10:00 – Sarah Roe – University of California, Davis, Dept. of Philosophy

The Communication of Ideas within a Scientific Community

By following the journey from discovery to communicating that discovery, it becomes apparent that communicating a radical idea to a scientific community is a struggle and greatly hinders scientific change. To better understand how these important thinkers are able to contribute to scientific change, I turn my attention to scientific disciplines, scientific fields and scientific communities. I review common thoughts among philosophers of science regarding scientific disciplines as well as scientific fields. I argue for the distinction between a scientific discipline, or broad area of study, and a scientific community, the unit of scientific communication. Next, I offer several components that are required by a scientific community as a unit of communication, namely shared goals, procedures, models, theories, values, educational tradition, journals and professional societies. Next, I focus my attention on just one of the components important for scientific communities, specifically shared mechanistic models.

Finally, I review two individual cases of radial thinking. To begin, some time is spent better understanding Barbara McClintock, her radical idea known as “jumping genes”, and the way it shaped modern genetics. Secondly, I hypothesize that something similar will happen regarding Stanley Prusiner’s “prion” within molecular biology. As a result of following the journey of these two biologists, a common pattern will emerge. Initially, radical thinkers are not able to communicate their ideas to the scientific community. It is only through the work of others and the utilization of a mechanism of interest that an idea can come to be scientific knowledge.

10:30 – Konrad Zaborowski – the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Department of the Methodology of the Sciences, Faculty of Philosophy

The Conception of the Sapiential Dimension of Science

In this article, I present the conception of the sapiential dimension of science developed by Stanisław Kamiński, a member of the Lublin School of Philosophy. The Greek word theorein, used by Aristotle to name the highest form of knowledge, denotes rational and all-embracing cognition of reality, one which allows us to understand the world and which ultimately leads to wisdom. During the modern era, science – considered as the highest form of cognition – is reduced to the attainment of practical goals. Nowadays, science is further reduced to purely technical ends viz. to control and transform nature, including man himself. Kamiński claims that as a result of this conceptual change, it is as if science has been torn from man, becoming autonomous and enslaving him. Human beings are harmed when values realized in science oppose and endanger personal and social values. Science must not be a blind force, developing in any conceivable direction, but by its very nature it should respect the human and cultural environment and function as a support for full personal development of human beings in society. Therefore, we need to rediscover the sapiential origin of science and make wisdom guide decisions in science. In order to accomplish this goal, we need to rebuild a dialog between scientists and philosophers, one which has nowadays been replaced by a dictatorship of economy and politics. This article shows Kamiński’s detailed position on the place of wisdom in science.

11:15 – Eleanor Louson – York University, Science and Technology Studies

The Sage Behind the Camera: Truth-to-nature and wildlife filmmakers


Throughout the history of the wildlife film genre, filmmakers have justified certain staging practices by appealing to the underlying reality or scientific truth of their footage. Their arguments generally take one of two forms: either natural history artifice was employed to generate an experience for viewers that is “more real” than real life, or to produce footage that, for reasons of pragmatism or efficiency, could not have been obtained otherwise. The implication of such claims is that filmmakers have the wisdom to judge whether staged interventions are warranted. As such, a useful analytic tool with regard to these claims is Daston and Galison’s(2007) account of truth-to-nature, the main epistemic virtue in place prior to the emergence of mechanical objectivity, wherein human interventions in the visual representation of nature were permitted for the sake of showcasing real nature, and not the peculiarities of any one specimen. Truth-to-nature enhances analysis of situations where filmmakers justify their practices through appeals to showing viewers a more “real” nature than nature usually offers, a reality to which viewers would have no access without the careful manipulations of experienced, even sage-like, natural historians. However, truth-to-nature must be carefully handled if it is to be employed in the analysis of these cases. There are key ways in which wildlife films differ from atlases under truth-to-nature, since the former are commercial hybrids of entertainment and education. Despite this challenge, truth-to-nature is a fruitful addition to an analytical toolkit for studies of the wildlife film genre.

