Physics Meets Biology: Perspectives from Philosophy, History, and Science

  Erwin_Schrodinger Max_DelbruckkrbbhkJamesDWatson

Royal Society of Edinburgh, 18-20 November 2008

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Internal developments within physics and biology are increasingly driving the two subjects towards each other. The volume of published work and funds available for such interdisciplinary research are rising dramatically.

Collaboration between physicists and biologists generates a host of interesting philosophical problems, since scientists from these disciplines often disagree about issues such as the role of hypothesis in guiding research, what counts as an explanation, etc. Such differences have practical consequences for interdisciplinary research, from the funding of grants, through the actual conduct of research, to the publication of results. This conference aims at bringing together physicists, biologists, historians, philosophers and science policy makers to further our collective understanding of these philosophical issues at the interface between physics and biology.


Confirmed speakers include:

Prof. Evelyn Fox Keller (Science and Technology Studies, MIT)

'Towards a Science of Informed Matter'

Prof. Steven French (History and Philosophy of Science, Leeds)

 'Shifting to Structures in Physics and Biology: A Prophylactic for Promiscuous Realism'

Prof. Michel Morange (Biology & History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, École Normale Supérieure)

'The Limits of Molecular Explanations: A Trigger to Interdisciplinarity'

Dr Gregory Radick (History and Philosophy of Science, Leeds)

'Information Theory in the Biological Sciences in Britain, 1948-1958'

Prof. Otávio Bueno (Philosophy, University of Miami)

'When Physics and Biology Meet: The Nanoscale Case'

Dr Darrell Rowbottom (Philosophy, University of Oxford)

'Approximations, Idealizations and ‘Experiments’ at the Physics-Biology Interface'

Dr. Jane Calvert (ESRC Innogen Centre, University of Edinburgh)

'Calculating Life? A Sociological Perspective on Systems Biology'

Prof. Nigel Brown (Head of College of Science and Engineering, University of Edinburgh)

'Policy and pragmatism - why and how are UK funders promoting multidisciplinary research?'



Organising committee:

Wilson Poon (Physics, Edinburgh), Alexander Bird (Philosophy, Bristol), Tom McLeish (Physics, Leeds), Greg Radick (HPS, Leeds), and Darrell Rowbottom (Physics, Edinburgh & Philosophy, Bristol)

Funded by the John Templeton Foundation 



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