Summer teaching workshop: Integrating statistics into your philosophy syllabus


University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Minneapolis Campus


3 consecutive days in the range 7–11 August, 2023, based on your availability and preference.


This workshop is for philosophy teachers who would like to integrate statistical concepts or methods into their curricula—e.g., in critical reasoning, epistemology, and philosophy of science courses—but have a pedagogical barrier or uncertainty that they want to overcome or resolve with a group of like-minded instructors. Each participant will have two hours during the summer workshop, arranged how they would like, to describe, test, and receive feedback on a lesson plan, assignment, etc. with the entire group.

In addition, there will be introductory presentations and discussions by two workshop facilitators on a variety of statistical ideas that would serve as helpful background for the variety of topics that will or could be broached during the workshop and in teaching philosophy using statistics more generally.

Attendees from outside the Twin Cities Metro area will receive free single en suite accommodations near campus and at least $400 towards travel expenses.


Despite their intrinsic and extrinsic importance in modern societies, statistical ideas are rarely incorporated into philosophy teaching. This workshop will take some first steps toward building a community of philosophers unified around teaching the foundations, implications, and limitations of statistical ideas.


  • About 9 college or university instructors in philosophy of science, critical reasoning, epistemology, or related philosophical topics on which statistical knowledge and reasoning bear
  • Samuel C. Fletcher (Minnesota): Convener & Facilitator
  • Conor Mayo-Wilson (Washington): Facilitator


Applicants should fill out this form no later than 14 May, 2023 16 June, 2023. The form asks for a CV and a cover letter. Your cover letter should include the following information:

  • Your availability for three days during 7-11 August, 2023.
  • Your institutional context: relevant information about the educational institution(s) at which your teaching intervention will occur, such as the typical student population and their goals
  • Your specific teaching context: relevant information about the course(s) in which you would like to intervene, such as the typical number of students, what they are studying, at what stage of their studies they are typically in, and how much time of your course you do and would like to allot for statistical concepts
  • Your pedagogical goals: your goals for student learning in the aforementioned course(s), what (if any) statistical content you are currently teaching towards those goals, what intervention you would like to make, and why
  • Your proposal for how you plan to use your 2 hours during the teaching workshop. For example, you might begin with a 20-minute discussion of the above context and goals, followed by two 20-minutes lessons, then a 45-minute discussion of the lessons, with 5-minute breaks in between.

There is no minimum or maximum cover letter size, but most will be less than 2000 words.

This workshop is supported by NSF CAREER grant #2042366, A Modern Philosophy for Classical Statistical Testing and Estimation. If you have questions about the workshop or the application process, please email the workshop convener, Samuel C. Fletcher.

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New and Enduring Themes in the History and Philosophy of Quantum, Statistical, and Thermal Physics: Celebrating Jos Uffink’s Research at Minnesota

When & Where?

  • November 7–8, 2022
  • 215 Humphrey (Wilkins Room), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; and online, via Zoom
  • Registration is required, but free. Registration deadline: October 17, 2022. Registrants attending online will receive a Zoom link via email.
  • Workshop dinner at 7 PM, Nov. 7, at Trapeze, $85. Registrants who indicate an interest in attending the dinner will receive information via email regarding payment methods.
  • Current UMN Covid protocols will be in effect.

What & How?

Jos Uffink will retire from the University of Minnesota at the end of 2022, having spent a decade with us as Professor of Philosophy and a faculty affiliate of the Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. While Jos’s essays are widely taken “to master and explicate [their] subject so thoroughly as to bluff everyone else into thinking there is nothing left to say,” this conference celebrates the enduring vitality of the themes in Jos’s research in the history and philosophy of quantum, statistical, and thermal physics.

