Fall Semester Colloquia Update

We’re planning three exciting colloquia in the fall semester. All talks are at 4:30pm in Academic West 108.

First, Catherine Elgin (Harvard) will speak on Thursday, Oct. 2. The title of her talk is “Making an Example of It.” Here’s her abstract:

I will argue that thinking with things often involves taking them to exemplify some of their features. Rather than being mere things, as exemplars, they function as symbols that highlight features and afford epistemic access to them.

Second, Stephen Grimm (Fordham) will speak on Tuesday, Nov. 4 on “How Understanding Human Beings Differs from Understanding the Natural World.” Here’s his abstract:

When we try to understand the natural world, we often appeal to things like causes or mechanisms or laws. But what happens when we try to understand other people? Do we need to appeal to something different—perhaps to notions like values or goods? I will consider a few ways in which philosophers have claimed that there is something distinctive when it comes to understanding human beings, and argue that these attempts have fallen short in various respects. I will then offer my own view about how understanding human beings differs from understanding the natural world.

Finally, Gary Hardcastle (Bloomsburg) will speak on Thursday, Nov. 20. Talk title TBA.

“Defanging Denialism” — Pacific APA update

We’ve drafted a paper entitled “Defanging Denialism by Seeing for Yourself” that captures some of our recent thinking on public understanding of science. It’s been submitted for consideration for a symposium at the 2015 APA. Here it is! Defanging Denialism Comments very welcome.

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Understanding the Fine Print

An interesting NPR story came on the other day about two researchers at Dartmouth trying to get more easily-digestible drug facts on pharmaceutical company’s packaging. Aside from their main message about the public’s ability to understand quantitative, statistical information about drug effectiveness, one thing that stood out for me was how they communicated a simple […]

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In the news…

Bucknell has posted a news item announcing and describing our project. Thanks to Matt Hughes for a fun interview and for his great work on the write-up!

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PSA 2014

In addition to organizing a series of talks on understanding for the fall semester, we’re planning to travel to the 2014 meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, to be held November 6-8 in Chicago. Matthew will be giving a paper, and Jason will be soaking in the phil sci vibe, as this will be his first PSA. […]

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2015 Pacific APA

We’re happy to announce that our first grant-supported product will be a submission for the 2015 meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, to be held from April 1-5 in Vancouver, BC. The paper is currently in progress and will focus on some of our reasons for thinking that public understanding of science is preferable to mere public […]

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Social Epistemology on Tap


Since we’re now at the beginning of Stage 1, we’re starting both the planning process for events connected with the project and digging into some foundation/refresher readings in social epistemology. In recent decades, philosophers have become increasingly interested in  socially-oriented epistemology. But the focus here has been on the production, distribution, and transmission of knowledge. At […]

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And we’re off!

My colleague Jason Leddington and I are thrilled to have received a one-year, $100,000 grant from the Varieties of Understanding Project — a Templeton Foundation funded project led by Stephen Grimm at Fordham University — to enable us to study the nature and production of public understanding of science. Here’s the short description of our […]

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