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12.2. Perspectives on Science seminar: María Jiménez-Buedo

In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, María Jiménez-Buedo (UNED) will give a talk titled “Explanation and generality in Analytical Sociology: what is a catalogue of mechanisms?” (Joint work with Saúl Pérez-González (University of Valencia))

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 12th of February 2024. To join the seminar, please contact samuli.reijula@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a research seminar which brings together experts from the philosophy of science and several fields of science studies. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar can be found on the TINT web page https://tint.helsinki.fi.

Abstract:

One of the defining features of current analytical sociology is its emphasis on the centrality of mechanisms in social science. It is considered that the explanation of social phenomena is mainly achieved through the identification and description of underlying social mechanisms. These mechanisms often aggregate individual actions to form macro-phenomena. Following this idea, the founders of analytical sociology envisioned the future of the discipline as one in which there would be a variety of mechanism schemes that would collectively constitute a catalogue of explanations available for social phenomena. This work addresses the idea of a catalogue of mechanisms and examines the promises, but also the difficulties, that the idea entails. It evaluates to what extent the catalogue currently plays the role envisioned by early analytical sociologists.

Author bios:

María Jiménez-Buedo is a lecturer at the Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of Science, UNED. She works in the philosophy of the social sciences, with an emphasis on methodological issues. Her recent work focuses on experimental methods in the social sciences and their evidential uses  policy formulation.

Saúl Pérez-González is assistant professor at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Valencia. Previously, he held a post-doctoral position at the Center for Logic, Language, and Cognition (LLC) of the University of Turin. His main areas of interest are philosophy of science, philosophy of the social sciences, and philosophy of the biomedical sciences.

15.1. Perspectives on Science seminar: Sofia Blanco Sequeiros

In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Sofia Blanco Sequeiros (University of Helsinki) and Samuli Reijula (University of Helsinki) will give a talk titled “Explaining evidential discordance.”

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 15th of January 2024. To join the seminar, please contact samuli.reijula@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a research seminar which brings together experts from the philosophy of science and several fields of science studies. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar can be found on the TINT web page https://tint.helsinki.fi.

Abstract:

Successful replication is a hallmark of scientific truth. Discordant evidence refers to the situation where findings from different studies of the same phenomenon do not agree. Although evidential discordance can spur scientific discovery, it also gives scientists a reason to rationally disagree and thereby compromises the formation of scientific consensus. Discordance indicates that facts about the phenomenon of interest remain unsettled and that a finding may not be reliably replicable. We single out persistent evidential discordance as a particularly difficult problem for the epistemology of science, and distinguish between different causes of evidential discordance – non-systematic error, noise, and bias. Unlike discordance brought about by non-systematic error or noise, persistent discordance often cannot be rationally resolved by temporarily suspending judgment and collecting more data within existing lines of inquiry. We suggest that the analysis of enriched lines of evidence (Boyd 2018) provides a useful approach to diagnosing and evaluating episodes of evidential discordance. Attention to the line of evidence, which extends from raw data to an evidential claim supporting or disconfirming a hypothesis, can help researchers to localize the source of discordance between inconsistent findings. We argue that reference to metadata, information about how the data were generated and processed, is key to resolving normative questions of correctness, i.e., whether a line of evidence provides a legitimate answer to a particular research question. We illustrate our argument with two cases: the alleged discovery of gravitational waves in the late 1960s, and the social priming controversy in experimental psychology.

Author bios:

Sofia Blanco Sequeiros is a PhD-student at the University of Helsinki. She works on questions concerning scientific evidence and methodology and the science-policy interface.

Samuli Reijula is an Academy of Finland research fellow and a university lecturer in theoretical philosophy at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His area of expertise is the philosophy of science, with interests in cognitive science and science studies (incl. science of science). His research interests include collective problem solving, cognitive diversity, science policy, and foundations of evidence-based policy.

13.11. Perspectives on Science seminar: Luca Ausili

In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Luca Ausili (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan) will give a talk titled “Quantification, Transparency, and Epistemic Heterogeneity“.

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 13th of November 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

The communication between science and society is strongly mediated, inter alia, by two factors: quantification and transparency. Scientific results are represented in numerical form as the outcomes of standardized research processes, and both the results and the processes themselves are made available. This system is conceived to share important results to the widest public, in the fastest way, and to foster public trust in science. However, both quantification and transparency have their shortcomings. Quantification, in particular, causes the loss of local knowledge, since everything that cannot be represented within the current systems of categorization is automatically not taken into account. In this work, my intention is to show that this inevitable shortcoming, the systematic loss of local forms of knowledge, is having important political consequences, and is partially and indirectly, contributing to the proliferation of scientific disinformation. I argue that this is related to the fact that quantification and transparency can impair the epistemically heterogeneous nature of the relation between science and society.