Who? (Speakers)

Clayton Gearhart (St. John’s)
Wayne Myrvold (Western)
Margriet van der Heijden (Eindhoven/Amsterdam UC)
Giovanni Valente (Poli Milano)
Charlotte Werndl (Salzburg)*
Lena Zuchowski (Bristol)
*via Zoom videoconferencing
Organization: Samuel C. Fletcher (UMN)

More on When (Program)

Monday, November 7, 2022

Time (CST/UTC-6)
9:15–9:30 Opening Remarks (Alan Love & Samuel C. Fletcher)
9:30–10:30 Charlotte Werndl (Salzburg): Phase Transitions: Boltzmann versus Gibbs
10:30–10:45 Coffee Break
10:45–11:45 Lena Zuchowski (Bristol): From Randomness to the Arrow of Time
11:45–12:00 Coffee Break
12:00–1:00 Giovanni Valente (Poli Milano): Taking up Statistical Thermodynamics: Equilibrium Fluctuations and Irreversibility
1:00–2:30 Lunch Break
2:30–3:30 Clayton Gearhart (St. John’s): “Astonishing Successes”; “Bitter Disappointment”: Physics Textbooks and the Old Quantum Theory
3:30–3:45 Coffee Break
3:45–4:45 Michel Janssen (UMN): Getting Right to the Heart of Matters (Counting Crows in Omaha)
4:45–5:00 Coffee Break
5:00–6:00 Margriet van der Heijden (Eindhoven/AUC): Tatiana Afanassjewa and Paul Ehrenfest – A Cosmopolitan Oasis in Provincial Leiden
7:00 Conference Dinner

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Time (CST/UTC-6)
9:00–10:00 Wayne Myrvold (Western): Two Sciences Called “Thermodynamics”
10:00–10:15 Coffee Break
10:15–11:15 Samuel C. Fletcher (UMN): What Gravitational Waves Teach Us about Thermodynamics
11:15–11:30 Coffee Break
11:30–12:30 Bryan W. Roberts (LSE): Geometric Thermodynamics and Black Holes
12:30–1:00 Closing Remarks (Jos Uffink)


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The Argument Clinic

I recently published a fun little pedagogical essay on using Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch to introduce students to arguments, in the philosophical sense. I first learned of this sketch in graduate school from Ben Rin. Ever since, I have deployed it in teaching introductory logic, but it would also be wonderful for any introductory philosophy course that has a unit on arguments and argumentation. If you teach philosophy, aspire to, or wonder what it would be like, watch the clip first and imagine how you would use it.

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Workshop: Rethinking Formal Methods in Philosophy

When & Where?

  • September 20–21, 2019
  • 215 Humphrey (Wilkins Room), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Registration is free.
  • Workshop dinner at 7 PM, Sept. 20, at Republic. Cost is $30 for graduate students and $40 for non-student workshop attendees. Registrants who indicate an interest in attending the dinner will receive information via email regarding payment methods.

What & How?

With which methods should a competent, contemporary philosopher be familiar? Argumentation, analysis, and creative synthesis have always been in the philosopher’s toolkit, but there is a rising confluence between the methods of contemporary philosophy and those formal methods more traditionally associated with the sciences. While “logic” has been essentially synonymous with “formal methods” in philosophy for many decades, increasingly philosophers are using probability and decision theory, statistics, and even experimental design and computer simulation. This two-day workshop on this new conception of philosophical method will bring together diverse philosophers into conversation about the present and future status of formal and mathematical methods in philosophy, their institutionalization in graduate (and undergraduate) pedagogy, and how these changes now reflect and will engender evolving relationships between philosophy and other disciplines.
Two special features of this workshop:

Who? (Speakers)

Ray Briggs (Stanford)
Helen De Cruz (St. Louis)
Catarina Dutilh Novaes (VU Amsterdam)*
Branden Fitelson (Northeastern)*
Joshua Knobe (Yale)*
Conor Mayo-Wilson (Washington)
Cailin O’Connor (UC Irvine)
Eric Steinhart (William Patterson)
Greg Wheeler (Frankfurt School)
*via videoconferencing

More on When (Program)

