Cosmic Bayes: Datasets and priors in the hunt for dark energy

Michela Massimi discusses Bayesian methods in contemporary observational cosmology. She argues that they enter into three main tasks: (I) cross-checking datasets for consistency; (II) fixing constraints on cosmological parameters; and (III) model selection. This article explores some epistemic limits of using Bayesian methods. The first limit concerns the degree of informativeness of the Bayesian priors […]

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Kant and the sources of metaphysics

In this review, Lorenzo Spagnesi analyses Marcus Willaschek’s new book on the Dialectic of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. In his book, Willaschek sets out to isolate and defend the constructive account of the Dialectic – what he calls the Rational Sources Account (RSA). On his reading, RSA states that metaphysical thinking arises from the very structure […]

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The importance of investing in fundamental research

Michela Massimi reflects on the importance of investing in fundamental research as part of the Future Circular Collider 2019 Week, and interdisciplinary panel discussion “Investing in Fundamental Science: for whom?” Open access PDF available here. Massimi, M. (forthcoming) “The importance of investing in fundamental research”, in The Economics of Big Science. Essays by leading scientists […]

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Data Identity and Perspectivism

This paper uses several case studies to suggest that 1) two prominent definitions of data do not on their own capture how scientists use data and 2) a novel perspectival account of data is needed. It then outlines some key features of what this account could look like. Those views, the relational and representational, do […]

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Perspectival Realism

In this encyclopaedia entry, Dr Cretu discusses perspectival realism and two main arguments for it: The Synchronic Argument from Modelling Practices and the The Diachronic Argument from History of Science. Open access PDF available here. Creţu AM. (2020) Perspectival Realism. In: Peters M. (eds) Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Springer, Singapore

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Knowledge from a Human Point of View

This open access book explores some of the historical roots and epistemological ramifications of perspectivism. Perspectivism has recently emerged in philosophy of science as an interesting new position in the debate between scientific realism and anti-realism. But there is a lot more to perspectivism than discussions in philosophy of science so far have suggested. Perspectivism […]

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Realism, perspectivism, and disagreement in science

This paper attends to two main tasks. First, I introduce the notion of perspectival disagreement in science. Second, I relate perspectival disagreement in science to the broader issue of realism about science: how to maintain realist ontological commitments in the face of perspectival disagreement among scientists? I argue that often enough perspectival disagreement is not […]

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Diagnosing Disagreements: The Authentication of the Positron 1931 – 1934

This paper bridges a historiographical gap in accounts of the prediction and discovery of the positron by combining three ingredients. First, the prediction and discovery of the positron are situated in the broader context of a period of ‘crystallisation’ of a research tradition. Second, the prediction and discovery of the positron are discussed in the […]

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The perspectival nature of scientific representation

In this paper, I go back to Bas van Fraassen’s seminal discussion of perspectivity in the context of scientific representation. I distinguish between two possible ways of locating the perspectival nature of the representation by drawing an analogy between art and science. I highlight a tension between what I call the representationalist assumption and the […]

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Understanding Perspectivism; Scientific Challenges and Methodological Prospects

This edited collection is the first of its kind to explore the view called perspectivism in philosophy of science. The book brings together an array of essays that reflect on the methodological promises and scientific challenges of perspectivism in a variety of fields such as physics, biology, cognitive neuroscience, and cancer research, just as a […]

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Two kinds of exploratory models

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 […]

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Why philosophy of science matters to science

Michela Massimi’s Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal Lecture, Royal Society (2017). In an era where science is increasingly specialised, what is the value of interdisciplinary research? I argue that research across disciplinary boundaries plays a pivotal role in scientific inquiry, and it has a threefold value: it is exploratory; it is unifying; and it offers critical engagement. Philosophy […]

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Perspectival Modeling

The goal of this article is to address the problem of inconsistent models, and the challenge it poses for perspectivism. I analyse the argument, draw attention to some hidden premises behind it, and deflate them. Then I introduce the notion of perspectival models as a distinctive class of modeling practices, whose primary function is exploratory. […]

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A Perspectivalist Better Best System Account of Lawhood

On David Lewis’s influential view, modal facts supervene on the mosaic of non-modal facts about sparse natural properties. I defend a Lewisian account of laws that abandons this supervenience claim in order to avoid the objections of subjectivity and lack of necessity that bedeviled Lewis’s original view. On my view, it is not the Humean […]

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Three problems about multi-scale modelling in cosmology

The debate in cosmology concerning LambdaCDM and MOND depends crucially on their respective ability of modelling across scales, and dealing with some of the specific problems that arise along the way. The main upshot of this article is to present three main problems facing multi-scale modelling in contemporary cosmology. The LambdaCDM model, which is the […]

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Epistemic Justification and Methodological Luck in Inflationary Cosmology

I present a recent historical case from cosmology — the story of inflationary cosmology — and on its basis argue that solving explanatory problems is a reliable method for making progress in science. In particular, I claim that the success of inflationary theory at solving its predecessor’s explanatory problems justified the theory epistemically, even in […]

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Perspectivism

Among the many varieties of realism in contemporary philosophy of science, perspectivism – or better, perspectival realism – is one of the latest attempts at a middle ground in between scientific realism and antirealism.1 What kind of middle ground can perspectival realism possibly deliver which has not already been explored by structural realism, semi-realism, entity […]

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Simplified Models: a New Perspective on Models as Mediators

We introduce a novel point of view on the “models as mediators” frame- work in order to emphasize certain important epistemological questions about models in science which have so far been little investigated. To illustrate how this perspective can help answer these kinds of questions, we explore the use of simplified models in high energy […]

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Philosophy and the Chemical Revolution after Kant

This chapter addresses some key ideas of Schelling’s philosophy of nature with two main goals in mind. First, it clarifies how in Schelling’s hands, some key aspects of Kant’s philosophy of nature were transformed into a radically new philosophy of nature. Second, the chapter sheds light on some under appreciated aspects of Schelling’s philosophy of […]

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Laws of nature, natural properties, and the robustly best system

This paper addresses a famous objection against David Lewis’ Best System Analysis (BSA) of laws of nature. The objection—anticipated and discussed by Lewis (1994)—focuses on the standards of simplicity and strength being (in part) a matter of psychology. Lewis’ answer to the objection relies on his metaphysics of natural properties and its ability to single […]

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