What is Science and Why Should We Care?

IN THIS SECTION

We are concerned with two related issues. What is good science, that is, what are reasonand evidence?, and how can we be most effective in putting it to good use in society? One of us (Alan Sokal) will attempt to answer the question posed in his title, stressing the importance of adopting an evidence-based worldview. He will discuss several groups of adversaries of this worldview: academic postmodernists and radical social-constructivists, advocates of pseudoscience, and advocates of religion. The other (James Robert Brown) will stress the difficulty in approaching some issues armed with reason and evidence as the only tools.The way to deal with some views, especially when social and political matters are at issue, is with mockery, ridicule, and hoaxing in addition to reason and evidence. Tactics matter. Dramatic confrontations are sometimes the handmaid of reason and evidence.This should be clear when dealing with topics as diverse as global warming, religion, and commercialized pharmaceutical research, where ideology and interests often prevail.

James Robert Brown is  a  Professor  of  Philosophy  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  His  interests  include  a  wide  range  of  topics  in  the  philosophy  of  science  and  mathematics:  thought  experiments,  foundational  issues  in  mathematics  and  physics,  visual  reasoning,  and  issues  involving  science  and  society,  such  as  the  role  of  commercialization  in  medical  research.  He  has  written  and  edited  a  number  of  books  on  these  topics.James Robert Brown is  a  Professor  of  Philosophy  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  His  interests  include  a  wide  range  of  topics  in  the  philosophy  of  science  and  mathematics:  thought  experiments,  foundational  issues  in  mathematics  and  physics,  visual  reasoning,  and  issues  involving  science  and  society,  such  as  the  role  of  commercialization  in  medical  research.  He  has  written  and  edited  a  number  of  books  on  these  topics.James Robert Brown is  a  Professor  of  Philosophy  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  His  interests  include  a  wide  range  of  topics  in  the  philosophy  of  science  and  mathematics:  thought  experiments,  foundational  issues  in  mathematics  and  physics,  visual  reasoning,  and  issues  involving  science  and  society,  such  as  the  role  of  commercialization  in  medical  research.  He  has  written  and  edited  a  number  of  books  on  these  topics.James Robert Brown is  a  Professor  of  Philosophy  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  His  interests  include  a  wide  range  of  topics  in  the  philosophy  of  science  and  mathematics:  thought  experiments,  foundational  issues  in  mathematics  and  physics,  visual  reasoning,  and  issues  involving  science  and  society,  such  as  the  role  of  commercialization  in  medical  research.  He  has  written  and  edited  a  number  of  books  on  these  topics.James Robert Brown is  a  Professor  of  Philosophy  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  His  interests  include  a  wide  range  of  topics  in  the  philosophy  of  science  and  mathematics:  thought  experiments,  foundational  issues  in  mathematics  and  physics,  visual  reasoning,  and  issues  involving  science  and  society,  such  as  the  role  of  commercialization  in  medical  research.  He  has  written  and  edited  a  number  of  books  on  these  topics.Robert James Brown is  a  Professor  of  Philosophy  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  His  interests  include  a  wide  range  of  topics  in  the  philosophy  of  
science  and  mathematics:  thought  experiments,  foundational  issues  in  mathematics  and  physics,  visual  reasoning,  and  issues  involving  science  
and  society,  such  as  the  role  of  commercialization  in  medical  research.  He  has  written  and  edited  a  number  of  books  on  these  topics.WN is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. His interests include a wide range of topics in the philosophy of

science and mathematics

: thought experiments, foundational issues in mathematics and physics, visual reasoning, and issues involving science

and society, such as the role of commercialization in medical research. He has written and edited a number of books on these topics.

James Robert Brown

Discipline: 
Philosophy

James Robert Brown is  a  Professor  of  Philosophy  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  His  interests  include  a  wide  range  of  topics  in  the  philosophy  of  science  and  mathematics:  thought  experiments,  foundational  issues  in  mathematics  and  physics,  visual  reasoning,  and  issues  involving  science  and  society,  such  as  the  role  of  commercialization  in  medical  research.  He  has  written  and  edited  a  number  of  books  on  these  topics.

Alan Sokal

Discipline: 
Science

Alan  Sokal  is  Professor  of  Physics  at  New  York  University  and  Professor  of  Mathematics  at  University  College  London.  His  main  research  interests  are  in  statistical  mechanics  and  quantum  field  theory.  He  is  co-author  with  Roberto  Fernández  and  Jürg  Fröhlich  of  Random  Walks,  Critical  Phenomena,  and  Triviality  in  Quantum  Field  Theory (Springer,  1992)  and  co-author  with  Jean  Bricmont  of  Intellectual  Impostures:  Postmodern  Philosophers’  Abuse  of  Science (Profile  Books,  1998).  His  most  recent  book  is  Beyond  the  Hoax:  Science,  Philosophy  and  Culture (Oxford  University  Press,  2008).

Date/Time: 
Friday, November 22, 2013 - 7:30pm
Location: 
St. Jerome's University
Sponsored by: 

St. Jerome's University
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Arts
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Mathematics