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CfP: First Principles in Science: Their Epistemic Status and Justification

10-11 June, 2016


What is the epistemic status of first principles in science and how do scientists justify them accordingly? These are the central questions that will be discussed at this workshop. So far, discussions about first principles and their justification in science have focused largely on the natural sciences. For example, philosophical debates around Poincaré’s conventionalism or the relativized a priori are usually grounded in concrete case studies from physics. Yet, first principles occupy an equally important, yet controversial, role in other natural and as well in the social sciences, where their status and epistemic role raise similar concerns, economics and psychology being only two cases in point. For example, it has been widely discussed that economic theories rest upon first principles of human behavior that have long been fiercely defended by economists and justified in various different ways. Yet, at the same time, they have been attacked and in some cases even replaced by behavioral economists. The workshop aims at renewing the existing discussions on the status and justification of first principles in sciences by expanding them to cases beyond physics into economics, psychology, biology and chemistry. This will help us to better understand the way in which first principles are used and justified in the natural and the social sciences alike, and thereby address more general questions concerning the way in which knowledge is produced in these disciplines.

Call for Abstracts:

We welcome papers within the aims of the workshop, both from a historical and contemporary perspective, from a wide range of disciplines. We will select up to 6 contributed talks. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted to by the 31st of January 2016. The abstracts should be prepared for blind review. Author details are to be included on a separate cover sheet. Participants will be given 45 minutes for their presentation, including Q&A.

Deadline für Submission: 31 January 2016
Date of Notification: 07 February 2016

Invited Speakers:

  • Robin Hendry (Durham)
  • Catherine Herfeld (MCMP, LMU)
  • Kevin Hoover (Duke)
  • Liz Irvine (Cardiff)
  • Milena Ivanova (MCMP, LMU)
  • Samir Okasha (Bristol)
  • Michael Stöltzner (South Carolina)

For further information please contact Catherine Herfeld or Milena Ivanova under: