The news archive of the German Society for Philosophy of Science (GWP).

Submitted by EPSA.


EPSA21: Call for Papers and Symposia
8th Biennial Conference of the EPSA in Turin, Italy

The European Society for Philosophy of Science (EPSA) invites contributed papers and proposals for symposia for its next conference, EPSA21, to be held in Turin (Italy) on 15-18 September 2021. The conference will feature contributed talks, symposia, and posters covering all subfields of the philosophy of science, and will bring together a large number of philosophers of science from Europe and overseas. We also welcome philosophically-minded scientists and investigators from areas outside the philosophy of science, for example, as symposium participants; and we particularly welcome submissions from women, ethnic minorities, and other under-represented groups in the profession.

The conference has ten sections:
1. General Philosophy of Science
2. Philosophy of the Physical Sciences
3. Philosophy of the Life Sciences
4. Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences
5. Philosophy of the Social Sciences
6. Philosophy of Technology and Philosophy of Interdisciplinary Research
7. Philosophy of Science in Practice
8. Formal Philosophy of Science
9. Integrated History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science
10. Ethical Issues in the Sciences

The EPSA21 Programme Committee, headed by Caterina Marchionni and Jon Williamson, will strive for quality, variety, and diversity on the programme. A selection of accepted contributed and symposium papers will appear in the European Journal of Philosophy of Science (EJPS).

Contributed Papers
We invite submissions of both a short abstract (max. 1000 characters) and an extended abstract (max. 1000 words) through EasyChair, our online submission system, by 18 January 2021. The extended abstract should include the number and title of the relevant section and the title of the paper. The allocated time for delivering contributed papers at the conference will be 30 minutes, including discussion. Please prepare your abstracts for blind review, and submit your extended abstract as a PDF file.
Authors who want their paper to be considered for the poster session in case of non-acceptance as a talk should tick the appropriate box in EasyChair. Authors whose papers could not be accepted for presentation as a talk but who are offered a place in the poster session will be notified in the decision email.
graduate student prize will be awarded to the best student paper accepted for presentation at the conference.

We invite submissions of both a short abstract (max. 1,000 characters) and a full proposal through EasyChair, our online submission system, by 18 January 2021. The full proposal should include the number and title of the relevant section, the title of the proposed symposium, the contact details of the organizer(s) (who may or may not be a speaker) and the names and short CVs of all speakers (max. 1 page in total), a general description of the topic and its significance (max. 1,500 words), and titles and abstracts of all papers (max. 300 words for each paper).
Accepted symposia will be allocated 120 minutes, including discussions. They can have any format but the maximum number of speakers is five.
Symposium proposals that explore connections between different areas or research programs in philosophy of science or between philosophy of science and sciences are encouraged. Please submit the full proposal as a PDF file.

Poster Session
We invite contributions of posters, which will be presented in a dedicated poster session. Posters can be submitted either as a second option for papers that are also submitted as contributed talks or specifically for the poster session. For poster submissions, please follow the guidelines for contributed papers, add the word “Poster” below the title on both abstracts, and submit your abstracts either by ticking the “Poster” box in the contributed paper track or by uploading your material in the poster track in EasyChair.

Submission Guidelines and Rules
  • The deadline for all submissions is 18 January 2021.
  • All submissions should be made through EasyChair. Please note that first-time users have to register as users of EasyChair.
  • To present at the conference, you must be an active and paying member of the EPSA. Join or renew membership today.
  • Authors can simultaneously make one submission for each of the three above types (contributed paper, symposium, poster), but any author can appear on the programme only once as a presenter or symposium organizer.
  • In case of acceptance of multiple submissions by one author, the programme committee will give symposium participation priority over contributed talks and contributed talks over posters.
  • For co-authored contributed papers, symposium papers, and posters it will be assumed that the first author will present the paper or poster unless specified otherwise. Accordingly, authors presenting at EPSA21 may also appear as co-authors of other papers that are part of the programme, but not as first author/presenter.
  • The decisions on the acceptance of submissions will be announced on 19 April 2021.

