Science and Reality

2013 Rotman Conference

Science and Reality

Brief Description

This conference, an event welcoming Carl Hoefer and Stathis Psillos to Western and the Rotman Institute, brings together an exceptional international panel of leading philosophers of science whose work has set the standards in many debates to discuss the relation(s) between science and reality and to advance, with fresh ideas, arguments and approaches, our thinking about the connections between scientific theories and reality.

Science has changed the ways we think of, and act on, the world. But do we really understand the relation between scientific theories and the world? Are there different perspectives on the world? How can it be that science, a characteristically human and social endeavour, yields successful predictions and fruitful explanations? What is the role of mathematics in shaping the structure of explanation in science? How do the various theories and disciplines hang together in crafting the scientific image of the world? Is this image a product of synthesis or rivalry between theories? Can we be, or indeed ought we be, confident about the scientific image of the world? Can the history of science teach us how to do better science and how to limit or enhance the cognitive aspirations of modern science? What is the role of chance in science? How does probability enter the scientific image? What does science tell us about the natural laws and causation, which David Hume called, ‘the cement of the universe’?

These are distinctively philosophical questions at the core of general philosophy of science as well as the philosophies of the various sciences. They have been pursued by philosophers and philosophically-minded scientists, highlighting the engagement of science with philosophy and of philosophy with science. Stathis Psillos, in his work on scientific realism and the metaphysics of science, and Carl Hoefer, in his research on the structure of spacetime and objective chance in science, have addressed these questions and have demonstrated that philosophy of science can aim to offer enlightening and exciting answers to them both at the general level of science as a cognitive enterprise and the particular level of concrete scientific theories.

Date: Saturday, October 5 – Sunday, October 6, 2013

Location: Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, London, Ontario, Canada. 551 Windermere Rd.
(Do not book accommodations with Ivey Spencer, use the registration form below.)

Registration is now closed. Registration will be available in-person at the conference venue on October 5 and 6.

Downloadable Poster



Richard Boyd (Cornell University) – More correspondence, not less; and causation too

Craig Callender (University of California, San Diego) – LOST IN SPACE: Is the quantum state It or Bit?

William L. Harper (Western University – Emeritus) – Isaac Newton’s Scientific Method

Jenann Ismael (University of Arizona) – Against Ontic Chances: three cheers for the third way on objective probabilities

Elaine Landry (University of California, Davis) – Structural Realism and Category Mistakes

Marc Lange (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) – Aspects of mathematical explanation

Margaret Morrison (University of Toronto) – Why Perspectivism is Philosophically Idle

Elliott Sober (University of Wisconsin-Madison) – Parsimony and Chimpanzee Mind-Reading

John Worrall (London School of Economics) – Real (“Ramsey –Sentence”) Structural Realism: Why Psillos is Wrong


Invited Participants:


Theodore Arabatzis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Martin Curd (Purdue University)

José Díez (University of Barcelona)

Mathias Frisch (University of Maryland)

Michel Ghins (Université catholique de Louvain)

Nick Huggett (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Speaker Abstracts


Registration form

Transportation to London, Ontario

Besides having an International Airport with daily flights from Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, London is also easily accessed by Greyhound bus and VIA Rail train service.

Another option is to use the Robert Q Air Bus service, which travels regularly to London from Detroit and Toronto.

Please note that visitors from outside Canada, including the United States, require a passport to enter Canada.