Events Calendar

63rd Annual Lecture Series: Holly Andersen

This is a past event.

The Annual Lecture Series, the Center’s oldest program, was established in 1960, the year when Adolf Grünbaum founded the Center. Each year the series consists of six to eight lectures, about three quarters of which are given by philosophers, historians, and scientists from other universities.

The final speaker in the 63rd Annual Lecture Series

Dr. Holly Andersen from Simon Fraser University

Title: Starting Points in Ohio: A pragmatist account of the asymmetry of explanation

Abstract: Recent discussions around explanation have concerned the issue of asymmetry, an issue dating back at least to the well-known example of the shadow of a flagpole. What is the source of the directionality in explanation such that it should go one direction, and not the other? One common approach is to locate the directedness of explanation in the relation(s) that figure in an explanation: in causal explanations, for example, the direction of the causal arrow yields the asymmetry of the explanation in which the causal relation figures. I will first criticize this outsourcing of the directedness of explanation to bits of the world being directed, illustrated with the Quinean point about starting points in Ohio. I then offer an alternative, pragmatist, account of explanation on which explanation is itself already directed, regardless of the relation(s) that figure in any explanation. We don’t need the parts of the world highlighted in an explanation to be intrinsically directed for explanation to nevertheless be directed. I illustrate how this accommodates the plurality of explanations in the sciences that don’t involve straightforwardly asymmetric relationships, distinguishing ways in which explanans and explanandum can be connected that are not fully asymmetric in at least some sense, such as undirected relations, bidirectional relations, or pairs of unidirected relations. Only reflexive loops fail to be explanatory on this account.

This talk will also be available live streamed on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrRp47ZMXD7NXO3a9Gyh2sg.

Friday, March 24 at 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

10th Floor of the Cathedral of Learning, 1008 4200 Fifth Avenue

63rd Annual Lecture Series: Holly Andersen

The Annual Lecture Series, the Center’s oldest program, was established in 1960, the year when Adolf Grünbaum founded the Center. Each year the series consists of six to eight lectures, about three quarters of which are given by philosophers, historians, and scientists from other universities.

The final speaker in the 63rd Annual Lecture Series

Dr. Holly Andersen from Simon Fraser University

Title: Starting Points in Ohio: A pragmatist account of the asymmetry of explanation

Abstract: Recent discussions around explanation have concerned the issue of asymmetry, an issue dating back at least to the well-known example of the shadow of a flagpole. What is the source of the directionality in explanation such that it should go one direction, and not the other? One common approach is to locate the directedness of explanation in the relation(s) that figure in an explanation: in causal explanations, for example, the direction of the causal arrow yields the asymmetry of the explanation in which the causal relation figures. I will first criticize this outsourcing of the directedness of explanation to bits of the world being directed, illustrated with the Quinean point about starting points in Ohio. I then offer an alternative, pragmatist, account of explanation on which explanation is itself already directed, regardless of the relation(s) that figure in any explanation. We don’t need the parts of the world highlighted in an explanation to be intrinsically directed for explanation to nevertheless be directed. I illustrate how this accommodates the plurality of explanations in the sciences that don’t involve straightforwardly asymmetric relationships, distinguishing ways in which explanans and explanandum can be connected that are not fully asymmetric in at least some sense, such as undirected relations, bidirectional relations, or pairs of unidirected relations. Only reflexive loops fail to be explanatory on this account.

This talk will also be available live streamed on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrRp47ZMXD7NXO3a9Gyh2sg.

Friday, March 24 at 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

10th Floor of the Cathedral of Learning, 1008 4200 Fifth Avenue

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