Logical methods in philosophy of science

Philosophy of science in the early twentieth century was animated by a compelling dream: that the tools of logic could fruitfully be applied to the analysis of scientific theories. In this seminar, we will look at the fortunes of and prospects for this idea. For the most part, we will focus on three interrelated topics:

  • How do scientific theories come to have meaning? What are the limits of theoretical meaning?
  • What is it for two theories to be equivalent, i.e., to say the same thing?
  • What is the relationship between theoretical and empirical considerations in a scientific theory?

The aim of the course is to equip you with the logical tools needed to engage with these questions, at an appropriate level of mathematical detail; to enable you to understand and argue for answers to these questions; and to appreciate the relationship between these questions and broader questions in philosophy, in both the historical and contemporary context.

For those taking the course as an “advanced seminar”, assessment will be by a term paper, to be submitted by 31st March 2017. For those taking the course as an “essay course”, assessment will be by four essays. These will be set and due on the following dates:

  1. 28/11/17 (essay due 18/12/17). Questions are here.
  2. 16/01/17 (essay due 05/02/17). Questions are here.
  3. 13/02/17 (essay due 05/03/17). Questions are here.
  4. 11/03/17 (essay due 31/03/17). Questions are here.

The word limit for each essay is 2500 words; please submit the essay to me by email. Some advice on writing philosophy essays may be found here, here, and here.

The schedule for the course (subject to change) is listed below, together with the handouts and readings for each week. The handouts are publicly available, but some of the readings are password-protected.

Week 2 (Oct 24): Putnam’s paradox

Handout

Required reading:

Suggested reading:

  • Bays, Timothy. “On Putnam and His Models.” The Journal of Philosophy 98, no. 7 (2001): 331–50. doi:10.2307/2678439.
  • Button, Tim. The Limits of Realism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Sample available here.
  • Button, Tim, and Sean Walsh. “Ideas and Results in Model Theory: Reference, Realism, Structure and Categoricity.” arXiv:1501.00472 [Math], January 2, 2015. http://arxiv.org/abs/1501.00472.
  • Hale, Bob, and Crispin Wright. “Putnam’s Model-Theoretic Argument against Metaphysical Realism.” In A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, edited by Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, 427–57. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1999.
  • Hansen, Carsten. “Putnam’s Indeterminacy Argument: The Skolemization of Absolutely Everything.” Philosophical Studies 51, no. 1 (1987): 77–99.
  • Putnam, Hilary. “A Problem About Reference.” In Reason, Truth and History, by Hilary Putnam, 22–48. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • Putnam, Hilary. Appendix to Reason, Truth, and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • Putnam, Hilary. “Models and Reality.” In Realism and Reason, 1–25. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Putnam, Hilary. “Model Theory and the ‘Factuality’ of Semantics.” Chapter 18 of Words and Life, by Hilary Putnam, edited by James Conant. Harvard University Press, 1995.
  • Van Fraassen, Bas C. “Elgin on Lewis’s Putnam’s Paradox.” The Journal of Philosophy 94, no. 2 (1997): 85–93.
  • Van Fraassen, Bas C. “Putnam’s Paradox: Metaphysical Realism Revamped and Evaded.” Noûs 31, no. s11 (1997): 17–42.

Week 3 (Oct 31): Explicit definition

Handout

Required reading:

  • §2.6 of Hodges, Wilfrid. A Shorter Model Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997. PDF.
  • Glymour, Clark. “Theoretical Realism and Theoretical Equivalence.” PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, January 1, 1970, 275–88. Available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/495769.

Week 4 (Nov 7): The new problem of induction

Handout

Required reading:

  • Goodman, Nelson. “The New Riddle of Induction.” In Fact, Fiction and Forecast. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1955. PDF.
  • Norton, John D. “How the Formal Equivalence of Grue and Green Defeats What Is New in the New Riddle of Induction.” Synthese 150, no. 2 (May 2006): 185–207. doi:10.1007/s11229-004-6261-z.

