86 episodes

Mathematical Philosophy - the application of logical and mathematical methods in philosophy - is about to experience a tremendous boom in various areas of philosophy. At the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, which is funded mostly by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, philosophical research will be carried out mathematically, that is, by means of methods that are very close to those used by the scientists.
The purpose of doing philosophy in this way is not to reduce philosophy to mathematics or to natural science in any sense; rather mathematics is applied in order to derive philosophical conclusions from philosophical assumptions, just as in physics mathematical methods are used to derive physical predictions from physical laws.
Nor is the idea of mathematical philosophy to dismiss any of the ancient questions of philosophy as irrelevant or senseless: although modern mathematical philosophy owes a lot to the heritage of the Vienna and Berlin Circles of Logical Empiricism, unlike the Logical Empiricists most mathematical philosophers today are driven by the same traditional questions about truth, knowledge, rationality, the nature of objects, morality, and the like, which were driving the classical philosophers, and no area of traditional philosophy is taken to be intrinsically misguided or confused anymore. It is just that some of the traditional questions of philosophy can be made much clearer and much more precise in logical-mathematical terms, for some of these questions answers can be given by means of mathematical proofs or models, and on this basis new and more concrete philosophical questions emerge. This may then lead to philosophical progress, and ultimately that is the goal of the Center.

MCMP – Philosophy of Science Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

    • Philosophy

Mathematical Philosophy - the application of logical and mathematical methods in philosophy - is about to experience a tremendous boom in various areas of philosophy. At the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, which is funded mostly by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, philosophical research will be carried out mathematically, that is, by means of methods that are very close to those used by the scientists.
The purpose of doing philosophy in this way is not to reduce philosophy to mathematics or to natural science in any sense; rather mathematics is applied in order to derive philosophical conclusions from philosophical assumptions, just as in physics mathematical methods are used to derive physical predictions from physical laws.
Nor is the idea of mathematical philosophy to dismiss any of the ancient questions of philosophy as irrelevant or senseless: although modern mathematical philosophy owes a lot to the heritage of the Vienna and Berlin Circles of Logical Empiricism, unlike the Logical Empiricists most mathematical philosophers today are driven by the same traditional questions about truth, knowledge, rationality, the nature of objects, morality, and the like, which were driving the classical philosophers, and no area of traditional philosophy is taken to be intrinsically misguided or confused anymore. It is just that some of the traditional questions of philosophy can be made much clearer and much more precise in logical-mathematical terms, for some of these questions answers can be given by means of mathematical proofs or models, and on this basis new and more concrete philosophical questions emerge. This may then lead to philosophical progress, and ultimately that is the goal of the Center.

    • video
    Fifteen Dimensions of Evaluating Theories of Causation. A Case Study of the Structural Model and the Ranking Theoretic Approach to Causation

    Fifteen Dimensions of Evaluating Theories of Causation. A Case Study of the Structural Model and the Ranking Theoretic Approach to Causation

    Workshop on Causal and Probabilistic Reasoning, Wolfgang Spohn (Konstanz) gives a talk at the Workshop on Causal and Probabilistic Reasoning (18-20 June, 2015) titled "Fifteen Dimensions of Evaluating Theories of Causation. A Case Study of the Structural Model and the Ranking Theoretic Approach to Causation". Abstract: The point of the talk is not to defend any exciting thesis. It is rather to remind you of all the dimensions theories of causation must take account of. It explains 15 such dimensions, not just in the abstract, but as exemplified by the structural model and the ranking theoretic approach to causation, which, surprisingly, differ on all 15 dimensions. Of course, the subcutaneous message is that the ranking theoretic approach might be preferable. However, the main moral is to be: Keep all these dimensions in mind, and don't think that any one of these dimensions would be settled! Even if working at a specific issue, you are never on secure ground.

    • 57 min
    • video
    Context, Conversation, and Fragmentation

    Context, Conversation, and Fragmentation

    Colloquium Mathematical Philosophy, D**k Kindermann (Graz) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (25 June, 2015) titled "Context, Conversation, and Fragmentation". Abstract: What is a conversational context?One inuential account (Lewis, Stalnaker, Roberts) says that it is a shared body of information | the information conveyed and/or presupposed by all interlocutors. Conversation, on this account, proceeds by variously influencing, and being influenced, by this body of information. In this talk, I argue that standard idealising assumptions, according to which this body of information is consistent and closed under entailment, put the account at risk of being inapplicable to ordinary speakers|rational agents with limited cognitive resources. I argue that to mitigate the problem, we should think of context as a fragmented body of information. I explain what fragmentation amounts to and develop a simple model of afragmented common ground. I close by presenting some advantages of a fragmentation strategy in explaining some otherwise puzzling conversational phenomena.

