Abstracts
53. 'Ad hoc-ness and Monstrousness' - The aim of this talk is to throw some light on the notion of ad hoc-ness and its value to scientific methodology. In discussing the notion, I focus and attempt to explicate one particular undesirable characteristic associated with it, namely what I dub ‘monstrousness’. Roughly speaking, monstrousness reflects the degree to which parts of a hypothesis are unnaturally joined together. (Talk presented at the Unification and Coherence workshop, University of Duesseldorf, January 16 2014).

52. 'An Inferentialist Account of Confirmation' - The aim of this talk is to defend the inferentialist view from a challenge that originates in predictivism. It is argued that predictivism and its challenge fail because the non-inferential elements it introduces invariably lead to the issuing of contradictory confirmational judgments. (Talk to be presented at the Workshop on Inferentialism in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science, UNED Madrid, November 11-13 2013).

51. 'Science with Artificially Intelligent Agents: The Case of Gerrymandered Hypotheses' - Barring some civilisation-ending natural or man-made catastrophe, future scientists will likely incorporate fully fledged artificially intelligent agents in their ranks. Their tasks will include the conjecturing, extending and testing of hypotheses. If we are to hand over at least some of the aforementioned tasks to artificially intelligent agents, we need to find ways to make explicit and ultimately formal, not to mention computable, the more obscure of the methods that scientists currently employ with some measure of success in their inquiries. This talk puts forward a fully articulated formal solution to the problem of how to conjecture new hypotheses or extend existing ones such that they do not save phenomena in gerrymandered or ad hoc ways. (To be presented at the 2nd Conference on the Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence (PT-AI 2013), University of Oxford, September 21-22 2013).

50. 'Logic as Ultra-Physics' - The number of rival logical systems is growing without an end in sight. This has proved to be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, we have a rich set of formal tools that allows us to model inferences in a variety of ways. On the other hand, the existence of rival logical systems threatens to undermine logic’s role as a univocal and definitive arbiter of disagreements over the validity of inferences. If, for any given inference, one can always find a logical system that sanctions its validity and another that forbids it, then it seems that the aforementioned role no longer befits logic. The most that we can hope for are intrasystem evaluations of the validity of inferences. The consequences for rational debate are dire. Disputes in philosophy, science and beyond run the risk of turning into trivial squabbles as anybody who finds themselves in a logical pickle may be able to slip away to a more agreeable logical system. The aim of this talk is to mount a defence of the view that logic can, and in actual fact does, univocally and definitively answer questions about the validity of at least some inferences. This is tantamount to saying that some rules (and potentially axioms) are the right ones. If you like, they are the ones that would fill the pages of a book on the one ‘true’ logic. More controversially, I argue that their rightness is determined by the physical world itself. Indeed, I argue that the right logic, but obviously not our conception of it, is itself a structural feature of the world. For obvious reasons I call the emerging view ‘logic as ultra-physics’. As a case study of this ultra-physics, I utilise the principle of non-contradiction. (Invited talk, presented at the Departmental Colloquium, California State University Los Angeles, October 10 2013).

49. 'Positivism in the 21st Century' - In this talk I argue that, despite various differences, there are substantial connections between 'Universal Empiricism' and the old Logical Positivism movement. The upshot is that the former can be viewed as a successor movement to the latter, continuing much of what made the Logical Positivist movement such a success a century ago. (Invited talk, presented at Aldo Antonelli's graduate seminar, University of California Davis, October 8 2013).

48. 'Empiricism Unchained' - Empiricism has a long and venerable history. Aristotle, the Epicureans, Sextus Empiricus, Francis Bacon, Locke, Hume, Mill, Mach and the Logical Empiricists, among others, represent a long line of historically influential empiricists who, one way or another, placed an emphasis on knowledge gained through the senses. In recent times the most highly articulated and influential edition of empiricism is undoubtedly Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. Science, according to this view, aims at empirically adequate theories, i.e. theories that save all and only the observable phenomena. Roughly put, something is observable in van Fraassen’s view if a member of the human epistemic community can detect it with their unaided senses. Critics have contested this notion, citing, among other reasons, that most of what counts as knowledge in natural science concerns things that are detectable only with instruments, i.e. things that are unobservable and hence unknowable by van Fraassen’s lights. Beg-the-question accusations fly back and forth. As a consequence a stalemate has ensued. In this talk, I put forth a liberalised conception of observability and an associated, and accordingly liberalised, conception of empiricism. ‘Universal observability’ and ‘universal empiricism’, as I call them, unchain themselves from traditional conceptions of experience while remaining firmly tethered to what, I argue, is the true source of epistemic merit in the senses. (Invited talk, presented at the Bay Area Philosophy of Science seminar, San Francisco State University, October 03 2013).