11:45 – Justin Donhauser – University of Buffalo, Dept. of Philosophy

Connecting the Abstract and the Actual: Lessons Learned from Double Helices and Endangered Owls

This talk concerns the relation between our idealized representations of natural phenomena and the way(s) in which those idealizations function in generating hypotheses about particular situations. More specifically, it concerns the nature and functions of the idealizations commonly called “analytic models” in the natural and social sciences, and it serves to clarify some of the ways in which we connect such models to particular situations out in the world for purposes of action guidance by using them to generate synthetic hypotheses. The main objective is to lay bare the common features of analytic models that help us hone in on actually causally relevant features of actual situations; I reveal what those conceptual frameworks can do for us that permits us to successfully navigate in particular situations. For the purpose of exposing the salient features, I assess two demonstrably false models from different arenas of inquiry to highlight that which they have in common with regard to the ways in which they can be used to guide our generation of synthetic hypotheses. The first, Watson and Crick’s famous demonstration model of the helical structure of DNA, I suggest is exemplary of the salient, hypothesis guiding, features of analytic models in general, and of the role of foreknowledge or wisdom in both generating and gainfully utilizing analytic models. The second, theoretician Russell Lande’s simulation model of a Northern Spotted Owl population’s probable demographic trajectory relative to habitat, I show plays the same roles as the simpler, non-dynamic, Watson and Crick demonstration model. Assessing the Lande model and its application—employment for informing sufficient regulatory policy for complying with an existing environmental policy—also brings into focus a meta-method for utilizing analytic models relative to particular goals and wisdom with respect to particular situations.

12:30 – Richard Gawne – Duke University, Dept. of Philosophy

Hoyle’s (Other) Fallacy

Among biologists and philosophers of science, the physicist Sir Fred Hoyle is best known for his claim that the likelihood of life evolving by Darwinian means is roughly equal to probability that a tornado traveling through a junkyard might miraculously assemble a Boeing 747 jet. The errors in this line of reasoning have been pointed out by a host of commentators, but ‘Hoyle’s Fallacy’ continues to be cited by creationists, and other opponents of evolution who seek to undermine the credibility of the Darwinian worldview. In the 1980s, Hoyle also manufactured a controversy about the legitimacy of the famous ‘London’ Archaeopteryx which has regularly been used as fodder by critics of evolutionary theory. Hoyle’s forgery charge will be the primary focus of this essay. I begin by reviewing the allegations spelled out by Hoyle, and will then consider the critiques offered by authors such as Rietschel, and Gould. Following this introduction to the controversy, I analyze the evidence in favor of Hoyle’s claim that the Victorian biologist Richard Owen created the fossil in an elaborate attempt to shame the Darwinians. My contention is that this charge is wholly unfounded. The fact that Hoyle decided to go public with his forgery hypothesis demonstrates that even the most gifted scientists sometimes leave their wisdom behind when developing and evaluating their own theories. To highlight the downstream consequences of the forgery charge, I offer a bibliometric survey of recent intelligent design literature citing Hoyle in order to ‘prove’ that the fossil evidence which supports evolutionary theory is not trustworthy. I conclude by arguing that the Hoyle incident should be viewed as a cautionary tale that reveals the dangers of unbridled speculation, and momentary lapses in scientific wisdom.

2:30 – David Pena-Guzman – Emory University, Dept. of Philosophy

Can There Be a ‘Transcendental Induction’? An Analysis of Gaston Bachelard’s Theory of Scientific Change

In this paper, I explore Gaston Bachelard’s early work, The New Scientific Spirit, as an exemplar of both “wise science” and, what in my view amounts to the same thing, “historical epistemology.” In this text, the author—a physicist-turned-epistemologist—folds his gaze upon his field of inquiry so as to contemplate not only the historical nature of scientific knowledge in general, but also, more specifically, the philosophical implications of “the new scientific spirit” (the rise of quantum mechanics in the 20th Century). I argue that Bachelard’s stroke of genius lies in the fact that he derives an anti-Cartesian, post-Kantian, yet non-Kuhnian1 theory of the structure of scientific revolutions and epistemic change. In particular, I will try to make sense of Bachelard’s counter-intuitive claim that foundational “shifts” in science (such as the shift from Newton to Einstein) take place not, as Kuhn would have it, through a sociologico-psychological transition in the scientific community but rather through what Bachelard calls a “transcendental induction.” In The New Scientific Spirit, he writes: “there is no transition from the system of Newton to the system of Einstein […] it is a ‘transcendental induction.’”2 This concept, undoubtedly a playful inversion of Kant’s famous “transcendental deduction” in the first Critique, is at first glance oxymoronic and contradictory since it combines the transcendental (which eschews experience) with the inductive (which takes experience as its point of departure). By (a) defending the coherence of this peculiar concept, and (b) exploring what it means for thinking about the relationship between science, history and wisdom, I hope to defend the assertion that Bachelard’s analysis of the new scientific spirit is an exercise in wise science.

