Workshop on Significant but Inconclusive Evidence organized by the Swedish National Committee for Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, the research project “Knowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences, and Cures” and the Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm.
When: October 14, 9.00 to 18.00
Where: Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm
Participation is free, but space is limited and registration is required. If you are interested in participating, please send an e-mail to Alexander Stathopoulos (firstname.lastname@example.org) before October 7.
Scientific evidence at times generates significant epistemic support for a hypothesis but falls short of establishing the viability of the hypothesis in a conclusive way. Scientific theories and hypotheses that remain in such an intermediate epistemic state for a long time can be found both in fundamental and in applied science. An adequate understanding of the scientific process needs to allow for the distinction between conclusively established hypotheses and significantly but inconclusively supported hypotheses without denying the epistemic significance of the latter. Moreover, it needs to account for the ways in which scientific views can be compounds of hypotheses of both types. Examples of the latter have become publicly highly visible in recent years in the context of climate change and the Covid crisis. The role of inconclusive but significant evidence generates problems for the presentation of science to a general public that tends to expect unquestionable truth from scientific reasoning. It also generates conceptual problems for the philosophy of science. How can the distinction between conclusive and significant but inconclusive confirmation of a hypothesis be squared with the understanding that any scientific hypothesis is up to modification? How can the gap between credence as a formal conceptual tool for representing the process of confirmation and credence as a scientist’s actual degree of trust in a hypothesis be bridged? And how is it possible to distinguish between scientifically legitimate reasons for having credence in a scientific theory and mere subjective preference? The workshop will address these and similar issues by considering specific case studies as well as general conceptual perspectives.