THURSDAY 30 OCTOBER
Adrian Currie (U of Alberta): “How to Build a Sea Urchin & Manufacture Smoking Guns” ABSTRACT: “Although they can develop new technologies for identifying and studying potential smoking guns… historical scientists can never manufacture a smoking gun” (Turner 2007, pp158). One rationale for pessimism about historical scientists’ capacity to uncover many truths about the past is that they cannot generate evidence. Scientists with experimental access to their targets test hypotheses by generating targeted, localized, and repeatable evidence. Whereas the scientist relying on field observations is beholden to luck, experimentalists make their own luck. Worse still, the scientist relying on traces from the past must rely on a degraded, incomplete and biased data set. If this is right, then it is possible that historical hypotheses will be systematically underdetermined. Happily, historical scientists can and do generate evidence. I provide a simple example, Zachos & Sprinkle’s (2011) use of a model to infer the developmental differences between stem-group and crown-group echinoderms. I first argue that this model is evidential, that is, Zachos & Sprinkle’s results empirically discriminate between hypotheses. I then argue that simulations count as a kind of experiment, but not the kind of experiment that most philosophers have appealed to. Simulations are surrogative experiments: as opposed to intervening on a sample of the target phenomena, we intervene on something relevantly similar to the target phenomena. I compare experiments on physical surrogates, such as microcosm or ‘bottle’ experiments testing ecological and macroevolutionary theories, with computerized simulations. I argue that there are real epistemic differences between these: whereas physical surrogates sometimes admit ‘mixed cases’, combining samples and surrogates, computerized simulations are more controllable, and so admit a wider range of potential experiments. One lesson from this is that it is a mistake to think of simulations as ‘experiments on computers’.
Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA, Assistant Professor Applications, Review Begins: 11.14
Assistant Professor, Tenure Track, beginning August 2015 AOS: Philosophy of Economics or Formal Epistemology, broadly construed. AOC: open. Applicants who are ABD will be considered, but appointment as Assistant Professor will require that the Ph.D. be in hand before August 2015; otherwise the initial appointment will be as Instructor. Five undergraduate courses per year, standard service duties. The successful candidate will demonstrate a commitment to and appreciation for teaching students from diverse, multi-cultural backgrounds. Salary will be commensurate with experience. Send application package (Letter of application, CV, sample paper, research and teaching statements, and evidence of teaching competence submitted as a single PDF file, and 3 letters of recommendation to firstname.lastname@example.org). Review of applications will begin on November 14, 2014. Kansas State University is an EOE of individuals with disabilities and protected veterans. Background check required. Kansas State University actively seeks diversity among its employees.
The Department of Philosophy Newsletter
The Department of Philosophy proudly announces the winners of our annual Essay Competition, underwritten by the generous sponsorship of Fred and Virginia Merrill. The prize was shared this year by Dillon Rockrohr and Andy Rogers.
We also congratulate Jonathan Bostrom, majoring in both Philosophy and Anthropology, for his election to Phi Beta Kappa!
Who we are
Our department has strengths in philosophy of science, social and political philosophy, philosophy of language, decision theory, ethics, aesthetics, and philosophy of mathematics. We are an undergraduate-focused department that is also very active in research, giving our students the opportunity to participate in philosophical research while still undergraduates.
We offer a variety of options within the major program to provide flexibility in organizing a course of studies with philosophy at its center. We also offer a minor. Our program in philosophy gives students an understanding of traditional philosophical subjects such as the nature and justification of moral values, religious and scientific explanations of the world, the rationality of social institutions, and the nature of reasoning and argument. It also helps students develop critical habits of thinking and skill in understanding complex issues. Consequently, philosophy is an appropriate subject around which to organize a general education for any purpose. Our majors go to law school, medical school, graduate programs in philosophy and related areas, become ministers, and open their own businesses, and all of them credit our program with preparing them for successful careers.
LSAT, GMAT and GRE scores for philosophy majors rank in the top three nationally virtually every year. Also, philosophy majors have among the highest acceptance rates at law schools and medical schools each year. For instance, K-State philosophy majors over the last twenty years have had an acceptance rate at law schools of over 96%.