Godfrey- Smith 2009). Today, many consider that the approach used in philosophy of science has obviously been more precise and globally more fruitful than the purely metaphysical approach, often thought as excessively general (for example, see Ladyman & Ross 2007). The project of this conference stemmed from two observations. First, the recent developments on the notion of individual in physics or in biology are most certainly fascinating, but are still “regional”, by which we mean that practically no transversal reflection, comparing different scientific criteria of individuation and conceptions of individuality, has been done. Thus, we believe that a dialogue between philosophers of physics and philosophers of biology on this question is of crucial importance. Second, since it isolates a relatively small field of study, regionalism undoubtedly has the advantage of precision. However, it too often lacks ambition compared to the metaphysical approach, which tries to find the general conditions to individuate an object.

We are convinced that philosophers of science must interact with metaphysicians, in order to determine in which way the focused ontological questioning of the former can contribute to the latter legitimate project of renewing general metaphysics. In bringing together specialists on metaphysics and on physical and biological ontologies, we hope to further define the difficulties that hold back the construction of a general conception of the individual that would be adequate for both physics and biology, and perhaps even beyond.

Invited speakers:
John Dupré (University of Exeter & Egenis, UK)
Steven French (University of Leeds, UK)
Peter Godfrey-Smith (City University of New York, USA)
Alexandre Guay (University of Burgundy, France, researcher at IHPST in 2011-2012, and associated researcher at the CIRST, Canada)
James Ladyman (Bristol University, UK)
Jonathan E. Lowe (Durham University, UK)
Matteo Morganti (Roma 3 University, Italie)
Thomas Pradeu (Paris-Sorbonne University, IHPST & IUF, France)
Simon Saunders (University of Oxford, UK)

Program committee:
Daniel Andler (Paris-Sorbonne University & IUF, France)
Alexander Bird (Bristol University, UK)
Mauro Dorato (Roma 3 University, Italy)
Jean Gayon (Panthéon-Sorbonne University, France) (head of committee)
Max Kistler (Panthéon-Sorbonne University, France)
Tim Lewens (University of Cambridge, UK)
Jean-Baptiste Rauzy (Paris-Sorbonne University, France)
Claudine Tiercelin (Collège de France, France)
The PC will review the abstracts and select the most promising ones.

Organizing committee:
Alexandra Arapinis (IHPST, France)
Isabelle Drouet (Paris-Sorbonne University, France)
Alexandre Guay (University of Burgundy, France, researcher at IHPST in 2011-2012, and
associated researcher at the CIRST, Canada)
Pascal Ludwig (Paris-Sorbonne University, France)
Thomas Pradeu (Paris-Sorbonne University, IHPST & IUF, France) (head of committee)

Contact: ;

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Metaphysics of Science at the Pacific APA

Two sessions of the Society of the Metaphysics of Science will be meeting at the Pacific APA this week, on Thursday and Friday evenings. Links to some advance drafts and notes are provided.

Thursday, 8:00-10:00 p.m.
G5E Society for the Metaphysics of Science, Session 1
Topic: Abstraction, Idealization, and Multiple Realization

Chair: Tom Polger (University of Cincinnati)

Friday, 7:00-10:00 p.m.
G6M Society for the Metaphysics of Science, Session 2
Topic: How Is the Metaphysics of Science Possible? If It Is Possible?


Thursday, January 6, 2011


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

13-15 May 2011, University of Toronto

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? Such 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.

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)
C. Kenneth Waters (University of Minnesota)

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

Notification by early February 2011.

If you are planning to attend the conference and would like to
identify yourself as a potential chair, please email the conference
address <>.

Chris Haufe (University of Chicago)
Matthew H. Slater (Bucknell University)
Zanja Yudell (California State University, Chico)

Please direct general conference inquiries to

Additional information concerning travel and accommodation will be
posted to the conference website:

Matthew H. Slater
Department of Philosophy, Bucknell University