Philosophy of Science Seminars


Michaelmas Term 2005




Nick Shea, “Representation in the genome and in other inheritance systems”

The idea that a genome is a vast store of information is
common currency in the biological sciences.  But is this information in
the sense familiar in human communication -- do genes carry a message
that can be false or an instruction that can be disobeyed?  In short, do
they represent in any semantic sense?  This talk applies lessons from
attempts to understand mental representation to the problem of
representation by the genome.  The resulting framework may be extended
to other inheritance systems, epigenetic and cultural.


Toby Handfield, “The metaphysics of causal models: Where's the biff?”
(co-authored with Charles Twardy, Kevin Korb, and Graham Oppy)

This paper presents an attempt to integrate
theories of causal process, of the kind developed
by Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe, into a theory of
causal models using Bayesian networks.  We suggest
that arcs in causal models must correspond to
possible causal processes.  Moreover, we suggest
that when processes are rendered physically
impossible by what occurs on distinct paths, the
original model must be restricted by removing the
relevant arc.  These two techniques suffice to
explain cases of late pre-emption and other cases
that have proved problematic for causal models.