Entries by Elizabeth Hannon

Getting Tough on Armchair Models | Anna Alexandrova & Robert Northcott

Models and modelling practices in science were once ignored in philosophy of science; however, in the past fifty years they have been anything but. From Mary Hesse’s pioneering work in the 1960s, to the writing of Ron Giere, Uskali Maki, Nancy Cartwright, Mary Morgan, and Margaret Morrison in the 80s and 90s, to today’s contributions from Michael Weisberg, Mauricio Suarez, Wendy Parker, and too many others to mention, scientific models are now studied left and right. This work is no longer quirky or marginal, and it spans many scientific fields. There are detailed and intricate accounts of what models are, the variety of different models, and the epistemic and social roles played by models. But we would like to suggest that in one respect, more should be done.

The Mysterious Methodology of Rational Choice Theory | Christopher Clarke

In the last few decades, economists have puzzled over the curious phenomenon of so-called ambiguity-averse preferences. You are indifferent between (A) receiving a cash prize if a coin lands heads, and (B) receiving the prize if a coin lands tails. You are also indifferent between (A*) receiving the prize if the Nikkei stock index goes up and (B*) receiving the prize if it goes down; for you are totally ignorant about the Japanese stock market. But you prefer (A) to (A*), and you prefer (B) to (B*). Thus, intuitively, you prefer gambling on the more familiar toss of a coin than on the less familiar stock market.

Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science | Daniel Weiskopf

Psychology emerged within the last two centuries from a long tradition of philosophical speculation about the mind, and it has to a large degree remained entangled with that tradition. Psychological theorizing overlaps with philosophical discourse at many points, and has also produced a host of concepts, methods, and models that shed new light on some of philosophy’s old problems. This combination has made it one of the most fertile sources of material for philosophers of science. The emergence of cognitive science as an organizing conception for the interfield study of the mind is a testament to the reciprocal influence of philosophy on scientific theorizing. As increasing attention has been paid in recent years to the analysis of the practices of particular sciences, the philosophy of psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science have flourished.

Philosophy of Science for Scientists, and Science for Philosophers of Science | Ellen Clarke

Most professional philosophers of science would, I hope, agree that our discipline shares the object of its investigations with some other academics, i.e. scientists. But how often do we actually talk to them? Till Grüne-Yanoff has published a paper over at the EJPS, making a case for science students to be taught compulsory philosophy of science courses, and setting out some constraints on the optimal design of such courses. He does a great job of identifying some obstacles that advocates of such courses need to overcome.

The ‘Cell State’ Revived? | Jonathan Birch

What is an organism? Ask any two biologists from any two different sub-disciplines, and you’d probably get two different answers. A physiologist would give you a physiological answer, an immunologist would give you an immunological answer, a developmental biologist would give you a developmental answer, an evolutionary theorist would give an evolutionary answer… and so on. There would, of course, be some important recurring themes (organisms are ‘integrated wholes’, they are ‘organized’, they are in some sense ‘autonomous’) but as soon as we get down to details it’s plurality, not unity, that prevails.