3:00 – Deepanwita Dasgupta – University of South Florida, Dept. Of Philosophy

The Unwise Peripheral Scientist: S.N. Bose, Einstein, and the Birth of Bose-Einstein Statistics

In June 1924, S. N. Bose, an unknown Indian mathematician, sent a short 4-page paper to Einstein in which he claimed to have derived Planck’s law without using any classical electrodynamics. Bose’s brief paper gave birth to we now call the Bose-Einstein statistics, and generalized by Einstein, it predicted the novel phenomenon of Bose-Einstein condensation. Furthermore, the new statistics soon became a tool in the hands of quantum theorists who used it to explain how undistinguishable particles behave in the subatomic world. Bose’s brief relationship with Einstein is thus usually seen as a case of very fruitful scientific collaboration, and it is routinely described as such in most scientific biographies.

Contrary to this received opinion, I shall argue that Bose was indeed most unwise in approaching Einstein with his work for not only did the two have different cognitive styles, they also had radically opposed attitudes regarding the quantum behavior of particles. It was thus inevitable that their relationship would end the way it in fact did, with Bose losing several priority claims in quantum theory. With the benefit of more than 80 years of hindsight, today we can say that Bose’s views had much greater overlap with someone like Dirac, and very little with that of Einstein. Interestingly, it was later Dirac who coined the term “Boson”. Thinking further along those (counterfactual) lines, I shall argue that had Bose collaborated with someone like Dirac, it is possible that he might have made a more substantial contribution to the (new) quantum theory. Bose’s peripheral status in science and his rigid, nationalistic attitude towards the British scientific establishment made him commit one of the most unwise decisions of his life. But with that single unwise action, Bose also founded a new practice in theoretical physics in the Indian context.

3:45 – Jonathan Fuller – University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine

Clinical Judgement for the Wise Physician

Today, we believe that good clinical reasoning must be evidence-based. Yet, a few millennia before the rise Evidence-based medicine (EBM), Aristotle ascribed a different kind of reasoning to the professions known as phronesis, or practical reasoning. While the standard of EBM is the randomized, controlled trial, the standard of practical reasoning is wisdom. Here, I describe important roles for wisdom and practical reasoning in clinical judgement. Wisdom is a kind of prudential knowledge that fails the test of objectivity because it is fundamentally interpretive, intuitive, and passionate. Wisdom is a necessary condition for having clinical expertise. Unfortunately, expertise is seen as subordinate to external clinical evidence by the Evidence-based practitioner, and thus wisdom is an unheralded clinical virtue. Evidence-based reasoning is fraught with hasty inductions and law-like inferences, a not-so-surprising consequence for a medical model that champions evidence, while ignoring the importance of argument. The wise physician is she who uses practical reasoning and who recognizes that the logic of clinical judgement must admit a plurality of knowledge types.

4:30 – 6:00 John Verveake – University of Toronto, Cognitive Science

The Practice of Science and the Cultivation of Personal Wisdom: Can we Renew Aristotle’s Vision?

Aristotle famously claimed that the practice of science was important to the cultivation of personal wisdom because it trained reflective rationality and a sense of what was real and what really mattered. This sense of first principles could help to guide one’s life. However, the conception of science and its relevance to the good life have changed considerably since Aristotle’s time. So we can ask the question as to whether the practice of science has any important relation to the cultivation of wisdom. This talk will argue that the practice of science does have such a connection because science, as a form of problem solving, rationally enhances and relies upon processes of relevance realization such as insight, mindsight, and foresight, plausibility reasoning and active open mindedness. However, most scientists are not necessarily judged as wise because personal wisdom requires the appropriation of such processes to one’s own cognitive development, and this is not central to the scientific method. However, new ideas about the role of science from Nicholas Maxwell and Loraine Code may inspire a tighter connection between science and personal wisdom.

Footnotes

1 In this context, the label “non-Kuhnian” is entirely anachronistic since Bachelard’s The New Scientific Spirit was published in 1934 whereas Kuhn’s famous Structure of Scientific Revolutions was published in 1962.

2Bachelard, Gaston. 1984. The New Scientific Spirit. Beacon Press: Boston, 44.