Talk: Saving Models from Phenomena, by Mok Wan Hao Jacob (21 October 2010, 3-4pm)

Philosophy Seminar Series: 21 October 2010, 3-4pm, AS3-05-23;
Speaker: Mok Wan Hao Jacob , Current MA Student, NUS;
Moderator: Dr. Christopher Brown

Abstract: Contemporary philosophical discourse on scientific modelling has readily acknowledged the idealisation and abstraction that goes into model construction. This open recognition of the built-in inaccuracy of models comes with the nascent worry that the scientific enterprise may sometimes be concerned more with preserving heuristically neat and unified models of reality and less with having these models and their predictions and descriptions best fit actual phenomena. Consequently the first purpose of this talk is to show, through a very brief consideration of historical examples, that this worry of ‘model-saving’ taking precedence over phenomena-explanation is a valid one. Yet as some of these examples will show, ‘model-saving’ as a heuristic strategy has sometimes yielded the correct model. Accordingly, the second purpose of the talk is to attempt to articulate what exactly constitutes ‘model-saving’ as a heuristic strategy and to cache out what criteria and/or conditions must be met for the adoption of the strategy to be considered heuristically sound.

JacobAbout the Speaker: Jacob Mok completed his undergraduate studies in philosophy earlier this year at the National University of Singapore with first class honours—his honours thesis being an attempt at defending the Equivalence Thesis. He is currently pursuing a M.A. in philosophy at the very same institution. His interests include the philosophy of science, moral philosophy, and normative ethics. He is fascinated with issues of theoretical confirmation and with how non-humeans about practical reason can hold what they do.

More information on the Graduate Seminar Series can be found here.