Articles

What I have learned… I think

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2010 by Randy

I am finishing my second Thermos of coffee and taking stock at the half-way point of the seminar.  What do I now know that I didn’t eight weeks ago? What am I sensitized to that I wasn’t eight weeks ago?

(but, first, a public service announcement) Thanks to all members of this ongoing social discourse for delivering on a commitment to open, active scientific conversation. We have reached the point of “OK, now what?” several times without giving up; we have often returned to difficult issues in subsequent seminar sessions and on the blog site. IMHO, we have extracted great value from the two guests and I hope they went away with the same feeling. Whatever financial expenditures I have borne have a high return.

I have learned to seek a systematic understanding of the readings and the subjects to which they refer. I don’t have the systematics worked out fully, but I believe that the repeated vocabulary of explanation, confirmation, formalized statements, idealization and their relationships to models and modeling, and to theory will give me some structure. Moreover, our discussions on metaphor and analogy have sensitized me to the need for clear thinking and writing when these are invoked.

As my colleague, Peter Klein, would say, “there are measurable gains from trade” from explicit discussions of the science of biology and the philosophy of biology and from the discussions of biology and economics.

What have you learned so far?

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One Response to “What I have learned… I think”

  1. From Collin and Yasha,

    Blogging in tandem is fun! We like the idea of taking stock of our progress thus far in the course. So far we have learned about the rich relations between economics and biology and the philosophical issues involved in constructing models within those domains. From Weisberg and Odenbaugh we have learned about the difficulties with modeling complex systems and attempting to explain their behavior via idealization. This is really great for us, because all of our previous philosophy of science courses never touched on these interesting topics. Indeed, economics and biology raise so many unique questions for philosophy of science as well as require reexamination of some more traditional issues; e.g. the nature of explanation. Finally, the interdisciplinary spirit expressed in our seminar discussions is both refreshing and productive. It’s nice to have economists asking interesting questions that make our presenters sweat (e.g. André).

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