11th International Congress of
Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science
August 20-26, 1999, Cracow, Poland
The opening ceremony took place in a large movie theater; sponsors are listed on the poster
[Photo by Haruyo Uchii]
I wish to present a personal report of the congress. I was involved in this congress as a member of the General Program Committee (Peter Gaerdenfors, chair); its job was to nominate Sectional Program Committees for 17 sections, and to plan Plenary lectures and Special Symposia. Its work began about two years ago, and eventually, the following lectures and syumposia were put on the program:
Opening Lecture by Andrzej K. Wroblewski, "Development of Science---Order or Arbitrariness?", August 20
Lecture by Stanislaw Lem, "On the Future of Science", August 25
Closing Lecturte by John Maynard-Smith, "On the Concept of Information in Biology", August 26
A Hundred Years of Philosophy of Science (Symposium): A. Richardson, E. McMullin, G. Irzik
Cognitive Science meets Philosophy of Science (Symposium): P. Chruchland, R. N. Giere, A. Gopnik
Special Round-Table Symposium on Ethics and Responsibility in Science: W. Salmon, M. Kaiser, D. Mayo, H. Kincaid, M. Salmon, G. Wolters
I will later add brief comments on some of these lectures and symposia (Part 2). But first let me give you brief descriptions of the city of Cracow.
Look at the map of Poland. Poland is generally a flat land, and Cracow (red mark) is located in a southernn part of the country. On the border with Slovakia is a mountain area, the center of which is Zakopane (green mark), one of the most popular places for Poles as well as for tourists. You can also easily visit the infamous Auschwitz (Osiwiencim, yellow mark) from Cracow; it's about one hour drive. Czenstochowa (blue mark), the Polish sanctuary (with the monastery Jasna Gora which has the old icon "Black Madonna") is also within the area of one-day excursion from Cracow. Wieliczka Salt Mine is also close to Cracow, and the Farewell Banquet was in fact held in the Mine (a large hall underground). As a matter of fact, I have visited all of them during the congress.
Now, Cracow is a very charming city, all the major monuments (there are plenty of them!) within the walking distance. The city was the old capital of Poland, and the Castle "Wawel" is on the limestone hill looking down the river Wisla. Among the most impressive monuments are "Barbakan", "Sukiennice", and the "Collegium Maius" of Jagiellonian University; this Collegium Maius has a musium where some of Copernicus's remaining pieces are preserved. This university is the main site of the congress, and its center is Collegium Novum; outside is the statue of Copernicus. Another beautiful monument is the Church of St. Mary (Kosciol Najswietszej Panny Marii), but it is now being repaired, although we can look inside.
There are many birds in the city (especially around the parks sorrounding the old city), and there are many coaches (for tourists) as well as buses and trams. Thus the smell of the excrements of birds and horses may impress you as you walk around! The airport is small, and you may need patience in order to exchange your money into Zloty at the airport; still the charm of the city overwhelms all this, and you may want to come back. There are many good cafes and restaurants (definitely cheap on Japanese standard; e.g. you can have a nice dinner with beer, and it only costs about ™∂1200), and meals are generally far better than those in the United States. You can also enjoy many buskers on the streets.
Wroblewski (Institute of Physics, Warsaw), "Development of Science---Order or Arbitrariness?", was a provocative lecture. Referring to many significant scientific discoveries, he insisted that some of them (e.g. the discovery of electro-magnetic induction) could have been made 100 years earlier, since no technological and other obstacles existed; the only explanation for this seems to be that scientists 100 years earlier did not have interests in that sort of phenomena, which indicates that the history of physics has been regulated by arbitrariness. Wroblewski disclosed his dislike for "dialectical materialism" occasionally.
Lem, "On the Future of Science", was somehow hard to follow, partly because English translation was superimposed on his Polish lecture. He presented many recollections and speculations, suggesting his foresightedness in many respects. However, personally, I have been unable to obtain any significant suggestion on the future of science from his lecture.
Maynard-Smith, "On the Concept of Information in Biology", suggested the usefulness of the concept of information in biology. Drawing on Dretske's notion of information, he insisted that the use of that concept is legitimate as far as it is used in connection with natural selection. Philosophers may criticize biologists's use of the term, but biologists know what they are doing. [Maynard-Smith is pretty old, but he appeared in many sessions of the congress.]
A Hundred Years of Philosophy of Science is supposed to look back the trends of philosophy of science in this century. Richardson argued that the logical empiricism of Carnap was a "modernist" attempt to turn philosophy into a kind of scientific activities. McMullin reviewed the latter half of this century, with some misgivings about anti-realism and social constructivism. Irzik contrasted Carnap with Kuhn, and called our attention to their affinities; and he argued against Friedman's formula "Carnap + Kuhn = Social Constructivism". Each talk was not bad; but taken together, their topics all centered on Carnap and Kuhn. Thus, personally, I was disappointed with this symposium, because other important trends, such as the conventionalist-vs.-empiricist argument (Mach-Poincare-Einstein-Reichenbach) are completely ignored.
As regards Cognitive Science meets Philosophy of Science and Symposium on Ethics and Responsibility in Science*, I regret to say that I missed them. The former was scheduled around the same time as Deborah Mayo's invited lecture "Theory testing, statistical methodology, and experimental knowledge" (which was worthwhile), and the latter took place on the same day I participated in a tour to Zakopane (for which I payed well in advance); we knew the time schedule only after we came to Cracow, and that was one of the defects of the planning of this congress. However, the local organizing committee has done a superb job in most other respects (including many tours for the participants).
The next congress will be held in Oviedo, Spain in 2003.
*Merrilee Salmon's paper in this symposium was expanded and appeared in our Newsletter 34.
I wish to acknowledge that this travel was made possible by a grant from the project of FINE (Foundations of Information Ethics).
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September 6, 1999. Last modified January 13, 2003. (c) Soshichi Uchii