Suggested reading:

  • Dorr, Cian, and John Hawthorne. “Naturalness.” In Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Vol. 8, 1. Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Lewis, David. “New Work for a Theory of Universals.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61, no. 4 (1983): 343–77. doi:10.1080/00048408312341131.
  • Sider, Theodore. Writing the Book of the World, chaps 1-3. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011. Sample available here.
  • Titelbaum, Michael G. “Not Enough There There: Evidence, Reasons, and Language Independence.” Philosophical Perspectives 24, no. 1 (2010): 477–528.

Week 5 (Nov 14): Theoretical equivalence

Required reading:

  • Horwich, Paul. “How to Choose Between Empirically Indistinguishable Theories.” The Journal of Philosophy 79, no. 2 (February 1, 1982): 61–77. doi:10.2307/2026448.
  • Coffey, Kevin. “Theoretical Equivalence as Interpretative Equivalence.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65, no. 4 (December 1, 2014): 821–44. doi:10.1093/bjps/axt034.

Suggested reading:

  • Barrett, Thomas William, and Hans Halvorson. “Glymour and Quine on Theoretical Equivalence.” Journal of Philosophical Logic 45, no. 5 (September 5, 2015): 467–83. doi:10.1007/s10992-015-9382-6.
  • Ben-Menahem, Yemima. “Equivalent Descriptions.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41, no. 2 (June 1, 1990): 261–79.
  • McSweeney, Michaela. “An Epistemic Account of Metaphysical Equivalence.” Philosophical Perspectives, forthcoming.
  • Putnam, Hilary. “Equivalence.” In Realism and Reason, 3:26–45. Philosophical Papers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Quine, W. V. “On Empirically Equivalent Systems of the World.” Erkenntnis 9, no. 3 (November 1975): 313–28. doi:10.1007/BF00178004.
  • Weatherall, James Owen. “Are Newtonian Gravitation and Geometrized Newtonian Gravitation Theoretically Equivalent?” Erkenntnis, November 16, 2015. doi:10.1007/s10670-015-9783-5.

Week 6 (Nov 21): Second-order logic

Handout

Required reading:

Suggested reading:

  • Moore, Gregory H. “The Emergence of First-Order Logic.” In History and Philosophy of Modern Mathematics, edited by William Aspray and Philip Kitcher, 95–135. University of Minnesota Press, 1988. PDF.

Week 7 (Nov 28): The Ramsey sentence

Handout

Required reading:

  • Lewis, David. “How to Define Theoretical Terms.” The Journal of Philosophy 67, no. 13 (July 9, 1970): 427–46. doi:10.2307/2023861.
  • Demopoulos, William, and Michael Friedman. “Bertrand Russell’s The Analysis of Matter: Its Historical Context and Contemporary Interest.” Philosophy of Science 52, no. 4 (December 1, 1985): 621–39.

Suggested reading:

  • Ainsworth, Peter M. “Newman’s Objection.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60, no. 1 (March 1, 2009): 135–71. doi:10.1093/bjps/axn051.
  • Cruse, Pierre. “Ramsey Sentences, Structural Realism and Trivial Realization.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36, no. 3 (September 2005): 557–76. doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2005.07.006.
  • Ketland, Jeffrey. “Empirical Adequacy and Ramsification.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55, no. 2 (June 1, 2004): 287–300. doi:10.1093/bjps/55.2.287.
  • Melia, Joseph, and Juha Saatsi. “Ramseyfication and Theoretical Content.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57, no. 3 (September 1, 2006): 561–85. doi:10.1093/bjps/axl020.
  • Redhead, Michael. “Quests of a Realist.” Metascience 10, no. 3 (2001): 341–347.
  • Votsis, Ioannis. “Is Structure Not Enough?” Philosophy of Science 70, no. 5 (2003): 879–90. doi:10.1086/377374.
  • Yudell, Zanja. “Melia and Saatsi on Structural Realism.” Synthese 175, no. 2 (2010): 241–53. doi:10.1007/s11229-009-9500-5.
  • Zahar, Elie G. “Ramseyfication and Structural Realism.” Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia Y Fundamentos de La Ciencia 19, no. 1 (2004): 5–30.

Week 8 (Dec 5): Partial definition

Handout

Required reading:

  • Carnap, Rudolf. “Testability and Meaning.” Philosophy of Science 3, no. 4 (October 1, 1936): 419–71.