Author bio:

I am a Phd student in Philosophy at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (Milan) and currently Phd visiting student at the University of Helsinki. I am broadly interested in the relation between Science and Society, in their communication, and in the ways by which they mutually condition each other. I am also very interested in the reasons and causes of the proliferation of scientific disinformation within the infosphere, which is the main topic of my research project.

30.10. Perspectives on Science seminar: Miriam Teschl & Stéphane Luchini

In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Miriam Teschl (EHESS, Aix-Marseille School of Economics) and Stéphane Luchini (CNRS, Aix-Marseille School of Economics) will give a talk titled “Cognitive Pathways to Complexity“.

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 30th of October 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

What happens when we face complex situations, situations in which predictions are out of reach, at least without making untestable assumptions? Over the last few years, we have embarked into a journey on complexity, how we perceive it and can (or not) manage it. Our research involves interdisciplinary conceptual and experimental work with neuro-scientists, with whom we tested ideas with animals and humans, and applied some of these ideas to real world complex challenges (e.g. Covid-19). In the seminar, we will present this ongoing research and provide some elements about how our approach has changed our own way of “doing” (economic) science.

Author bios:

Miriam Teschl: originally studying economics, but then moving more and more towards philosophy and the social sciences, Miriam is now particularly interested in conceptual and epistemological questions, notably around notions such as effort, uncertainty, and complexity. She is also interested in issues of wellbeing and social justice, notably in the context of language learning and multilingualisme. She is associate professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, based at the Aix-Marseille School of Economics in France.
 
Stéphane Luchini: 
Stephane Luchini’s general interest is directed towards the understanding of human decision making and how institutions shape behaviour. His research is based on the use of questionnaires in surveys and on  the study of behaviour in the lab, i.e. experimental economics. He has engaged over the years in interedisciplinary work with medical doctors, psychologists, sociologists and neuro-scientists His a research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) , based at the Aix-Marseille School of Economics in France.

16.10. Perspectives on Science seminar: Svetlana Vetchinnikova


In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Svetlana Vetchinnikova (Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies) will give a talk titled “Disciplinary community as a complex adaptive system“.

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 16th of October 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

Members of disciplinary communities interact through scientific publications. To what extent do regular social, cognitive and linguistic processes contribute to scientific knowledge production? This project aims to answer this question by modelling disciplinary community as a complex adaptive system. This framework makes it possible to integrate theoretical and methodological approaches from several different research traditions, including corpus, computational and cognitive linguistics, language typology and network science. The results will have implications for the role of concepts in scientific inquiry.   

Author bio:

Svetlana Vetchinnikova obtained her PhD in English Linguistics at the University of Helsinki in 2014. Currently, she is Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies working on chunking and individual variation using corpus linguistic and behavioural data. She is author of Phraseology and the Advanced Language Learner (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and co-editor of Changing English (De Gruyter, 2017) and Language Change: The impact of English as a lingua franca (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

2.10. Perspectives on Science seminar: Pekka Mäkelä & Raul Hakli

In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Pekka Mäkelä (University of Helsinki) and Raul Hakli (University of Helsinki) will give a talk titled “RESPONSIBLE AI: A wee bit of philosophy and an introduction to an approach“.

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 2nd of October 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

The speed of progress in the development of automation, such as autonomously operating artificially intelligent systems and social and industrial robots is enormous. Algorithms and robots functioning and making decisions in areas that used to be controlled by humans alone, for instance, in stock trading, medical diagnosing, and car driving are becoming ubiquitous. This development is inspiring but also raising a lot of worries. One rather generic fear concerning increasingly autonomous systems has to do with responsibility. What happens to responsibility when technology is less and less in the control of human agents? In this talk we will discuss some of the worries concerning the societal risks brought about by autonomous machines focusing on moral and legal senses of responsibility. We distinguish between two ways of understanding responsibility in the context of AI: One that tracks the ideas discussed under the generic title responsibility of AI systems, and the other that tracks ideas discussed under the generic title of responsible AI.At the core of the former sense is the idea that we could captivate responsibility into a computer program and by that way bring about an artificial moral agent capable of bearing moral responsibility pretty much in the same sense as some human beings are considered to be morally responsible. This would provide us with a neat solution to the problem of responsibility gaps. We will critically evaluate the fruitfulness of this sense of responsibility and end up arguing in favor of an institutional interpretation of responsible AI. Here we are thinking about social and institutional structures that can be identified at least to an extent in terms of constitutive rules. Some such rules create social roles and positions which can be cashed out in terms of tasks. We would claim that structural institutional responsibility allocation on the basis of formal rules is the most promising approach to the problems of moral and legal responsibility created by autonomous systems. This leads us to study and evaluate the responsibility of human beings either individually, jointly, or collectively. In this context we will briefly discuss regulation and the value-sensitive design approach and introduce a down to earth way of contributing to the implementation of this sense of formalizing responsibility by way raising the institutional sensitivity to moral reasons.   