47. 'The Scientific Method' - In this talk, I argue, contrary to popular belief, that there is such a thing as the scientific method and that we already possess some of its principles or at least approximate versions of them. The popularity of the opposite view can be traced back to the fact that most attempts to identify the scientific method involve an overly strong conception and are therefore bound to fail. I propose a weaker conception, one that maintains that there is core methodology shared across all domains of inquiry while at the same time allows for variation on the periphery. (Presented at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference, University of Exeter, July 4-5 2013).

46. 'Objectivity in Confirmation' - The study of confirmation is the study of the conditions under which a piece of evidence supports, or ought to support, a hypothesis as well as of the level of that support. There are two major kinds of confirmation theories, objective and subjective. Objective theories hold that confirmation questions are settled via purely objective considerations. Subjective ones hold that at least some non-objective considerations come into play. With some exceptions (see, for example, Williamson 2010), most confirmation theorists nowadays opt for subjective theories. The pessimism over objective theories is most probably due to the fact that it has proved very hard, some may even say impossible, to find reasonable principles that decide every question about confirmation in purely objective terms. The aim of this talk is to reverse some of that pessimism by putting in place some cornerstones in the foundations for an objective theory of confirmation. This is achieved by considering lessons not from the failures of subjective theories, which, no doubt, there are many, but rather from the failures of predictivism, a mini theory of confirmation that is typically conceived of as objective. (Presented at the Philosophy of Science in a Forest (PSF2013) Triennial Conference, Leusden, Netherlands, May 23-25 2013).

45. 'Post-Hoc Monsters and the Frankenstein Theory of Confirmation' - This talk concerns the highly vexing issue of how a confirmation theory ought to handle post-hoc monsters, that is, post-hocly constructed or modified hypotheses like Velikovsky's theory or Ptolemaic astronomy. One approach to this issue has been to demonise post-hocness itself, arguing that no hypothesis earns support from evidence that has been used in its construction or modification. Another approach has been to attempt to segregate the monstrous from the non-monstrous post-hoc hypotheses and to argue that only the latter earn support from accommodated evidence. In this talk, I'd like to put forth a more subtle approach which I call the 'Frankenstein' theory of confirmation. According to this approach, even post-hoc monsters earn confirmation from accommodated evidence but the confirmation earned does not spread evenly throughout the content of such hypotheses. (Invited talk presented at the Logos Colloquium, Logic, Language and Cognition Research Group, University of Barcelona, April 18 2013).

44. 'The Houdini Argument for Intrinsic Properties' - The aim of this talk is two-fold. First, to motivate some desiderata for an adequate conception of the intrinsic vs. extrinsic property distinction. Second, to try to answer the question whether any scientific properties qualify as intrinsic (in a sense that satisfies the above desiderata) through a series of related thought-experiments. The thought-experiments center around the idea of shielding objects to prevent them from causal interactions with other objects and seeing what, if anything, remains invariant and is therefore a good candidate for being intrinsic. (Invited talk presented at the Metaphysics of Scientific Realism Workshop, Department of Philosophy and History of Science, University of Athens, March 1-2 2013).

43. 'Universal Empiricism' - In this talk, I consider and reject van Fraassen’s conception of observability and corresponding brand of empiricism. I put forth an alternative conception that seeks to allay the realist’s concerns about the validity of instrument-based observation in science yet preserves vital empiricist sensitivities. Along with the new conception of observability I lay the foundations for a new form of empiricism. Universal empiricism, as I call it, divorces itself from traditional conceptions of experience while remaining wedded to what is epistemically meritorious about empiricism, namely the idea that truth-conducive contact with the environment is the ultimate judge of knowledge. (Presented at the Philosophy of Science Association Twenty-Third Biennial Meeting, San Diego [presented in my absence by Otavio Bueno], November 15 2012).

