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Integrated History and Philosophy of Science: Fifth Conference

26–28 June, 2014

Institute Vienna Circle, Austria

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Now showing 1 - 20 of 26
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    The Unity of Science: Two Hundred Years of Controversy
    (2014) Creath, Richard; Creath@asu.edu; Uebel, Thomas
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    Heuristic Reevaluation of the Bacterial Hypothesis of Peptic Ulcer Disease in the 1950s
    (2014) Dunja Šešelja; Christian Straßer; d.seselja@tue.nl and christian.strasser@rub.de; Katherina Kinzel
    Throughout the first half of the twentieth century the research on peptic ulcer disease (PUD) focused on two rivaling hypothesis: the “acidity” and the “bacterial” one. According to the received view, the latter was dismissed during the 1950s only to be revived with Warren’s and Marshall’s discovery of Helicobacter pylori in the 1980s. In this paper we investigate why the bacterial hypothesis was largely abandoned in the 1950s, and whether there were good epistemic reasons for its dismissal. Of special interest for our research question is Palmer’s 1954 large-scale study, which challenged the bacterial hypothesis with serious counter-evidence, and which by many scholars is considered as the shifting point in the research on PUD. However, we show that: (1) The perceived refutatory impact of Palmer’s study was disproportionate to its methodological rigor. This undermines its perceived status as a crucial experiment against the bacterial hypothesis. (2) In view of this and other considerations we argue that the bacterial hypothesis was worthy of pursuit in the 1950s.
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    Mechanical molecular models and haptic reasoning
    (2014) Mathieu Charbonneau; mathieu.charbonneau1@gmail.com; Katherina Kinzel
    The use of physical models of molecular structures as research tools has been central to the development of biochemistry and molecular biology. Intriguingly, it has received little attention from scholars of science. In this paper, I argue that these physical models are not mere three-dimensional representations but that they are in fact very special research tools: they are cognitive augmentations. Despite the fact that they are external props, these models serve as cognitive tools that augment and extend the modeler’s cognitive capacities and performance in molecular modeling tasks. This cognitive enhancement is obtained because of the way the modeler interacts with these models, the models’ materiality contributing to the solving of the molecule’s structure. Furthermore, I argue that these material models and their component parts were designed, built and used specifically to serve as cognitive facilitators and cognitive augmentations.
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    Neither Logical Empiricism nor Vitalism, but Organicism: What the Philosophy of Biology Was
    (2014) Daniel Nicholson; Richard Gawne; dan.j.nicholson@gmail.com and richard.gawne@kli.ac.at; Katherina Kinzel
    Philosophy of biology is often said to have emerged in the last third of the twentieth century. Prior to this time, it has been alleged that the only authors who engaged philosophically with the life sciences were either logical empiricists who sought to impose the explanatory ideals of the physical sciences onto biology, or vitalists who invoked mystical agencies in an attempt to ward off the threat of physicochemical reduction. These schools paid little attention to actual biological science, and as a result philosophy of biology languished in a state of futility for much of the twentieth century. The situation, we are told, only began to change in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a new generation of researchers began to focus on problems internal to biology, leading to the consolidation of the discipline. In this paper we challenge this widely accepted narrative of the history of philosophy of biology. We do so by arguing that the most important tradition within early twentieth-century philosophy of biology was neither logical empiricism nor vitalism, but the organicist movement that flourished between the First and Second World Wars. We show that the organicist corpus is thematically and methodologically continuous with the contemporary literature in order to discredit the view that early work in the philosophy of biology was unproductive, and we emphasize the desirability of integrating the historical and contemporary conversations into a single, unified discourse.
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    Styles of Reasoning in Biology: The Case of Models in Membrane and Cell Biology
    (2014) Axel Gelfert; Jacob Mok; axel@gelfert.net; Jane Maienschein
    This paper investigates one of the great achievements of twentiethcentury cell biology: determining the structure of the cell membrane. This case differs in important ways from the better-known case of the identification of the DNA double helix as the carrier of genetic information, especially regarding the evaluation of potential evidence in light of prior theoretical commitments. Whereas it has been argued that adherence to a structural hypothesis enabled Watson and Crick to ignore a surplus of (potentially confusing) empirical findings, similar adherence to an elegant and universal structural hypothesis, we argue, unduly shielded the so-called ‘unit-membrane’ model from legitimate challenges on the basis of known phenomena.
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    Values, Facts and Methodologies: A Case Study in Philosophy of Economics
    (2014) Thomas Uebel; thomas.uebel@manchester.ac.uk; Elisabeth Nemeth
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    Scientific Inference and the Earth’s Interior: Harold Jeffreys and Dorothy Wrinch at Cambridge
    (2014) Teru Miyake; tmiyake@ntu.edu.sg; Manfred Laubichler
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    Sensing the Unknown: Historicising the Discoverability of the Olfactory Receptors within the Life on an Experimental System
    (2014) Ann-Sophie Barwich; abarwich@iu.edu; David Miller
