In this Jargonium blog article, Francesca looks at some philosophical issues concerning the relation between the structure of proteins and their functions. She explores why the presence of multiple realisation and multiple determination can posit challenges to protein taxonomies and classifications.
Muhammad and Tuomas discuss their their forthcoming and recent Cambridge Elements in Philosophy of Science, on “Natural Kinds” and “Unity of Science” respectively.
There have been many attempts to determine what makes a natural kind real, chief among them is the criterion according to which natural kinds must be mind-independent. But it is difficult to specify this criterion: many supposed natural kinds have an element of mind-dependence. I will argue that the mind-independence criterion is nevertheless a good one, if correctly understood: the mind-independence criterion concerns the unification principles for natural kinds. Unification principles determine how natural kinds unify their properties, and only those natural kinds that have a mind-independent unification principle should be considered real.
Francesca's first paper, forthcoming in EJPS, argues that the complexity of genetic phenomena supports the weak emergence of molecular genes from the DNA. This account allows to accept genes’ flexibility and context dependency, without compromising their existence.
Toby's flurry of accepted papers continues! Humeans have a particular way of thinking about laws. In 'How to be a Humean about idealisation laws', Toby presents a problem for that way of thinking when it comes to laws. He then provides a solution which suggests Humeans think a bit differently in these particular cases.
The article describes a recent pragmatist trend in Humean metaphysics of laws. According to this trend, laws are defined partly by our own scientific needs and values. The article then goes on to criticise various proposals for how this pragmatism might manifest itself. These proposals have drawn, e.g., on the symmetries, locality and error-tolerance of laws. These characteristics of laws are not, so this article argues and despite what others have claimed, definitive of laws.
In this paper, Tuomas develops his framework regarding the metaphysics and epistemology of modality, which is inspired by E. J. Lowe's work. Tuomas defends the framework against some recent critics and puts it to use regarding our modal knowledge of transuranic elements, many of which were postulated before they were synthesised.
The MetaScience team are the local organisers for the annual international Society for the Metaphysics of Science conference. CfP deadline 5 April.
Toby argues against a dominant metaphysical position, Humeanism, which has in fact been a premise in much of his other work! The position is false, Toby claims, because of its implausible implications for conscious experience.
After a hugely competitive interview process for our new Postdoc Research Associate, Will Morgan will join the MetaScience team from the University of Sheffield. Will starts in January 2022.
In this paper, published in The Philosophical Quarterly, Sam combines elements of realism and pragmatism to reconcile disagreement about the modal status of laws of nature.
Science is a cultural activity. Scientists interpret their hypotheses and develop their theories in a way that is embedded in and influenced by the culture within which they live. Vanessa explores the role of culture in the development of scientific theories and briefly discusses the views philosophers have expressed about culture and its influence on science.
MetaScience invites applications from those with a PhD in a field of philosophy relevant to the project and experience in some combination of metaphysics, general philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of chemistry, and philosophy of physics.
Toby explores a problem for interventionist strategies for analysing causation concerning variables which are related by integration. The article surveys a number of extant strategies for solving the problem before proposing a new one.
Forthcoming in BJPS, the article asks how global external symmetries should be thought of within the Humean framework. Contrary to what some have argued, the suggestion is that such symmetries shouldn't be thought of as laws, but as features of world-making relations.
James Clark Ross (Southampton) gets the latest on Sam's new metaphysics and philosophy of science podcast, Condensed Matter.
MetaScience celebrates Francesca Bellazzi's first keynote talk, '(K)new World Re-Imagined - Reflecting and Re-orienting - surfacing the ethical and philosophical questions from the pandemic.'
In this popular science article, Vanessa discusses the Chemical Revolution and explores the impact of this historical event on philosophy.
Doing science involves making choices. Such choices are inevitably influenced by scientists' expectations, values, and goals. In this popular science article, Vanessa explores this aspect of scientific practice and highlights some of the values that shape scientific progress, with examples from the history of chemistry.
Join us for this 3-day virtual Zoom conference, 15-17th June 2021. We welcome abstracts on the topic of Realisation and Composition across the Sciences. Submission deadline is 12th May
In Philosophical Studies, Sam argues that the orthodox anti-Humean account of the metaphysics of physical properties and laws of nature requires a radical overhaul if anti-Humeanism is to be properly explanatory and continuous with science.
Vanessa explores how chemists deal with puzzles in chemistry. She shows that while scientists ultimately are in the business of solving such puzzles, there are important philosophical considerations that often contribute to their solution. In fact, it is not only philosophers who bring forward philosophical considerations, but also chemists themselves often employ tools from philosophy in order to resolve their puzzles.
