It’s widely appreciated that contemporary philosophy of science, when done well, engages with actual scientific practices. Philosophers should not sit back (in armchairs, of course), consider what we think good science would look like, then inform scientists of our findings. Rather, current thinking goes, we should take seriously what scientists actually do, using these practices as the starting points for our philosophical accounts of the aims, processes, and products of science.
If you didn’t make it to this year’s BSPS annual conference in Oxford, we’ve teamed up with Philosophy Streaming to record the Presidential Address and the plenary discussions for your listening pleasure!
The lone philosopher, working in a dingy attic by the scrap end of a guttering candle might have some cultural purchase, and certainly the working conditions might sometimes be a little Dickensian, but what’s apparent from working behind the curtains at the BJPS is that good philosophy is not the result of the heroic efforts of single individuals. We are lucky enough here to receive submissions from the best and brightest in our field, but the distance between that first submission and the finished product should not be underestimated. That gap is bridged by the time, hard work, and thoughtfulness of our referees, in conversation with our authors. For myself, I have learnt more about how to do philosophy in reading the back-and-forth between author and referee than I could ever have imagined, and it has been a huge privilege to be able to eavesdrop on these conversations.
The decision of the Co-Editors of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science is that the Sir Karl Popper Prize for 2014 should be awarded to Rachael L. Brown for her paper ‘What Evolvability Really Is’ (Br J Philos Sci , 65, pp. 549-72).
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.
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.