We’d like to begin this bi-monthly post with news of an exciting addition to the Institute: please join us in welcoming Francesca Vidottochosen for the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Foundations of Physics, a joint position between philosophy and applied mathematics. Francesca’s recent research has focused in part on clarifying the phenomenology of quantum gravity theories, such as identifying possible observational signals of primordial black holes and of “Planck stars.” She has also been actively engaged with philosophers in discussing the emergence of spacetime and issues in philosophy of cosmology, and we are thrilled to have her join us.

We’d also like to recognize a special award received by one of our graduate student members. Please join us in congratulating Becky Ellis, who received the 2019 Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship for Excellence in Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities, an award offered the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. The Fellowship is awarded to a graduate student who has demonstrated academic excellence, shows exceptional academic promise, and has done significant service for the community during his or her university years. At the awards ceremony held on May 25 in Toronto, OCUFA vice-president Rahul Sapra stated: “It is clear that Rebecca has passion and dedication. The committee found her enthusiasm, giving nature, and commitment to social justice inspiring. Her research is timely in the context of drastic environmental changes and her work on the plight of Ontario’s bees is likely to yield important knowledge in the coming years. For all her contributions, both academic and to her community, it is my pleasure to add the OCUFA Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship to Rebecca Ellis’ growing list of accomplishments.” (See the full text of his speech here.)

We also have news of job placements for two of our postdoc alumni. Starting this fall, Dan Hicks will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced. And Catherine Stinson has accepted a position in Philosophy and Ethics of AI at the Centre for Science and Thought, University of Bonn, and the Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge. Best wishes to both Dan & Catherine in these exciting new positions!

The Institute was happy to once again co-sponsor the annual LMP and philosophy of physics conferences, held June 10 – 14. This year’s LMP conference organizers included: Martin Zelko(chair), Dimitris AthanasiouThomas De SaegherMarie GueguenAdam Koberinski, Todd Nagel, Sadegh Balal NiakiOzer Turker, and Peter Verveniotis. This year’s physics conference, Foundations of Quantum Field Theory, was organized by Chris Smeenk in collaboration with Doreen Fraser, Mike Miller, and Wayne Myrvold. The success of both conferences was in no small part due to the tireless efforts Deborah Fox, Martin ZelkoDimitris Athanasiou, and Todd Nagel, who did a great deal of work behind the scenes to keep the FQFT conference running smoothly. Thank you to everyone who contributed to these conferences!

As was announced previously, Anthony Skelton will officially begin his term as Acting Director of the Institute as of July 2019. There will also be a few changes to our steering committee, effective September 2019. Klodian Coko and Cory Goldstein have both completed their one-year terms as the steering committee postdoctoral fellow and graduate student representatives, respectively. Please join us in thanking Klodian & Cory for their time fulfilling these positions, and in recognizing Rebecca Livernois and Mark Baker who’ve been elected as the representatives for next year.

And finally, we have news regarding staff changes here at the Institute. Stephanie Desarmeau resigned from her position as the Institute administrative assistant, effective May 10, to pursue an opportunity in finance for a local business here in London. We are grateful for her contributions to the Institute, and wish her all the best in her new position. We are also pleased to announce that Deborah Fox has been promoted to fill this vacancy–we will continue to benefit from her presence in her new role.

Beyond all of these announcements, our members have been very busy as well. All other news from May & June is listed below alphabetically:

Michael Anderson and Vicente Raja participated in the Neural Mechanisms Webinars 2019 on May 17, giving a talk titled “Behavior Considered as an Enabling Constraint”. The talk will eventually be published in YouTube.

Michael Anderson and Jon Bowen co-presented a talk entitled Embodiment and the split-brain: an enactive unity at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness.

Jon Bowen delivered a talk entitled Thou, Robot at the 2019 annual congress of the Canadian Philosophical Association in Vancouver, BC on June 1-4.

Eunice Chan presented a poster “Backward Stability of Algebraic Linearizations” at the Advances in Numerical Linear Workshop at the University of Manchester on May 29–30, 2019.

Rotman alumnus Andrew Chater published an article, “Takeaways from the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Rovaniemi.”, on the Polar Research and Policy Initiative website, May 15, 2019.

Klodian Coko’s chapter, “Towards a mutually beneficial integration of history and philosophy of science: The case of Jean Perrin,” was published in the volume The Past, Present, and Future of Integrated HPS, edited by Emily Herring et al. London and New York: Routledge, 2019.

