Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Whitehead lecture at Sydney Ideas

25 August
Peter Farleigh, Physiology, and Centre for Human Aspects of Science and Technology

Venue: Lecture Theatre 101, Sydney Law School Building, Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus
Time: 6.00pm to 7.30 (includes Q & A)

What would the consequences be, if rather than substances and structures, we took events and processes to be the primary entities that make up the universe? And what if instead of the traditional mechanistic model we used the concept of the organism, as the key metaphor in our understanding of the world? These are two central questions that Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) wrestled with in his later years. Whitehead of course, was famous for his early collaboration with Bertrand Russell on one of the most important works of mathematics in history—the three volumes of Principia Mathematica. While the two equally shared the work of this heroic attempt to establish a logical foundation for mathematics, it is not commonly known that there had been a fourth volume planned, which Whitehead alone began working on. But what became of the unfinished volume and why was it important for his philosophical development?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joint Colloquium, USYD-UNSW, Prof Jim Franklin, "Data-free Statistics"

Date: Friday, 20 August, 2010
Time: 2:30 pm
Venue: Room 175 Carslaw Building, University of Sydney

Abstract: Extreme risks must be evaluated in such contexts as quarantine, terrorism and banking. Unfortunately, an extreme risk is one that hasn't happened yet, so directly relevant data is non-existent. The talk surveys what is done in the Basel II compliance regime in banking and in Australian quarantine risk analysis, where there are formal processes for using small data sets to keep expert opinion honest. The usefulness of Extreme Value Theory is considered. Extreme risks raise in acute form the "reference class problem", of how to decide what is the right class in which to take statistics to bear on an individual case. The views of philosophers and legal theorists on the reference class problem are canvassed.

Enquires to Thomas Britz.

All welcome.