Portrait of Luca Pacioli, by Barbari


18-22/11/2020 Our symposium "Possibility Claims in Science: Philosophy of Science Meets Modal Epistemology" at the 27th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association in Baltimore

1-4/10/2020 2nd Joint Vienna-Stockholm Workshop in Vienna: "Modeling the Possible"

29-30/5/2020 1st Joint Stockholm-Vienna Workshop in Stockholm: "Modal Epistemology meets Philosophy of Science"

30/1/2020 Ylwa & Till present their paper Different possibility concepts and their relevance in science at the philosophy of science seminar at Stockholm University.

29/10-1/11/2019 Group meeting in Vienna

22-27/6/2019 Till visits Tarja and the ERC project in Vienna

4-7/5/2019 First group meeting with Tarja & Ylwa in Stockholm.

11/4/2019 Ylwa Sjölin Wirling has accepted the offer to work as a postdoc in the project.

01/1/2019 Project begins.

05/11/2018 The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) awarded us a four-year grant (SEK 5.5 Mio) for the project "Towards a Methodology of Modal Modeling for Science".

Towards a Methodology of Modal Modeling for Science

Research project, running from 1/1/2019 - 31/12/2022, located at KTH, Stockholm

Scientists across many different areas make modal claims – in particular, they often make claims about what is and what isn’t possible. They argue that new substances are possible to synthesize, propose possible causes of phenomena, suggest that some future scenarios are possible while others are not, and so on. Can such modal claims be justified, and if so, how?

Although many important issues in disciplines ranging from fundamental physics, through climate science and synthetic biology, to economics and risk management, depend on modal claims, philosophers of science and scientists themselves offer surprisingly few answers when it comes to these questions of justification. But a common and presumably important strategy involves referring to some scientific model by way of support for a given possibility claim. Our project investigates this practice of inferring modal claims from scientific models.

The project aims to describe exemplary practices of such modal modelling, to provide a philosophical account that both explains and justifies these scientific practices, and to offer methodological prescriptions for how to construct good modal models. In describing existing modal modelling practices, we focus on three scientific domains in which the use of modal models is especially prominent: modeling possible organisms in synthetic biology, scenario-construction in climate science and how-possibly explanation in economics. We draw both on available accounts of the epistemology of scientific modelling, but importantly also on recent work in the epistemology of modality. For instance, there are several interesting interconnections between the roles modal epistemology assigns to cognitive tools like mental models, epistemic counterparts, imaginary scenarios and simulations, and the role played by models in scientific reasoning. Some of the insights provided in this investigation can also be fed back into the epistemology of modality proper, in particular the parts of it concerned with scientifically interesting modal claims.