Professor Karen Yan, organiser of the Workshop on Modelling and Reasoning in the Sciences at Yang Ming University, in Taiwan

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SFU Philosophers on Tour

December 04, 2018
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SFU Philosophy profs have been travelling recently, taking part in academic philosophy across the globe. 

Nic Fillion recently presented at the Workshop on Modelling and Reasoning in the Sciences at Yang Ming University, in Taiwan. The workshop was organized by Professor Karen Yan and took place on November 24 and 25. It gathered scholars specializing in history and philosophy of science from six countries.

Nic's talk, entitled "Concepts of Approximate Solutions and the Finite Element Method: A Philosophical Take on Variational Crimes" discussed a computational method that is very widely used in applied mathematics and engineering. Despite its stunning success in applications, this method nevertheless violates some traditional standards used to characterize good approximations in scientific modelling. The talk articulates two different perspectives on approximation, and explained how only one explains the success of finite element methods.

Undergraduate chair, Dai Heide recently gave a talk entitled “Kant on Real Predication and the Ontological Argument: An Interpretive Dilemma” to the Philosophy Department at Gothenburg University in Sweden.

Graduate chair, Holly Andersen will travel to Toronto for a Logic and Philosophy of Science Group presentation on December 6. Her talk, titled "Patterns in data versus phenomena" will offer an account of causal as informational relations between pattern instantiated in the rich causal nexus. Andersen will offer a new definition of patterns, drawing on Dennett’s original (1991) definition and incorporating more contemporary examples of pattern recognition from computer science. She will also address a series of philosophical concerns that have arisen about the role that patterns play in identifying causal relationships and relata by drawing on the distinction between data and phenomena offered by Bogen and Woodward (1988).

"Existing philosophical discussions of patterns tend to implicitly or explicitly focus on patterns in data. In contrast, I want to emphasize the role of patterns in individuating phenomena. ‘Pattern’ is useful ambiguous between types and tokens, allowing for an illuminating connection between individual pattern tokens and the variables in approaches to causation such as interventionism. Constraints of coherence and completeness on pattern identification conditions provide the joints in theories or models that can be tightened through iteration."