    • 47 min
    • video
    On the Role of the Light Postulate in Relativity

    On the Role of the Light Postulate in Relativity

    Colloquium Mathematical Philosophy, R. A. Rynasiewicz (Johns Hopkins University) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (10 June, 2015) titled "On the Role of the Light Postulate in Relativity". Abstract: As presented by Einstein in 1905, the theory of special relativity follows from two postulates: first, what he called the principle of relativity, and second, an empirical fact about the relation of the propagation of light relative to its source that has come to be called the light postulate. In 1910 Waldemar von Ignatowsky claimed to be able to derive the Lorentz transformations, and hence special relativity, without the light postulate using only the principle of relativity and assumptions that Einstein seems to have implicitly made, such as linearity and the isotropy and homogeneity of space. In his authoritative Relativitätstheorie of 1921, Pauli dismissed Ignatowsky’s result without explanation as void of physical significance. More recently, respected physicists and foundationalists, such as David Mermin (1984), have defended Ignatowsky and claimed that special relativity pre- supposes nothing about electromagnetism. In the first part of this talk, I discuss just what the light postulate asserts (both in special and in general relativity). In the second, I hope to shed light on the debate, if not definitively settle it. (To say on which side would spoil the suspense.) I will also discuss related attempts to dismiss the conventionality of simultaneity.

    • 57 min
    • video
    Explaining Macroscopic Systems from Microscopic Principles

    Explaining Macroscopic Systems from Microscopic Principles

    Colloquium Mathematical Philosophy, Peter Pickl (LMU) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (10 June, 2015) titled "Explaining Macroscopic Systems from Microscopic Principles". Abstract: The revolutionary idea of the late 19th century that the physics of gases can be explained by the dynamics of small, point-like particles had a great influence on physics as well as mathematics and philosophy. This idea has changed our understanding of the physics of macroscopic systems significantly as well as the way we see our universe as a whole. The question of how the connection between the microscopic and the macroscopic world can be explained also arises in other fields, for example the life sciences. Answering this question might have a similar impact on the research in these fields. In the talk I will present recent techniques and results of our research group in deriving macroscopic evolution equations from microscopic principles for certain classical, quantum mechanical and biological systems.

    • 42 min
    • video
    Convergence of Iterated Belief Updates

    Convergence of Iterated Belief Updates

    Colloquium Mathematical Philosophy, Berna Kilinç (Boğaziçi University) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (3 June, 2015) titled "Convergence of Iterated Belief Updates". Abstract: One desideratum on belief upgrade operations is that their iteration is truth-tropic, either on finite or infinite streams of reliable information. Under special circumstances repeated Bayesian updating satisfies this desideratum as shown for instance by the Gaifman and Snir theorem. There are a few analogous results in recent research within dynamic epistemic logic: Baltag et al establish the decidability of propositions for some but not all upgrade operations on finite epistemic spaces. In this talk further convergence results will be established for qualitative stable belief.

    • 55 min
    • video
    The Causual Nature of Modeling in Data-Intensive Science

    The Causual Nature of Modeling in Data-Intensive Science

    Colloquium Mathematical Philosophy, Wolfgang Pietsch (MCTS/TU Munich) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (3 June, 2015) titled "The Causual Nature of Modeling in Data-Intensive Science". Abstract: Abstract: I argue for the causal character of modeling in data-intensive science, contrary to wide-spread claims that big data is only concerned with the search for correlations. After introducing and discussing the concept of data-intensive science, several algorithms are examined with respect to their ability to identify causal relationships. To this purpose, a difference-making account of causation is proposed that broadly stands in the tradition of David Lewis’s counterfactual approach, but fits better the type of evidence used in data-intensive science. The account is inspired by causal inferences of the Mill’s method type. I situate data-intensive modeling within a broader framework of a Duhemian or Cartwrightian scientific epistemology, drawing an analogy to exploratory experimentation.

    • 1 hr 1 min

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