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MCMP – Metaphilosophy

Mathematical Philosophy - the application of logical and mathematical methods in philosophy - is about to experience a tremendous boom in various areas of philosophy. At the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, which is funded mostly by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, philosophical research will be carried out mathematically, that is, by means of methods that are very close to those used by the scientists.The purpose of doing philosophy in this way is not to reduce philosophy to mathematics or to natural science in any sense; rather mathematics is applied in order to derive philosophical conclusions from philosophical assumptions, just as in physics mathematical methods are used to derive physical predictions from physical laws.Nor is the idea of mathematical philosophy to dismiss any of the ancient questions of philosophy as irrelevant or senseless: although modern mathematical philosophy owes a lot to the heritage of the Vienna and Berlin Circles of Logical Empiricism, unlike the Logical Empiricists most mathematical philosophers today are driven by the same traditional questions about truth, knowledge, rationality, the nature of objects, morality, and the like, which were driving the classical philosophers, and no area of traditional philosophy is taken to be intrinsically misguided or confused anymore. It is just that some of the traditional questions of philosophy can be made much clearer and much more precise in logical-mathematical terms, for some of these questions answers can be given by means of mathematical proofs or models, and on this basis new and more concrete philosophical questions emerge. This may then lead to philosophical progress, and ultimately that is the goal of the Center.

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History: an Art between Science and Fiction

Ralph Cahn (LMU) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (5 June, 2013) titled "History: an Art between Science and Fiction". Abstract: What is History? This question was the title of Edward Carr’s famous Trevelyan Lecture in 1963. There is still no final answer to this question but a couple of different approaches. There is an anthropological approach beginning with the importance of memory for consciousness. There are narrative, idealistic, realistic or empiricist and constructivist methodological approaches. History then becomes the art of writing certain stories or of reenacting the past, a method of collecting or of constructing facts. There are functional approaches about the different uses of history in society and there is a certain skepticism concerning historical knowledge and its use. I will try do give an introductory overview of the very different problems of scientific method in the humanities.


18 Apr 2019

Rank #1

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Computer Simulation as a tool for the Philosopher

Kevin J.S. Zollmann (CMU) gives a talk at the Workshop on Computational Methods in Philosophy (11 April, 2014) titled "Computer Simulation as a tool for the Philosopher". Abstract: While other sciences have been quick to adopt computational methods, philosophy has resisted. In this talk I will argue that rather than being a radical new methodology, computer simulations are entirely consistent with traditional philosophical argument. A number of common objections to computer simulations will be discussed, and some advice regarding best practices in simulation will be provided.


18 Apr 2019

Rank #2

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Mathematical Philosophy, Science and Public Policy

Stephan Hartmann (MCMP/LMU) gives an evening lecture on "Mathematical Philosophy, Science and Public Policy", hosted by the German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI) on occasion of the MCMP workshop "Bridges 2014" in the German House, New York City (2 and 3 September, 2014). Abstract: What is the proper method of philosophy? To what extent does the philosophical method differ from the scientific method? Many philosophers believe that philosophy is an armchair activity and that the exact methods of the natural and social sciences cannot guide philosophical research. Scientific Philosophy, on the contrary, maintains that philosophical theses and arguments should be just as clear and precise as scientific ones: philosophers ought to build theories and models as much as scientists do; and the application of mathematical methods as well as input from empirical studies are often necessary in order to gain new insights into old philosophical questions and to progress to new and deeper ones. This talk spells out Scientific Philosophy by focusing on central themes from the philosophy of science. It focuses on understanding aspects of scientific rationality and presents descriptively adequate and normatively interesting models of intertheoretic relations, scientific reasoning, and decision-making in a scientific community. These topics have a philosophical as well as a scientific dimension, and addressing them requires a combination of methods from both areas.


18 Sep 2014

Rank #3

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Judgments and Lotteries

Andreas Stokke (Umeå) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (16 January, 2014) titled "Judgments and Lotteries". Abstract: Timothy Williamson has argued that the challenge from experimental philosophy is a form of skepticism about judgments. Given reasons to believe that the actual world contains instances of scenarios for judgment skepticism, Williamson argues that judgment skepticism cannot be dismissed as far-fetched in the manner of familiar types of responses to other kinds of skepticism. I argue that the problem presented by judgment skepticism is an instance of the well-known class of problems involving lottery propositions. Hence, the threat from judgment skeptical scenarios motivates skepticism about practices of making judgments only if lottery problems in general motivate skepticism.


21 Feb 2014

Rank #4

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