42. 'A Structuralist Theory of Reference' - This talk is divided into three parts. The first part concerns the clash between existing conceptions of reference. It is argued that although in conflict there is a sense in which these conceptions are legitimate in different contexts. Even so, some contexts are more demanding than others and, as a consequence, put constraints on the appropriateness of the concept of reference. In the context of the scientific realism debate, one important constraint is the ability to provide an adequate account of the phenomena surrounding the reference of scientific terms in cases of theory change or of full-blown scientific revolution. The second part reflects on what happens to concepts of reference when specific versions of realism and anti-realism are endorsed. The emphasis here is on the most promising such versions of late, namely structural realism and empiricist structuralism. In spite of their differences, both of these views put forth a structuralist epistemology that, as it turns out, forces our conceptions of reference to take into account the relations that the objects we wish to refer to stand in with respect to other objects. Finally, the third part considers the ways in which our attempts to refer to things in the world appear to fall short or indeed do so. The focus here is on puzzles relating to the indeterminacy of reference. Two such puzzles are discussed and dismissed. At the end of the talk it is conceded that reference is in a sense indeterminate but that this indeterminacy springs from structuralist limitations on knowledge and is not to be feared.- (Invited talk presented at the Reference and Scientific Realism Symposium, Wuhan University, August 17 2012).

41. 'The Feeble, Few and Far Between Coincidences Argument for Realism' - The no coincidences argument for realism holds that we can infer the truth or approximate truth of a theory when it reaches a certain level of success. It would be a cosmic coincidence, the realists claim, if a theory were to enjoy such success and yet not be true. In this talk, I focus on the most prominent realist conception of the level of success required to licence inferences to truth or approximate truth. The conception I refer to involves the demand that theories generate novel predictions. I argue that, as it stands, this conception is too weak to deflect a rather simple challenge. I then propose ways to strengthen the realist conception in the hope that it is better able to overcome whatever challenges we throw at it. (Presented at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference, University of Sterling, July 5-6 2012).

40. 'Arguing for Scientific Realism: Some Lessons from Confirmation Theory' - The most commonly cited argument for scientific realism is the so-called ‘no miracles’ argument. According to this argument, it is highly implausible to claim that the predictive success enjoyed by some scientific theories is the product of a long series of lucky coincidences. A more plausible, indeed some argue the only plausible, claim is that the corresponding theories are true, or, at the very least, contain some non-negligible truth content. The majority of realists deem novel predictive success, roughly the ability of a theory to predict hitherto unknown types of phenomena, to be particularly telling in favour of the second claim. In this talk, I argue against the superiority of novel as opposed to non-novel predictive success. I do so by pointing out that objective standards in confirmation theory can only be had if confirmational assessments remain invariant under anything other than the evidence and the hypothesis under consideration, something that is not true in accounts of novel predictive success. After laying the foundations of what I take to be the correct conception of confirmation relations, I argue that support from evidence to different parts of a theory does not spread as broadly as has been popularly maintained. Among other things, this conception of confirmation relations has crucial consequences for the defence of scientific realism, consequences that I plan to explore in some depth during the last part of my talk. (Invited talk presented at the Mind, Language, Knowledge: The Perspective of Philosophy, University of Cyprus, June 29 2012).

39. 'Why Care about the Scientific Realism Debate?' - In this talk, I try to provide motivation for why one ought to take the scientific realism debate seriously, paying particular attention to two groups: philosophers of science and scientists. Among other things, it is argued that various debates in the philosophy of science as well as in science turn out to involve, sometimes even inadvertently, substantial epistemic or metaphysical claims of the kind being debated in the scientific realism debate. (Plenary talk presented at the 7th Quadrennial International Pittsburg Fellows Conference, University of Mugla, June 12-14 2012).

38. 'Perspectival Realism' - Scientific realists often assert that our best scientific theories and models provide true or approximately true descriptions of facts about nature and that they cut nature at its joints. The latter assertion presupposes, among other things, that the physical domains investigated by such theories and models are structured in a unique way. More metaphorically put, that nature has joints! Let us call this the ‘uniqueness assumption’. As is customary in philosophy no assumption is safe from scrutiny. The idea has been floated that nature has no joints. Frigg (2006), for example, suggests that “the physical world does not come sliced up” (p. 56). Let us call this the ‘non-uniqueness assumption’. In this talk I attempt to articulate a view that submits to the non-uniqueness assumption and yet is able to maintain realist credentials. (Presented at the Perspectivalism Workshop, University of Ghent, January 19-20 2012).

