Nancy Cartwright to give the RIP/RSE Lecture 9 Dec
Nancy Cartwright will give the next Royal Institute of Philosophy/Royal Society of Edinburgh Joint Lecture at 9 pm on 9 December at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Her lecture is called, ‘Scientific Generalisations: What’s So Good About Missing Out All The Differences’
Abstract: Scientific enquiry is about making generalisations we are told, about making things look alike: a few short, sharp general claims to deal with a wealth of different cases. Yet things as they appear are not much the same. We get them to look that way by blurring the details, by distorting a bit – or more than a bit, by ignoring all the instances that don’t fit in the box. The trick is often to use highly abstract concepts in our general claims, so abstract they mean a million different things in a million different contexts. So using science to control the concrete is no straightforward matter: a matter indeed that seems to escape the scientific method. This talk discusses how we come by general truths in science – not by generalising – and explores some of the pitfalls in getting back down to the concrete, especially when we want to use science to build a laser or a better social policy.