Monthly Archives: November 2021

Our presentations from the PSA: Philosophy in Science (PinS) symposium

Philosophy in Science:
Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science?


Below are the presentations from our remote session on “Philosophy in Science”on November 13, 2021 at the Philosophy of Science Association meeting. We are having an extended discussion on Monday November, 22 at 3pm Eastern Standard Time. If you wish to take part, write to me of your interest by email (error) with the subject “PinS” or use comments below. (Include name, affiliation and email).

Session Abstract: Although the question of what philosophy can bring to science is an old topic, the vast majority of current philosophy of science is a meta-discourse on science, taking science as its object of study, rather than an attempt to intervene on science itself. In this symposium, we discuss a particular interventionist approach, which we call “philosophy in science (PinS)”, i.e., an attempt at using philosophical tools to make a significant scientific contribution. This approach remains rare, but has been very successful in a number of cases, especially in philosophy of biology, medicine, physics, statistics, and the social sciences. Our goal is to provide a description of PinS through both a bibliometric approach and the examination of specific case studies. We also aim to explain how PinS differs from mainstream philosophy of science and partly similar approaches such as “philosophy of science in practice”.

Here are the members and the titles of their talks. (Link to session/abstracts):

  • Thomas Pradeu (CNRS & University Of Bordeaux) & Maël Lemoine (University Of Bordeaux): Philosophy in Science: Definition and Boundaries
  • Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech): My Philosophical Interventions in Statistics
  • Elliott Sober (University Of Wisconsin – Madison): Philosophical Interventions in Science – a Strategy and a Case Study (Parsimony)
  • Randolph Nesse (Arizona State University) & Paul Griffiths (University of Sydney): How Evolutionary Science and Philosophy Can Collaborate to Redefine Disease


T. Pradeu & M. Lemoine slides: “Philosophy in Science: Definition and Boundaries”:


D. Mayo slides: “Philosophical Interventions in the Statistics Wars”:


E. Sober: “Philosophical Interventions in Science – A Strategy and a Case Study (Parsimony)”


R. Nesse & P. Griffiths: How Evolutionary Science and Philosophy Can Collaborate to Redefine Disease”:

Categories: PSA 2021 | 6 Comments

Our session is now remote: Philo of Sci Association (PSA): Philosophy IN Science (PinS): Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science?


Philosophy in Science: Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science?
     on November 13, 2-4 pm


OUR SESSION HAS BECOME REMOTE: PLEASE JOIN US on ZOOM! This session revolves around the intriguing question: Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science? They’re calling it philosophy “in” science–when philosophical ministrations actually intervene in a science itself.  This is the session I’ll be speaking in. I hope you will come to our session if you’re there–it’s hybrid, so you can’t see it through a remote link. But I’d like to hear what you think about this question–in the comments to this post. Continue reading

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S. Senn: The Many Halls Problem (Guest Post)


Stephen Senn
Consultant Statistician
Edinburgh, Scotland


The Many Halls Problem
It’s not that paradox but another

Generalisation is passing…from the consideration of a restricted set to that of a more comprehensive set containing the restricted one…Generalization may be useful in the solution of problems. George Pólya [1] (P108)


In a previous blog I considered Lord’s Paradox[2], applying John Nelder’s calculus of experiments[3, 4]. Lord’s paradox involves two different analyses of the effect of two different diets, one for each of two different student halls, on weight of students. One statistician compares the so-called change scores or gain scores (final weight minus initial weight) and the other compares final weights, adjusting for initial weights using analysis of covariance. Since the mean initial weights vary between halls, the two analyses will come to different conclusions unless the slope of final on initial weights just happens to be one (in practice, it would usually be less). The fact that two apparently reasonable analyses would lead to different conclusions constitutes the paradox. I chose the version of the paradox outlined by Wainer and Brown [5] and also discussed in The Book of Why[6].  I illustrated this by considering two different experiments: one in which, as in the original example, the diet varies between halls and a further example in which it varies within halls. I simulated some data which are available in the appendix to that blog but which can also be downloaded from here so that any reader who wishes to try their hand at analysis can have a go. Continue reading

Categories: Lord's paradox, S. Senn | 7 Comments

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