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Colloquia

Fall 2016

September 9, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

Introductions and
"Common Origin <Inferences> Ideas"
Michel Janssen, History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

September 16, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Drawing on Galileo: Art, Astronomy, and Appropriation"
Eileen Reeves
, Comparative Literature and History of Science, Princeton University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

September 23, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"How to think about mechanisms in medicine"
Robyn Bluhm,
Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University
abstract

September 30, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Inventing Atmospheric Science: Gordian Knots and the Quest for Prevision"
James Fleming
, Science, Technology, and Society, Colby College
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 7, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Environmental Demography in Early Modern London"
Will Cavert, Department of History, University of St. Thomas
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 14, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The conceptual weight of Homology"
Günter Wagner
, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
abstract

October 21, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

“The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language”
Tania Munz
, Vice President for Research and Scholarship, Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 28, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Forging the Moon; Or, How to Spot a Fake Galileo"
Nick Wilding
, History, Georgia State University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

November 4, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall
No Colloquium

November 11, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Scientific Modelling and the Nature of Speculation"
Margaret Morrison
, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
abstract

November 18, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The Telescope Against Copernicus— Marius, Galileo, Riccioli, and the problem of telescopic observations of stars in the early 17th century"
Christopher Graney
, Physics, Jefferson Community and Technical College
Co-sponsored by the CLA Quantitative Methods Collaboration Committee

November 25, 2016
No Colloquium Thanksgiving

December 2, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"On the Metaphysics of Biological Functions"
Marcel Weber
, Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva
abstract

December 9, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Material Things and Technologies of the Body in the Golden Mirror, 1742"
Marta Hanson
, History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

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Abstracts for Fall 2016

“How to think about mechanisms in medicine”
Robyn Bluhm, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University,
Lyman Briggs College
Abstract: In this talk, I argue that the best way to think about knowledge of mechanisms in medical research and practice is to consider the relationship between knowledge of physiological mechanisms and knowledge gained from epidemiological methods, particularly clinical trials. The dominant view, rooted in evidence-based medicine, is that only clinical trials can establish treatment effectiveness, but not all such trials are equally useful. I draw on work by James Tabery and C. Kenneth Waters to show how knowledge of physiological mechanisms can improve the design and interpretation of clinical trials.

"The conceptual weight of Homology"
Gunter Wagner, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
Abstract: The homology concept, i.e. the idea that different species can have the same or corresponding body parts, is fundamental to biology but has, as many basic concepts in biology, a rather varied history. Opinions range from accepting homology as a fundament of all of biology to complete dismissal as a pure illusion. I will give a brief outline of how we arrived at this state of affairs and then make an argument for a “reformed” homology concept that is not only capture the essence of the classical theories of homology but also is able to connect to a mechanistic understanding of developmental biology. The key idea is that homology requires developmental and genetic individuality and that many of the difficulties of current applications of homology result from ignoring this problem. I will finish with the argument that evolutionary biology needs, besides population thinking (Mayr) and tree thinking (O’Hara) a third form of intellectual framework that could be called “homology thinking” (Ereshefsky 2012).

Wagner, G. P. 2014. Homology, Genes and Evolutionary Innovations. Princeton University Press.

"Scientific Modelling and the Nature of Speculation"
Margaret Morrison, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Abstract: The multiverse is often thought to be speculative account of how one might solve problems in fundamental physics. Yet this kind of speculation seems different from the unrealistic assumptions instrinsic to scientific modelling more generally, e.g. infinite populations of genes in population genetics. This latter kind of modelling can be further distinguished from the construction of fictional or toy models. I discuss these different modelling practices and the nature of speculation associated with each, showing why the “models as fictions” view not only fails to capture the subtleties in modelling strategies but undermines the larger goals of modelling as a scientific activity.

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"On the Metaphysics of Biological Functions"
Marcel Weber, Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva
Abstract: This talk tries to clarify some ontological issues concerning biological functions. The guiding question is to what extent functions can be viewed as being mind-independent relations. I examine some standard arguments according to which functions are interest-dependent and show that these arguments simply fail to take into account the relational nature of functions (according to the most common analyses). However, there are other concerns that arise once we ask what kind of relation functional dependency relations are (e.g., the relation between the heart’s capacity to pump blood and the whole organism’s fitness). I argue that much like in causal relations, the truth-makers for functional statements are variegated. I examine various contenders that can play the role of a functional dependency relation, including causality, supervenience, metaphysical grounding, mechanistic constitution and mereology. I argue that each one of these (except supervenience) can be used to characterize a functional dependency relation in some set of cases, but that there is no unified account to be given for the truth-makers of functional relations.

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Colloquia Information

Unless otherwise indicated, the lectures are held on Fridays, in conjunction with the Colloquium in Studies of Science and Technology, at 3:35 PM in Room 275 Nicholson Hall.

If you would like to be notified by email of upcoming Center colloquia, please email your request to mcps@umn.edu

Previous Colloquia

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