Dear PSA Members,
I am honored to be serving as the President of PSA (as of January 1, 2017) and want to take a moment to both look forward to new initiatives and opportunities and reflect back on what the organization has been doing. Most importantly, I want to invite you to participate in the activities of the PSA and in collectively considering the “big questions” of how our organization can help you in your research and teaching, connect with other philosophers and scientists, and engage in public discussions about the ability of science to provide reasons and facts to guide our decisions and policies. The political context in much of the world has recently shifted in ways that promote a distrust of science, for example in calling global climate change a hoax and treating “alternative facts” on a par with evidence based claims. As philosophers of science, with expertise in the intricacies of how science works to discover, develop and deploy knowledge, our voices are increasingly important to counteract the, at best naïve and at worst blatantly false, views that posture as truth about science.
The Philosophy of Science Association is an official sponsor of the March for Science, April 22, 2017 https://www.marchforscience.
PSA is partnering with the Union of Concerned Scientists. The UCS, founded in the 1960’s, is a nonprofit science advocacy organization with the mission to "initiate a critical and continuing examination of governmental policy in areas where science and technology are of actual or potential significance." For more information about the Union of Concerned Scientists, visit their webpage http://www.ucsusa.org/. The PSA and UCS are developing a joint webinar on “Scientific Facts and Alternate Facts (sic)” to be aired to the UCS Science Network and more broadly in June 2017. It is still in development, but two PSA members will lead the webinar with introductions from both the UCS Director of the Center for Science and Democracy -- Andrew Rosenberg and myself. The aim is to have a sophisticated discussion of scientific facts that goes beyond the naïve dichotomy of proven truth vs. complete relativism and to address the consequences for democracy and public policy of “alternate facts” which is coded language for attempted rationalizations of ideological positions. I encourage interested PSA members to join the UCS Science Network http://www.ucsusa.org/
PSA sent a letter of solidarity with our colleagues at the Central European University in Hungary, whose academic freedom is being challenged by recent amendments to Hungary’s Higher Education Law that threatens the continued operation of CEU.
PSA is committed to increasing and sustaining diversity in philosophy of science. We have begun collecting demographic data about our membership, meeting submissions and journal submissions. This will give us information about who currently participates in PSA activities and can help us develop and evaluate initiatives to increase diversity in our membership. We are sending a PSA representative, Karim Khalifa (Middlebury) to participate in Brown University’s Summer Immersion Program in Philosophy for undergraduates from traditionally underrepresented groups. In addition we encourage our membership to support other efforts providing opportunities for underrepresented groups of undergraduates to learn more about futures in philosophy of science. There are several general and specialized areas of philosophy, e.g. Munich’s Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students, COMPASS at Michigan, Rutgers Summer Institute for Diversity in Philosophy, UCSD Summer Program for Women in Philosophy, and Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institutes (PIKSI)-Boston and PIKSI-Rock. Notable for philosophy of science is the new Pittsburgh Summer Program in Philosophy of Science for Underrepresented Groups.
HSS: November 1-3, 2018 the PSA Biennial meeting will be held in Seattle, jointly with the History of Science Society. We have had a long and successful working relationship with the HSS, which has included their professional office taking responsibility for many PSA operations including our biennial meetings. This has been changing has over the last years as the PSA has become an increasingly independent organization. Jessica Pfeifer, our Executive Director, runs the PSA office with the help of an associate director (currently Andrew Bridges and formerly Thorian Harris) and student assistants (currently Sarah Lipman and Khaled Elgendy and formerly DeeAnn Spicer, Ryan Sullivan, and Greg Strack) from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, her home institution. Future meetings of the PSA, beginning with our 2020 meeting, will be on our own or negotiated ad hoc with other organizations.
PSA 2018 Seattle: I am happy to announce that the 2018 Program Chair for our Biennial meeting is Kevin Elliot, Michigan State University. Putting together the program is a job that takes many hands, and Kevin will be calling on our membership to serve on the program committee to ensure we have diversity and breadth of expertise to craft an excellent meeting. The poster session at PSA 2016 was a big success and we will have a poster session at PSA 2018. Doreen Fraser, University of Waterloo, is the 2018 Poster Chair and will be forming a poster committee to organize that effort. We are also planning a Public Forum for Seattle, building from our successful event at PSA2016 Atlanta, “How Should Race Be Used in Medicine?”.
Philosophy of Science journal has a new editor beginning July 1, 2017. Jeff Barrett and his team at the University of California, Irvine, the associate editors and the editorial board have done a wonderful job for the last 8 years and the PSA thanks them heartily. Andrea Woody, at the University of Washington, Seattle, will be taking over and she will be asking us to serve as associate editors, on the new editorial board, and to provide support as reviewers required to ensure the journal’s ranking as one of the best in our field.
PSA Governing Board: On January 1, 2017, we welcomed new members Megan Delehanty (University of Calgary), Edouard Machery (University of Pittsburgh) and Alison Wylie (PSA President-elect, University of Washington) to the Governing Board. Continuing members are Ken Waters (PSA Past-President, University of Calgary), Laura Ruetsche (University of Michigan), Michael Weisberg (University of Pennsylvania), Janet Stemwedel (San Jose State University), Peter Godfrey-Smith (University of Sydney) and Anjan Chakravartty (Notre Dame University). We thank those who have stepped down from the board: Alan Richardson (University of British Columbia), Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide) and Helen Longino (PSA Past-President, Stanford University) for their service. PSA members are welcome to contact any member of the governing board with questions and suggestions for how to improve our association.
- Committee on Diversity and Climate
This committee monitors and oversees initiatives related to diversity and climate in the context of the Philosophy of Science Association’s activities and publications. It is chaired by a Governing Board member (currently Janet Stemwedel) and includes one of the co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus (currently Julia Bursten).
- Lectures and Awards Committee
The committee serves a term of two years and is responsible for deciding the PSA Early-Career Scholar Essay Award and the PSA Graduate Student Essay Award. Click here to read more about these and other PSA awards.
- Archive Committee
PSA has begun to collect documents of our history, including records of former editors of Philosophy of Science, programs from our biennial meetings, etc. This committee will explore options for archiving and cataloging these materials.
- Committee on Membership
This committee is responsible for monitoring membership experience, membership dues, and membership numbers and overseeing initiatives pertaining to membership.
- Committee on Open Access Monograph Publishing
Chaired by Bryan Roberts (LSE) and David Teira (UNED Madrid) the committee has been exploring possibilities for developing a PSA book series with several publishers. The Governing Board will be discussing proposals from this committee at our next GB meeting in May 2017. Current members are Jeff Barrett, Sabina Leonelli, John Norton, Ken Waters, and Alison Wylie.
- Public Forum Committee
Following up on our successful public forum at PSA2016 Atlanta, “How Should Race Be Used in Medicine?”, this committee will be developing an outward looking session for PSA 2018 Atlanta. Alison Wylie serves on this committee.
- Finance/Fundraising Committee
PSA is a thriving organization that has been expanding its scope of activities over the last years, and has set up its own office with Jessica Pfeifer, Executive Director at its head. This committee will develop initiatives for increasing and sustaining the financial well-being of the organization.
- Outreach/Engagement Committee
The committee will propose programs to provide training and opportunities for PSA and its membership to participate as experts in public discussions of science and society. The PSA co-chair to the Joint Caucus on Socially Engaged Philosophers and Historians of Science will be invited to participate on this committee.
- Website and Social Media Committee
How can PSA better leverage social media to reach our membership and the public? The committee will develop webpage, Facebook, Twitter and other proposals for increasing our effectiveness.
There is much we can do together sustain and advance the mission of the Philosophy of Science Association. I want to encourage all of you to become active participants, whether it be on the Philosophy of Science editorial board or as reviewers, on one of the PSA committees, in the Women’s Caucus or the Joint Caucus for Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science, on PSA2018 Seattle Program Committee, or the PSA2018 Seattle Poster Committee.
I look forward to working with you all during the next two years!
With best wishes,
Sandra D. Mitchell
President, Philosophy of Science Association
Professor and Chair, Department of History and Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh