Monday, November 10, 2008

The PSA

Had a wonderful time at the Philosophy of Science Association Biennial. It was my first time there — what a conference! So many great talks, the worst part was choosing between them. Hell, I was almost torn about whether to attend my talk, given that John Norton, Peter Achinstein, Thomas Kelly symposium on induction was going on then. Thus, I'm awfully grateful for (though somewhat puzzled by!) those who chose to attend my session! Thanks. For the many who missed it, I don't blame you — here's the paper if you're curious: "Macromolecular Pluralism". I'll give a lightning quick version at the Eastern APA as well, complete with flashy animations of flopping proteins.

But the best part of the conference for me was the symposium that Chris Haufe and I organized on whether evolutionary theory is a theory of forces: Robert Brandon and Chris Stephens contended (in their own ways) that it is whereas Denis Walsh took the unpopular position that it is not — that if we construe fitness in the way that Gillespie suggests, we can't straightforwardly interpret it as a cause, as it makes possible a kind of Simpson's Paradox. A lot of the discussion focused on whether this was in fact true — whether there was a Simpson's Paradox afoot (I'm still not sure) — Bruce Glymour had to be physically restrained lest he attempt to pummel Denis into submission (just kidding, Bruce!). Despite the hot debate, everything was kept friendly and efficient by John Beatty who graciously agreed to chair the session. Hopefully we'll see their papers in the proceedings!

I tell you: organizing symposia is great! Chris and I wanted to see this debate take place and . . . Lo, it did! Too bad the next PSA isn't for another two years.
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