Friday, 20 September 2019

Time Event
9:30–10:30 Joshua Knobe: Which Formal Methods are Most Used in Philosophy?
10:30–10:45 Coffee Break
10:45–11:45 Helen De Cruz: Reflections on Teaching Experimental Philosophy to Undergraduates
11:45–12:00 Coffee Break
12:00–1:00 Eric Steinhart: Can Mathematics Save Philosophy?
1:00–2:30 Lunch Break
2:30–3:30 Ray Briggs: Baby Logic?
3:30–3:45 Coffee Break
3:45–4:45 Gregory Wheeler: Too Boole for School
4:45–5:00 Coffee Break
5:00–6:00 Conor Mayo-Wilson: Is TMTOWTDI When We Train Philosophers in Formal Methods?
7:00 Workshop Dinner

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Time Event
9:30–10:30 Branden Fitelson: How to Model the Epistemic Probabilities of Conditionals
10:30–10:45 Coffee Break
10:45–11:45 Cailin O’Connor: Synthesizing Formal and Empirical Methods in Philosophy: Testing the Red King
11:45–12:00 Coffee Break
12:00–1:00 Catarina Dutilh Novaes: Carnapian Explication and Ameliorative Analysis: A Systematic Comparison
1:00–2:30 Lunch Break
2:30–3:30 Jonathan Livengood: TBA
3:30–3:45 Coffee Break
3:45–5:00 Roundtable Discussion, moderated by Liam Kofi Bright

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Even More Revealing

Ever wonder where you can read or here about what I’ve been recently pondering? No? Well, now you can here!

Summer Talks!

  • Little Shallows in the Depths: Indeterminacy in Quantum Theory (with David E. Taylor) @ Quantum Indeterminacy Workshop (Dartmouth), July 12–13
  • The Topology of Intertheoretic Reduction @ BSPS 2019 (Durham), July 17–19
  • The Topology of Intertheoretic Reduction @ CLMPST 2019 (Prague), August 5–10
  • The Role of Replication in Psychological Science @ EPSA 2019 (Geneva), September 11–14


You can now download new syllabuses here for Space and Time (F18), Computability and Logic (S19), and my graduate seminar (S19): Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics.

Research & Writing!

I’ve updated my research and publications pages, the latter with the following. If you can’t access something linked there, let me know: I’ll be happy to send it to you, especially these new ones:

“Extending List’s Levels.” In Marek Kus and Bartłomiej Skowron, eds. Category Theory in Physics, Mathematics, and Philosophy. Springer. (With Neil Dewar and Laurenz Hudetz.)

“Approximate Local Poincaré Spacetime Symmetry in General Relativity,” in Claus Beisbart, Tilman Sauer, and Christian Wüthrich, eds. Thinking about Space and Time. Einstein Studies, vol. 15. Birkhäuser.

“Similarity Structure on Scientific Theories.” In Bartłomiej Skowron, ed. Topological Philosophy. de Gruyter.

“Which Worldlines Represent Possible Particle Histories?” Foundations of Physics. (Check out the published version or a read-only version thereof.)

“On the Reduction of General Relativity to Newtonian Gravitation.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. (Check out the published version.)

“Counterfactual Reasoning within Physical Theories.” Synthese.  (Check out the published version or a read-only version thereof.)

“On Representational Capacities, with an Application to General Relativity.” Foundations of Physics. (Check out the published version or a read-only version thereof.)

“Evidence Amalgamation in the Sciences: An Introduction. Synthese. (With Jürgen Landes and Roland Poellinger. Check out the published version or a read-only version thereof.)

“Infinite Idealizations in Science: An Introduction.” Synthese 196(5): 1657–1669.  (With Patricia Palacios, Laura Ruetsche, and Elay Shech. Check out the published version or a read-only version thereof.)

“Stopping Rules as Experimental Design.” European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9: 29. (Check out the published version.)

“Global Spacetime Similarity.” Journal of Mathematical Physics 59(11): 112501. (Check out the published version.)

“Computers in Abstraction/Representation Theory.” Minds & Machines: 8(3): 445–463. (Check out the published version, or a read-only version thereof.)

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