Toby Friend uses the famous Galileo Affair, in which Galileo was reprimanded by the church for his heliocentricism, to explore the connection between observation and scientific realism. It contrasts scientific realism with instrumentalism and Kuhn's idea about the theory-ladeness of observation. The article centres on observation through telescopes in particular as the central case.
Scientific Realism is the view that the posits of science are real. The Metaphysical Unity of science is the thesis that the posits of science are metaphysically unified (somehow). Toby Friend discuss various stances on both of these positions and shows that they suggest one can only endorse one at the expense of the other. He also suggest a way to break out of the trade-off.
Vanessa looks at the role of idealisations in chemistry and sketches the philosophical questions that arise out of their use in science.
In his short monograph, the MetaScience project's Principal Investigator examines the notion of 'Unity of Science' from a contemporary perspective, after a historical overview. The upshot is that there is still value in the idea of a unity of science, when properly understood.
Ever looked at the teacup in your hand and wondered how that smooth, colourful surface can be made of atoms stuck together? Francesca talks all things MetaScience project in this World Philosophy Day blog for Arts Matter.
Vanessa examines whether chemical entities exist. She presents some of the most central arguments regarding scientific realism, and argues that whether chemical entities are real is a difficult question to answer!
Vanessa and Alex Franklin unpick three problems regarding the way that molecular structure relates to quantum physics. They argue that all three problems are in fact special cases of the measurement problem, and consider how this proposal illuminates our understanding of molecular structure.
In the first of 6 invited articles for the Royal Society of Chemistry's magazine, Chemistry World, Vanessa discusses the persistent purpose of chemistry for both science and philosophy.
In this blog post for Jargonium, Vanessa talks about chemistry's relation to quantum mechanics and summarises the main points she makes in her recently published paper on strong emergence.
Vanessa's article in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science examines ones of the most well-established views in philosophy of chemistry; namely Robin Hendry's account of the strong emergence of molecular structure. She presents Hendry's account and identifies three challenges that it faces in its current form.
Alex Franklin argues that multiple realisation shouldn't be seen as an obstacle to reduction. However, he acknowledges that certain cases of multiple realisation prompt us to ask an important question: how come the same phenomena is realised by multiple different systems? The paper goes on to set out a framework for how the reductionist can address such questions.
Francesca Bellazzi and Konrad v. Boyneburgk essay argues that virtue ethics and a broader notion of freedom of the will allow us to deal with the practical concerns about how an individual should behave during COVID-19 pandemic
This is the first blog post by Vanessa for the new philosophy and history of chemistry blog, Jargonium. Vanessa introduces us to the philosophy of chemistry and describes the main topics that are addressed in this field.
Sam Kimpton-Nye reviews the new book from leader of the FraMEPhys project, Alastair Wilson.
For our first foray into online events, the MetaScience Project Team welcomes abstracts on the topic of Methodological Issues in the Metaphysics of Science.
In this popular science article for The Conversation, Vanessa looks at the main questions that the MetaScience project is concerned with. She explains how these questions have been considered in philosophy so far, and presents the results that have been produced by our project.
Vanessa Seifert's entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy examines how philosophy understands chemistry's relationship to physics. The article situates this discussion around the dilemma between reduction and emergence and aims to present all existing views on this debate.
This workshop brings together philosophers working on formal ontology and metaphysics of science. The goal is to find new ways to apply work on ontological categories and formal ontological relations to case studies from the metaphysics of science.
Join the research teams from the ERC-funded projects FraMEPhys (Birmingham) and MetaScience (Bristol) for talks and discussion. There will also be opportunity to explore the famous Pitt Rivers Museum.
Vanessa Seifert argues that it is an idealisation in chemistry and in quantum mechanics that an isolated molecule is stable and has structure. She then investigates how this idealisation informs our understanding of various philosophical issues.
A workshop organized jointly by the MetaScience project and Rutgers-Newark. Local organizer: Ken Aizawa. Join us for talks and discussion on 'The Metaphysical Unity of Science'.
In this paper, which is an exercise in formal ontology – an area of research concerning fundamental ontological categories and their relations – Markku Keinänen and Tuomas Tahko examine the tempting idea that there could be just one fundamental ontological category.
This paper is based on a pilot study for the MetaScience project. The project concerns inter-level relationships between the natural sciences and here the target is the interface between biology and chemistry, specifically, biochemical kinds such as proteins.
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No 771509. All project outputs are published Open Access. Website photo credit: Matt Lincoln Photography
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