Archive for June, 2015


Day-o-WIPs (6/9/2015)

June 7, 2015

Taku Iwatsuki

Title: Theoretical bias of the standard research practice in social psychology

Abstract: Social psychologists have used a research design that involves use of randomized controlled experiments analysis of variance for decades, and it is still the dominant way in which social psychologists investigate socially relevant aspects of our psychology. In this paper, I argue that social psychologists’ heavy reliance on this design results in bias toward theorizing about and confirmation of simple causal relations that do not necessarily reflect our psychological reality. I also suggest alternative research designs that are more immune to this bias. I illustrate my points with a case study.

David Colaço

Abstract: In this presentation, I distinguish between two modes of discovery: one which focuses on phenomena, and one which focuses on mechanisms.  The latter has been fruitfully explored by the New Mechanists, but the former has, at best, not been sufficiently analyzed, and, at worst, been reduced to the latter.  I argue that a non-mechanist mode of discovery focuses on the idea of phenomenal-level manipulation – in which researchers manipulate the phenomena of interest in order to resolve the problem that frames their research.

Haixin Dang

Title: Collaboration, Authorship, and Joint Commitment

Abstract: In this paper, I argue that philosophers of science ought to pay more attention to issues surrounding scientific authorship.  Science has become an increasingly collaborative enterprise.  Today the overwhelming majority of scientific papers published are multi-authored.  Authorship allocation is a fraught issue among scientists.  Different journals have taken different policies towards how collaborators are treated as authors.  For example, in 2009 Nature has revised their authorship policy to require senior members of collaborations to formally take responsibility of the content of the paper and also require authors to explicitly list their contributions to the paper.  A statement of author contributions is now required for publication.  The ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors), on the other hand, requires a specific set of requirements to be met for authorship and emphasizes the condition that all listed authors must be accountable for all aspects of the work.  Further problems arise when the work is produced by an extremely large group of scientists, as in the case in high-energy physics.  Journal editors are struggling with defining authorship, credit, and accountability in a time when these concepts are being challenged by how scientists collaborate.  The modern fragmentation of scientific authorship has been examined by historians and STS scholars (i.e. Biagioli & Galison 2002), but little discussed by philosophers, besides Wray (2006).  In this paper, I work towards a further philosophical understanding of scientific authorship and collaboration in contemporary science.  I take disputes in authorship allocation as an indicator of how collaborations function.

Nora Boyd

Title: Are Astrophysical Models Permanently Underdetermined?

Abstract: Transient underdetermination is germane to scientific practice. Modelers often elaborate multiple plausible alternatives to a scientific problem and then seek empirical constraints on these models. In the present work, I provide a detailed example in which modelers can reasonably anticipate breaking present underdetermination. Currently available evidence does not discriminate between two plausible models of the dominant instability driving core-collapse supernovae. However, it may well be possible to distinguish differential empirical support across these models in light of forthcoming observational evidence. Characteristic gravitational wave signals detected by Advanced LIGO could realistically provide a way to place constraints these models in the near future. I also address a recent argument from Stéphanie Ruphy (2011), who argues that astrophysics is destined to produce nothing more than permanently underdetermined models. She presents an example of model underdetermination, argues that we should expect the present underdetermination to be permanent, and claims that this expectation should generalize to the field broadly. I argue that Ruphy’s own case study fails as a straightforward example of permanent underdetermination. As a result, features of Ruphy’s example that do generalize in the field will not support her broadly pessimistic claims. The prospects for breaking instances of purported underdetermination should be individually appraised and considered in their appropriate scientific contexts.