Quartalsvorlesungen | Quarterly Lectures

Mit den Quarterly Lectures on Philosophy of Science starten wir 2022 eine neue Vortragsreihe, für die wir auf Vorschlag von Student*innen bekannte Philosoph*innen und Wissenschaftler*innen für einen 60-Minuten Vortrag mit anschließenden 60 Minuten Diskussion einladen ihre Forschung für Bachelor- und Masterstudierende vorzustellen (Vorschläge bitte an: seminar(at)philosophiederphysik.de). Die Vorträge werden auf Deutsch oder Englisch gehalten. Alle Interessierten sind herzlich eingeladen. Der Zoom-Link wird über diese Seite veröffentlicht, auch etwaige Vorbereitungsmaterialien werden hier zugänglich gemacht.

With the Quarterly Lectures on Philosophy of Science, we are starting a new lecture series in 2022: we invite well-known philosophers and scientists to present their research to bachelor's and master's students through a 60-minute lecture followed by a 60-minute discussion (please send suggestions to: seminar(at)philosophiederphysik.de). The lectures will be held in German or English. All interested parties are cordially invited. The zoom link will be published via this page, and any preparatory materials will also be made available here.

Programme 2024

Organised by Oxana Shaya (Aachen), Niels Linnemann (Geneva), Anastasja Petrović (Cologne), Kian Salimkhani (Nijmegen), Maren Bräutigam (Cologne), Annica Vieser (Geneva), and Karla Weingarten (Munich).

10th Quarterly Lecture
Michela Massimi
10. June 2024 (14:00 CEST)

Perspectival Realism. An introduction

Venue: Online

Background reading: Massimi, Perspectival Realism

Abstract: In this talk I give an overview of the philosophical view called Perspectival realism which I articulated in Massimi (2022, OUP). I present the epistemological approach to science that underpins the view with the question of how reliable scientific knowledge is produced. In the second part of the talk I elucidate the realist position that results from the epistemological project with a focus on a phenomena-first ontology.

9th Quarterly Lecture
Alastair Wilson
19. April 2024 (16:00 CEST)

Four Grades of Modal Naturalism

Venue: Online

Background reading: The Nature of Contingency. Quantum Physics as Modal Realism

Abstract: How, if at all, can scientific progress improve our view of the modal facts? According to rationalist approaches to modal epistemology, science has no substantive role: a priori reflection reveals the structure of modal space, and a posteriori science merely locates us within that modal space, by identifying the actual properties and structures instantiated at our world. According to modal naturalist approaches, science provides evidence about the structure of the underlying modal space. In this paper I distinguish four versions of modal naturalism, with science playing an increasingly robust evidential role, and discuss their plausibility.

Programme 2023

Organised by Oxana Shaya (Aachen), Niels Linnemann (Geneva), Anastasja Petrović (Cologne), Kian Salimkhani (Cologne), Maren Bräutigam (Cologne), Annica Vieser (Geneva), and Karla Weingarten (Munich).

8th Quarterly Lecture
Nina Emery
15. December 2023 (15:00 CET)

Methodological Naturalism and Context Dependence

Venue: Online

Video; Background reading: Naturalism Beyond the Limits of Science: How Scientific Methodology Can and Should Shape Philosophical Theorizing (esp. chapters 1,2,3, and 7)

Abstract: Methodological naturalism is the view that metaphysicians ought to follow as much of the methodology of science as possible. I present an argument for methodological naturalism and explore some interesting consequences of the view. Then I turn to what I take to be the most significant challenge facing the methodological naturalist. This challenge stems from the observation that the methodology of science appears to be context dependent in various ways. I explore a range of possible ways by which the methodological naturalist might meet this challenge.

7th Quarterly Lecture
Lina Jansson
17. November 2023 (15:30 CET)

Symmetries and Conservation Laws

Venue: Online

Abstract: Symmetries are sometimes taken to explain conservation laws rather than vice versa. However, in common with many seemingly non-causal explanations, it is not easy to see how to justify this direction of explanation. In this talk I will present an epistemic account of explanation and the conditions that would have to be fulfilled in order for symmetries to explain conservation laws (but not vice versa).

