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Department of Philosophy

Staff

Dr Peter Vickers, BSc, MA, PhD

Personal web page

Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Philosophy

(email at peter.vickers@durham.ac.uk)

OFFICE: Room 207 in the Philosophy Department

My office hour is 11.00-12.00 on a Tuesday. (N.B. during Michaelmas term 2017 I won't be available for this office hour in Week 8 or Week 9.)
Other than that, I have an open door policy, or if you prefer please send me an email and I am very happy to arrange a meeting at a suitable time.

Biography

In 2003 I received a BSc in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of York, followed by an MA (2005) in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Leeds. This led to a PhD in history and philosophy of science (2009), also at Leeds, supervised by Prof. Steven French. The starting point was certain difficulties concerning the representation and reconstruction of inconsistent scientific theories. Gradually I developed a new methodology for analysing debates about inconsistencies in science which I called ‘theory eliminativism’. This was the major focus during my year as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, USA (2010-11). I received a contract from Oxford University Press to develop my PhD thesis into a book, entitled Understanding Inconsistent Science, and this was published in 2013. I started as a lecturer at Durham University in 2011. Philosophy aside, I am a keen runner.

Supervision

I am happy to supervise dissertations on any of the topics listed under 'Research Interests', and on closely related topics. Some examples of specific topics I would be happy to supervise are as follows:

'When (if ever) is an inconsistency in science a serious problem?'

'Is it possible to be a scientific realist about quantum mechanics?'

'Just how useful is Bayesian confirmation theory?'

'What is the best contemporary form of scientific realism?'

'Should the scientific realist be motivated by explanatory successes in science, or only predictive successes?'

'In what sense do scientific theories exist?'

'Under what circumstances is the elimination of a (scientific) concept warranted?'

'Do the debates of philosophers of science suffer from a lack of knowledge of the history of science?'

Works in Progress

I am currently the PI of a 42-month AHRC project, a collaboration with Timothy D. Lyons at IUPUI (Indianapolis, USA). The project is entitled 'Contemporary Scientific Realism and the Challenge from the History of Science' (full details available on the project website). In the long run this is all building towards another major monograph, provisionally entitled Identifying Future-Proof Science.

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine (PISM)

Undergraduate Teaching


Administrative Duties

  • IT officer 2011-2015
  • Seminar and RIP lecture organiser 2011-14
  • Admissions Tutor 2014-2017
  • Secretary of the Research Committee 2012-14
  • Deputy Director of Research 2013-14
  • Ethics rep 2012-14
  • Science, Medicine, and Society research cluster coordinator 2017-18

Research Groups

  • Science, Medicine, and Society (SMS)
  • Mind, Language, and Metaphysics (MLM)

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2017: Invitation to UNAM, Mexico:

    In February 2017 I was invited to UNAM, Mexico City, to deliver two graduate seminars and two research presentations, with a focus on my book Understanding Inconsistent Science.

  • 2017: Keynote lecture in Nottingham:

    I was invited to deliver a keynote lecture at the 13th Annual UK Integrated History and Philosophy of Science Workshop, held in Nottingham 20th-22nd June 2017.

  • 2016: Talk at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy: On 1st June 2016 I gave an invited talk entitled 'The Sommerfeld Miracle' at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany.
  • 2016: Weekend school at the Oxford Centre for Further Education: On 9-10th January 2016 I gave two presentations as part of a 'weekend school’ at the Oxford Centre for Further Education, based on my book *Understanding Inconsistent Science*
  • 2015: Talk at the BSPS:

    I was invited to give a talk at one of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS) Ordinary Meetings, on 16th March 2015.

  • 2014: AHRC Research Grant: In 2014 I was awarded an AHRC Research Grant for a 42 month project (ending 31st January 2018) entitled 'Contemporary Scientific Realism and the Challenge from the History of Science'. This major project follows on directly from the success of the pilot project conducted in 2012, and builds directly on the issues explored in my 2013 paper 'A Confrontation of Convergent Realism'. The project is a collaboration with (Co-I) Timothy Lyons, based at Indiana University-Purdue University Indiansapolis (IUPUI), in the United States. Several international events are planned over the next few years as part of the project.
  • 2014: Talk in Ghent:

    Invitation to give a talk at the workshop ‘Inconsistencies in Scientific Reasoning’ held at Ghent University, Belgium, on 24th October 2014. The event followed a reading group on my book Understanding Inconsistent Science in the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science at Ghent.

  • 2013: Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture: I was invited to give a Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture at the University of Bradford, on 13th November 2013.
  • 2012: AHRC Exploratory Award: In 2012 I received an AHRC Science in Culture Scheme Exploratory Award for a six-month project exploring the possibility that there are currently many episodes in the history of science which bear on contemporary scientific realism. The project was entitled 'Evaluating Scientific Realism: A New Generation of Historical Case Studies', and it led directly to my paper 'A Confrontation of Convergent Realism' (2013).

Research Groups

  • History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
  • History of Philosophy

Research Interests

  • Scientific realism/anti-realism
  • Confirmation theories
  • Evidence
  • Inconsistency in science
  • The relationship between history of science and philosophy of science
  • Eliminativism and pluralism about concepts

Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Vickers, P (2016). Why Kirchhoff's Approximation Works. In Gustav Robert Kirchhoff's Treatise “On the Theory of Light Rays” (1882). Klaus Hentschel & Ning Yan Zhu World Scientific.
  • Vickers, P. & Bueno, O. (2012). Introduction. In Is Science Inconsistent?.
  • Vickers, P. (2012). Theory Flexibility and Inconsistency in Science. In Is Science Inconsistent?. Special Issue of Synthese.
  • Vickers, P. (2011). A Brief Chronology of the Philosophy of Science. In The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science. Continuum Press.

Edited book

  • Vickers, P & Bueno, O (2011). Is Science Inconsistent?. Special issue of Synthese.

Edited Journal

Journal Article

Other (Print)

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