What Do We Talk About When We Talk About (Scientific) Practices? 23rd & 24th May 2024, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany.

Extended Deadline: Early career researchers interested in scientific and/or mathematical practices are invited to submit an abstract until 10/02/2024.


In recent years, many researchers working in the philosophy of science have become more and more interested in scientific practices. This so-called “practice turn” seeks to replace or amend the attention traditionally given to scientific theories (their structure, content, and ontological status) with a focus on the practical activities carried out by physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians etc. in their day-to-day work (cf. Mancosu 2008, Hüttemann 2021, Soler et al. 2022).

Questions regarding the role of models as vehicles of representation come to the fore (cf. Giere 2006, Massimi 2022). The interplay between measurement and model-building became a pressing issue in need of philosophical-historical clarification (cf. Chang 2004, Teller 2020). Experiments, rather than proving/disapproving various theories, are understood to explore, shape, and stabilise the meaning of scientific concepts in moments of theoretical change, when the meanings have to be assuredly settled in a working manner (cf. Steinle 2004, Gelfert et al. 2021).

Additionally, philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science became interested in the complex interactive exchanges between different scientific traditions (the “trading zones”). For instance, when analysing the interplay between theoretical and experimental (i.e., instrument-making) traditions, the latter are often found to be conducted somewhat autonomously, with little theoretical input (cf. Galison 1997). Similarly, by analysing how these interactions shape technical notions such as ‘generality’ or ‘simplicity’, a complex and dynamic picture of scientific development emerges (cf. Chemla et al. 2016). Lastly, epistemological issues take centre stage. When studying the practices of mathematicians, Lakatos (1976), Bloor (1976), Ferreiros (2016), and others argue that there is no epistemological significant difference between the practices of mathematicians, and those of natural scientists. But, if this is the case, the epistemological framework of mathematical knowledge may need to be revised (cf. De Toffoli 2021).

These developments have in common their reliance on the notion of ‘scientific practice’. But what exactly is a scientific practice? What is the relation between scientific practice and scientific theory? Are there, in fact, no theories, but only bits of “theory-shaped practices” (cf. French 2020, Baird 2003)? The current workshop aims to address concerns of this kind by raising a broad philosophical question: What do we talk about when we talk about scientific practices?

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Keynotes and Organisation

The workshop will be held from 23/05/2024 to 24/05/2024 at Heinrich Heine University’s Haus der Universität. It is organized by Daian Bica and Paul Hasselkuß (Düsseldorf), and generously supported by the Department of Philosophy, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, the German Society for Analytic Philosophy, and by Prof. Dr. Markus Schrenk (Düsseldorf).


We encourage early career researchers (PhD students and PostDocs) to submit an abstract of max. 500 words prepared for blind review. The (extended) deadline for submissions was 10/02/2024, submissions are now closed.

For questions, please contact the organisers via mail. Due to the extended deadline, the organizing committee will notify authors of its decision by the end of February. There is no participation fee. Unfortunately, we cannot cover travel and accommodation expenses.

Please note that this is an in-person event, it is not possible to participate virtually.

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