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February 2018

A. Voskuhl, Engineering philosophy: machine culture and social and intellectual elites in the Second Industrial Revolution

February 7, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Northrop Frye Hall, room 119, 73 Queen's Park Crescent East
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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This talk is concerned with the machine culture of the Second Industrial Revolution and the contemporary emergence of the subfield of philosophy of technology. Philosophers newly established technology as an object of philosophical inquiry and started to grasp in metaphysical, aesthetic, and phenomenological terms the realities of the new machine age. Their discussions attracted the attention of philosophically and politically ambitious engineers, who were at the same time involved in a complex process of social emancipation: being a nascent profession,…

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March 2018

M. Massimi, Two kinds of exploratory models

March 14, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Northrop Frye Hall, room 119, 73 Queen's Park Crescent East
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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Please join us for our March colloquium, presented by Michela Massimi. The abstract is as follows: I analyse the exploratory function of two main modelling practices: targetless fictional models and hypothetical perspectival models. In both cases, I argue, modelers invite us to imagine or conceive something about the target system, which is either known to be non-existent (fictional models) or just hypothetical (in perspectival models). I clarify the kind of imagining or conceiving involved in each modelling practice, and I show…

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April 2018

M. Lange, There sweep great general principles which all the laws seem to follow

April 4, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Northrop Frye Hall, room 119, 73 Queen's Park Crescent East
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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I will distinguish two ways in which these ""great general principles"" (such as the conservation laws) might hold: as constraints on the first-order laws of nature or as coincidences of them. I will characterize what difference it would make that the conservation laws are constraints rather than coincidences, drawing on some examples from the history of science. This account will give us a way to understand what a hierarchy of natural necessities would be.

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September 2018

Sarah Igo: Sex, Science, and Secrets in the Sixties

September 6, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Victoria College, Room 323, 73 Queen's Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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My talk, based on my recently published book, The Known Citizen, focuses on a moment when ideas in the United States about privacy and social research were evolving in tandem.  I examine shifting sensibilities about confidentiality and consent in the 1960s and 1970s through the case of Laud Humphreys, a sociologist who conducted a path-breaking ethnographic study of gay male sex in public restrooms.  Humphreys was initially applauded for the boldness of his research.  Soon enough, however, he would be…

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October 2018

Jacob Stegenga: Stereotypes, Generics, and Probabilities

October 10, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Victoria College, Room 115

Jacob Stegenga, Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge A stereotype is a belief that a group of people tends to have a particular feature. Stereotypes have the form of generic statements, like ‘dogs bark.’ Recent work on generics lends new life to understanding generics with the help of probability theory. Stereotypes are generics, and generics are probabilities, so stereotypes are probabilities. More specifically, generics (and thus stereotypes) can take one of several forms involving conditional probabilities, and these…

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November 2018

Michael Strevens: Causal Difference-Making and Inference to the Best Explanation

November 14, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Victoria College, Room 115

Explainers are difference-makers, and scientific explainers are (for the most part) causal difference-makers—so many of us believe. If there is such a thing as scientific inference to the best explanation, then, it is more often than not inference from phenomena to the causal difference-makers that explain them. That sounds sensible, as Peter Lipton remarked 25 years ago. I will refresh this venerable line of thought by investigating ways in which more recent work on the difference-making approach to causal explanation illuminates characteristic features of scientific confirmation, above…

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Joint Colloquium With Astronomy Department

November 28, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Cody Hall / Astronomy Building, AB 107, 50 St. George Street
Toronto, Canada
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Please join us for our joint colloquium with the Astronomy Department. The event will take place in the Astronomy building, November 28, 3:00pm-4:00pm (details below). "The UofT and J.S. Plaskett" - R. Peter Broughton Abstract: John Stanley Plaskett (1865-1941) did not show any interest in astronomy until 1903 when he embarked on a career that would blossom into one of the most illustrious of his time. By 1913, he convinced the Canadian government to fund the largest telescope in the world.…

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January 2019

Matthew Farish: Making ‘Man in the North’: Academic and Military Entanglements in Arctic Science, 1944-49

January 16 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Victoria College, Room 323, 73 Queen's Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada

Matthew Farish Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto In the brief period between the final months of World War II and the acceleration of the Cold War at the end of the 1940s, several new scientifically-focused agencies, often working in concert, began to steer the study of northern North America and the broader perception of the region in much of Canada and the United States. Focused on two of these agencies, the bi-national Arctic Institute of North America…

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February 2019

Colloquium: Stephanie Dick

February 6 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Victoria College, Room 323, 73 Queen's Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada

Stephanie Dick, University of Pennsylvania, History and Sociology of Science Department https://hss.sas.upenn.edu/people/stephanie-dick Title: Making Up Minds: Computing and Proof in the Postwar United States Abstract: "Computers ought to produce in the long run some fundamental change in the nature of all mathematical activity.” These words, penned in 1958, capture the motivation behind an early field of computing research called Automated Theorem-Proving or Automated Reasoning. Practitioners of this field sought to program computers to prove mathematical theorems or to assist human…

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March 2019

Gillian Barker – “The Polar Vortex and the Insect Armageddon: Seeing Functions and Agents in the Climate Crisis”

March 6 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Victoria College, Room 323, 73 Queen's Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada

Gillian Barker Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University Prof. Barker's research focuses on the problems of understanding and managing complex adaptive systems, from organisms to social-ecological systems—how they interact across scales to produce or disrupt resilient functioning; how to evaluate their functioning; and how to intervene in it ethically and effectively. The theoretical framework she employs combines ideas from ecology, complex systems theory, and classical control theory. Abstract:  Climate change is usually seen through a mechanistic lens, one that focuses…

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