Submit online 

For all enquiries, please contact the EPSA mailbox at
EPSA21 in Turin – Join the EPSA for a discount on conference registration  and more.JOIN

Submitted by Adrian Wüthrich (TU Berlin).


Call for Papers

Virtual entities in science: a virtual workshop

5, 12 and 19 March 2021, online

Organized by the Project “Virtual Particles” (A1) of the Research Unit “The Epistemology of the Large Hadron Collider”

Not only since the sudden increase of online communication due to the COVID-19 situation has the concept of the “virtual” made its way into everyday language. In this context, it mostly denotes a digital substitute of a real object or process. “Virtual reality” is perhaps the best known term in this respect.

With these digital connotations, “virtuality” has been used also in science and research: Chemists use virtual laboratories, biologists do virtual scanning of molecular structures, and geologists engage in virtual field trips.

But the concept of the “virtual” has a much longer tradition, dating back to long before the dawn of the digital age. Virtual displacements and virtual images were introduced in classical physics already in the 18th century. They represented auxiliary objects or processes without instantiation, with the purpose of efficiently describing specific physical systems. Through Heisenberg’s use of “potentia” in his late attempts to interpret quantum mechanics, the term “virtual” may even relate back to Aristotle.

In today’s physics, the term virtual is mostly associated with the quantum world, first and foremost with the “virtual particle” of quantum field theory. It has become such an integral part of modern high energy physics that its ontological character may be considered to go beyond the purely auxiliary, which is typically associated with the virtual. The various possibilities for a virtual particle to manifest itself in a measurement highlights, furthermore, how “potentiality” continues to be a characteristic feature of virtual entities.

In other disciplines, however, use of the term “virtual” without a digital connotation is much rarer. While concepts like “virtual adrenaline” in medicine and biochemistry arise in the 1940s, and the “virtual moon” figures quite prominently in some (English translations of) Babylonian calendar texts, these examples seem to be rather singular occurrences of entities that were explicitly called “virtual”. The basic idea behind the terminology of the virtual, however, could be much more common, even outside of physics. The “invisible hand” in economics, or the “vital force” in biology, for instance, do carry aspects of a virtual entity, even if they have not been called that way.

For this workshop we invite contributions that address the historical formation and philosophical interpretation of concepts of virtual entities in physics and other disciplines – in whatever terms they may come. The main goal of the workshop is to bring to the fore similarities and differences in the meanings and functions of these concepts so as to be able to precisely characterize why certain entities are considered virtual in specific contexts, why a different terminology was often used in each individual case and in what sense the virtual entities relate to the real world.

We are looking for contributions that address the role of these concepts in theoretical as well as experimental activities, and for investigations into the origins of the terminology of the virtual as it was applied to the various disciplines of natural science. Work that integrates philosophical and historical approaches is particularly welcome.

Among other things, contributions may focus on one of the following aspects which are usually associated with virtual entities, in particular if we think of the virtual particle of modern quantum field theory:

  • The terminology of virtuality, including its etymology, and why it was applied to the entities in question: Why not other terms like “substitute” or “auxiliary”?
  • The potentiality inherent in virtual entities to bring about certain effects, which may eventually be realized or not: How is this to be understood exactly?
  • The ontology of virtual entities: How is it different from real entities, and how do we get epistemic access to virtual entities?

The workshop will be held online. Apart from the contributed talks, the program will feature a small number of keynotes. To contribute a paper, please send a title and an abstract (approx. 200 words) along with your name, affiliation and contact details to no later than 15 November 2020.

For further information and updates please consult the conference webpage or contact one of the organizers.

Robert Harlander, Jean-Philippe Martinez, Friedrich Steinle, Adrian Wüthrich (

Submitted by Ludger Jansen (WWU Münster).


