The GWP sponsors and supports event which are organised by junior members or held in cooperation with other philosophical societies. Please find here a list of GWP financed, co-financed, or organisational supported events.
Die GWP sponsort und unterstützt Veranstaltungen, die von Nachwuchsmitgliedern organisiert werden oder in Kooperation mit anderen philosophischen Gesellschaften abgehalten werden. Sie finden hier eine Liste der durch die GWP finanzierten, mitfinanzierten oder einfach organisatorisch unterstützten Veranstaltungen.



Joint SPS-GWP-Symposium: From Genetics to Culture — Lines, Gaps and Bridges

  • Date and venue: March 8, 2016, GWP.2016, University of Duesseldorf
  • Short abstract: This symposium approaches the main theme of the conference — Philosophy of science between natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities — by questioning the possible line that can be drawn when considering genetics, epigenetics, development and cultural evolution.

    Coming from different and, for the main aim of this symposium, complementary backgrounds, the first part of the symposium is about epigenetics and the explanation of development. After considering epigenetic research in more detail and highlighting that there is no such thing as a genetic program for development, it will be nonetheless argued that nothing fundamental has changed in the way biologists explain this process — that is, reductively. In a nutshell, the complexity of development and its phenotypic outcome are not explained by investigating the causal mechanisms involved; rather it is by reference to the information coded in the DNA sequence in combination with epigenetic marks that development is explained. However, this first part of the symposium will end by evaluating to what extent the discussed empirical facts and future scientific progress could (and should) lead to a more comprehensive and non-reductionist view on organisms undergoing developmental phases.

    This question and discussion will then picked up and further developed in the second part of the symposium where the guiding question is that of the in principle limits of reductive explanations. After outlining the general arguments in favor of the extreme reductionist position — that there are no limits — two main objections are identified in discussed by means of genetic examples. The first concerns the commonly known multiple realization objection enabling certain non-reductive explanations to compete convincingly with reductive explanations. As shall be explained in detail, such a move comes at high philosophical costs. The second concerns the question whether the rather new debate on complex systems and thus the complexity of genetic networks provide another and more convincing argument against the in principle reductionist hubris that is defended here in the first place.

    Against the background of this balanced analysis — making the reductionist and antireductionist framework as strong as possible –, the third part of the symposium is then able to add another layer required for addressing the main theme of the conference: when considering humans and social utilities, it becomes clear that cultural evolution is partly independent from the genetic level and that our interests (and thus choices) do not always track the evolutionary advantage — even if this independence has evolutionary origins at the genetic level. One of the questions then is whether such facts can be, once again, rather seen as in the case of epigenetics and development where arguably nothing fundamental has changed (since the explanation of development is ‘simply’ based on a combination of genetic information and other relevant factors). Or whether — notably because of the difference in the notion of “function” — no such combination is available, which then leads to a (further) constraint of reductionist approaches.

  • Speakers:
    • Francesca Merlin (IHPST): Epigenetics and the Explanation of Development: The Mirage of Moving Beyond Reductionism
    • Christian Sachse (University of Lausanne): Possible Limits of Reductive Explanations
    • Cédric Paternotte (MCMP, LMU Munich): Information and the Evolution of Social Preferences
  • Organiser: Christian Sachse (University of Lausanne)




Joint GAP-GWP-Colloquium: Meta2physics: Analytic versus Naturalized Metaphysics

  • Date and venue: September 15, 2015, GAP.9, University of Osnabrueck
  • Short abstract: The goal of this colloquium is to explore the relation between science and metaphysics and to shed light on the methods and potential of analytic and naturalized metaphysics.

    Traditionally, metaphysics has been seen as the inquiry into what lies behind or comes before experience, yet, which nonetheless concerns the fundamental structure of reality. However, because metaphysical claims seem not to be empirically testable, the meaningfulness of metaphysics has been contested ever since the classical empiricists, culminating in 20th century logical empiricism which denounced metaphysics as nonsensical altogether. Logical empiricism is also one of the forebears of modern philosophy of science; yet, ironically, some present day philosophers of science have again turned emphatically towards metaphysical reasoning and propose grand (speculative) systems in order to answer questions like what is a law of nature, what are natural kinds, what is causation, etc.

    In the last decades analytic metaphysics has come under fire again and has been critically evaluated. Philosophers have started to debate which kind of metaphysics is and which is not allowed. The relationship between metaphysics and science plays a special role in this debate. In fact, more than a few philosophers today believe that science provides the safest guide to modern metaphysics. Some even go so far as to claim that metaphysics should be naturalized. On the other hand, science and scientific reasoning themselves sometimes seem to be in need of support from metaphysical reasoning.

