Upcoming MAPS talks – Fall 2021

Michael Townsen Hicks (University of Birmingham)
4:30 – 6:30 EST, Wednesday, Nov 17th

Title: A Practitioner’s Guide to Pragmatic Humeanism

Abstract: All Humeans hold, roughly, that laws are informative summaries of nonlawful matters of fact. Pragmatic Humeans go further: for them, what makes these summaries the laws is their usefulness to agents like us. By adding elements of our specific epistemic interests and constraints, pragmatists contend, we can arrive at satisfying explanations of otherwise surprising features of our actual laws and our actual scientific practice. But the pragmatic shift is not without problems. The more elements of our particular psychology we add to our nomic formula, the more susceptible we are to idealistic ratbaggery. Intuitively, what must happen does not depend on our particular cognitive architecture: we cannot change the laws by changing us. My aim here is to clarify the role or pragmatic constraints, and thereby respond to this challenge from creeping idealism. My strategy has three parts. First, I argue that pragmatic constraints determine the laws only indirectly, but generating a nomic formula that has no connection to agents. Second, I discuss what sorts of agents are agents like us. I argue that pragmatists should appeal to a particular sort of idealized agent, one whose specific limitations and interests have been idealized away. I conclude with an attempt to draw together to strains of pragmatic Humeanism. For a range of Humeans, including Loewer (2007), Loew and Jaag (2020), Schrenk (2006), Cohen and Callender (2009), have argued that the concepts that we use to generate the best system are determined pragmatically, rather than by the world’s objective metaphysical structure. I argue that the sort of idealized agent-based approach I favour clarifies the way in which these concepts are chosen.

The talk will be on Zoom. All are welcome to attend!

The zoom link will be distributed through the MAPS mailing list. If you are not on the MAPS mailing list and would like to receive the Zoom link for the talk, please email nyphilsci@gmail.com.

Note: The talk was originally annouced for Nov 15th by mistake. If you have added this talk to your calendar, please correct it!

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MAPS: Governing Without A Fundamental Direction of Time: Minimal Primitivism about Laws of Nature (10/06/2021)

Talk by Eddy Keming Chen (UCSD) and Sheldon Goldstein (Rutgers)

Abstract: The Great Divide in metaphysical debates about laws of nature is between Humeans who think that laws merely describe the distribution of matter and non-Humeans who think that laws govern it. The metaphysics can place demands on the proper formulations of physical theories. It is sometimes assumed that the governing view requires a fundamental / intrinsic direction of time: to govern, laws must be dynamical, producing later states of the world from earlier ones, in accord with the fundamental direction of time in the universe. In this paper, we propose a minimal primitivism about laws of nature (MinP) according to which there is no such requirement. On our view, laws govern by constraining the physical possibilities. Our view captures the essence of the governing view without taking on extraneous commitments about the direction of time or dynamic production. Moreover, as a version of primitivism, our view requires no reduction / analysis of laws in terms of universals, powers, or dispositions. Our view accommodates several potential candidates for fundamental laws, including the principle of least action, the Past Hypothesis, the Einstein equation of general relativity, and even controversial examples found in the Wheeler-Feynman theory of electrodynamics and retro-causal theories of quantum mechanics. By understanding governing as constraining, non-Humeans who accept MinP have the same freedom to contemplate a wide variety of candidate fundamental laws as Humeans do.

If you are not on the MAPS mailing list and would like to receive the Zoom link for the talk, please email nyphilsci@gmail.com

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Upcoming MAPS talks – Fall 2021

Eddy Keming Chen (UCSD) and Sheldon Goldstein (Rutgers)
5:00-7:00pm (EST), Wednesday, October 6
 
Title: Governing Without A Fundamental Direction of Time: Minimal Primitivism about Laws of Nature
 