Das Zentrum für Wissenschaftstheorie (ZfW) vergibt für das Sommersemester 2021 vier vergütete

Lehraufträge (2 SWS)

Die Lehrveranstaltungen sind den Allgemeinen Studien zugeordnet, richten sich an wissenschaftstheoretisch interessierte Studierende aller Fächer und sollen einem der drei folgenden Bereiche zugeordnet werden:

  1. Klassiker der Wissenschaftstheorie (z.B. Kuhn, Popper etc.),
  2. Vertiefungsveranstaltungen zur allgemeinen Wissenschaftstheorie,
  3. Seminare zur speziellen Wissenschaftstheorie (z. B. zur Wissenschaftstheorie der Physik, Psychologie, Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaften etc.).

BewerberInnen sollten

  • über einen qualifizierten Hochschulabschluss und über grundlegende Kompetenzen in einem der genannten Lehrbereiche verfügen und
  • bereit sein, eigenständig Seminarkonzepte zu entwerfen und den besonderen Bedürfnissen der Studierenden in den Allgemeinen Studien anzupassen.

Besonders erwünscht sind Bewerbungen von nicht nur philosophisch, sondern auch natur-, kultur- oder sozialwissenschaftlich ausgewiesenen AbsolventInnen.
Bewerbungen mit den üblichen Unterlagen (Lebenslauf, Zeugnisse) sowie einem kurzen Seminarkonzept (max. eine halbe DIN-A4-Seite, ggf. zuzüglich eines groben Sitzungsplans) sind bis zum 13. Oktober 2020 an PD Dr. Ludger Jansen ( zu richten. Die Einsendung mehrerer Seminarkonzepte ist möglich. Bitte geben Sie an, ob das Seminar wöchentlich oder als Block geplant ist und ob es als Präsenz- und/oder Onlineveranstaltung stattfinden kann.

Submitted by Florian Boge (Wuppertal University).


Call for Papers for a Minds & Machines Special Issue on

Machine Learning: Prediction Without Explanation?

Over the last decades, Machine Learning (ML) techniques have gained central prominence in many areas of science. ML typically aims at pattern recognition and prediction, and in many cases has become a better tool for these purposes than traditional methods. The downside, however, is that ML does not seem to provide any explanations, at least not in the same sense as theories or traditional models do.

This apparent lack of explanation is often also linked to the opacity of ML techniques, sometimes referred to as the ‘Black Box Challenge’. Methods such as heat maps or adversarial examples are aimed at reducing this opacity and opening the black box. But at present, it remains an open question how and what exactly these methods explain and what the nature of these explanations is.
While in some areas of science this may not create any interesting philosophical challenges, in many fields, such as medicine, climate science, or particle physics, an explanation may be desired; among other things for the sake of rendering subsequent decisions and policy making transparent. Moreover, explanation and understanding are traditionally construed as central epistemic aims of science in general. Does a turn to ML techniques hence imply a radical shift in the aims of science? Does it require us to rethink science-based policy making? Or does it mean we need to rethink our concepts of explanation and understanding?

In this Special Issue, we want to address this complex of questions regarding explanation and prediction, as it attaches to ML applications in science and beyond.
We invite papers focusing on but not restricted to the following topics:

  • (How) can ML results be used for the sake of explaining scientific observations?
  • If so, what is the nature of these explanations?
  • Will future science favor prediction above explanation?
  • If so, what does this mean for science-based decision and policy making?
  • What is explained about ML by methods such as saliency maps and adversarials?
  • Does ML introduce a shift from classical notions of scientific explanation, such as causal-mechanistic, covering law-, or unification-based, towards a purely statistical one?
  • (Why) should we trust ML applications, given their opacity?
  • (Why) should we care about the apparent loss of explanatory power?