    The colloquium focusses on the particular interconnections between metaphysics and science and critically assesses the sources, methods, and guidelines that are proposed as being acceptable for metaphysics in recent literature. Particular questions of interest are:

    • In the face of scientific advances, is it still reasonable to be concerned with metaphysical questions? Are philosophical discussions of composition, parthood, and persistence worthwhile, or is preoccupation with such topics empty and sterile?
    • What, if anything, can science contribute to metaphysics? Which metaphysical issues find counterparts in science? Are all metaphysical debates resolvable by appeal to science? If not, what characterizes the debates that are?
    • Which special sciences can metaphysicians drawn upon, and which should be employed (e.g. fundamental physics, social science, linguistics)? Is the prevalence of physical theories in current attempts at establishing a naturalistic metaphysics justifiable?
    • What, if anything, does metaphysics contribute to science? Does science profit from metaphysical reflection? Is metaphysics helpful with respect to the proper interpretation of scientific theories? Is it necessary to this task? What kinds of metaphysical claims does science support?
    • What, if any, is the legitimate role of appeal to intuitions in metaphysical method? What kinds of intuitions should be employed, everyday intuitions or intuitions that derive from scientific (linguistic) practice?
  • Speakers:
    • Stephen French (Leeds University): Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can (Still) Make a Contribution
    • Katherine Hawley (University of St. Andrews): Social Metaphysics and Social Science
    • Holger Lyre (University of Magdeburg) & Markus Schrenk (University of Duesseldorf): Introduction
    • Tobias Rosefeldt (Humboldt University Berlin): The Linguistic Turn
  • Organisers: Holger Lyre (University of Magdeburg), Thomas Reydon (University of Hannover), Oliver R. Scholz (University of Muenster), Markus Schrenk (University of Duesseldorf), Julia F. Göhner (University of Muenster)


Workshop: Risk Assessment and Values in Science

  • Date and venue: September 2, 2015, University of Salzburg
  • Short abstract: It is an important task of science to provide means and information for applying decision making procedures to everyday life. A controversially discussed sub-task within this area consists in providing value judgements that allow one, e.g., to figure out maximal expected utilities or an adequate way of drawing qualitative conclusions from statistical tests for such decisions. This debate about the permissiveness of or even a duty for value judgements in science has lasted for more than a century now and is, due to recently rekindled proposals for the value-ladenness of science, still unsettled. The main aims of this workshop are: (i) to provide a historical and systematic overview of the value-neutrality and value-ladenness problem, (ii) to relate the results to concrete constraints of risk assessment, and (iii) to apply the latter results to intensively discussed decisions under risk in areas of public interest as, e.g., climate-, food- and geosciences as well as medicine.
  • Speakers:
    • Alexander Christian (DCLPS, University of Duesseldorf): The Suppression of Medical Evidence
    • Giovanna Cultrera (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Roma): Science in a Criminal Trial: The L’Aquila Case
    • Christian J. Feldbacher-Escamilla (DCLPS, University of Duesseldorf): A Historical and Systematic Overview of the Debate about Values in Science
    • Wolfgang Kneifel (BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna): Food Safety Risks: Is there a Balance Between Facts and Perception?
    • Gerhard Schurz (DCLPS, University of Duesseldorf): Error Probabilties, Rational Acceptance and the Role of Values
    • Charlotte Werndl (University of Salzburg & London School of Economics): Model Selection Theory Applied to Climate Science: the Need for a More Nuanced View on Use-Novelty
  • Organiser: Christian J. Feldbacher-Escamilla (DCLPS, University of Duesseldorf)




Fourth Sino-German Symposium on Philosophy of Science and Technology: How to Shape the Technological Future – Chinese and German Perspectives