NB: I have now turned this talk into a paper ‘Putting Realism in Perspectivism’, 2012, Philosophica, vol. 84: 85–122.

37. 'Simplicity as a Guide to Falsity?' - Participants in the debate about whether simplicity is a guide to truth or merely pragmatically useful typically wrangle over two problems: (1) how to weigh simplicity against other virtues like strength and fitness and (2) whether there is a unique measure for simplicity that straps it to truth. I would like to put forth a third problem: (3) Even if problems (1) and (2) were solved, it is far from clear whether the simplest theory out of an available class of competitors would always be the one closest to the truth. (To be presented at the 14th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Nancy, July 19-26 2011).

36. 'Structural Realism and Causation: An Unhappy Marriage?' - It has recently been objected that structural realism, in its various guises, is unable to adequately account for causal phenomena (see, for example, Psillos 2006). In this talk, I consider whether structural realism has the resources to address this objection. (To be presented at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference, University of Sussex, July 7-8 2011).

35. 'Runaway Models' - Among the main aims of science are to predict and explain the world. In order to pursue those aims, scientists employ theories, models, equations and the like to represent features of the world. How are we to understand this representation relation? Supporters of the semantic view of theories typically construe the representation relation in one of two ways: (i) in terms of some notion of morphism or (ii) in terms of some notion of similarity. In this talk, I take a closer look at a number of objections mounted against (i) and (ii). I argue that on the whole such objections are misguided for they demand representation in science to meet loose standards that the critics conceive of as appertaining to representation in art. Indeed, I argue that if we were to take such a demand seriously it would lead to runaway models of scientific representation that are of no clear benefit to the debate over what makes a scientific theory, model or equation represent its target domain informatively and adequately. (Invited talk presented at the Seminario di Logica e Filosofia della Scienza, Università di Firenze, May 5 2011).

34. 'Endorsing the Methods of Science' - In this talk, I examine when and why we should trust scientific theories. I start off by considering a number of methods for deciding when to trust beliefs in the context of everyday life. I then compare these methods to those utilised in the context of science. It turns out that despite some differences there are plenty of common practices towards good believing in the two contexts. Indeed in various cases it can be argued that the practices of science are more stringent versions of those we employ in everyday life. At least with respect to these cases then one cannot endorse (either explicitly or implicitly) the validity of everyday life practices but reject the analogous ones in science. (Invited talk presented at the Dipartimento di Filosofia, Università di Pisa, May 4 2011).

33. 'Structural Realism meets the Social Sciences' - Structural realism is arguably one of the most influential movements to have emerged in philosophy of science in the last decade or so. Advocates of this movement attempt to answer epistemological and/or ontological questions concerning science by arguing that the key to all such questions is the mathematical formalism of a theory. This is so, according to structural realists, because the mathematical formalism encodes all and only what is important about a theory’s target domain, namely its structure. Almost without exception, discussions of structural realism centre on the natural sciences and in particular on modern physics. Given that a number of other sciences are less – indeed in some cases much less – mathematised than modern physics, does structural realism have anything informative to say about them? In this talk, I take up the task of articulating what structural realists ought to say about the social sciences if they are to consider themselves as offering a coherent philosophy for the whole of science. (Invited talk presented at the Economics and Institutional Change Research Seminar, Institute for Advanced Studies (IMT) Lucca, May 3 2011).

32. 'Philosophy and Science: Past, Present and Future' - Philosophy and science have a rather intricate relationship. In this talk I will make some tentative steps towards answering a number of questions that are pertinent to this relationship in the hope of throwing some further light on it. The questions are as follows: (1) In what respects, if any, are the subject matter, aims, methods and achievements of the two endeavours similar? (2) How, if at all, has the development of the one influenced that of the other? (3) To what extent are they currently interacting? (4) What does the future hold for science and philosophy? (Invited talk presented at the Metaphysical Society's Annual Symposium, Trinity College Dublin, April 13 2011).

