PSA Newsletter: Vol. 8 No. 4: September 2002

*************************************************************** PSA Newsletter: Volume 8 : Number 4: September 2002 ***************************************************************

Edited for the Philosophy of Science Association by Malcolm Forster,

IN MEMORIAM: Robert Clifton (1964-2002). Please honor his memory by reading the memorial notice in the University of Pittsburgh newspaper:

  1. FELLOWSHIPS: University of Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science. One or two semester Fellowship in Residence. Applications for the 2003—2004 academic year are due no later than December 15 2002. Applications for the 2004 Spring term are due no later than March 15 2003. Details below.
  2. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION. Recent changes at NSF. See letter below.
  3. LETTER from Michael Ruse requesting help from philosophers of biology in writing an article for Encyclopedia Britannica. Details below.
  4. CALL FOR PAPERS. Graduate Student Workshop, Virginia Tech STS, 2003. "Technologies/Moralities: The Ethical Grammar of Technological Systems" Abstracts due: 15 October 2002 (for notification by 1 December). See
  5. PSA 2002, MILWAUKEE, November 7 to 10. Current versions of the contributed papers are posted on the PhilSci Archives:
  6. CONFERENCE: 12th. International Congress of Logic Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Oviedo (Spain), August 7-13, 2003. Website: Website: Deadline for abstracts of contributed papers: February 1, 2003.
  7. DIRAC CENTENARY CONFERENCE, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY, September 30 - October 2, 2002: Website: Conference scholarships in the amount of $250.00 and a registration waiver will be available on a limited basis for student participation.
  8. GRADUATE STUDENT CONFERENCE: Mephistos 2003 - A Graduate Student Conference on the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science, Technology, and Medicine. March 6-8, 2003, University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA. Webpage: Deadline for submissions: January 15th, 2003. Please note that as in previous years significant financial help will be offered to those participating in the conference.
  9. CALL FOR PAPERS: ISHPSSB 2003, International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology. Vienna University, Vienna, Austria. July 16-20, 2003. Website: Deadline for submissions: Feb. 1, 2003. There are some travel funds available to support graduate students presenting papers at the conference -- contact Keith Benson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  10. LECTURE SERIES. University of Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science, 43rd Annual Lecture Series Schedule. Go to
  11. COLLOQUIUM. University of Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science. Science, Values, and Objectivity. The 6th Pittsburgh-Konstanz Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, October 3 – 6, 2002. Go to

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1. FELLOWSHIPS: The University of Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science invites you to apply for a one or two semester Fellowship in Residence. Applications for the first, or for both semesters of the 2003—2004 academic year are due no later than December 15th 2002. Applications for the 2004 Spring term are due no later than March 15th 2003. To apply, send a description of your research interests, a CV, and the names and addresses (email if possible) of 2 referees to

  • Center for Philosophy of Science
  • 817 Cathedral of Learning
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Arrange to have your referees send letters for you by the appropriate deadline.

Fellowships include a well supplied office with computer support and other services, access to libraries, eligibility for enrolment in an excellent, and relatively inexpensive health program,. A monthly stipend to cover relocation costs including housing of up to $1,200.00 per month is also provided.

Visiting fellows pursue their scholarly interests in an intellectually rich environment free of teaching and administrative duties in the company of leading scholars in the philosophy, history, rhetoric, and sociology of science, and related subjects. The Center sponsors lectures and workshops (often two or more per week) and provides unlimited opportunities for conversation. Visiting fellows are welcome to attend lecture and seminar courses and conferences at the University of Pittsburgh and CMU.

The University boasts excellent libraries and collections including the Archives of Scientific Philosophy which houses the unpublished writings, correspondence and personal libraries of Reichenbach, Sellars, Salmon, De Finnetti, Ramsey, Carnap, and Hempel. The Center is located in the midst of a community of world renowned philosophers, historians, and scientists. The departments of Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Science are housed 2 floors above the Center. All of the members of both departments are affiliated with the Center as Resident Fellows. Within a short walk is Carnegie Melon University (CMU) whose philosophy department collaborates closely with the Center. Also nearby are a major medical school, research and teaching hospitals including a major center for organ transplants, and a number of laboratories, institutes and academic departments are engaged in groundbreaking work in psychology, neuroscience, physics, computer science, artificial intelligence, and a host of other areas.

For further information write Jim Bogen, care of the Center, or email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

2. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION. Letter from the National Science Foundation, from Bruce E. Seely, Program Director for Science and Technology Studies.