Abstract: The Great Divide in metaphysical debates about laws of nature is between Humeans who think that laws merely describe the distribution of matter and non-Humeans who think that laws govern it. The metaphysics can place demands on the proper formulations of physical theories. It is sometimes assumed that the governing view requires a fundamental / intrinsic direction of time: to govern, laws must be dynamical, producing later states of the world from earlier ones, in accord with the fundamental direction of time in the universe. In this paper, we propose a minimal primitivism about laws of nature (MinP) according to which there is no such requirement. On our view, laws govern by constraining the physical possibilities. Our view captures the essence of the governing view without taking on extraneous commitments about the direction of time or dynamic production. Moreover, as a version of primitivism, our view requires no reduction / analysis of laws in terms of universals, powers, or dispositions. Our view accommodates several potential candidates for fundamental laws, including the principle of least action, the Past Hypothesis, the Einstein equation of general relativity, and even controversial examples found in the Wheeler-Feynman theory of electrodynamics and retro-causal theories of quantum mechanics. By understanding governing as constraining, non-Humeans who accept MinP have the same freedom to contemplate a wide variety of candidate fundamental laws as Humeans do.


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All talks will take place over Zoom. All are welcome to attend!

If you are not on the MAPS mailing list and would like to receive the Zoom link for the talk, please email nyphilsci@gmail.com

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Upcoming MAPS talks – Spring 2021

Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech)
4:30-6:30pm (ET), Wednesday, March 10
 
Title: Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How it (Still) Gets You Beyond the Statistics Wars
 
Abstract: High-profile failures of replication in the social and biological sciences underwrites a minimal requirement of evidence: If little or nothing has been done to rule out flaws in inferring a claim, then it has not passed a severe test. A claim is severely tested to the extent it has been subjected to and passes a test that probably would have found flaws, were they present. Many methods being advocated to reform statistical practice, I argue, do not stand up to severe scrutiny and are even in tension with successful strategies to improve replication. The minimal severe-testing requirement leads to reformulating statistical significance tests (and related methods) to avoid familiar criticisms and abuses. Viewing statistical inference as severe testing–whether or not you accept it–(still) offers a key to understand and get beyond today’s statistics wars.


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Carlo Rovelli (Aix-Marseille University)
4:30-6:30pm (ET), Tuesday, April 13
 
Title: The old fisherman mistake: the complex physical structures underpinning agency and free will
 
Abstract: The real processes that are commonly denoted “agency” and “free will” are natural phenomena. They can be accounted for in terms of current physics, but not in a straightforward manner.  They depend on several interconnected layers of approximations, structures and contingent facts, that are not easily disentangled.  Resolving them in this manner dissipates the apparent tension between their nature and current physics, unless we make the old fisherman mistake.
 
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All talks will take place over Zoom. All are welcome to attend!

If you are not on the MAPS mailing list and would like to receive the Zoom link for the talk, please email nyphilsci@gmail.com

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Talks cancelled for the remainder of the semester

Due to COVID-19, MAPS talks are cancelled for the remainder of the term. We are hopeful that we will be able to reschedule with the presenters for the Fall term.

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David Papineau: The Nature of Representation

David Papineau (King’s College London & CUNY)
4:30-6:30pm Tuesday March 3; CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, New York, NY), room 5307.
 
Title: The Nature of Representation.
 
Abstract: Teleosemantics analyses representation in terms of evolutionary history. A standard objection is that swampman’s lack of evolutionary history doesn’t stop him representing. I have responded that teleosematics is an a posteriori thesis and so no more threatened by imaginary swampmen than water = H2O is threatened by XYZ. Peter Schulte has retorted that H2O may be the essence of water but evolutionary history isn’t the essence of representation. This talk will argue that, on a proper understanding of natural kinds, a posteriori essences, functional kinds, and representation, evolutionary history is indeed the essence of representation.
 
There will be dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to nyphilsci@gmail.com (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered.) If you have any other questions, please email denise.dykstra@rutgers.edu.

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Anthony Aguirre: Entropy in long-lived genuinely closed quantum systems

Anthony Aguirre (UCSC)
6:30-8:30pm Tuesday Feb 4; NYU Philosophy Department (5 Washington Place, New York, NY), 3rd floor seminar room
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Title: Entropy in long-lived genuinely closed quantum systems

Abstract: Physical systems are often considered “closed” or “isolated” as a convenient approximation.  But genuinely closed systems are possible, in some cases with unbounded duration.  Starting with definitions of the state space and coarse-graining of that space into “properties,” I’ll discuss several definitions of entropy, including a relatively new framework we have developed.  In the context of ultra-long-lived systems I’ll discuss equilibrium and large fluctuations away from it, including both simulations and some intriguing and perhaps counterintuitive analytic results.