Author bios:

Pekka Mäkelä in an ex-coordinator of TINT.

Raul Hakli is a university researcher in practical philosophy. 

25.9. Perspectives on Science seminar: Aki Lehtinen


In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Aki Lehtinen (Nankai University) will give a talk titled “Derivational Robustness and Independence“.

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 25th of September 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

This paper discusses independence conditions in the context of modelling. It is argued that variety of evidence in experiments and derivational robustness are fundamentally different. The former requires independence of sources of evidence, but the latter is better seen to demonstrate a relevant independence. In a recent criticism of Kuorikoski, Lehtinen and Marchionni’s (2010) analysis of derivational robustness, Margherita Harris (2021) argued that the independence condition they proposed is not credible. While this criticism is cogent, I argue that it is impossible to formulate any independence condition because incremental epistemic benefits from robustness require violating an independence condition. The failure to satisfy a relevant independence condition is best seen as a failure to show the robustness of every assumption in a model family. This illustrates the difference between an increment in confidence in the robust result, and a high absolute degree of confidence in a result: a high absolute degree of confidence in a result does require demonstrating the independence of every false assumption.

Author bio:

Aki Lehtinen is a Talent Professor of Philosophy at Nankai University, Tianjin, China. He has spent most of his academic career at University of Helsinki. In his early career he published papers on social choice and voting theory, rational and game choice theory. As a philosopher of science, he has written about the philosophy of modelling and simulation, confirmation, and philosophy of economics. His most recent interests lie in data, meta-analysis, scientific representation, generalisation, and robustness. See https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Aki-Lehtinen for most of his publications.

18.9. Perspectives on Science seminar: Milutin Stojanovic


In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Milutin Stojanovic (University of Helsinki) will give a talk titled “Is there a crisis in sustainability research?“.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 18th of September 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

Integrity of the planetary bio-physical systems on which the human and other species depend for survival and the sustainability of their destruction by human socio-economic systems have recently become the main challenges delegated to the modern science. As science historically both contributed to a large extent to the environmental destruction and devoted little attention to the problem, the new challenge was to harness the existing tools and create new knowledge-production and institutional capacities which would enable the science to successfully represent and intervene in this unprecedently complex system. As a result, sustainability research emerged, mostly employing the established scientific capacities, integrating them, and hoping for evolution. Three decades later, the problem this paper tackles is that we have very little and partial information on the success of this epic scientific undertaking. Yet it is crucial to evaluate its current state to develop the field further. The present study will first make a systematic account of the actual state of Sustainability Research (SR), accounting the scattered meta-reviews of research dynamics in published SR and analyses of its key scientific features. I will signal the signs of a crisis in quality within the field and explore the ways it is navigated. Second, the paper will explore how the replicability crisis in the key disciplines engaged in interdisciplinary SR affect the field, together with the wider institutional framework and its narratives. Emphasis will be on modeling the value of novel discoveries, the operating standards of success in science, and signaling the need for well-ordering the aims and methods of the institution. Finally, building on the previous meta-science analyses, I analyze three problematic trends in SR and discuss how they square off with a SR-specific idea of well-ordered science. 

Keywords: sustainability research, crisis in science, meta-science, systems thinking, well-ordered science. 

Relevant background articles: 

Author bio:

Milutin Stojanovic is a post-doctoral researcher at the Practical Philosophy department, University of Helsinki, specializing in philosophy of sustainability science. His research spans various areas, including crisis in science, systems thinking, meta-science, methodological misconduct, and well-ordered science. His work has been featured in prestigious journals such as European Journal for Philosophy of Science, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, and Sustainability Science. Stojanovic is particularly interested in systemic approaches to sustainability, the role of normative considerations in shaping research methodologies and evidence, and addressing the quality crisis in modern science.

