Sep 072011

Time Thursday, September 15 · 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Location University of Alberta Campus, ED North 107 (Education Bulding North, Room 107)
Host: University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics / CFI
Link to location:
Title: What is science? Intelligent design and the history and philosophy of science
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The question of how to distinguish science from pseudo-science arises in many contexts. Using the question of whether intelligent design ‘theory’ is scientific as a starting point, this presentation analyzes the nature of science from the perspective of the history and philosophy of science. In the 2005 Dover court case, the defenders of evolution used the criterion of methodological naturalism to argue that intelligent design is unscientific. Intelligent design proponents have objected that naturalism is an a priori commitment (which is presupposed but not argued for), but I maintain that by taking a closer look at what naturalism has involved in the history of science it will become clear why methodological naturalism is justified and that important lessons about the nature of science can be drawn. My general line will be that rather than asking whether a theory is scientific, we must ask whether an intellectual practice is scientific. Moreover, no universal, context-independent account of the nature or science is possible, as the criteria of being scientific have changed in the course of history and vary across different scientific fields.

Short biography of the speaker:

Ingo Brigandt (PhD University of Pittsburgh, 2006) is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta. In his work in the history and philosophy of biology, he is particularly interested in issues at the intersection of evolutionary and developmental biology. Prof. Brigandt’s recent research includes understanding the historical change of the gene concept and the fact that different construals of what genes are are presently given by biologists. His current interest is interdisciplinary research and integration across different biological subdisciplines, where he leads a collaborative project involving several philosophers and biologists. A core case is ongoing biological efforts to account for the evolutionary origin of novel structures, as this scientific problem requires the coordination of ideas from several biological fields.

General Admission: $10, CFI Members & Students: $5
Tickets can be purchased at the event