Symposium: Realism for realistic people

A Copenhagen-Cambridge symposium on Hasok Chang’s philosophy of science

“In a world filled with so much misinformation, ignorance, prejudice, deception and mistrust, where can we turn for reliable facts, insightful theories, and guidelines for action? I am old-fashioned enough to believe that science and the scientific attitude constitute our best hope. But we are often distracted by an impossible ideal of scientific knowledge as proven universal truth about some ultimate reality. Unrealistic ideals can have harmful consequences.” – with these words, Hasok Chang introduces his forthcoming book Realism for realistic people: A new pragmatic philosophy of science (Cambridge University Press).

This symposium celebrates Chang’s new pragmatic philosophy of science. Several junior and senior scholars from Cambridge, Copenhagen and beyond will reflect and comment on Chang’s work, to explore its limits and (particularly) its extensions to various areas of scientific practice. The symposium will also include an interactive workshop on teaching realism to science students, and we very much hope to see many of you there.


Wednesday 29 June

14:00 Welcome by Hanne Andersen & Sara Green
14:15 Hasok Chang, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. “Realism for realistic people”
15:45 Sarah Hijmans, “What is an element: Applying pragmatist realist epistemology to the study of chemical concepts” / Comments: Knud Jørgen Jensen
16:15 Marabel Riesmeier, “How is water even real?” / Comments: Henrik Kragh Sørensen
17:00 Miguel Ohnesorge “Making meaning at a global scale: A realistic view on conceptual change in physical geoscience” / Comments: Jesper Lundsfryd Rasmussen
17:30 Q&A for junior presentations
18:30  Dinner

Thursday 30 June

9:00 Céline Henne, “Hasok Chang’s epistemology of framing inquiry” / Comments: Brad Wray
9:30 Oscar Westerblad “Understanding (in) scientific practice” / Comments: Ann-Sophie Barwich
10:30 Rory Kent, “Political realism for realistic people: Realpolitik as operationally coherent activity” / Comments: Mikkel Willum Johansen
11:00 Ruward Mulder, “Iterative interpretation and relativity theory” / Comments: Hans Halvorson
11:30 Q&A for junior presentations
13:00 Brad Wray, Department of mathematics – Science studies, University of Aarhus. Commentary on Realism for realistic people
13:40 Hans Halvorson, Department of Science education, University of Copenhagen. Commentary on Realism for realistic people
14:30 Workshop – What do science students need to know about scientific realism?
15:45 Ann-Sophie Barwich, Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Indiana University Bloomington. Commentary on Realism for realistic people
16:25 Panel – Hasok Chang, Brad Wray, Hans Halvorson, Ann-Sophie Barwich
17:15 Closing remarks and going out for a beer

Kind regards,
The organising team (Sara Green, Joeri Witteveen, Bobby Vos, and Helene Scott-Fordsmand)