    This paper tells the story of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), one of the most important scientific objects in contemporary biochemistry and molecular biology. By looking at how cell membrane receptors turned from a speculative concept into a central element in modern biochemistry over the past 40 years, we revisit the role of manipulability as a criterion for entity realism in wet-lab research. The central argument is that manipulability as a condition for reality becomes meaningful only once scientists have decided how to conceptually coordinate measurable effects distinctly to a specific object. We show that a scientific entity, such as GPCRs, is assigned varying degrees of reality throughout different stages of its discovery. The criteria of its reality, we further claim, cannot be made independently of the question about how this object becomes a standard by which the reality of neighbouring elements of enquiry is evaluated.
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    Kelvin’s dictum revived: the intelligibility of mechanisms
    (2014) Henk W. de Regt; henk.deregt@ru.nl; Jed Z. Buchwald
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    “Control(led) experiments” in historical and philosophical perspective
    (2014) Jutta Schickore; jschicko@indiana.edu; Martin Kusch
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    Retreading the Path of Science: the case of independent motions
    (2014) Monica Solomon; monisolo@stanford.edu; Martin Kusch
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    Looking at Cells around 1900: Seeing Complex Systems
    (2014) Jane Maienschein; maienschein@asu.edu; Friedrich Stadler
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    Reconsidering Priestley’s Defense of Phlogiston
    (2014) Amy A. Fisher; afisher@pugetsound.edu; Elisabeth Nemeth
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    Qualitative novelty and the scientific revolution: The emergence of the concept of pressure
    (2014) Alan Chalmers; alan.chalmers@sydney.edu.au; Jed Z. Buchwald
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    Checks-and-balances: orbital symmetry and quantitative methods in late twentieth century quantum chemistry
    (2014) Grant Fisher; Buhm Soon Park; fisher@kaist.ac.kr; Mauricio Suarez
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    The Modelling Attitude and its Roots in 19th Century Science
    (2014) Mauricio Suarez; msuarez@ los.ucm.es; Hasok Chang
    I locate the origins of the contemporary model- based scientific methodology in the ‘modelling attitude’ of philosophically minded scientists in the second half of the 19th century. I distinguish an English speaking modelling school (identified with William Thomson, James Clerk Maxwell, and their followers in Victorian British physics), and a German- speaking modelling school (identified with Hermann Von Helmholtz and his Berlin school, as well as Heinrich Hertz and Ludwig Boltzmann). I argue that both schools share a commitment to the ‘relativity’ of knowledge, and a consequent emphasis on reasoning via models as the main method for the acquisition of knowledge about the natural world.
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    Why the dilemma of case studies misses the point: Towards an explicit methodology for integrated history and philosophy of science
    (2014) Raphael Scholl; Kärin Nickelsen; Tim Räz; raphael.scholl@gmail.com and tim.raez@gmail.com; Thomas Uebel
    We respond to two kinds of skepticism about integrated history and philosophy of science: foundational and methodological. Foundational skeptics doubt that the history and the philosophy of science have much to gain from each other in principle. We therefore discuss some of the unique rewards of work at the intersection of the two disciplines. By contrast, methodological skeptics already believe that the two disciplines should be related to each other, but they doubt that this can be done successfully. Their worries are captured by the so-called dilemma of case studies: On one horn of the dilemma, we begin our integrative enterprise with philosophy and proceed from there to history, in which case we may well be selecting our historical cases so as to fit our preconceived philosophical theses. On the other horn, we begin with history and proceed to philosophical reflection, in which case we are prone to unwarranted generalization from particulars. Against worries about selection bias, we argue that we routinely need to make explicit the criteria for choosing particular historical cases to investigate particular philosophical theses. It then becomes possible to ask whether or not the selection criteria were biased. Against worries about unwarranted generalization, we stress the iterative nature of the process by which historical data and philosophical concepts are brought into alignment. The skeptics’ doubts are fueled by an outdated model of outright confirmation vs. outright falsification of philosophical concepts. A more appropriate model is one of stepwise and piecemeal improvement.
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    Scientific Discovery and the End-of-History Fallacy
    (2014) Thomas Nickles; nickles@unr.edu; Alan Shapiro
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    “Beyond the conventional boundaries of physics”: On relating Ernst Mach’s philosophy to his teaching and research in the 1870s and 80s
    (2014) Richard Staley; raws1@cam.ac.uk; Hasok Chang
    Ernst Mach’s most well known critiques of mechanics concern mass, inertia and space and time. Conceptually motivated towards avoiding unnecessary assumptions and basing physical concepts on measured relations, they were first published in the years around 1870 (for mass and inertia) and in his well known 1883 book Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwickelung historisch-kritisch dargestellt, later translated as The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of its Development. Philosophical discussion of Mach’s critiques has reflected these conceptual concerns, connecting them to Mach’s account of science as the economical description of phenomena. Yet manuscript records of his teaching in the 1870s show that Mach was also animated by psychophysics and the relations between inner and outer worlds. His publications attest to these broader interests as well. In the 1870s, for example, Mach developed physiological studies of the sense of motion. Soon after completing his critical history of mechanics he took up the relations between physiology and psychology in his 1886 Beiträge zur Analyse der Empfindungen. By investigating Mach’s research across subject matter that has usually been treated separately, and integrating his teaching with his research, this chapter aims to offer a study of Mach’s philosophy as it is revealed in practice. Mach presents a highly unusual example of someone whose primary aim was to reform his own discipline of physics through the concerns of other disciplines, something he alluded to in 1886 when stating that he expected the next great enlightenments of the foundations of physics to come at the hands of biology.