31. 'Epistemic and Ontic Commitments: In Perfect Alignment?' - The epistemic form of structural realism asserts that our knowledge of the world is restricted to its structural features. Several proponents of this view assume that the world possesses non-structural features; features which, according to their view, cannot be known. In other words, they assume that there is, or, there ought to be (on the basis of normative arguments in epistemology), always a gap between our epistemological and ontological commitments. The ontic form of structural realism denies that this is, or ought to be, the case. Proponents of this view argue that the perfect alignment of epistemological and ontological commitments is a highly desirable meta- theoretical feature. They argue this on the basis of the prima facie sensible principle that our ontological commitments ought never to overreach our epistemic ones. Naturally the issue of alignment transcends the debate between the epistemic and the ontic structural realists. Is it in principle impossible for there to be circumstances under which we ought to subscribe to the misalignment of epistemological and ontological commitments? What do the different answers to this question entail for ontic structural realism? (Invited talk presented at the Structuralism Workshop, John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, University of Notre Dame, November 17-20 2010).

30. 'The Prospective Stance in Realism' - Scientific realists endeavour to secure inferences from empirical success to approximate truth by arguing that despite the demise of empirically successful theories the parts of those theories responsible for their success do in fact survive theory change. If, as some anti-realists have recently suggested, those parts of theories that are responsible for their success are only identifiable in retrospect, namely as those that have survived, then the realist approach is trivialised for now success and survival are guaranteed to coincide. The aim of this talk is to counter this argument by identifying successful theory parts independently from their survival. (Presented at the Philosophy of Science Association 2010 Biennial Conference, Montreal, November 4-6 2010).

29. 'The Logic of Crucial Experiments' - Although Duhem’s thesis that in physics crucial experiments are impossible contains some grains of truth in it, its effects have been greatly exaggerated. In this talk I argue against this and other associated theses by pointing out the various ways in which these theses can be curtailed. In the process of doing so, I examine a few recent attempts to overcome the problems posed by these theses and identify their strengths and weaknesses. (Presented at the Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation: A Challenge to Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, October 15-17 2010).

28. 'Structural Realism: From an Epistemological Point of View' - Structural realism is a rather popular view in philosophy of science. As with many popular views, sprouting is never far behind. No sprout has had as much grip on the view’s image as ontic structural realism. Indeed its supporters have such a stranglehold that ‘structural realism’ has almost become a byword for their views. In this talk, I want to redress this imbalance by returning to structural realism’s humble epistemic beginnings to examine exactly what made the view so attractive in the first place. To this effect, I will reconstruct several arguments – some of which little known – proposed in the early part of the twentieth century in support of the epistemic version of structural realism. Not wanting to dwell too much on the past, I will then switch to more recent arguments both for and against the position. A careful evaluation of these arguments will hopefully provide useful information as to what form, if any, epistemic structural realism must take in order to be a viable alternative to its direct competitors, namely standard scientific realism and constructive empiricism. (Invited talk at the Lunchtime Colloquium, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, September 28 2010).

27. 'Heat in Inter-Theory Relations' - If the realists are right, not only did certain theoretical parts of the caloric theory survive into our modern conception of heat but these parts are in fact solely responsible for the success the caloric theory enjoyed. I test this claim against two of the caloric theory’s successes, namely the explanations (i) that matter expands by heating and contracts by cooling and (ii) that a special kind of heat (i.e. latent heat) is involved in changes of state. Take (i) as an illustration. The caloric explanation of this phenomenon has the same structure as the kinetic one. As the quantity of heat – caloric in the one case, kinetic energy in the other – is increased/decreased the force generated – repulsive in the caloric case, pressure in the kinetic case – increases/decreases and that in turn leads to an increase/decrease in the volume needed. Thus the caloric explanation was successful because it had managed to get the structure of such processes right, even though the specifics of the ontology were wrong, i.e. the existence of caloric and its repulsive force. This result tallies well with a special kind of realism, namely structural realism. (Presented at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference, University College Dublin , July 8-9 2010).

26. 'Scientific Representation and Perspective' - Critics of the semantic view of theories have, among other things, demurred that isomorphic specification is not sufficient for the representation of at least some physical systems. The same physical system will often, if not always, be amenable to representation via different non-isomorphic models. Thus a construal of theories as sets of structures does not seem sufficient to uniquely identify all target systems. Structural realists face the same objection. Their endorsement of the view that physical objects may only be specified up to isomorphism means that they are as susceptible to this objection as semantic theorists. In this talk I aim to rescue semantic theorists and structural realists from this and other closely related objections by endorsing a perspectivalist approach towards scientific representation. (Invited talk at the Research Colloquium, University of Bochum, June 17 2010).