The Special Issue is guest edited by members of the project The impact of computer simulations and machine learning on the epistemic status of LHC Data, part of the DFG/FWF-funded interdisciplinary research unit The Epistemology of the Large Hadron Collider

For more information, please visit

Deadline for paper submissions: 28 February 2021
Deadline for paper reviewing: 19 April 2021
Deadline for submission of revised papers: 03 May 2021
Deadline for reviewing revised papers: 07 June 2021
Papers will be published in 2021

Submission Details
To submit a paper for this special issue, authors should go to the journal’s Editorial Manager The author (or a corresponding author for each submission in case of co- authored papers) must register into EM.
The author must then select the special article type: “Machine Learning: Prediction without Explanation?” from the selection provided in the submission process. This is needed in order to assign the submissions to the Guest Editor.
Submissions will then be assessed according to the following procedure:
New Submission => Journal Editorial Office => Guest Editor(s) => Reviewers => Reviewers’ Recommendations => Guest Editor(s)’ Recommendation => Editor-in-Chief’s Final Decision => Author Notification of the Decision.
The process will be reiterated in case of requests for revisions.

Guest Editors

  • Dr. Florian J. Boge, postdoctoral researcher, Interdisciplinary Centre for Science and Technology Studies (IZWT), Wuppertal University
  • Paul Grünke, doctoral student, research group “Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science”, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand, head of the research group “Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science”, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

For any further information please contact:
– Dr. Florian J. Boge:
– Paul Grünke:

Submitted by Erik Curiel (MCMP, LMU Munich).


Topical Issue of Synthese Call for Papers: “All Things Reichenbach”

Guest Editors:
Erik Curiel
Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, LMU Munich
Black Hole Initiative, Harvard University

Flavia Padovani
English and Philosophy Department, Drexel University, Philadelphia

Topical Collection Description:

Hans Reichenbach is among the most important philosophers of science of the Twentieth Century and without doubt one of the most prominent philosophers of physics of the first half of the past century. His work has ramified in fundamental ways into virtually every major debate in the philosophy of science and physics. While Reichenbach’s philosophical project is no longer seen as viable as a whole, his work continues to be influential often in unnoticed but deep ways. Although many of his ideas still retain their interest and are discussed in current philosophy of science, he remains, in fact, one of the least understood and least carefully studied philosophical thinkers of his time. Because his own work has not been well understood, his influence is not widely recognized. The primary aim of this collection is to fill this gap by illuminating his contributions to advances in many fields in philosophy, and his legacy in the context of current philosophical research across the discipline as a whole. The theme of the collection, therefore, will be an investigation of his work both in its own context and in its continuing contemporary influence in current philosophy. This collection aims, moreover, at reviving the tradition of inter-disciplinary collaboration that was at the heart of Reichenbach’s vision for intellectual work, promoting the cross-pollination of ideas that discussion across traditional disciplinary boundaries can create and so exploring ways in which his insights can continue to be valuable in current scientific and formal approaches to philosophy. It is, in that spirit, a sequel to the conference “All Things Reichenbach” that took place at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (LMU Munich) in July 2019 (

Appropriate topics for submission include, among others:

1. geometry, space and relativity
2. the relativized a priori and conventionalism
3. coordination and measurement
4. causality and time
5. statistical mechanics and thermodynamics
6. realism, empiricism and scientific philosophy
7. reasoning, induction and confirmation
8. logic and probability

Any other topic related to Reichenbach is also welcome. As emphasized above, submitted papers can focus on Reichenbach’s own work in its historical context, on the influence of his work in contemporary debates, or on approaches to contemporary problems inspired by his work.

It is the aim of the editors that the selected papers will complement each other, both within each category and across categories.

The link for submitting your manuscript to Synthese, along with instructions for doing so, will be sent soon in a subsequent posting.

For further information, please contact the guest editors:
Erik Curiel
Flavia Padovani

The deadline for submissions is 15 November 2020.

Erik Curiel, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat, Munich, Germany
Flavia Padovani, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA