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Indiana University Bloomington

Colloquium Series

FALL 2004 Colloquium Series

Sep. 17
Stuart Glennan
Butler University
The New Mechanical Philosophy

In this talk I shall consider the origins of and prospects for the emerging mechanisms movement in the philosophy of science. First I will discuss how this movement emerged, beginning in the 1970s, from concerns about philosophical analyses of the nature of science which gave pride of place to laws of nature. Second, I will provide a brief tour of what I take to be the most important questions discussed in the mechanisms literature - including questions about the relationship between mechanisms, causation, explanation and modeling. Finally, I will consider the proper scope of a mechanistic approach to the philosophy of science. Much of the recent work on mechanisms has focused in a relatively small number of scientific areas (especially in molecular biology and neuroscience). I will consider whether this focus is simply an artifact of the interests of researchers or limitations in the analysis of mechanism, or whether it represents some deeper fact about the role of mechanisms in our understanding of the natural world.

Sep. 24
Deborah Mayo
Virginia Polytech

Oct. 15
Michael Weisberg
University of Pennsylvania

Dec. 3 (Annual Coffa Lecture)
John Earman
University of Pittsburgh