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Abstracts for CamPoS

CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) is a network of academics and students working in the philosophy of science in various parts of the University of Cambridge, including the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and the Faculty of Philosophy. The Wednesday afternoon seminar series features current research by CamPoS members as well as visitors to Cambridge and scholars based in nearby institutions. If you are interested in presenting in the series, please contact Matt Farr (mwef2). If you have any queries or suggestions for other activities that CamPoS could undertake, please contact Huw Price, Jeremy Butterfield or Anna Alexandrova.

Seminars are held on Wednesdays, 1.00–2.30pm in Seminar Room 2.

Further details of the composition and activities of CamPoS

Easter Term 2019

Show overview

8 May Riana Betzler (HPS, Cambridge)
Follow the measures: conceptualization, measurement and interdisciplinarity in the science of empathy
Questions about how empathy should be conceptualized have long been a preoccupation of the field of empathy research. There are several definitions of empathy currently in circulation, as well as significant overlap between empathy and related concepts, such as sympathy, compassion, perspective-taking and mind-reading. This conceptual diversity is widely acknowledged and generally taken to be a problem that needs to be solved. In this paper, I argue that although there is vast and seemingly intractable disagreement about the meaning of 'empathy' in the psychological and cognitive neuroscience literature on it – as evidenced by stated definitions and conceptualizations – researchers working in the field seldom rely on those stated definitions and instead work within certain experimental 'paradigms' characterized by the use of established measures. Continuity and stability comes from the use of those established measures while progress comes from expansion upon those measures. Stated concepts respond flexibly and not always in step with the evolution of research methodologies. By following the measures rather than the stated definitions, we can get clearer on the target(s) of empirical empathy research. Towards the end of the talk, I consider how this 'follow the measures' approach fares when considering interdisciplinary research and the special problems interdisciplinarity might pose.
15 May Aaron Hanlon (Colby College)
Early modern history of data and epistemology of form
This talk examines several contexts in which the word 'data' entered the English language in the 17th century, and how the usage contexts of the term evolved over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. A parallel discussion will consider the various forms of evidence privileged within and sometimes across different knowledge domains during the same historical period: Robert Hooke's illustrations, William Petty's interpolated figures, Joseph Priestley's charts, Margaret Cavendish's narrative structures, Abraham Cowley's verse, and others. The talk will address the question of why 'data' was used to describe some forms of evidence and not others as the concept took on life in early modern Britain, as well as why some forms of evidence carried more epistemological weight than others. This history of 'data' and forms of evidence will then (I hope!) provide a useful context for examining various ongoing assumptions about the credibility of some forms of evidence over others.
22 May Darrell Rowbottom (Lingnan University)
Does science progress?