25. 'Thinking about Scientific Understanding and Explanation as a Structural Realist' - Structural Realism is a viewpoint in the scientific realism debate. In its epistemological guise it holds that our knowledge of the physical world is at best structural. More precisely, we can only know the physical world up to isomorphism. In its ontological guise it explains this structural limitation to our knowledge by appeal to an ontology which is itself in some sense or other wholly structural. Although research into structural realism is booming, little has been said about what its implications are for scientific understanding and explanation. In this talk I explore these implications and argue that at least when it comes to the natural sciences what counts as understanding and explanation has taken a highly abstract and mathematical turn that is very much in line with the structural realist pronouncements. (Presented at the Understanding and the Aims of Science, Young Scholars Section, Lorentz Center, University of Leiden, May 31 - June 4 2010).

24. 'The Pessimistic Meta-Inductivist: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?' - Realists assert that when a successful theory is abandoned, not all of its components are discarded but only those that are inessential or idle for the theory’s success. So long as the essential components survive into the new theory there is no cause for alarm. More precisely, an outdated theory T which enjoyed some measure of success must, according to the realist, be: (i) partially true precisely because some of its theoretical claims are responsible for its success and (ii) superseded by a (strictly) more approximately true theory T* which, of course, preserves T’s successful theoretical claims. In this talk I test this requirement of realism against the background of the outdated caloric theory of heat and its successor the kinetic theory. (Presented at the Philosophy of Science in a Forest (PSF2010), Dutch Association for the Philosophy of Science., May 14 - 15 2010).

23. 'The Double Life of Evidence: From the Streets to the Labs - An integral part of the schooling of scientists, especially experimental ones, is the cultivation of the significance and role of scientific evidence. Naturally this schooling is not conducted in vacuuo. Budding scientists already have experiences of, and intuitions about, the use of evidence in everyday life. In this talk I examine the extent to which everyday life evidential practices are continuous with scientific ones. I begin by offering a tentative formulation of the continuity hypothesis: Most, if not all, good (i.e. practically successful) evidential practices in everyday life have better performing or at least equally-well performing analogues in science AND most, if not all, good evidential practices in science have at best equally-well performing analogues in everyday life. I then proceed to illustrate some cases of continuity, where good evidential practices in science (e.g. calibration) have everyday life analogues. (Part of a Symposium on Evidence I co-organised with Giora Hon, Maarten van Dyck, Dave Lagnado and Jan Willem Romeijn for the European Philosophy of Science Association Biennial Conference 2009, Free University of Amsterdam, Oct 21-24 2009).

22. 'Structural Realism: Invariance through Theory Change' - Structural realists of nearly all stripes endorse the structural continuity claim. Roughly, this is the idea that the structure of successful scientific theories survives theory change because it has latched on to the structure of the world. In this talk I elaborate, elucidate and modify the structural continuity claim and its associated argument. I do so without presupposing a particular conception of structure that favours this or that kind of structural realism but instead by concentrating on neutrally formulated historical facts. The result, I hope, throws light on what a structural realist must do to evidentially benefit from the historical record of science. (Presented at the Congrès triennal de la SOPHA 2009, University of Geneva, Sept 2-5 2009).

21. 'The Caloric Under a Frame-Theoretic Spotlight' - In this joint work with Gerhard Schurz we conduct a frame-theoretic investigation of the respects in which the central concept of the caloric theory of heat has survived into modern accounts of thermodynamics despite the theory’s demise in the latter half of the nineteenth century. We first present a brief account of the development of the caloric theory as well as that of its competitor, the motion theory of heat. We then compare the two theories’ explanatory and predictive successes, paying particular attention to the role their central concepts played in facilitating those successes. The comparison will be performed to evaluate whether or not (i) some parts of the caloric theory are in some sense approximately true and (ii) the term ‘caloric’ can be said to refer to a modern counterpart posit. Our conjecture is that to the extent that the caloric theory enjoyed genuine success, the structural parts responsible for that success have been incorporated into the kinetic theory of heat. (Presented at the Second Conference on Concept, Types and Frames in Language, Cognition and Science, University of Duesseldorf, Aug 24-26 2009).

