Nicholas Binney at the Biological Interest Group – Monday 5th October, 1-2pm, Byrne House

Dear all,

You are invited to the first meeting of this academic year’s Biological Interest Group (BIG). It will take place this coming Monday 5th of October. It will be held in the seminar room at Byrne House, from 1-2pm. Participants can bring lunch and drinks if they wish.

Next week we are very pleased to receive the visit of Nicholas Binney, from EGENIS. We will be discussing the attached paper ‘Conventionalism and Medicine”. This is a draft chapter of his thesis, and Nicholas is looking for any feedback on the strength of the arguments that he puts forward. He also kindly provided us with a brief summary :

“This chapter focuses on what [Ludwik] Fleck calls the “active” element of knowledge. It may be helpful for people to know that in the next chapter of my thesis I discuss further how the “passive” element allows for the way the world is to constrain knowledge production. Here I also find it helpful to read Fleck as a conventionalist, as Fleck clearly makes some claims about the passive element of knowledge that support an extreme form of relativism I find unhelpful. For instance, Fleck at one point says that there is no qualitative difference between myth and reality. The conventionalist elements in Fleck’s epistemology protect against this collapse into relativism, and this is a large part of why I want to show how he can be read as a conventionalist philosopher.”

Due to the size of the paper, Nicholas would like people to preferably focus on the introduction, section 1 and section 4. The introduction provides a summary of his thesis, Section 1 presents two different historical points of view on the facts about the diagnostic value of the stethoscope, and Section 4 argues for an interpretation of Ludwik Fleck’s epistemology as a species of conventionalism.

I also wanted to transmit you an updated schedule for this term’s BIG meetings :
19th October – Paul Brassley
2nd November – Sara Weaver
9th November – Miguel López Paleta
16th November – Jessey Wright
30th November – Sara Green
7th December – William Goodwin

Please contact Thomas Bonnin at tb391 [at] if you wish to join the group or for any other information.