Mind, Technology, and Society Talk Series

Speaker: Rick Dale
Associate Professor, UC Merced
Director, Cognaction Lab

Time/Date: 3-4:30 p.m. Monday, February 9th, 2015

Location: Chancellor’s Conference Room, KL 232

Title: “Quantifying Metaphilosophy”

Eric Dietrich
Professor of Philosophy, Binghamton University

There is a long tradition of philosophy serving as a kind of custodian to the sciences. In this capacity, especially in the early twentieth century, philosophy sought to define the status of and boundaries around scientific investigation. Using quite different methods from philosophical analysis, the problem of identifying the status and structure of scientific practice has now been taken up by the new field of scientometrics (see Börner, 2010, for review). Scientometrics—the scientific study of science—has permitted new quantification of the nature and structure of science, often through analysis of massive data lying in publication and abstract repositories (e.g., Börner et al., 2012). With this framework, the twenty-first century may see a reversal of many of these custodial assumptions about the relationship between philosophy and science. Scientometric approaches afford new opportunities to turn science onto philosophy, to study the status and boundaries around philosophical investigation, and even discuss its progress. In this talk, we will showcase analysis of over a half century of philosophy, linguistics, and biology, and compare these fields using tens of thousands of articles and keywords processed automatically. The discussion will conclude that a revolution of “experimental philosophy” ought to be broadened into a “data-driven philosophy,” in which even metaphilosophy itself can pursue empirical investigations using large sources of academic data available completely for free and awaiting the tender hand of data and cognitive scientists.

Bio: Rick Dale is Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at UC Merced. He received his PhD in 2006 from Cornell University and BA from the University of Toronto in 2000. Dale does diverse research on language, from how it evolved, to how we use it in casual conversations. The general thrust of his work is to use new quantitative methods to explore how language is a highly adaptive behavioral system in various contexts and timescales. He’s been funded in various ways and has some articles and such so feel free to consult his website for details: cognaction.org/rick.