After a 14-month hiatus in which I moved from Munich to Minneapolis (via a road trip from Southern California), started and completed my first academic year as an Assistant Professor, and returned to Europe for the summer, I’m ready to update again! There’s much to be said, of course, but I’ll try to keep it brief, focusing on travel, teaching, and event organization. For those more interested in the future than the past, scroll down to the “Future” section for upcoming events I’ll be organizing, volumes I’ll be editing, and classes I’ll be teaching.
Fall Semester 2015
In early October I saw many friends and colleagues in Pittsburgh, where I was giving a presentation at the conference on Effective Theories, Scale Modeling, and Emergence at the Pitt Center for Philosophy of Science. A month later, I drove down to Iowa State University on a beautiful November Saturday morning to talk at the 2015 meeting of the Iowa Philosophical Society. I was really impressed with the quality of talks and organization—done by a colleague and friend. Late that month I took advantage of some family travel to visit another colleague and friend and deliver a talk at the George Washington University.
All this was happening, of course, while I taught my weekly graduate seminar on Philosophy of Statistics. I was flattered and honored to have participants—most of them faculty—from philosophy, physics, statistics, psychology, economics, public health, neuroscience, and occasionally more! It was truly a vanguard research seminar, spawned some new research ideas and even some invitations to visit other departments at the U. Where am I going to find the time to explore all those great ideas?
Winter Break 2015/6
Certainly not during winter break! In early January I traveled to Santiago de Chile for the first time to deliver a talk at the workshop on Reduction in Physics and Biology at the Institute of Philosophy and Complexity Sciences. Afterwards I took the most amazing vacation with a group of colleagues and friends from the workshop to the Atacama Desert, where we saw geysers, vicuñas, flamingos, and the ALMA observatory at 5,000 meters! I was giddy (and not just from the altitude). If you spend some time on my website, you’ll see many banner photos from this trip.
Spring Semester 2016
February saw me take two international trips, the first on an invitation to a conference in Warsaw on Topological Philosophy—really the application of topological ideas and methods in philosophy—before which I took a quick stop in Krakow to give a talk for friends and colleagues at the Epistemology Department of the Jagiellonian University. Just a week or so later I was heading southward instead of eastward, to Bogotá for Philogica IV. I can recommend the bandeja paisa and chocolate completo. Finally in March I gave three colloquium talks, but all close to home: a joint physics/philosophy one at Macalaster College in St. Paul, and two on philosophy of statistics at the School of Statistics and the Division of Health Policy and Management at the School of Public Health at the U—the latter two thanks to my seminar from the previous semester.
No seminar to teach this semester! Instead, two lecture courses for undergraduates: a big one, Introduction to Logic, and a moderately large one, Scientific Thought, a philosophy of science survey (predictably). I had good experiences using Bergmann, Moor, and Nelson’s The Logic Book and Godfrey-Smith’s Theory and Reality, respectively.
The beginning of the summer is a treat, in part because of the Seven Pines Symposium. This years the topic was the “big questions” in physics. One theme that consistently emerged was what we demand be represented in our physical theories. Is consciousness or a flow of time superfluous? Is a direction of time or definite outcomes of experiments necessary? I continue to think about these issues even now.
Immediately afterward I flew to Europe and went to a string of conferences: Doorn, the Netherlands, then Budapest, then Istanbul, then Varna, Bulgaria, before returning to Munich, my summer home. There, the MCMP had a 5 Years celebratory conference, focusing not on the past but on the future of mathematical philosophy by inviting current or recently graduated PhD students to give short talks on their work. After that at the MCMP, and between the Semantics of Theories conference in June and the econophysics and complexity theory workshop in July, I found myself in the Basque Country, Lausanne, Cardiff, and London (x2) for talks, in addition to a pair of back-to-back conferences on Infinite Idealizations and First Principles in Science, the former actually organized by myself and Patrica Palacios.
The biggest event of the summer, though, was the Third Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students at the MCMP, which I co-organized along with Milena Ivanova and Karolina Krzyżanowska. 47 students studying in 17 countries and originating from 23 across 6 continents converged for an intense week of three courses of lectures:
- Modeling the Evolution of Behavior (Cailin O’Connor, UCI)
- Space, Time, and Geometry from Newton to Einstein, feat. Maxwell (James Weatherall, UCI)
- From Epistemic Logic to Social Cognition (Rineke Verbrugge, RUG)
It was a resounding success!
As the Summer School in Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students continues to be a success, another is being planned for 2017—the topics being philosophy of logic, language, and mathematics—by myself, Gil Sagi, Lavinia Picollo, and Marianna Antonutti Marfori. I’ll post more information about the summer school later this year.
Also coming next year are two editing projects. The first is a book contract with Cambridge University Press entitled Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics, which I am editing along with Mike Cuffaro. We expect to have 13 chapters by philosophers, physicists, and computer scientists investigating perspectives on each other’s discipline and exploring their foundational implications in print by the end of 2017. The second is a special issue of Synthese on “Amalgamating Evidence in the Sciences,” which I am editing with Jürgen Landes and Roland Poellinger, with likely publication in 2018. (Click the title link for more information!)
Lastly, I have a full year of teaching ahead: Scientific Thought and Introduction to Logic in the fall and spring, respectively, but two new courses as well, a cross-listed undergraduate/graduate seminar on Space and Time in the fall and graduate-level Computability in the spring. I’ll post more information about these in the teaching section in due time.