The Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science studies knowledge, reasoning, and value in all their forms.

tilburg university

Research Seminar in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

This research seminar is a forum for all members of TiLPS with research interests in epistemology or philosophy of science to present and discuss their work. Sometimes we also have a guest speaker or discuss a recently published article. Master students and Research Master students may take this research seminar for credit. Please contact Matteo Colombo for more information. Papers for discussion and some background reading will be available from this website at least one week in advance.

Upcoming Seminars

Thursday, 19 January 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: DZ 10

Speaker: Silvia Ivani (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 9 February 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 119

Speaker: Thomas Boyer-Kassem (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 23 February 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 313

Speaker: Colin Elliot (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 2 March 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 119

Speaker: Noah van Dongen (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 23 March 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 313

Speaker: Sander Verhaegh (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 6 April 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 119

Speaker: Felipe Romero (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 20 April 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 119

Speaker: Naftali Weinberger (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 4 May 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 119

Speaker: Séamus Bradley (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Thursday, 11 May 2017, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: D 119

Speaker: Filip Buekens (TiLPS)

Title and abstract: t.b.a.

Recent Seminars

Thursday, 15 September 2016, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: Cultuurtuin - Esplanade Building

Speaker: Seamus Bradley (TiLPS)

Title: Fleshing out the "levels" argument for compatibilism about chance and determinism

Abstract: There is a prima facie tension between the claims that the world is deterministic and that the world contains non-trivial chances. One kind of response to this incompatibilist view is to argue that the world can be deterministic at one level and still be chancy at another level. Beyond giving examples of levels that instantiate this duality, proponents of this 'levels-compatibilism' don't say much about what levels are, or what the hierarchical structure of these levels is. This talk presents some initial attempts at trying to flesh out what levels-compatibilists might mean by their levels talk.

Thursday, 29 September 2016, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: Cobbenhagen Building - CZ 118

Speaker: Michal Sikorski (TiLPS)

Thursday, 13 October 2016, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: CZ 118

Speaker: Naftali Weinberger (TiLPS)

Title: Mechanisms Without Mechanistic Explanation

Abstract: Some recent accounts of constitutive relevance have identified mechanism components with entities that are causal intermediates between the input and output of a mechanism. I argue that on such accounts there is no distinctive form of mechanistic explanation. Nevertheless, the entities that these accounts call ‘components’ do play an explanatory role. Studying causal intermediates linking X and Y provides knowledge of the counterfactual conditions under which X will continue to bring about Y. This explanatory role does not depend on whether these variables count as components. The question of whether there are distinctively mechanistic explanations remains open.

Thursday, 20 October 2016, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: DZ 10

Speaker: Sander Verhaegh (TiLPS)

Title: The Development and Reception of Quine’s Naturalism

Abstract: During the past few decades, a shift has occurred in how philosophers conceive of the relation between science and philosophy. A great number of analytic philosophers have adopted what is commonly called a naturalistic approach, arguing that their inquiries ought to be in some sense continuous with science. Where early analytic philosophers often relied on a sharp distinction between science and philosophy, many philosophers today follow W. V. Quine in his seminal rejection of this distinction as well as his reconstruction of their discipline in naturalistic terms.

Despite his influence on the contemporary metaphilosophical scene, however, the historical development and reception of Quine’s naturalism has never been systematically studied. In this paper, I reconstruct the development and reception of Quine’s ideas on the relation between science and philosophy. Scrutinizing both his published work as well as unpublished papers, correspondence, and notebooks, I examine Quine’s development in the first decades of his career (1930-1950) as well as the reception of his ideas in the 1950s and 1960s.

Thursday, 27 October 2016, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: DZ 10

Speaker: Félipe Romero (TiLPS)

Title: Novelty versus Replicability: Virtues and Vices in the Reward System of Science

Abstract: The reward system of science is the priority rule: The first scientist making a novel discovery is rewarded with prestige while second runners get nothing (Merton 1957). Using rational choice models, Kitcher (1990) and Strevens (2003, 2011) defend the priority rule arguing that it incentivizes an efficient division of cognitive labor. I argue that their assessment overlooks the fact that the priority rule discourages replication, an important concern in practice, as shown by recent replicability controversies. My analysis reveals that the priority rule is more vicious than virtuous, and leads us to reject Kitcher and Strevens’ contention that a priority-based reward system is normatively desirable for science.

Thursday, 10 November 2016, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: WZ 202

Speaker: Erik P. Nyberg  (Monash University)

Title: Can probabilistic causal maps improve CIA analysis?