Another transition is occurring at the Science and Technology Studies (STS) Program at NSF. As summer ends, I am completing a two-year turn as "rotator" and returning to Michigan Tech. Keith Benson, formerly executive secretary of the History of Science Society (1993-2000), becomes the new program director on August 19. Keith earned his doctorate at Orgeon State in 1979 in history of science/biological sciences and has taught at the University of Washington. He published The American Development of Biology (1988), and The American Expansion of Biology (1991) with co-editors Ronald Rainger and Jane Maienschein, as well as Oceanographic History: The Pacific and Beyond (2002) with co-editor Philip F. Rehbock. I am sure I leave the program in good hands, and also know that the community will continue to help Keith in all the ways that you have helped me over the past two years.

I would like to take this opportunity to do two things. First, I want to provide a brief report on the status of the STS program and some of the prospects it faces. Second, I want to remind readers of this newsletter about the funding opportunities available from the STS program.

The STS Program in 2002: In fiscal year 2002, the STS program received about 190 proposals, and made 39 grants for scholars awards, conferences, fellowships, and training grants, as well as 19 dissertation improvement awards. The program supported this number of proposals by carefully pruning proposal budgets. The program's total budget was just over $3.9 million, an increased of only 0.9 percent over the previous year.

But there are potentially important developments in the offing at the NSF's Social Science Directorate that could have a significant impact on all social science activities, including the STS program. First, Richard Lempert has arrived as the Division Director for Social and Economic Sciences from the University of Michigan. Rick's background is in law and in sociology, and he has been interested in the biology and society program in Ann Arbor. He is quite supportive of the work that the STS program supports. Potentially more important, the other good news is that the Social Sciences Directorate may be in line for substantial funding increases in fiscal year 2004 and 2005, if plans still under development come to fruition. No one is banking on such future promises, but the NSF's leadership is committed to a focused research area in the social sciences that will increase overall budgets. As part of Rick's effort to undertake his new duties, he asked every program to officer identify opportunities and needs within their community. I suggested the following areas for increasing funding within the STS program:

  • Continuing to encourage STS scholars to make greater contributions to research on the societal implications of emerging science, engineering, and technology, especially in areas targeted by Foundation-wide initiatives. An aspect of this development is the encouragement of more collaborative projects, including multi-campus projects, since most STS scholars continue to pursue investigator-initiated projects, and to work as individuals.
  • Developing greater opportunities for infrastructure projects -- which in the STS program generally have been large documentary and editorial projects. Additional support would allow expansion of support for digital libraries and other tools relying upon electronic resources.
  • Expansion of the Small Grants for Training and Research -- a tool that has not been fully utilized by graduate programs in our field.
  • Additional support for the core fields of history of science and history of technology, philosophy of science, and social studies of science. Too many budgets have had to be trimmed, and even then some good projects cannot be supported at all. Moreover, the core fields continue to show healthy intellectual development, with many new ideas emerging and growing. Philosophers of science, for example, are devoting attention to the philosophy of psychology, stimulated in part by scientific advances in cognitive neuroscience and the development of brain scanning technology. And in the history and social studies of science and technology, a number of scholars are focusing on the senses, examining such topics as smell, sound, noise, touch, music, and visualization. At the same time, work in traditional areas remains strong, with some of the most exciting projects in the past couple of years focused on the medieval and early modern periods.

In short, the field and the program seem to be in pretty good shape, and to face exciting prospects. Stay tuned as the Social Sciences Directorate attempts to develop a research initiative that could provide the funding for these and other areas of research and scholarship.

Funding Opportunities
The STS program eagerly welcomes proposals from scholars in the history of science and the history of technology, in the philosophy of science, and in the social studies of science. The STS Program has two target dates for the submission of proposals every year. The next submission date is February 1, 2003, followed by another cycle beginning on August 1, 2003. Those seeking information about applying should look at NSF announcement 01-159 on the STS Program home page:

The support to scholars working on science and technology studies takes several forms. STS Scholars Awards are the usual mode for supporting research projects. These awards normally provide support to individual researchers for part or all of an academic year, for summer research, or for some combination of academic year and summer. Collaborative Research grants are similar, but allow for the cooperative efforts of two or more investigators. The STS program also provides Postdoctoral Fellowships for scholars within five years of the award date of their doctoral degrees, and Professional Development Fellowships for more senior scholars seeking to acquire expertise in science and engineering (for humanists and social scientists) or in history, philosophy and social studies of science (for engineers and scientists). Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants allow graduate students to meet research expenses not normally available through the student's university. Small Grants for Training and Research (competition for these awards is only in the fall) offer up to three years of support for sustained research efforts on an important issues for the STS community by providing support for a group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Finally, the Program provides partial support for Conferences and Workshops, usually national or international conferences, symposia, and research workshops. Information on specific requirements and any budgetary and programmatic limits can be found in the program announcement on the STS home page ( or directly at . Also, please pay attention to the various documents linked to this page that offer suggestions and ideas about proposal preparation and writing.