Suggested reading:

  • Belnap, Nuel. “On Rigorous Definitions.” Philosophical Studies 72, no. 2 (1993): 115–146.
  • Creath, Richard. “On Kaplan on Carnap on Significance.” Philosophical Studies 30, no. 6 (1976): 393–400.
  • Demopoulos, W. (2007) ‘Carnap on the rational reconstruction of scientific theories’, in Friedman, M. and Creath, R. (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Carnap:. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 248–272.
  • Demopoulos, William. “On the Rational Reconstruction of Our Theoretical Knowledge.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54, no. 3 (2003): 371–403.
  • Derden, J. K. “Carnap’s Definition of ‘Analytic Truth’ for Scientific Theories.” Philosophy of Science 43, no. 4 (December 1, 1976): 506–22. doi:10.1086/288708.
  • Friedman, Michael. “Carnap on Theoretical Terms: Structuralism without Metaphysics.” Synthese 180, no. 2 (May 2011): 249–63. doi:10.1007/s11229-009-9604-y.
  • Lutz, Sebastian. “Carnap on Empirical Significance.” Synthese 194, no. 1 (January 1, 2017): 217–52. doi:10.1007/s11229-014-0561-8.
  • Suppe, Frederick. “On Partial Interpretation.” The Journal of Philosophy 68, no. 3 (1971): 57–76.

Week 9 (Dec 19): Empirical significance

Handout

Required reading:

  • Van Fraassen, Bas C. “To Save the Phenomena”. Chapter 3 of The Scientific Image, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1980. PDF.
  • Lutz, Sebastian. “Empirical Adequacy in the Received View.” Philosophy of Science 81, no. 5 (December 1, 2014): 1171–83. doi:10.1086/677886. Preprint available here.

Suggested reading:

  • Achinstein, Peter. Concepts of Science. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1968. http://philpapers.org/rec/ACHCOS.
  • Berkowitz, Leonard J. “Achinstein on Empirical Significance: A Matter of Principle.” Philosophy of Science 46, no. 3 (1979): 459–465.
  • Button, Tim. “Empiricism and Empirical Content.” Chapter 5 of The Limits of Realism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Lutz, Sebastian. “Criteria of Empirical Significance: A Success Story.” Preprint, March 27, 2013. http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/9649/.
  • Wójcicki, Ryszard. “Semantical Criteria of Empirical Meaningfulness.” Studia Logica 19, no. 1 (1966): 75–102.

NO CLASS on Jan 9

Week 10 (Jan 16, 16:00-18:00): The semantic view of theories

Required reading:

  • Suppes, Patrick. “A Comparison of the Meaning and Uses of Models in Mathematics and the Empirical Sciences.” Synthese 12, no. 2 (1960): 287-301.
  • Halvorson, Hans. “What Scientific Theories Could Not Be.” Philosophy of Science 79, no. 2 (April 2012): 286-297.

Suggested reading:

  • Lorenzano, Pablo. “The Semantic Conception and the Structuralist View of Theories: A Critique of Suppe’s Criticisms.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44, no. 4 (December 2013): 600–607. doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2013.09.001.
  • Glymour, Clark. “Theoretical Equivalence and the Semantic View of Theories.” Philosophy of Science 80, no. 2 (April 1, 2013): 286–97. doi:10.1086/670261.
  • Halvorson, Hans. “The Semantic View, If Plausible, Is Syntactic.” Philosophy of Science 80, no. 3 (July 1, 2013): 475–78. doi:10.1086/671077.
  • Lutz, Sebastian. “What’s Right with a Syntactic Approach to Theories and Models?” Erkenntnis 79, no. 8 (January 17, 2014): 1475–92. doi:10.1007/s10670-013-9578-5.
  • Lutz, Sebastian. “What Was the Syntax-Semantics Debate in the Philosophy of Science About?” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91, no. 3 (2015).
  • Suppe, Frederick. “What’s Wrong with the Received View on the Structure of Scientific Theories?” Philosophy of Science 39, no. 1 (March 1, 1972): 1–19.
  • Suppes, Patrick. “What Is a Scientific Theory?” In Philosophy of Science Today, edited by S. Morgenbesser, 55–67. New York: Basic Books, 1967. http://suppescorpus.stanford.edu/articles/mpm/84.pdf.
  • Van Fraassen, Bas C. “One or Two Gentle Remarks about Hans Halvorson’s Critique of the Semantic View.” Philosophy of Science 81, no. 2 (2014): 276–283.

