CLMPS2011 Nancy, France

I attended the 14th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science from July 19th – 26th, 2011, held in Nancy, France. ( ) It’s held every four years.  This year was special in that the conference had a special theme:  Logic and Science Facing the New Technologies.  I heard tell that a “T” for technology is going to be added to LMPS in the future.  That could be a good thing, I think.

The weather was refreshingly cool, the venue lovely and arranged so as to encourage conversation and mingling, the hosts gracious, and the atmosphere friendly and stimulating.  Croissants, orange juice and spring water were served on the porticos framing the quadrangle, which meant everyone was well-hydrated and there was no need for impatience due to hunger pangs.  It was so easy to meet up with people.  People gathered there, as there was little need to go elsewhere between sessions.  There was free wi-fi, and there were tents and tables set up for mingling or using your laptop.  An excellent arrangement it would be good to see mimicked/adapted at other convention venues.

Another important aspect of the program:  it ended by 7 pm.  Every day.  There were sessions for the general public in the evening.

I attended some sessions that I really liked:

— a symposium on the evolution of biological complexity with a lot of stimulating talks that laid out questions that called for attention (here the “raised more questions . . .” cliche really did apply),

— a symposium on calibration organized by Lena Soler that I found refreshing in that it was connected to the foundations of actual scientific practice (one doesn’t often find foundations and actual scientific practice together in the same title in analytic philosophy of science, but that is what I am most interested in).   Eran Tal gave a talk on “Calibration, modeling, and the international system of units.”

— A symposium that included Nadine deCourtenay and Emily Grosholz speaking on “Measurement and the Social Dimensions of Scientific Knowledge” and “Reference and Analysis in the Study of Time: Classical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Modern Cosmology”, respectively.  Nadine’s talk concerned the International System of Units, too.  Aside from the philosophical points she made, I learned something else:  that there are plans to base all the units on physical constants rather than physical objects (e.g., standard kilogram) that serve as standards.  I knew that the unit for length was no longer based on the standard meter, but on the speed of light, though I hadn’t known of plans to use the approach for all the units.

I went to some other talks, too.   There were at times so many to choose from, that I constantly felt that any choice I made still left me regretting not being able to hear the talks being missed.

Oh, yeah, and I gave a talk, too.   That evening, I went to Stanislas Square to see the light show numerous people had recommended.  On the train ride back to the airport, I saw whole fields full of hot air balloons of various colours floating above the landscape.  And so my last glimpse of France was apropos:  lights and flight.

The program is here:

The shortish abstracts are here:

The next one is in Helsinki, Finland, four years from now.  One of the conversations I had in the quadrangle was someone suggesting we organize a symposium for it.  Okay!

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