A variety Foundation-wide funding opportunities also exist that could be of interest to the STS community of scholars. The most important of these are the Information Technology Research (ITR) and Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NANO). For several years, NSF has been supporting research that examines the societal implications of emerging science and engineering fields, and these two programs currently are the largest sources of new funding at NSF. STS scholars are better equipped than almost anyone else to study the societal implications of these cutting edge science and engineering fields. I am hopeful that historians, philosophers, and scholars working on the social studies of science will submit funding requests. Last year, two exploratory awards for NANO research were made to research teams headed by Davis Baird (philosophy of science, University of South Carolina) and Michael Gorman (science studies, University of Virginia). The NANO announcement for FY 2003 is available ( ), and the Social Science Directorate expects to commit $1 million to this area. The ITR announcement is just being approved as I write this note, and will offer even more support for social science research of all kinds, not just societal implications or STS-oriented research. In both cases, the success rate of proposals is not high, but the average award is much larger than regular STS awards. More importantly, I believe STS scholars have important contributions to make to research in these areas, so please look at these opportunities.

Two final notes
Evaluation Criteria
The NSF has for several years required that all proposals be evaluated using two primary criteria: the scientific merit of the project and its broader impact. The latter category can include the value of a project to scholars in other fields, or to the general public; linkages to educational activities; general public outreach; or the extent to which a proposal helps draw under-represented minorities into science and engineering. The important point is that not only should reviewers pay attention to these elements, but beginning in October, both categories must be addressed in the project summary or the proposal will be returned without review. It is recognized that some projects will be stronger in the second review criteria than others, but all proposals must comment upon both elements.

I owe a special thanks to all of you who have helped the STS program by providing reviews of proposals. The Program relies upon your expert judgment, your judicious comments and suggestions, your careful evaluations. Graduate students continue to tell us, for example, that your comments on their dissertation proposals were among the most useful assistance and comments they received in developing their research projects. I have not always been as timely in acknowledging your help as I should, so let me publicly thank everyone who has reviewed for us. And please continue to help us when we ask. The panel and the program really need your reviews.

I owe a larger debt to the STS Advisory Panel members who have assisted me in so many ways. Most of them serve three years, meeting twice a year to read and rank the projects you submit. But I have also leaned on them for advice and suggestions of many kinds, and learned so much from them about the various professional groups that share the intellectual umbrella of the STS program. They deserve all of your thanks, but mine especially. They've been great! So thank you all!

3. LETTER from Michael Ruse requesting help from philosophers of biology in writing an article for Encyclopedia Britannica.

  • Michael Ruse
  • Philosophy Department
  • Florida State University
  • Tallahassee, Florida, 32306

August 20, 2002

To all fellow philosophers of biology:

I have agreed to write a substantial essay (15,000 words), on the philosophy of biology, for the next edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Tempting though it is to devote the first half of my essay to the early works of Michael Ruse and the second half of my essay to the later works of that same author, I think truly I should be giving a full and fair overview of the field as it is today. To that end, I am soliciting advice from anyone and everyone who cares to reply. Could you take just a few moments to answer three questions for me.

First, could you tell me what topics do you think should be covered? Laws, theories, teleology, reduction, molecular biology, evo-devo, sociobiology, gm foods, or what. Limit your answer to no more than ten suggestions. (Note that my suggestions are split between those that are generally philosophical and those more specifically biological. Follow your own inclinations on this.)

Second, please list for me up to ten publications by people other than you or me (books, articles, theses, etc) that you think are really good.

Third, list three publications by yourself of which you are really proud.

Please, please, please, do not exceed these numbers. The essay must be completed by early next year, and frankly I am not going to plough through lists of a hundred. Do not send publications. I can get them myself.

Accept my thanks now, and please do circulate this letter to anyone who might be interested – however important or humble.

Michael Ruse
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


PSA 2002, Milwaukee:
PhilSci Archives:

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