A paper by Klodian Coko, “Jean Perrin and the philosophers’ stories: The role of multiple determination in determining Avogadro’s number,” was accepted for publication in HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science. A preprint version of the paper is available here.

Klodian Coko attended CSHPS2019–the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science Annual Conference–held at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, BC, from June 1-3. He presented the paper “Inductive and Deductive Reasoning in Discovering the Cause of Brownian Movement.”

Rob Corless gave a plenary talk, Algorithms for Bohemian Matrices, at MEGA 2019: Effective Methods in Algebraic Geometry. The conference was held at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Madrid, Spain) on June 17-21.

Rob Corless and Nic Fillion co-supervised Irene Noharinaivo for her Masters’ project at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences.  Her project was entitled “Continued Fractions and Backward Error“.

Michael Cuffaro organized an interdisciplinary meeting, MCMP-Western Ontario Workshop on Computation in Scientific Theory and Practice, which was held at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy from May 31 – June 2, and was co-sponsored by the Rotman Institute.  Adam Koberinski and Rotman alumni Lucas Dunlap and Nicolas Fillion were on the program committee, and a number of Rotman members gave talks:

Rob Corless: Structured Backward Error and Condition Number
Thomas De Saegher: On Equivalent Modificatory Solutions to the Measurement Problem
Robert Moir: Modeling Scientific Inference with Effective Logic
Markus Müller: Law Without Law — From Observer States to Physics Via Algorithmic Information Theory
Philippos Papayannopoulos: Computing by Representing in Science and Mathematics: Where Shannon Meets Turing

Erlantz Etxeberria presented his paper “When Causal and Non-Causal Explanations Compete against Each Other” at the workshop Non-Causal Explanations: Logical, Linguistic and Philosophical Perspectives that took place on May 9-10 in Ghent, Belgium.

Cory Goldstein presented a poster called “Emergency research without consent: an ethical analysis of the ketamine versus haloperidol trial” at the annual meeting of the Society for Clinical Trials, New Orleans, Louisiana, US. May 21, 2019.

Cory Goldstein gave a talk entitled, “Patient participation in clinical research is not a moral duty” at the meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. June 1, 2019.

Cory Goldstein and Monica Taljaard delivered a webinar (online access) for the Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Netwrok on the methodological and ethical issues posed by cluster randomized crossover trials. This is part of The Ethics of Pragmatic Trials initiative to disseminate educational materials related to the larger research project.

As part of her current postdoc, Rotman alumnus Melissa Jacquart has been working with Angela Potochnik to help found the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Public Engagement with Science. They have recently launched their websiteFacebook page  and Twitter account.  Like/follow to get the latest news on this new Center’s work!

Melissa Jacquart ran an APA Talking Teaching session on “Teaching Philosophy Graduate Students about Effective Teaching” on May 3rd.

Spacetime demonstrations were run by Hershy Jaiprakash, Yousuf Hasan, and Aubrie Schetter at this year’s Science Rendezvous, a nationwide science festival held at Western University on May 11. Rotman’s K-12 Outreach Program will be having more such activities in July and August for the CPSX Space Explorers‘ Summer Camp at Western.

Rotman alumna Alida Liberman has had two papers accepted for publication that she began working on during her time as a postdoc at the Institute: “Permissible Promise-Making Under Uncertainty” at Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, and “On the Rationality of Vow-Making” at the Journal of the American Philosophical Association.

Philippos Papagiannopoulos gave an invited talk on June 5 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, at a workshop on logic and philosophy of language titled: “The Phonological Conundrum: A Workshop on the Representation of Language”. His talk was on real computability theory, and the title was: “The Limits of my Representation Mean the Limits of my Computation”.

Vicente Raja published two new papers: “J. J. Gibson’s Most Radical Idea: The Development of a New Law-Based Psychology” in Theory & Psychology, and “From Metaphor to Theory: The Role of Resonance in Perceptual Learning” in Adaptive Behavior.

Vicente Raja gave a talk titled “Inteligencia Vegetal: Estado Actual y Horizonte” at the 2nd Festival da Terra on June 20, in Cascais (Portugal), and a talk titled “Ecological Psychology for (Some) Evolutionary Biology” at the Workshop on Metaphysics of Biological Sciences (MoB19) on June 25, at University of Murcia (Spain).

Vicente Raja participated as a discussant in the Neural Mechanisms Webinars 2019 on June 28, discussing the paper “The Psychological Reality of Practical Representations” by Carlotta Pavese.