Week 11 (Jan 16, 18:00-20:00): Categorical equivalence

Required reading:

  • Awodey, Steve. §§1.1-1.5 of Category Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Weatherall, James. “Are Newtonian gravitation and geometrized Newtonian gravitation theoretically equivalent?” Erkenntnis 81, no. 5 (2016): 1073-1091.

Suggested reading:

  • Barrett, Thomas. “Equivalent and Inequivalent Formulations of Classical Mechanics,” MS.
  • Dewar, Neil. “Sophistication about Symmetries,” MS. Available at http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/12469/.
  • Halvorson, Hans, and Dimitris Tsementzis. “Categories of Scientific Theories.” Preprint, July 29, 2015. http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/11596/.
  • Rosenstock, Sarita, Thomas William Barrett, and James Owen Weatherall. “On Einstein Algebras and Relativistic Spacetimes.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52, Part B (November 2015): 309–16. doi:10.1016/j.shpsb.2015.09.003.
  • Rosenstock, Sarita, and James Owen Weatherall. “A Categorical Equivalence between Generalized Holonomy Maps on a Connected Manifold and Principal Connections on Bundles over That Manifold.” arXiv:1504.02401 [Hep-Th, Physics:math-Ph, Physics:physics], April 9, 2015. http://arxiv.org/abs/1504.02401.

Week 12 (Jan 23): Meaning and theory change

Required reading:

  • Field, Hartry. “Theory Change and the Indeterminacy of Reference.” Journal of Philosophy 70, no. 14 (1973): 462–481.

Suggested reading:

  • Devitt, Michael. “Against Incommensurability.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57, no. 1 (March 1979): 29–50. doi:10.1080/00048407912341021.
  • Earman, John, and Arthur Fine. “Against Indeterminacy.” The Journal of Philosophy, 1977, 535–538.
  • Fine, Arthur. “How to Compare Theories: Reference and Change.” Noûs 9, no. 1 (March 1, 1975): 17–32. doi:10.2307/2214339.
  • Kripke, Saul. Naming and Necessity. Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1980. (Especially lecture III.)
  • Levin, Michael E. “On Theory-Change and Meaning-Change.” Philosophy of Science 46, no. 3 (1979): 407–24.
  • Lewis, David. “How to Define Theoretical Terms.” The Journal of Philosophy 67, no. 13 (July 9, 1970): 427–46. doi:10.2307/2023861.

Week 13 (Jan 30): Structural realism

Required reading:

  • Worrall, John. “Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?” Dialectica 43, no. 1–2 (1989): 99–124. doi:10.1111/j.1746-8361.1989.tb00933.x.
  • Ladyman, J. “What Is Structural Realism?” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29, no. 3 (1998): 409–24.

Suggested reading:

  • French, Steven, and James Ladyman. “Remodelling Structural Realism: Quantum Physics and the Metaphysics of Structure.” Synthese 136, no. 1 (July 1, 2003): 31–56. doi:10.2307/20117386.
  • French, Steven, and James Ladyman. “In Defence of Ontic Structural Realism.” In Scientific Structuralism, edited by Alisa Bokulich and Peter Bokulich, 25–42. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2010. http://www.springerlink.com/index/10.1007/978-90-481-9597-8_2.
  • Frigg, Roman, and Ioannis Votsis. “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Structural Realism but Were Afraid to Ask.” European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1, no. 2 (May 4, 2011): 227–76. doi:10.1007/s13194-011-0025-7.
  • Ladyman, James, “Structural Realism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/structural-realism/.
  • Ladyman, James, and Don Ross. Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Stein, Howard. “Yes, But… Some Skeptical Remarks on Realism and Anti-Realism.” Dialectica 43, no. 12 (1989): 47–65.

Week 14 (Feb 6): Morita equivalence

Required reading:

Suggested reading:

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