6th Quarterly Lecture
Hajnal Andréka, Michael Cuffaro, Istvan Nemeti, and Lenka Zdeborová
23. June 2023 (16:00 CEST)

Panel on Limitations to Unifying Computation and Physics

1. Hajnal Andréka and Istvan Nemeti: Relativistic computation (Further reading)
2. Michael Cuffaro: Quantum Computing's Impact on the Foundations of Computational Complexity Theory (Further reading)
3. Lenka Zdeborová: Analysis of computational harness via phase transitions (Further reading)
4. Panel discussion

Venue: Online

Background reading: Duwell (2021)

5th Quarterly Lecture
Jacob Stegenga
12. May 2023 (17:30 CEST)

Fast Science

Venue: Cologne University and online

Background reading suggested by the speaker: Birch (2021) and Stegenga (2020)

Abstract: Scientists violate principles and practices of routine science to quickly develop interventions against catastrophic threats. I call this fast science. The magnitude, imminence, and plausibility of a threat justify engaging in and acting on fast science. Yet, that justification is incomplete. I defend two principles to assess fast science, which say: fast science should satisfy as much as possible the reliability-enhancing features of routine science, and the fast science developing an intervention against a threat should not depend on the same problematic assumptions as the science which estimates the magnitude, imminence, and plausibility of the threat.

Programme 2022

Organised by Oxana Shaya (RWTH Aachen), Niels Linnemann (University of Bremen/Rotman) and Kian Salimkhani (University of Cologne).

4th Quarterly Lecture
Kerry McKenzie
9. December 2022 (19:00 CET)

Physics, Metaphysics, and the Problem of Progress

Video; Slides; Background reading: McKenzie (2020)

Abstract: Metaphysics is often held to be continuous with science. And in many respects it is: it has similar aims and may even employ a similar methodology. However, it is arguably very different in one crucial respect: while science clearly makes progress, it is very much less clear that metaphysics does. This gravely impacts the value of engaging in metaphysics of physics prior to a final theory. Or so I think: in this talk I will explain why I believe this, and respond to some objections that have been made to my argument.

3rd Quarterly Lecture
Anjan Chakravartty
19. August 2022 (16:00 CEST)

On the Relationship between Scientific Realism and Scientific Metaphysics


Abstract: Debates about scientific realism (the idea that our best theories and models are substantially on the right track, epistemically, and increasingly so), and debates about scientific or naturalized metaphysics (the idea that, in order to be on the right epistemic track, metaphysical theorizing should be intimately connected to scientific theorizing), are generally conducted in isolation from one another. As it happens, though, these two debates are, in fact, interwoven, because different approaches to scientific realism reflect different approaches to naturalized metaphysics, and antirealist arguments in the former domain have correlates in the latter. In this talk, I explore the relationship between scientific realism and scientific metaphysics, the extent to which their fates are linked, and the sense in which they are not.

2nd Quarterly Lecture
Emily Adlam
23. June 2022 (18:15 CEST)

Operational Theories as Structural Realism


Abstract: In this talk I will introduce the operational theories approach to research in quantum foundations and undertake a reconstruction of the epistemic significance of this research. I argue that the space of operational theories is analogous to the space of possible worlds employed in the possible world semantics for modal logic, so research of this sort can be understood as probing modal structure. Thus I will argue that operational axiomatisations of quantum mechanics may be interpreted as a novel form of structural realism; I discuss the consequences of this interpretation for the philosophy of structural realism and the future of operational theories.

1st Quarterly Lecture
Bas van Fraassen
21. March 2022 (19:00 CET)

Epistemological implications of Bell's inequality

Video, Script; Background reading: Mermin (1981)

Abstract: I will quickly rehearse the schematic form of the Aspect experiment to test Bell’s Inequalities. Then I will first explain how those inequalities can be deduced if we assume Reichenbach’s common cause principle, and next, if we assume counterfactual definiteness (made precise in terms of conditionals). Finally, there is still the challenge of how to go on once we have to give up traditional ways of thinking, and here I will advocate an empiricist stance toward modality.