Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Future of Philosophy of Science

"The Future of Philosophy of Science," as an area of inquiry and the future of philosophers of science, as a group of philosophical professionals, is certainly something that draws my interest. As described in the conference announcement, the future of philosophy of science should be well-integrated with scientific practice and should influence science policy.
Sydney-Tilburg conference on
The Future of Philosophy of Science
Wednesday 14 - Friday 16 April 2010
Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS)
Philosophy of science deals with the foundations and the methods of science. While the scope of philosophy of science is rather uncontroversial, there is considerable disagreement about its methodology. A look into the relevant journals reveals that there is a plurality of approaches. Some researchers use the traditional method of conceptual analysis, others engage in formal modeling, conduct case studies and – more recently – experiments, or consult the history of science in considerable detail. Despite the differences in these approaches, there also seem to be undeniable trends in our discipline, such as the increasing specialization, and the increasing co-operation with empirical scientists and policy makers. This conference will explore the future of philosophy of science. In particular, we are interested in how the different methods philosophers of science use relate to each other, whether they can fruitfully complement each other, and whether current trends allow predictions about the development of our field.
One group/conference series that has been addressing these same questions is The Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice. SPSP is relatively well-balanced along the lines of gender.

However, the Sydney-Tilburg speaker list leads me to believe one thing: the professional future of Philosophy of Science will be as exclusively a venue for men as ever:
The invited speakers are Michael Friedman, Chris Hitchcock, Hannes Leitgeb and Samir Okasha. Contributed speakers include William Bechtel, Ronald Giere, Alfred Nordmann, Michael Stoeltzner, and Paul Teller.
Although the full conference program does include women (a shout-out to Carla Fehr!), apparently they are not the ones that merit mention in the conference announcement.

For a deeper look at the role of conferences in maintaining the gender imbalance in our discipline, see The Feminist Philosophers' Gendered Conference Campaign.


Noumena said...

Considering the role that feminist philosophy of science has played in integrating philosophy with science policy and practice, that's quite a glaring omission! I understand that it's hard for North American academics to get to a European conference in the middle of April (to put it mildly), but still!

Matthew J. Brown said...

When I mentioned this to a colleague, he told me that "In Holland about 15% of full professors are women." Yikes!

Evelyn Brister said...

Yikes indeed! That's even fewer women than in our field in the US!

I studied in Germany in the early 1990's and while I was at the University of Freiburg, the student government staged a protest with the slogan that "5% is not enough!" The 5% referred to the percentage of full professors who were women. I wonder how much this has changed in nearly 2 decades?

In academia, change usually comes slowly (though the life sciences have made dramatic progress in integrating women--showing that such change is not impossible).

Evelyn Brister said...

Follow-up here and in later comments on the Feminist Philosophers blog: