CfP: 7th René Descartes Lectures: Philip Kitcher on Progress in Science, Mathematics, and Values (Tilburg University, October 14-16, 2020, Deadline: April 30, 2020)

Submitted by Sander Verhaegh (TiLPS, Tilburg University).


7th René Descartes Lectures 2020

Pragmatic Naturalism: Progress in Science, Mathematics, and Values

Professor Philip Kitcher, Columbia University, USA

14-16 October, 2020

Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Every other year, a distinguished philosopher visits Tilburg University and the Tilburg Center for Moral Philosophy, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS) to present the René Descartes Lectures. It is a great pleasure to announce that Professor Philip Kitcher (Columbia University in the City of New York) will deliver the 2020 Descartes lectures on the topic: Pragmatic Naturalism: Progress in Science, Mathematics, and Values. Professors Michela Massimi (Edinburgh), Cheryl Misak (Toronto), and James Conant (Chicago/Leipzig) will provide commentaries on each one of Professor Kitcher’s three lectures.

Concurrently with the lectures, we will host a workshop on the topic of the lectures. For this workshop, we invite submissions in the form of extended abstracts (about 500 words) by April 30, 2020.

Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature and possibility of progress in science, mathematics, or ethics
  • Theories of progress—in particular, pragmatic and naturalistic theories of progress
  • The normative criteria for individuating improvement (or regress) in science, mathematics, or ethics
  • Historical case studies of progress in science, mathematics or ethics
  • The causes of long-term improvement (or regress) in science, mathematics, or ethics
  • Progress and human well-being
  • Progress and realisms
  • The social organization of inquiry and progress/regress
  • Progress, diversity, and disagreement

The Editors-in-chief at Synthese showed an interest in publishing articles related to the topic of this conference. When you submit your abstract, please indicate if you would like it to be considered for inclusion in a full proposal for a topical collection at Synthese.

Abstracts should be submitted via Easychair. Please submit your abstract in an anonymized form.

Notifications of acceptance will be made by early June. Members of the Descartes Lectures Program Committee are listed here. All questions about submissions should be directed to the Chair of the Descartes Lectures 2020 Committee, Dr Matteo Colombo (m.colombo[at]

For more information, including the abstracts of all lectures, visit our website

COVID-19 update: Given the ongoing uncertainties about the pandemic, we are currently working on a plan B, which includes the option of holding a virtual congress instead of a face-to-face meeting. If the organization should decide to move the conference online, contributors will be informed well in advance.

Matteo Colombo
Caroline Harnacke
Georgie Mills
Sander Verhaegh