Chris Smeenk delivered five lectures at the XXII International Summer School in Philosophy of Physics, held in Urbino, Italy from June 17-20. The topic of the school was philosophy of cosmology, and his lectures were titled: Spacetime Geometry of the World, Anthropic Reasoning and Indexicality, Eliminative Reasoning, and Statistical Mechanics of the Early Universe.

Chris Smeenk attended the Probabilities in Cosmology Workshop at the University of Groningen, 21 – 23 June 2019. He presented a talk titled “Two Challenges to Cosmological Probabilities”.

Max Smith gave a number of talks this past May:

“Reducing Health Inequities Through Intersectoral Action: Balancing Equity in Health With Equity for Other Social Goods”. Canadian Public Health Association Annual Conference, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. May 2, 2019.

“Informing Population Health Interventions using Ethical Criteria of Health Equity to Reduce Social Inequities in Type 2 Diabetes: A Modelling Study using the Diabetes Population Risk Tool” (with Smith BT, Siddiqi AA, Warren C, Rosella LC). Canadian Society of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Biennial National Conference, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. May 13, 2019.

“Attending to Scale: Ethical Issues in Emerging Approaches To Environmental Health Research And Practice” and “Ethical Issues Involved in Internet-delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy”. Canadian Bioethics Society 30th Annual Conference, Banff, Alberta, Canada. May 23, 2019.

Charles Weijer and Rotman alumni Mackenzie Graham (Oxford) and Andy Peterson (George Mason) spoke at a workshop on “Neuroethical considerations and challenges in disorders of consciousness” at the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity College Dublin on May 2, 2019.

Charles Weijer presented a public lecture in the Trinity College Dublin Neurohumanities Lecture Series on “Ethical issues in neuroimaging after severe brain injury” in Dublin on May 2, 2019.

Charles Weijer gave the 8th Annual Lilly Grand Rounds in Bioethics lecture at Eli Lilly & Company in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 29, 2019. Charles’ talk was entitled, “Getting real about real world evidence: the ethics of pragmatic comparative effectiveness trials.” Previous speakers at the Annual Lilly Grand Rounds in Bioethics include, Tom Beauchamp, Robert J. Levine, H. Tristam Engelhardt, Christine Grady, Susan E. Lederer, and Art Caplan.

Members of the ethics of pragmatic trials research team participated in a number of sessions at the Society for Clinical Trials Annual Meeting in New Orleans, May 19 to 22, 2019:

Karla Hemming (Manchester), Monica Taljaard (Ottawa), Charles Weijer, and Dean Fergusson (Ottawa) spoke in an invited panel on “The multiple-period cluster randomised cross-over design for comparative effectiveness research: statistical and ethical issues.” They were joined by panelist Diane Heels-Ansdell (McMaster).

Spencer Hey (Harvard), Jamie Brehaut (Ottawa), Dean Fergusson (Ottawa) and Charles Weijer participated in an invited panel addressing “Safeguarding public and patient trust in pragmatic trials without written informed consent.” Other panelists included Jon Merz (Penn) and Katie Gillies (Aberdeen).

The Ethics of Pragmatic Trials research team has two new publications:

Goldstein CE, Weijer C, Taljaard M, Al-Jaishi AA, Basile E, Brehaut J, Cook CL, Grimshaw JM, Lacson Jr. E, Lindsay C, Jardin M, Dember LM, Garg AX. Ethical issues raised by pragmatic cluster randomized trials in dialysis facilities. American Journal for Kidney Diseases 2019.

Mtande TK, Weijer C, Hosseinipour MC, Taljaard M, Matogo M, Goldstein CE, Nyambalo B, Rosenberg NE. Ethical issues raised by cluster randomized trials conducted in low-resource settings: identifying gaps in the Ottawa Statement through an analysis of the PURE Malawi trial. Journal of Medical Ethics 2019. (This manuscript has an associated blog post in the Journal of Medical Ethics, entitled “Building bridges between the global south and north in research ethics.” The blog post is a reflection on our experiences of international collaboration that resulted in the publication above.)

Pictured above: Andrew Peterson speaking at a workshop at the Global Brain Health Institute; Cory Goldstein presenting at the meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association; Rob Corless presenting at MEGA 2019: Effective Methods in Algebraic Geometry; Eunice Chan (~1 o’clock, near centre) pictured among participants of the Advances in Numerical Linear Workshop; Philippos Papagianopoulos presenting at The Phonological Conundrum: A Workshop on the Representation of Language; and Chris Smeenk riding in Urbino, Italy.