Abstract: CIA analysts are prone to the same reasoning mistakes as everyone else: groupthink, confirmation bias, overconfidence, etc. But when they produce bad assessments it can have disastrous results, such as the invasion of Iraq. So, the US government have set up CREATE: a 4.5 year competition between four academic teams to produce software and procedures that will improve assessments.

Our team includes computer scientists at Monash and psychologists at UCL and Birkbeck who are experts in encoding people’s knowledge of the world in maps of probabilistic causal influence. From a good map, AI techniques can auto-generate the logical skeleton of a good report: including the probabilities of competing hypotheses, their supporting evidence, and key uncertainties.

A well-known difficulty will be eliciting sufficient analyst knowledge. We will ease this using approximation and validation techniques. Our team also includes psychologists from Strathclyde who are experts in the Delphi method, in which a facilitator methodically leads an anonymous group discussion towards a reasoned consensus.

I will discuss why our approach might be an amazing success — or a spectacular failure!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016, 16:45 - 18:00

Room: DZ 008

Speaker: Selene Arfini (University of Chieti and Pescara)

Title: An Epistemic Condition for Collaborative Interdisciplinarity

Abstract: When a scientific research is conducted by a disciplinarily heterogeneous group of agents, they have to organize their activities and increase the group knowledge in order to gain a common epistemic goal. More specifically, to conduct the research every scientist has to deal with three types of knowledge: the knowledge that she brings to the research, i.e. her epistemic background; the knowledge she hopes to gain in the research process, which constitutes her epistemic goal; and the knowledge that is not in her possession and she cannot imagine to gain during the interdisciplinary collaboration, that is her ignorance. In this paper I argue that is not always easy for scientists who undertake an interdisciplinary collaboration to recognize and distinguish these types of knowledge. Indeed, as the philosophical literature on interdisciplinarity testifies, the “messy” relationships between scientists result from “a varied range of interpretations, negotiations and decision-making strategies, as well as from frequent misunderstandings, miscommunications and disputes” [Maki and McLeod 2016]. In this paper I argue that the latter forms of interaction derive from confusion regarding the scientists’ own epistemic backgrounds, goals, and ignorance, which affects the generation and the management of the interdisciplinary research. At the same time, I discuss that the recognition and distinction of these forms of knowledge is an indispensable condition for a successful collaborative interdisciplinary research. In order to motivate this thesis, I will discuss how different actual practices and strategies employed by successful research teams depend on the successful management of knowledge and ignorance in the group dynamics.

Thursday, 24 November 2016, 12:45 - 14:00

Room: DZ 10

Speaker: Thomas Boyer-Kassem (TiLPS)

Title: No need for a secret ballot? How to reduce reputational cascades in expert committees.

Abstract: People sometimes misrepresent their opinions because others have expressed opposite views and public disagreement comes with various costs. This falsification of preferences may also affect experts in committees, who may align with others' already expressed opinions. To assess the importance of reputational cascades, we propose a simple model of a sequential deliberation. The model enables to analyse the influence of various parameters, and suggests three ways to reduce the effects of preference falsification: (i) allow experts to express fine-grained opinions instead of binary ones; (ii) have experts speak in specific orders; (iii) hold a sufficient number of table rounds. Thus, effects of reputational concerns could be decreased, even in a sequential and non-secret voting procedure.

Friday, 9 December 2016, 12:00 - 13:00

Room: CZ 117

Double EPS seminar: Experimental Progress Reports

Authors: Jan Sprenger and Matteo Colombo (TiLPS)

We present results from a recently completed study on determinants of explanatory power that backs up attempts to ground a philosophical theory of explanation in causality, probability and lawlikeness. 

To this end, we conducted five different 2x2 experiments. In all of them, the credibility of candidate explanation was an independent variables. The other independent variables were, per experiment: 

  1. implicit causal framing, 
  2. explicit causal framing, 
  3. generalizability, 
  4. statistical relevance (numerically presented) and 
  5. statistical relevance (visually presented). 

Prior credibility had a large (main) effect on explanatory power in all experiments, and so did statistical relevance and generalizability. There were no significant main effects for causal framing, but an interesting interaction that points to a gatekeeping role for prior credibility.

Author: Noah van Dongen (TiLPS)

Title: Differences in how the game of statistics it played

The aim of this exploratory study is to research behavior and belief revision of statisticians. Specifically, it is the intention to provide participating frequentist and Bayesian statisticians with the same datasets and research question to investigate 

  • A) how they differ in the analyses they use and the subsequent results; 
  • B) how they answer specific question about their results and the datasets (e.g., what is your point estimate of the relevant parameter); and 
  • C) how they change their beliefs when confronted with discrepancies between their results and those of others.