Simplification & Distortion as Scientific Strategy

Organiser: Kirsten Walsh (

Thursday 10th December 2015

Location: Seminar Room, IRH, 1 Strada Dimitrie Branza, Bucharest

Scientists grapple with a complex, messy and often highly interdependent world. To do so, they must employ simplification and distortion. Experimentation procedures often involve isolating and insulating a target, cutting it off from the world in highly artificial ways. Models and simulations represent their targets in extremely roundabout, highly idealized fashions. These scientific strategies raise philosophical questions: why and when is abstraction and idealization necessary? What is the difference between different approaches, such as experimentation and observation? What does scientific idealization and abstraction tell us about the nature of representation, and of science?



9:15      Introduction

9:30      Adrian Currie (University of Calgary), The Argument from Surprise: Simulation and Experimental Freedom

Commentary from Mihail Cernea

11:15    Coffee break

11:30    Iulian Toader (IRH, University of Bucharest), Sex and Superconductivity: Objectifying Idealized Models

13:00    Lunch (catering provided)

14:00    Kirsten Walsh (IRH, University of Bucharest), Direct and Indirect Representation in Newton’s Natural Philosophy

15:30    Coffee break

15:45    Arnon Levy (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Idealization and Abstraction 2.0

Commentary from Ciprian Jeler

17:30    Drinks