4.9. Perspectives on Science seminar: Teppo Felin

In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Teppo Felin (Utah State University) will give a talk on “Generative Rationality and Evolution“.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 4th of September 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

Human reasoning and rationality have for decades been defined in computational, statistical and psychophysical terms across the sciences—particularly in evolutionary psychology and the literatures on ecological and bounded rationality. Building on past work with co-authors (including Jan Koenderink, Stuart Kauffman, Todd Zenger), I offer an alternative, “generative” conception of rationality. In the talk, I first discuss the limitations with the computational and psychophysical approach, highlighting popular experiments from the literature. Thereafter, I discuss how generative rationality solves central problems like the cue-to-clue transformation and the origins of novelty. The generative view of rationality contrasts with computational and bounded views on a number of dimensions: it is forward-looking rather than backward-looking, it focuses on perceptual presentation rather than representation, it is embodied rather than computational, and so forth. I argue that human judgment and rationality are better characterized as a form of quasi-scientific hypothesizing and problem solving. In conclusion, I discuss the interdisciplinary implications of generative rationality for our understanding of evolution and the central questions in fields such as economics, psychology, and cognitive science. 

Relevant background articles:

Teppo Felin & Jan Koenderink (2022). A Generative View of Rationality and Growing Awareness. Frontiers in Psychology. 

Teppo Felin & Stuart Kauffman (2023). The Adjacent Possible: Harnessing Functional Excess, Experimentation and Protoscience as Tool. Industrial and Corporate Change. 

Nick Chater, Teppo Felin, David Funder, Gerd Gigerenzer, Jan Koenderink, Joachim Krueger, Denis Noble, Samuel Nordli, Mike Oaksford, Barry Schwartz, Keith Stanovich & Peter Todd (2018). Mind, Rationality, and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Debate. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

Author bio:

Teppo Felin is the Douglas D Anderson Endowed Professor at the Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University. From 2013-2021, Felin was Professor of Strategy at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, and Academic Director of the Oxford Diploma in Strategy and Innovation. His research interests include cognition, bounded rationality, evolution, cognitive systems, economics, organization design, and strategy. His research has been published in journals such as Organization Science, Strategy Science, Research Policy, Strategic Management Journal, and MIT Sloan Management Review. He has also published articles across disciplines, including journals such as Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, Perception, Erkenntnis, PLOS ONE, and Genome Biology. Felin is especially interested in interdisciplinary approaches to evolution, cognition, organization, and the origins of novelty. 

5.6. Perspectives on Science seminar: Lukas Beck & Henrik Thorén

In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Lukas Beck (Mercator Institute for Climate Change and Global Commons) and Henrik Thorén (Lund University) will give a talk on “Performativity, Transparency, and the Science-policy Interface: lessons from climate economics“.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 5th of June 2023. To join the seminar, please contact jessica.north@helsinki.fi for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

Abstract:

It is a well-known predicament of the social sciences that predictions—if the right circumstances are in place—can intervene on the very processes the predictions concern. Such reflexive predictions (Buck 1963) raise serious challenges to the social sciences for several reasons. They appear to impose constraints on the predictive capacities of the social sciences, they raise moral and ethical concerns about what social scientists can and should do, they risk threatening public trust in the social sciences, and finally they seem to have a potential for destabilizing the appropriate division of labor and responsibilities at the science-policy interface.


These issues have recently been revived and reexamined both in the context of economics (MacKenzie 2007; Guala 2007;Mäki 2013) and then even more recently in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to epidemiological modelling (Basshuysen et al. 2021; Basshuysen 2023; Winsberg and Harvard 2022) under the (controversial) label performativity.

With respect to this latter discussion suggestions have emerged on strategies or approaches that modelers can deploy in order to appropriately manage performative effects when models are used to inform policy and decision-making (Basshuysen et al. 2021; Basshuysen 2023). In this paper we engage we engage critically with these suggestions and argue on the basis of examples from climate economics. Beyond the two suggestions that have already been outlined, which can be labeled mitigation and appraisal we identify a third that revolves around ignoring performative effects or acting as if no performative effects are present, and suggest that in at least some cases this will be a preferable option. We conclude by discussing the respective merits and demerits of these strategies in terms of both knowledge requirements and how they may impinge on or disrupt the (appropriate) division of labor and responsibilities at the science-policy interface.

Author bios:

Lukas Beck is a post-doc at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Berlin, where he works on the FORMAS-funded Rivet project on ‘Risk, values, and decision-making in the economics of climate change.’ His research focuses on economic methodology, the intersection between economics and cognitive science, and the normativity of the sciences.

Henrik Thorén is a researcher at the Department of Philosophy at Lund University, Sweden, and has a background in philosophy of science focusing in particular on the philosophy of sustainability and climate sciences. Currently he is the PI of the RIVET project and is involved in several other research projects focusing on issues having to do with the role of science in planning, policymaking, and society at large.