20. ‘Δομικός Ρεαλισμός: Ιστορική Συνοχή και τα Όρια της’ - Σύμφωνα με το γνωσιολογικό είδος του δομικού ρεαλισμού στην καλύτερη περίπτωση μπορούμε να έχουμε γνώση της δομής του κόσμου. Μιλώντας πρόχειρα, κατά τον ισχυρισμό αυτό η δομή των επιτυχημένων επιστημονικών θεωριών επιβίωνει μέσα από τις επιστημονικές επαναστάσεις επειδή έχει αγκιστρωθεί πάνω στη πραγματική δομή του κόσμου. Με άλλα λόγια, η δομή διατηρείται μέσα από την αλλαγή θεωριών γιατι είναι αληθής ή τουλάχιστον αληθής κατά προσέγγιση – απ’εδώ και στο εξής θα εκφράζω αυτή τη διαζευκτική φράση ως ‘(κατά προσέγγιση) αληθής’. Οι οπαδοί του ισχυρισμού δομικής συνοχής συχνά δίνουν σιωπηρή έγκριση στον αντίστροφο ισχυρισμό, δηλ. στο ότι η διατήρηση της δομής των επιτυχημένων επιστημονικών θεωριών συνεπάγεται την (κατά προσέγγιση) αλήθεια τους. Σε αυτή την ομιλία στοχεύω να αποσαφηνίσω, να επιφέρω βελτιωτικές μετατροπές και να επεκτείνω τον ισχυρισμό της δομικής συνοχής και το συνδεδεμένο επιχείρημα του. (Presented at the 5th Pan-Hellenic Conference in the History, Philosophy and Teaching of Natural Sciences, University of Cyprus, June 11-14 2009).

19. 'Metaphilosophical Ruminations on Theoretical Term Reference' - In this talk I examine the concepts of referential success and referential continuity as they are used to assert or deny claims about theoretical term reference. In particular, I examine the intuitions that motivate different theoretical accounts of such concepts. In contrast to existing approaches, I argue that even when such intuitions are conflicting they play an evidential role in lending credence to distinct referential concepts. What is more, I argue that some of these concepts are useful in making sense of the historical record of science and in evaluating scientific realist claims. (Invited talk presented at the Research Seminar in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science, University of Tilburg, March 3 2009).

18. 'The Scope of Fiction: Comments on Tim Button’s ‘Where Fiction Ends and Reality Begins’ ' - Suppose you want to distance yourself from fiction, i.e. suppose you want no commitment to the literal truth of a fictional sentence φ. Suppose further that you want to be able to treat all sorts of discourses as fiction, i.e. not just literary fiction but also ethics, mathematics, science, parts thereof, etc. Tim Button considers and rejects a number of fictionalist views that could be applicable to any of these discourses, namely the paraphrastic approach, the extended fiction approach, the pretence fiction approach and the spotty scope approach. Although I agree with quite a few of the conclusions that Button draws, I find some of his motivation and arguments problematic. MetaMetaphysics Conference at Logos (Logic, Language and Cognition Research Group), University of Barcelona, June 19-21 2008).

17. 'Data Meet Theories: Up Close and Personal' - In this talk I extend my critique of Bogen and Woodward's claim that we do not (and perhaps cannot) use theories to infer, predict or explain observations. I do so by demonstrating that paradigmatic cases of novel prediction could not have been made unless the relationship between data and theories is more direct than Bogen and woodward would have us believe. (Presented at the conference Data - Phenomena - Theories: What's the notion of a scientific phenomenon good for?, University of Heidelberg, September 11-13 2008).

16. 'Kuhn Loss: A Dilemma' - In this talk, I present anti-realist advocates of Kuhn loss with an unattractive dilemma: Either Kuhn loss has historical instantiations but is innocuous to the epistemic commitments of the scientific realist or it is a real threat to those commitments but has no historical instantiations. (Presented at the Sixth European Congress of Analytic Philosophy, Krakow, Aug 21-26 2008).

15. 'Ecumenical Empiricism' - In this talk, I put forth a broader conception of observability that seeks to allay the realist’s concerns about knowledge in natural science yet panders to vital empiricist sensitivities. Along with the new conception of observability I propose a new form of empiricism. Ecumenical empiricism, as I call it, divorces itself from traditional conceptions of experience while remaining wedded to the idea that reliable detection of our surroundings has precedence over all other forms of knowledge. (Presented at the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and Mind Association, University of Aberdeen, July 11-14 2008).

