Colloquium, as you like it

Next month Kareem Khalifa (Middlebury College) is visiting Albany to present work that he developed in collaboration with Emily Sullivan (Delft University of Technology).

Will it turn out to be a comedy of errors, or can they show that the sound and fury about the epistemic role of idealization is just a tempest in a teapot? Either way would be interesting, and all’s well that ends well.

Idealizations and Understanding: Much Ado About Nothing?

3:00-5:00, March 9, 2018

UAlbany Humanities Building, room 354

Abstract: Idealizations frequently advance scientific understanding. Because of this, many have argued that understanding is non-factive or that falsehoods play a distinct epistemic role. In this paper, we argue that these positions greatly overstate idealizations’ epistemic import. We bring work on epistemic value to bear on the debate surrounding idealizations and understanding, arguing that idealizations qua falsehoods only have non-epistemic value. We argue for this claim by criticizing the four leading approaches that give epistemic importance to idealizations. For each of these approaches, we show that: (a) idealizations’ false components only promote psychological convenience instead of the epistemic good of understanding, and (b) only the true components of idealizations have epistemic value.

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