Tag Archives: philosophy

Andrea Woody — 24 April 2015 — ‘Setting the Agenda’

Past talk:
12:00 Friday, April 24                                                                                       WAG 316

Andrea Woody

“Setting the Agenda: Recognizing Diverse Goals for Scientific Activity”

Dr. Woody is Associate Professor of Philosophy and faculty in Dance, History, and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington. She co-edited Philosophy of Chemistry (2011), serves as Associate Editor for Philosophy of Science and Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences and is a member of the Editorial Board of Foundations of Chemistry.


Past talk:
12:00 Friday, April 10                                                                                       WAG 316

Richard Fitzpatrick

“Ptolemy’s Almagest: Fact and Fiction”

The modern world inherited two major scientific treatises from the civilization of Ancient Greece. The first of these, the Elements of Euclid, is a large compendium of mathematical theorems concerning geometry, proportion, and number theory. The Elements is rightly regarded as the first, largely successful, attempt to construct an axiomatic system in mathematics, and is still held in high esteem within the scientific community. The second treatise, the Almagest of Claudius Ptolemy, is an attempt to find a simple geometric explanation for the apparent motions of the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets in the earth’s sky. The scientific reputation of the Almagest has not fared as well as that of Euclid’s Elements. Nowadays, it is a commonly held belief, even amongst scientists, that Ptolemy’s mistaken adherence to the tenets of Aristotelian philosophy—in particular, the immovability of the earth, and the necessity for heavenly bodies to move uniformly in circles—led him to construct an overcomplicated, unwieldy, and faintly ridiculous model of planetary motion. The aim of this talk is to re-examine the scientific merits of the Almagest and to determine whether the aforementioned criticisms are fair.

UT Professor of Physics Fitzpatrick is author of several books, including Plasma Physics: An Introduction (2014) and a translation of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry (2007).