PSA Newsletter: Vol. 6 No. 1: February 2000

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*************************************************************** PSA NEWSLETTER: Volume 6 : Number 1 : FEBRUARY 2000 ***************************************************************

Edited for the Philosophy of Science Association by Malcolm Forster,


  1. NEH SUMMER SEMINAR: Application Deadline, 1 March 2000.
  2. LAST CALL: PSA Contributed papers DEADLINE, 1 March 2000.
  4. CONFERENCE: Kuhn Reconsidered, March 3-5, 2000.
  5. JOB: Assistant Director, S & T Studies, Falls Church Virginia Tech


  1. The purpose of this letter

1. NEH Summer Seminar for college and university teachers: PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY

Director: Alvin Goldman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Dates: June 26 - August 4, 2000 (6 weeks)
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Stipend: $3,700
Application Deadline: March 1, 2000

This seminar will feature several components of special interest to philosophers of science, and strongly welcomes applications from philosophers of science. Here are some of the topics of primary interest:

BAYESIAN REASONING applied to testimony and other socially produced evidence. We will especially explore the ability of Bayesian reasoning to promote increases in "truth-possession" (in a sense to be defined).

SCIENCE STUDIES and the debates over scientific realism and anti-realism.

The ECONOMIC ANALYSIS of a Market for Speech. This would interest philosophers of social science.

TECHNOLOGY and its role in KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION. "Internet epistemology".

Social Dimensions of SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

"FORMAL" ANALYSIS of the Role of Information in a Democracy. This is another topic that could interest philosophers of social science.

For further information, see a description of the seminar available on the following Web site:

Application materials are also available from that site.

(The Website description does not *highlight* the science- related aspects of the seminar, because it is for general distribution. But those aspects will be covered, and will be covered more intensively as a function of the interests of the actual participants.)

2. LAST CALL: PSA Contributed papers DEADLINE, 1 March 2000.

Please visit for further information. Note: The PSA 2000 biennial conference will be 2-5 November 2000.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science requested that their constituent societies (which includes PSA) write letters of protest to the Governor of Kansas regarding the State Board of Education's decision to de-emphasize the testing (and thereby, presumably, the teaching) of evolution and cosmology. After discussion, the Officers of the Association composed and sent the following message to the Governor. As of the present date (1 Feb 00), the Governor has not seen fit to respond to our message.

George Gale
Executive Secretary

---------------------- The Honorable Bill Graves, Governor
State Capitol, 2nd Floor
Topeka, KS 66612

Dear Governor Graves:

The President and Governing Board of the Philosophy of Science Association deplore the recent decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to remove references to evolution and cosmology from its state education standards and assessments. In our judgment, this decision is likely to decrease the quality of education in Kansas in three important ways.

First, the omission of important and well-established parts of science from the curriculum directly affects the ability of future citizens to understand questions that will affect the well-being of their families and communities. In addition, the students of Kansas will not be given our best answers to questions about the history of our species, the history of life on our planet, and the history of the universe, questions that are of concern to all thoughtful people. There is no more reason to deny them these answers than to leave them with the belief that the Earth is flat.

Second, by pretending that there are serious controversies in areas where a massive body of evidence supports contemporary scientific views, and insisting that this evidence should not be presented and assessed, students are deprived of the opportunity for open critical discussion. An educational system should foster habits of inquiry by giving a fair account of the evidence for rival points of view, and by showing how important questions can be resolved.

Third, by allowing the religious beliefs of a particular group to dictate the form of the science curriculum, the recent decision gives notice to those teaching in Kansas High Schools that they are not to be allowed to impart what they know. They will also understand that they are likely to encounter further pressure to conform to the demands of a very specific faith. Under these circumstances, it is probable that Kansas schools will fail to attract the most thoughtful and dedicated teachers, so that Kansas students will be further disadvantaged.

For these reasons we align ourselves with the AAAS resolution, and urge that this ill-conceived decision be reconsidered.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Jeffrey, President


Kuhn Reconsidered, March 3-5, 2000, Blacksburg, Virginia


  • Peter Achinstein (Johns Hopkins)
  • Roger Ariew (Virginia Tech)
  • Peter Barker (Oklahoma)
  • Richard Burian (Virginia Tech)
  • Peter Dear (Cornell)
  • Daniel Garber (Chicago)
  • Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech)
  • Joseph Pitt (Virginia Tech)

Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Philosophy, Virginia Tech, and the Matchette Foundation.

For further information, please contact Andrew Garnar (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) 540-231-8483 or visit

5. JOB: Assistant Director, S & T Studies, Falls Church Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech announces a tenure-track appointment in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the Assistant Professor or early Associate Professor level beginning August 16, 2000. The successful candidate will serve as a member of the STS faculty and as Assistant Director of the STS Graduate Program at the University's Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, located in the northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. For a more complete description of the position, consult

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A. The purpose of this newsletter

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