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Science & More Talks


The “Science & More” talks are a series of work in progress talks at the Center for Logic, Language and Cognition (LLC) in Turin and run by the ERC project. We use it to present our own work in progress and to learn about the ongoing research of our colleagues. From time to time, also speakers from outside Turin present their work.

Thematically, the talks are centered around philosophy of science, but we are also open to topics from related areas (e.g., logic, epistemology, philosophy of language) and other philosophical subdisciplines where exact methods are applied.

The talks take place from noon (=12:00) to 13:00, usually on Wednesdays, followed by a joint lunch in one of the surrounding restaurants. They are meant to be low-key events, open to everybody and aiming at the improvement of ongoing work through critical, but constructive discussion. In autumn 2018, we will meet on 9 and 24 October, 7 and 28 November, and 12 December.

Upcoming Talks

Lina Lissia (University of Turin): From McGee’s puzzle to the Lottery Paradox

Tuesday 9 October, 12:00-13:00, Aula di Medievale, Palazzo Nuovo

Vann McGee (1985) provided a famous counterexample to Modus Ponens. I show that, contrary to a view universally held in the literature, assuming the material conditional as an interpretation of the natural language conditional “if …, then …” does not dissolve McGee’s puzzle. Indeed, I provide a slightly modified version of McGee’s famous election scenario in which (1) the relevant features of the scenario are preserved (2) both modus ponens and modus tollens fail, even if we assume the material conditional. I go on to show that in the modified scenario (which I call “the restaurant scenario”) conjunction introduction is also invalid. More specifically, I demonstrate that the restaurant scenario is actually a version of the Lottery Paradox (Kyburg 1961), and conclude that any genuine solution to McGee’s puzzle must be a solution to the Lottery Paradox, too. Finally, I provide some hints towards a solution to both McGee’s puzzle and the Lottery Paradox.

Past Talks

Mattia Andreoletti (University of Turin): The Meanings of Replicability

Thursday, 27 September, 12:00-13:00, Aula di Medievale, Palazzo Nuovo

Throughout the last decade there has been a growing interdisciplinary debate on the reliability of scientific findings: experiments (and statistical analyses in general) are rarely replicated. Intuitively, replicability of experiments is a central dogma of science, and the importance of multiple studies corroborating a given result is widely acknowledged. However, there is no consensus on what counts as a successful replication, and researchers employ a range of operational definitions reflecting different intuitions. The lack of a single accepted definition opens the door to controversy about the epistemic import of replicability for the trustworthiness of scientific results. Disentangling the meanings of replicability is crucial to avoid potential misunderstanding.

Vincenzo Crupi (University of Turin): The logic of evidential conditionals

Wednesday, 27 June, 12:45-13:45, Aula 13, 1st floor, Palazzo Nuovo

Once upon a time, some thought that indicative conditionals could be effectively analyzed by means of the material conditional. Nowadays, an alternative theoretical construct largely prevails and receives wide acceptance, namely, the conditional probability of the consequent given the antecedent. Partly following earlier critical remarks made by others (most notably, Igor Douven), I advocate a revision of this consensus and suggest that incremental probabilistic support (rather than conditional probability alone) is key to the understanding of indicative conditionals and their role in human reasoning. There have been motivated concerns that a theory of such evidential conditionals (unlike their more traditional suppositional counterparts) can not generate a sufficiently interesting logical system. I will present results largely dispelling these worries. Happily, and perhaps surprisingly, appropriate technical variations of Ernst Adams’s classical approach allow for the construction of a new logic of evidential conditionals which is nicely superclassical, fairly strong, and also (as it turns out) a kind of connexive logic.

Workshop in Philosophy of Science

Friday, 25 May, 11:00-13:30
Aula 8, Palazzo Nuovo (first floor)

Instead of the usual longer presentation on Wednesdays, we have four short ones on a Friday, featuring young and promising philosophers of science, affiliated to various European universities.

11:00—11:35 Mike Stuart (London School of Economics): Locating Objectivity in Models of Science
11:35—12:10 William Peden (Durham University): Selective Confirmation Answers to the Paradox of the Ravens
12:10—12:20 Coffee Break
12:20—12:55 Mattia Andreoletti (IEO Milan): Rules versus standards in drug regulation
12:55—13:30 Borut Trpin (University of Ljubljana): Some Problematic Consequences of Jeffrey Conditionalization

The abstracts can be found here.

Andrea Iacona (University of Turin): Strictness vs Connexivity

Wednesday, 9 May, 12:00-13:00, Aula 23, Palazzo Nuovo (first floor)

I will compare two views of conditionals that exhibit some interesting affinities, the strict conditional view and the connexivist view. My aim is to show that the strict conditional view is at least as plausible as the connexivist view, contrary to what the fans of connexive logic tend to believe. The first part of the talk draws attention to the similarity between the two views, in that it outlines three arguments that support both of them. The second part examines the case for the theses that characterize the connexivist view, Aristotle’s theses and Boethius’ theses, and finds that the core intuition on which it rests is consistent with the strict conditional view, so it can be accommodated within classical logic.

Noah van Dongen, Felipe Romero and Jan Sprenger (LLC/University of Turin): Semantic Intuitions—A Meta-Analysis

Wednesday, 18 April, noon, Aula 16, Palazzo Nuovo (first floor)

One of the most famous papers in experimental philosophy (Machery, Mellon, Nichols, and Stich, 2004) analyzes semantic intuitions in prominent cases taken from Saul Kripke’s seminal book “Naming and Necessity” (1970). Machery and colleagues found cross-cultural differences in semantic intuitions pertaining to the reference of proper names in Kripke’s “Gödel” and “Jonah” cases, which were transformed into vignettes that are usable for experimental research. Their paper kicked off an experimental research program on cross-cultural differences in semantic intuitions. But what is the state of the art right now, almost 15 years later?

We conduct a statistical meta-analysis of experiments which investigate systematic semantic intuition differences between Westerners and East Asians and present our preliminary findings. Along the way, we explain some problems we experienced in completing the project,such as the question of which studies should be included and which ones should be left out as being too remote from the original experiment.

The project is joint work with Matteo Colombo (Tilburg University).

Wednesday, 11 April, noon.
Aula di Antica (in the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, second floor of Palazzo Nuovo).

Claus Beisbart (University of Bern): Reflective equilibrium fleshed out

Reflective equilibrium (RE) is often taken to be the crucial method of normative ethics (Rawls), philosophy (Lewis) or understanding more generally (Elgin). Despite its apparent popularity, however, the method is only vaguely characterized, poorly developed and almost never applied to real-world problems in an open-minded way. The aim of this talk is to present an operationalization and a formal model of the RE. The starting point is an informal characterization of what I take to be the key idea of RE, viz. an elaboration of one’s commitments due to pressure from systematic principles. This idea then is spelled out in the framework of the Theory of Dialectical Structures, as developed by Gregor Betz. The commitments of an epistemic subject are described as a position in a dialectical structure; desiderata for the positions are postulated; and rules for changing the commitments expounded. Simple examples, in which the model is applied, display a number of features that are well-known from the literature about RE. The talk concludes by discussing the limitations of the model. This paper is based upon work done jointly with Gregor Betz and Georg Brun.

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