There will be dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to nyphilsci@gmail.com (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered.) If you have any other questions, please email denise.dykstra@rutgers.edu. 

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MAPS Talks – Spring 2020

Anthony Aguirre (UCSC) – “Entropy in long-lived genuinely closed quantum systems”
6:30-8:30pm Tuesday Feb 4; NYU Philosophy Department (5 Washington Place), 3rd floor seminar room.

David Papineau (King’s College London & CUNY) – “The Nature of Representation”
4:30-6:30pm Tuesday March 3; CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, NYC), room 5307.

Jim Holt (Author of Why Does the World Exist?) – “Here, Now, Photon: Why Newton was closer to EM than Maudlin is”
4:30-6:30pm Tuesday April 7; CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, NYC), room 5307.

Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech)
4:30-6:30pm Tuesday April 28; CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, NYC), room 5307.

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Christopher Weaver: In Praise of Clausius Entropy: Reassessing the Foundations of Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics

Christopher Weaver (University of Illinois)
4:30-6:30pm Wednesday Nov 13; NYU Philosophy Department (5 Washington Place, New York, NY), room 202.

Title: In Praise of Clausius Entropy: Reassessing the Foundations of Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics

Abstract: I will argue, pace a great many of my contemporaries, that there’s something right about Boltzmann’s attempt to ground the 2nd law of thermodynamics in deterministic time-reversal invariant classical dynamics, and that in order to appreciate what’s right about (what was at least at one time) Boltzmann’s explanatory project one has to fully apprehend the nature of (a) microphysical causal structure, (b) time-reversal invariance, and (c) the relationship between Boltzmann entropy and the work of Rudolf Clausius.

There will be dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to nyphilsci@gmail.com (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered.) If you have any other questions, please email denise.dykstra@rutgers.edu.

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Rutgers Conference on the Philosophy of Probability

On October 24-26, 2019, the Rutgers Philosophy Department will be holding a conference on the Philosophy of Probability. All are welcome to attend!

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Rutgers Conference on Philosophy of Probability
Location: Rutgers Philosophy Department; 106 Somerset St, 5th floor; New Brunswick, NJ
Oct 24 – 26, 2019

Conference Website: https://sites.rutgers.edu/laws-and-chance-project/probability-conference/

Invited Speakers: Ned Hall (Harvard); Jenann Ismael (Columbia); Katie Elliott (UCLA); Christopher Meacham (UMass Amherst); Carl Hoefer (Barcelona); Wayne Myrvold (Western Ontario); Richard Pettigrew (Bristol); Jack Spencer (MIT); Valia Allori (NIU); David Albert (Columbia)

Organizers: Barry Loewer (Rutgers); Denise Dykstra (Rutgers)

Schedule Overview (a detailed schedule, including talk titles and abstracts, is available here)

Thursday, Oct 24

  • 3:00 – 6:00 Topic: Metaphysics of Objective Probability (Ned Hall; Jenann Ismael)
  • 7:00 Conference Dinner (RSVP required)

Friday, Oct 25

  • 9:00 – 9:50 Coffee & Pastries
  • 9:50 – 10:00 Welcome & Introductory Remarks (Barry Loewer)
  • 10:00 – 1:00 Topic: Chance (Katie Elliott; Christopher Meacham)
  • 1:00 – 2:30 Break for lunch
  • 2:30 – 5:30 Topic: Probabilities in the Special Sciences (Carl Hoefer; Wayne Myrvold)
  • 6:30 Dinner (RSVP required)

Saturday, Oct 26

  • 9:00 – 10:00 Coffee & Pastries
  • 10:00 – 1:00 Topic: Chance-Credence Principles (Richard Pettigrew; Jack Spencer)
  • 1:00 – 2:30 Break for lunch
  • 2:30 – 5:30 Topic: Typicality and the Statistical Postulate (Valia Allori; David Albert)

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If you have any questions, please email denise.dykstra@rutgers.edu.

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