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The Forum is open to everyone, including students, visitors, and faculty members from all departments and institutes!

The 60 minute lecture is followed by a 10 minute break and a 30-60 minute discussion. The language of presentation is English or Hungarian.

The scope of the Forum includes all aspects of theoretical philosophy, including:

  • logic and philosophy of formal sciences
  • philosophy of science
  • modern metaphysics
  • epistemology
  • philosophy of language
  • problems in history of philosophy and history of science, relevant to the above topics
  • particular issues in natural and social sciences, important for the discourses in the main scope of the Forum.


2 October (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Balázs Gyenis
Institute of Philosophy,  Research Center for the Humanities,
 Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

The birth of statistical mechanics: a colored vision
Previously we investigated Maxwell's attempt to justify the assumptions behind his 1860 derivation of the normal distribution. Here we add a further, not yet investigated, piece to the historical and intellectual puzzle surrounding his derivation. We are going to argue that Maxwell's prior and contemporaneous work on color vision provided him familiarity with and sensitivity to application of statistical reasoning in physics. This includes an encounter with distributions outside the context of error theory. We also call attention to a notion of independence of variables employed in his works on color vision that might have impacted the mistake he made in his famous Proposition IV. Finally, by analyzing the parallels Maxwell draws between color mixing in his three dimensional color space and addition of vectors in three dimensions in mechanics we speculate that the birth of statistical mechanics might have been impacted by the contingent fact that the normal human eye has three color receptors.

9 October (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Michael Epperson
Center for Philosophy and the Natural Sciences
California State University, Sacramento
Potentiality and Contextuality in Quantum Mechanics: The Relational Realist Approach
A central thesis of the relational realist speculative philosophical program introduced in the recent volume by M. Epperson and E. Zafiris, Foundations of Relational Realism: A Topological Approach to Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Nature (Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 2013) is that the relationship between the observer and the observed in quantum mechanics is considered to be ontologically significant, such that the eigenstates of a measured system always correlate with the particular Boolean measurement context (e.g., the preferred orthonormal measurement basis and representative Boolean subalgebra) of the chosen measuring apparatus. Thus the global objectivity of facts generated by measurement is at least in some sense conditioned by the ‘subjective’ local context of the measurement—i.e., the facts constitutive of the measuring apparatus by which the preferred basis is defined. At the same time, however, the relationship between the observer and the unobserved in quantum mechanics can likewise be considered ontologically significant, as evinced by the phenomenon of quantum decoherence, such that the probability valuations of the eigenstates of the locally contextualized measured system are objectively conditioned by global facts ‘environmental’ to the measured system. In this way, the bidirectional mutual implication of local contextuality and global objectivity in quantum mechanics is exemplified by the concurrence of [1] extension of locally contextualized actual measurement outcomes to the global quantum state, and [2] restriction of locally contextualized potential measurement outcomes by the global quantum state.

16 October (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Márta Ujvári
Institute of Sociology and Social Policy
Corvinus University, Budapest
Mereological principles doing metaphysical job
The colocation of qua-objects under different sortals is a metaphysical claim recently often mixed with the mereological approach of applying the parthood relation to such colocated objects. Simons and Thomson hold that two colocated objects like the statue as a sortal-token and the lump of clay as its material constitutor are each part of the other. Koslicki (2008) denies symmetry and claims asymmetry to the effect that only the lump is part of the statue, moreover, its proper part, but not vice versa since the statue has an immaterial part not shared by the lump. This position is heavily loaded with metaphysical assumptions while her argument pretends to rely only on mereological principles. Donnely (2011) is critical with the asymmetry argument saying that ‘the best methodology is to develop a mereological theory in conjunction with a particular metaphysical theory, and not to assume principles prior to any more substantial metaphysical commitment.’
While agreeing with his overall conclusion I suggest a different strategy. I say that Koslicki’s argument trades on the equivocity of the very notion of ‘part’. In the scholastic-metaphysical tradition ‘part’ shows up with various meanings and connotations. Not all of these meanings admit the mereological reading of ‘part’ the argument hinges on; while that meaning of ‘part’ supporting the metaphysical conclusion about the statue/clay asymmetry and the material objects’ having also immaterial parts is the one not matching with the mereological meaning explored to make the argument go. Further, if asymmetry cannot be claimed purely on mereological grounds, as I believe it cannot, the absurd consequence ensues that the materia designata, the lump, also has an immaterial part not shared by the statue, the sortal-token. For the argument for the postulation of an immaterial part of the statue can be repeated for the case of the lump: by parity, the lump can also be shown to have an immaterial part not shared by the statue.