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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Science, Contingency, and Pluralism

30th November 2010, 14:00 to 21:00, IAS Seminar Room, Cosin's Hall

A one-day workshop which explores the relationship between contingency (the idea that science might, historically, have developed differently) and pluralism (the idea that there could legitimately be different ways that it could be now).

Contingency and pluralism are both themes in contemporary history and philosophy of science, but there is a need for further investigation of how they relate to one another. For instance, does the contingency of science support pluralism? This workshop addresses this need, by asking how an awareness of the historical contingency of the sciences may affect our appreciation of scientific pluralism. We address both philosophical and historiographical issues, and also reflect more broadly on how the contingency and plurality of science may fare in the future.


1400-1415 Arrival and welcome

1415-1500 Greg Radick, ‘Genetics, contingency and pluralism'.

1500-1545 Robin Hendry, ‘What do we know when we know science is contingent?'.

1545-1600 Tea and coffee

1600-1645 David E. Cooper, ‘Contingency and the absolutist conception of science'.

1645-1730 Ian James Kidd, ‘Pluralism and the radical contingency of science'.

1800-2000 Dinner

2000-2100 Andy Pickering, ‘Sketches of another future: Cybernetics in Britain, 1940-2000'.

Contact for more information about this event.