SEPOS Work in Progress Session Monday, March 23, 2020


Bennett Holman (Underwood International College, Yonsei University)

What me worry?  Research Policy and the open embrace of industry-academia relations

SEPOS Visiting Speaker Tuesday, March 17, 2020


Bennett Holman (Underwood International College, Yonsei University)

“On Bias in Science”

The standard definition of bias holds that it is a systematic deviation from the truth.  I will argue that giving up the value-free ideal of science necessitates a move away from this definition.  For example, the precautionary principle requires us to keep a potentially unsafe chemical off the market even at the expense of mistakenly restricting access to greater number of chemicals that are safe. Yet numerous philosophers have argued that the inaccuracy induced by the precautionary principle is an appropriate infusion of values into science (e.g., Heather Douglas, Kevin Elliott, Justin Biddle, Daniel Steel, etc.).  Moreover, there seem to be cases of epistemically problematic practices that do not result in a systematic deviation from the truth.  For example, a pharmaceutical company that compares a standard dosage of their drug to a suboptimal dose of their competitors seems to be a clear case of bias. Yet though the results may be misleading, so long as the dosages are reported, the results are accurate (i.e., “unbiased”). I offer a definition of bias that classifies the use of the precautionary principle as unbiased and the rigged drug trial as biased, and sorts through a number of other similar tricky cases.  In so doing, I suggest this conception of bias prepares the ground to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable roles for values in science, what Torsten Wilholt and I have proposed to call “The New Demarcation Problem”.

SEPOS Visiting Speaker Friday, February 7, 2020 3-5pm 109SKH

Joyce C. Havstad (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Oakland University)

“The Sensational Science of Human Prehistory: High Inductive Risk and Low Epistemic Standards”

Some scientific notions are sensational. Counted among these are speculations about our own, human origins from within various interacting populations of archaic hominins.  When we evolved, where we came from, who we had sex with… these are all topics of enduring, popular interest.  Recent scientific study of these matters—especially relating to the Denisova, a purportedly novel population of archaic hominins—is both technically stunning and socially reckless.  Here I urge the relevant scientists to consider what responsibilities they incur when erring in their scientific pronouncements about the relative contributions of the Denisovato the genome of apparent sub-populations of current humans.  Since there is obvious, demonstrable risk of error in this case, these scientists ought to anticipate their corresponding responsibility, and I offer a proposal for how they might fulfill it.

SEPOS Work in Progress Session Friday, Jan 17, 2020 12-2pm 523SKH

Heather Douglas (MSU)

“Scientific Freedom and Social Responsibility”

SEPOS Work in Progress Session Wednesday, Jan 8, 2020 2-2:30pm 530SKH

Alysha Kassam (UC, Irvine)

“Uncertainty and Risk Surrounding the Application of Social Models”

SEPOS Work in Progress Session Monday, Dec 2, 2019 1-3pm 530SKH

Greg Lusk (MSU)

“Data Centrism in Regional Modeling”

SEPOS Work in Progress Session Friday, Nov 22, 2019 1-3pm 530SKH

Paul Thompson (MSU)

“Environmental Risks of Next Generation Biotechnology: Philosophical Considerations”

SEPOS Work in Progress Session Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019 3-5pm 523SKH

Katie Plaisance (University of Waterloo) and Kevin Elliott (MSU) 

“A Framework for Understanding Engaged Philosophy of Science” 

SEPOS Visiting Speaker Friday, September 20, 2019 3-5pm 530SKH

George Reisch (Managing Editor of The Monist and Series Editor for Popular Culture and Philosophy)

“The Structure of a Political Disengagement: On Thoas Kuhn, James B. Conant, and the Place of History of Science in Postwar America”

More than any other text in the history and philosophy of science, Thomas Kuhn’sThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions shaped the nature, values, and boundaries of American scholarship about science in the last half of the twentieth century. Questions about whether and how science studies are, or can become, socially engaged can therefore profit by considering the origins and development of Structureprior to its publication in 1962. This talk examines how Kuhn’s early theorizing about science followed Harvard President James B. Conant’s vision of history of science as a core component of American postwar education. In the context of the cold war, however, and in some ways because of that context, I will argue that Kuhn theorized a different vision for understanding science, one that firmly separates scientific values and progress from social values and progress. While Structurebecame famous for its provocative claim that scientists trained under the competing paradigms live in “different worlds,” it was arguably Kuhn’s view that professional scientists live in worlds different than their fellow citizens that helped to disengage postwar history and philosophy of science from issues concerning economics and social welfare.

MSU was proud to host the 10th Annual Science of Team Science (SciTS) Conference, held May 20-23, 2019. The SciTS conference is the annual international forum dedicated to SciTS, bringing together thought leaders from a broad range of disciplines and fields, including: communications, management, social and behavioral sciences, information technology, systems science, and translational research.  Michael O’Rourke is the Conference Chair.

The Commercialization of Science Mini-Conference, Wednesday April 17, 2019 12-3pm 530SKH. Light refreshments will be provided. Contact Heather Douglas for more details.