  • Date and venue: September 12–14, 2014, Center for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Bielefeld
  • Short abstract: The conference is supposed to address the question which kind of research in the natural sciences is suitable to promoting technological progress. This question concerns the impact of fundamental research and application-oriented research in generating practically useful research outcome. Such research may proceed either in a theory-guided way or by addressing concrete practical problems. On the first option, broad epistemic research is most likely to produce progress on practically significant problems, while in the latter framework, higher-level theories are assumed to be unable to account for the details of experience and the burden of explanation is expected to be borne by unfounded approximations, auxiliary assumptions and corrections. The corresponding research heuristics suggests meeting practical challenges by conducting targeted, narrowly focused research. The history of science contains examples for both these claims. Such examples were discussed at the conference. The aim was to explore their historical impact and to seek to understand the historical case-studies philosophically in a more coherent way. The topic was addressed in a Chinese-German framework. The question which research heuristics can be expected to be practically useful is particularly urgent in present-day China. Moreover, historical parallels exist between the German situation in the later nineteenth century and the situation China faces today.
  • Speakers:
    • Anke Büter (University of Hannover): Validity in Psychiatric Classification
    • Wang Bufan (Shanghai): Skillful Knowledge and Its Growth
    • Martin Carrier (University of Bielefeld): The Topical Framework of the Conference
    • Sumei Cheng (Shanghai): The Four Patterns of Development of Technology
    • Michael Eckert (Munich): Engineering Problems as a Proving Ground for Fundamental Theories of Fluid Mechanics: the Case of Skin Friction
    • Zaiqing Fang (Peking): Technological Innovation: From the Perspective of Sociology of Culture
    • Xiaonan Hong (Dalian City): Nano-ST Possibility Analysis towards Society Influence
    • Paul Hoyningen-Huene (University of Hannover): Why is Modern Science Technically Exploitable?
    • Xiaotao Liu (Shanghai): Basic Research of Social Sciences in China’s Science and Technology Policy
    • Alfred Nordmann (TU Darmstadt): Beyond Friction: The Objects of Technoscientific Platonism
    • Wolfgang Pietsch (TU Munich): Data-intensive Science as a New Approach for Dealing with Causal Complexity
    • Friedrich Steinle (Berlin): On some Problems of the Dichotomy of Basic and Application Oriented Research: the Case of Electricity
    • Tianen Wang (Shanghai): A New Perspective on the Shape of the Technological Future: Inspiration from the Chinese and German Ways
    • Qian Wang (Dalian City): The Significance of “Horizon” in Scientific Cognitive Activities
    • Liyun Zhou (Shanghai): The Social Shaping of Technology and its Impact on the Technological Development of China
    • Huijuan Zhu (Peking): The Dilemmas of Outsiders: Classical Physics and Pure Science in the Early 20th Century in Germany
  • Organisers: Martin Carrier (University of Bielefeld), Holger Lyre (University of Magdeburg)


Social Epistemology and Joint Action in Science

  • Date and venue: September 4, 2014, University of Salzburg
  • Short abstract: One way of joint action in science consists in overcoming disagreements about the validity of statements by aggregating the single points of view to a joint one. Within this workshop the general conditions for such a joint action will be discussed by providing (i) some desiderata for- and consequences of an optimal aggregation method, followed by (ii) the presentation of a fine-grained way of aggregating single points of view to a joint one, and (iii) combine (i) and (ii) for an optimization of joint action in science. In (iv) the investigation is expanded to differences and bridge principles between quantitative (as used in (i)–(iii)) and qualitative modes of belief.

    Paul Thorn will present a meta-inductivist solution to Hume’s problem of induction within the so-called best-alternative approach on induction. Meta-induction is a specific method of strategy selection which is to be shown optimal (not maximal and of course also not success-determined, hence only best amongst the available alternatives) in the long run within a prediction setting. This new approach to the traditional problem of induction bears also a number of implications for problems in social epistemology. Amongst others, Thorn will show by means of simulations which conclusions one might draw for epistemological group performance evaluation.

    In the second talk Anna-Maria Eder argues that standard monistic Bayesian approaches to cases of so-called doxastic disagreement, i.e. disagreement amongst epistemic agents in their evaluation of the validity or probability of some proposition, are philosophically inappropriate. She will show then that in pluralistic Bayesianism by keeping confirmation commitments and the grasped evidence separated, an aggregation and revision of epistemic belief states in light of disagreement becomes philosophically more appropriate.

    The third talk will be given by Peter Brössel and Christian J. Feldbacher. They show how the meta-inductive approach—presented by Thorn—and pluralistic Bayesianism—as presented by Eder—can be combined in order to make the latter position even more stronger in solving problems of joint action in science.

    In the fourth talk Cédric Paternotte expands the investigation of the first three talks by addressing the problem of bridging quantitative modes of belief to qualitative ones and vice versa. Besides results of formal investigations in this field he will also present some results about the influence of pragmatic factors as, e.g., the degree of publicity of events or the number of supporters of a specific hypothesis.

  • Speakers:
    • Peter Brössel (University of Bochum) & Christian J. Feldbacher-Escamilla (DCLPS, University of Duesseldorf): The Veritistic Value of Social Practices in Science: Peer Disagreement
    • Anna-Maria Asunta Eder (University of Duisburg-Essen): Disagreement and Division of Labour
    • Cédric Paternotte (MCMP, LMU Munich): Common Belief: Plain and Probabilistic
    • Paul Thorn (DCLPS, University of Duesseldorf): Wise Crowds, Clever Meta-Inductivists
  • Organiser: Christian J. Feldbacher-Escamilla (DCLPS, University of Duesseldorf)