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Lakatos Award Lectures 2018

26 October 2018, 6:00 pm7:30 pm

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Lectures by the 2018 Lakatos Award winners, Craig Callender and Sabina Leonelli, followed by a public award ceremony.


Craig Callender (UC, San Diego): “The Flow of Time: Stitching the World Together”

Abstract: As we navigate through life, we employ a model of time as flowing. Despite its importance to us, physics suggests that this conception of time is fundamentally flawed, dismissing it as an illusion. Before we can dismiss the flow, however, we need to explain the “self-consistent set of rules that would give a beast this kind of phoney picture of time” (Gold). Here I take up this interdisciplinary project, drawing on psychology, biology and physics to develop a theory of why “beasts” like us feel that time flows.

Craig Callender is a Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Institute for Practical Ethics at UC San Diego. He specialises in the foundations of physics and has teaching interests in environmental ethics.


Sabina Leonelli (Exeter): “Understanding Science from the Data Up”

Abstract: We live in a data-rich world, and yet diverse views on what constitutes reliable knowledge are proliferating and science is losing credibility as a source of verifiable, empirically grounded understanding of the world. I argue that both the overriding importance attributed to big data and the increasing contestation of well-established facts are linked to a problematic conceptualisation of the epistemology of data, according to which data function as mind-independent, value-free representations of the world, ready for analysis and interpretation no matter the circumstances. By contrast, I defend a relational view of data which emphasises the interdependence between what is considered to be data and the specific conditions of inquiry. This relational account, which is grounded on a detailed historical study of how data are disseminated and re-used to inform scientific reasoning, regards data as plastic and dynamic objects whose evidential value lies in the way in which they are processed, ordered and interpreted. The relational view of data epistemology does justice to the complex and sophisticated processes through which researchers select, process and use data in the course of inquiry, thus highlighting the situated nature of knowledge production. At the same time, I will show how it provides fertile ground for a robust empiricism that challenges narratives of relativism and post-truth, thus escaping the disastrous combination of data richness and absence of facts.

Sabina Leonelli is a Professor of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Exeter. Her professional interests include the history and philosophy of science, science policy and governance.


The Lakatos Award is given for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, widely interpreted, in the form of a book published in English during the previous five years. Further information is available on the Lakatos Award web page.


This event is free and open to all with no pre-registration required. Seating will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


26 October 2018
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Tom Hinrichson, Philosophy


Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
99 Aldwych
London, WC2B 4JF United Kingdom
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