14. 'What’s Wrong with the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives?' - Kyle Stanford (2006) puts forth a new challenge to scientific realism, the problem of unconceived alternatives (PUA). He claims that it is a much more powerful challenge than traditional arguments from underdetermination because it is well supported by historical evidence. Contra Stanford, I argue that the abundant evidence comes at great expense, for in order to obtain it he turns PUA into an ineffectual challenge. (Presented at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, University of St. Andrews, July 10-11 2008).

13. 'Saving the Intuitions: Polylithic Reference' - Different theories of reference aspire to satisfy conflicting intuitions. Assuming that intuitions play a crucial role in pinning down the concept of reference, two options become available: Either establish a consistent set of intuitions by rejecting at least some of them or find a radical way to accommodate all of them. The former option has been the primary focus of research up to now. I will explore the latter option, arguing that reference might not be a monolithic notion. With this aim in mind, I sketch a hierarchy of concepts of reference, each of which satisfying different intuitions and standards of successful reference. (Presented at the Theoretical Frameworks and Empirical Underdetermination Workshop, University of Duesseldorf, April 10-12 2008).

12. 'Making Contact with Observations' - Following Bogen and Woodward’s influential ‘Saving the Phenomena’, many philosophers claim that theories do not (and perhaps cannot) entail, predict or explain observations. Utilising various case studies, I argue that observation statements can often be derived straight from the theory because the right auxiliaries are in place. (Presented at the First Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association, Complutense University Madrid, November 15-17 2007).

11. 'The Observation-Ladenness of Theory' - This talk contests the purity of theories assumed in discussions of theory-ladenness, arguing instead that theories and theoretical terms can be afflicted by observation-ladenness. (Presented at the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and Mind Association, University of Bristol in July 2007).

10. 'Structural Realism 2.0' - In this talk, I explore new sources of support for Epistemic Structural Realism, as well as suggest various adjustments, tackle certain threats, discuss neglected issues, and, last but not least, try to put things in perspective. (Presented at the Philosophy of Physics Research Seminar, University of Oxford on Nov. 9 2006).

09. 'Structural Continuity and its Limits' - This talk explores some of the limits faced by structural realism in its claims of structural continuity through scientific theory change. (Presented at the Institute for the History and Foundations of Science (IHFS), Department of Physics & Astronomy, Utrecht University in June 2006).

08. 'Seeing the Same Things' - This talk motivates a positive answer to the question 'Whether different people experience the same public things?' (Presented at the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics, University of Rotterdam in May 2006).

07. 'Extracting Evidence from Observation' - In this talk I contest the claim that theories even when accompanied by suitable theoretical auxiliaries cannot be directly tested via observations. (Presented at the History and Philosophy of Science Seminar Series, University of Leeds in March 2006).

06. 'Deflating Scientific Explanation, or How to Make the Realist Raft Float' - This talk re-evaluates the role intuitions play in the notions of scientific explanation and explanatory power. (Presented at the conference Philosophical Perspectives on Scientific Understanding, Free University of Amsterdam in August 2005).

05. 'Evidential Equivalence' - This talk explores the limits and consequences of the underdetermination and empirical equivalence theses. (Part of it was presented at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference, University of Manchester in July 2005).

04. 'The Upward Path to Structural Realism' - My aim here is threefold: (1) to evaluate part of Psillos’ offence on the Russellian version of epistemic structural realism (ESR), (2) to elaborate more fully what Russellian ESR involves and (3) to suggest improvements where it is indeed failing. (Presented at the Philosophy of Science Association Nineteenth Biennial Conference, University of Texas - Austin in November 2004).

03. 'Caloric: Centre or Offstage' - In this talk, I criticise Psillos' strategy against the pessimistic meta-induction and in particular his conception of what makes theoretical terms (in)dispensable for their respective theories. (Accepted for presentation at the 8th Summer Symposium on the Philosophy of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Durham in August 2004).

02. 'N-Correspondence' - This talk sketches a correspondence principle that: (a) bodes well with some central episodes in the history of science and (b) can fend off accusations of triviality. (Accepted for presentation at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference, University of Kent in July 2004).

01. 'What the History of Science Cannot Teach Us' - This talk criticises the view that the preservation of a theoretical component is a necessary and/or sufficient condition of its approximate truth/truth.
(Presented at 12th. International Congress of Logic Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Oviedo in August 2003).

Philosophy Faculty, New College of the Humanities, 19 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HH, ioannis.votsis(/a-t\)nchlondon.ac.uk
Department of Philosophy, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE