Home About Subscribe Search Member Area

Humanist Discussion Group

< Back to Volume 32

Humanist Archives: Jan. 20, 2019, 6:52 a.m. Humanist 32.361 - events: simplicities and complexities

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 361.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2019-01-19 16:14:07+00:00
        From: Uni-Wuppertal 
        Subject: Extended Deadline CfP + Essay competition: Simplicities and Complexities Conference (Bonn) 24 January 2019

International Conference on Simplicities and Complexities
22-24 May 2019
Bonn, Germany
Call for Papers + Essay Competition - Extended Deadline: 24 January 2019

“Simplicities and Complexities" will take place from 22 to 24 May 2019
at the University of Bonn, Germany. It aims to bring together scientists
and scholars from a spectrum of disciplines such as physics, biology,
ecology, chemistry, and computational science, as well as from
philosophy, sociology, and history of science. This conference is
organized by the interdisciplinary, DFG- and FWF-funded research unit
"Epistemology of the LHC

Call for Papers
The organizing committee invites abstract submissions on the theme of
the conference. Short abstracts (200-300 words) should be submitted to
EasyChairby 24 January 2019. We aim to communicate our decision by 28
February. Submissions are welcome from the broad spectrum of scientific
fields. In addition to being considered for giving a contributing talk,
all submissions will also be considered for our essay competition.

Essay competition
All submitted abstracts will also automatically be considered for the
‘Simplicities & Complexities Essay Competition’. (If you do not want
your abstract to be considered for this competition, please indicate
this through EasyChair at the time of application.) From the list of
applicants selected to give contributing talks, a shortlist of the six
best submissions will be determined. These six finalists enter the final
round of the Essay Competition. They will be contacted by February 15th,
and asked to submit a 3000-5000-word essay before April 15th. One winner
will be chosen and announced in the first week of May. This winner will
receive the following prizes:

    Instead of a regular contributing talk, the winner will present
     their essay during a longer, public ‘Award Lecture’ (at some point
     during the conference)
    Travel reimbursement (up to 300€) + hotel room

Please note that once shortlisted you are guaranteed to speak at the
Conference (either as a regular contributing speaker, or, in case of the
winner, as the Award-winning Public Speaker).

The organizing committee invites participants from sciences and from
philosophy, history, sociology of physics/science, as well as anyone
else who may be interested. In order to  register for this conference,
please email your name and affiliation to
lhc.epistemology@uni-wuppertal.de by 1 May 2019. Registration is


Philosophers and scientists alike have often assumed simplicity to be an
epistemic ideal. Some examples of theories taken as successful
realizations of this ideal include General Relativity and Darwin's
theory of Natural Selection. These theories influenced early and
mid-20th century philosophers' understanding of the criteria successful
scientific theories and practices had to meet, even when facing complex
phenomena. However, this influence did not mean that the notion of
simplicity was clear-cut. A suitable and encompassing definition of
simplicity has yet to be developed. Some unanswered questions include:
In what sense can and do physicists consider a theory, such as the
Standard Model of elementary particle physics, as being sufficiently
simple? How do ideals of simplicity differ when applied to disciplines
other than physics? Biological concepts, for example, do not tend to
refer to laws, whereas concepts from the social sciences frequently
resort to notions of order and structure that are different from those
of natural sciences. Are there, accordingly, simplicities (in plural)
rather than a unified logic-inspired notion? Finally, are there cases
where simplicity is simply a bad epistemic ideal, and not merely for the
reason that it is often unreachable?

Throughout the 20th century the sciences have approached more and more
complex phenomena, in tune with the increased social relevance of
scientific knowledge. The perceived need to address complexity head-on
has led to a broader reaction against simplification and reductionism
within the sciences. However, if simplicity, in its various outfits, has
proven an unreliable guide, what should it be replaced with? Looking at
the various strategies of addressing complexity in the sciences and the
disciplines reflecting upon them, it appears that the notion is at least
as variegated as simplicity. To be sure, there exist measures of
complexity as well as mathematical, empirical, or discursive strategies
to deal with it, but they vary strongly from one discipline to another.

The aim of the conference is to analyze, differentiate, and connect the
various notions and practices of simplicity and complexity, in physics
as well as in other sciences, guided by the following questions:

    Which kinds and levels of simplicity can be distinguished (e.g.
     formal or ontological, structural or practical)? Which roles do they
     play and which purposes do they serve? Does simplicity, in a
     suitable reformulation, remain a valid ideal - and if so, in which
     fields and problem contexts? Or, instead, where has it been
     abandoned or replaced by a plurality of interconnected approaches
     and alternative perspectives?
    What about complexity? How is the complexity of an object of
     investigation addressed (represented, mirrored, negated, etc.) by
     the adopted theoretical and empirical approaches in different fields?
    Addressing complex problems, especially those relevant to society,
     requires institutional settings beyond the traditional research
     laboratory. How does the complexity of such settings relate to the
     complexity of epistemic strategies and of the problems themselves?
     In what sense can we trust the other players in a complex epistemic
    How should we conceive of the relation between simplicity and
     complexity? Are there alternatives to seeing complexity in
     opposition to simplicity? Does physics, in virtue of its history,
     maintain its special position in the contemporary debates on
     simplicity and complexity? What do reflections on the epistemic
     cultures of ecology, cultural anthropology, economics, etc. have to
     offer in terms of how simplicities and complexities can be balanced?

We invite contributors from a spectrum of disciplines, scientists and
scholars reflecting on their respective and neighboring research fields,
as well as historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science
investigating the epistemologies, practices, and discourses of fellow
epistemic communities. The conference will thrive on intense discussion
surpassing disciplinary boundaries.

Invited Speakers
Robert Harlander, RWTH Aachen (Germany)
Stephen Blundell, University of Oxford (UK)
Beate Heinemann, DESY Freiburg (Germany)

Michael Stöltzner, University of South Carolina (US)
Marta Bertolaso, University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome (Italy)
Richard Dawid, Stockholms Universitet (Sweden)
Johannes Lenhard, Universität Bielefeld (Germany)

Talia Dan-Cohen, Washington University in St. Louis (US)
Stefan Böschen, RWTH Aachen (Germany)

/Other Sciences:/
Volker Grimm, Helmholtz Centre for Enviromental Research (Germany)
Thomas Vogt, University of South Carolina (US)

/Other speakers will be announced soon/

This workshop is organized by the DFG and FWF-funded research unit
"Epistemology of the LHC

    Cristin Chall (University of Bonn)
    Dennis Lehmkuhl (University of Bonn)
    Niels Martens (RWTH Aachen)
    Martina Merz (University of Klagenfurt)
    Miguel Ángel Carretero Sahuquillo (University of Wuppertal)
    Gregor Schiemann (University of Wuppertal)
    Michael Stöltzner (University of South Carolina)

For further information, please contact

Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted
List posts to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org
Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/
Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php

Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)

This site is maintained under a service level agreement by King's Digital Lab.