This three-day conference (organized by LPS professors Simon Huttegger, Brian Skyrms, and Jeff Barrett) will be held from Feb. 23 - 25, 2018 and will bring together scholars from various fields in philosophy, such as decision theory, game theory, and probability theory, who are united in pursuing a scientific approach to philosophical questions.

Interested parties must register by Feb. 14, 2018. more information can be found here.


Talks include:

Francesca Zaffora Blando, Stanford University

A learning-theoretic characterisation of Martin-Löf randomness

In this talk, Zaffora Blando will provide a novel characterisation of Martin-Löf randomness within the learning-theoretic framework for algorithmic randomness introduced by Osherson and Weinstein [2008]. She will also highlight a connection between this learning-theoretic framework and integral tests for randomness.


Roman Frigg, London School of Economics

Can Somebody Please Say What Gibbsian Statistical Mechanics Says?

Among working physicists, Gibbsian statistical mechanics (GSM) is the most widely used version of statistical mechanics. Yet a closer look at GSM reveals that it is unclear what exactly the theory says and how it bears on experimental practice. The root cause of the difficulties is the status of the Averaging Principle, the proposition that what we observe in an experiment is the ensemble average of a phase function. This talk will review different stances toward this principle, ranging from unconditional acceptance to blatant rejection. Friggs finds all of them wanting and suggest that the problem finds an elegant solution if one adds a Boltzmannian definition of equilibrium to GSM, which results in what we call the `Gibbsmannian approach'. 


Patrick Grim, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Wisdom of Crowds vs. Wisdom of the Few: Expertise versus Diversity across Epistemic Landscapes

          Patrick Grim, Daniel J. Singer, Aaron Bramson, Bennett Holman & William J. Berger

In a series of both formal studies and informal applications, using both analytic results and simulations, Hong and Page offer a ‘diversity trumps ability’ result that resonates with widespread and popular critiques of expertise. “[W]e find that a random collection of agents drawn from a large set of limited-ability agents typically outperforms a collection of the very best agents from that same set” (Hong and Page 2004, p. 16386). 

This talk offers results that contextualize the Hong Page model, indicating areas of vindication for expertise.  The high performance of the original Hong-Page results is high performance on a single random landscape, and is therefore dubiously interpreted as having the generalizable characteristics of true ‘ability’ or ‘expertise.’  On smoother landscapes a more plausible form of ‘ability’ or ‘expertise’ appears in which high performance is transportable from one landscape to another.  But on those smoother landscapes, with other parameters the same, the Hong Page result is reversed.  In these epistemic contexts it is ability that trumps diversity. 

Change in further parameters, however, go on to vindicate major strengths of diversity.  With an increase in the pool of available heuristics, diverse groups again do better than groups of the highest-performing individuals. Group dynamics makes a difference as well: simultaneous ‘tournament’ deliberation in a group in place of the ‘relay’ deliberation in Hong and Page’s original model further emphasizes an advantage for diversity. ‘Tournament’ dynamics particularly shows the advantage of mixed groups that include both ‘experts’ and ‘non-experts’. 

As a whole, this results suggest that diversity and expertise—the wisdom of crowds and the wisdom of the few—play distinctive epistemic roles relative to problem characteristics and available conceptual resources.


Jos Uffink, University of Minnesota

Schrödinger and the prehistory of the EPR argument. 

This talk will present some of the results that came out of an historical effort to study Schrödinger’s unpublished notebooks on his pre-1935 thoughts on entanglement. In particular, this talk will show that Schrödinger developed the essentials of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) argument of 1935 already in 1931. Uffink will comment on how this argument differs from the EPR version, and the version of the argument that Einstein communicated to Schrödinger in his post-EPR correspondence. 


Kevin Zollman, Carnegie Mellon University:

Methods for maintenance of cognitive diversity

Science benefits from diversity of opinion. When opinions become too homogenized, fewer theories are explored and occasionally true theories fall through the cracks. There is a limit, of course, to the degree of diversity that is beneficial: we don't need flat earth physicists around. So, the question becomes how do we maintain an optimal, or near optimal, degree of diversity in a scientific community.  This talk will explore a variety of suggestions present in the literature and compare their effectiveness to one another. 


Other speakers:

James Joyce, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Jan-Willem Romeijn, University of Groningen; Gerard Rothfus, University of California, Irvine; Teddy Seidenfeld, Carnegie Mellon University; Peter Vanderschraaf, University of California, Merced

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