The Semantics of Scientific Theories

June 23, 2016 - June 25, 2016
Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München


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Keynote speakers:

Holger Andreas
University of British Columbia, Okanagan
Adam Caulton
Cambridge University
Hans Halvorson
Princeton University
Elaine Landry
UC Davis
Reinhard Muskens
Tilburg University
Christopher Pincock
Ohio State University
Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem
University of Pretoria
Gerhard Schurz
Universität Düsseldorf
Mauricio Suárez
Universidad Complutense


Erik Curiel
MCMP, LMU Munich
Sebastian Lutz
MCMP, LMU Munich

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Since 1970, no major international conference has been dedicated to the problem of the semantics of theories, even though the problem is of central and fundamental importance in all branches and topics of philosophy of science. The time, therefore, is ripe for such a major conference, bringing together leading proponents and critics of all major schools of thought on the problem. Such a gathering will spur new, innovative approaches to the problem, as well as connecting and invigorating work on existing approaches. It will also provide young researchers with a comprehensive introduction to the state of the art of this central field of research, and established researchers with a comprehensive overview.

The conference aims to explore the issues and problems attending the attempts to understand the semantics of scientific theories. Specific questions we want the conference to address include (but are not limited to):

  • What is it to formulate an account of the semantics of scientific theories?
  • What are the relative virtues and demerits of formal, technical versus informal, heuristic approaches to the problem?
  • What are the relative virtues and demerits of the most influential contemporary schools of thought (syntactic or received view, semantic view, structuralism, inferentialism, inter alia)?
  • How can one distinguish the pragmatics from the semantics, and what role does or ought each of them play?
  • Should there be a single, unified account of the semantics of theories for all branches of science, or do theories in different sciences (physics, biology, the social sciences, et al.) require different semantics?
  • What roles do representation and the general idea of a model play in semantics?
  • What input, if any, should the psychological and neurocognitive sciences have in a proper understanding of semantics?
  • What is the relation, if any, between the semantics of scientific theories and the semantics of mathematical theories?
  • How does or should a proper understanding of the semantics bear on related philosophical problems concerning scientific theories, including: their structure; their relation to experiment and observation; the status of theoretical terms and the realism-versus-instrumentalism debate; the distinction between factual and conceptual truths; issues of confirmation, reduction and emergence, incommensurability, concept-formation; etc.?



  • Holger Andreas (British Columbia)
  • Adam Caulton (Cambridge, MCMP/LMU Munich)
  • Hans Halvorson (Princeton)
  • Elaine Landry (UC Davis)
  • Reinhard Muskens (Tilburg)
  • Christopher Pincock (Ohio State)
  • Laura Ruetsche (Michigan, pending final confirmation)
  • Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem (Pretoria)
  • Gerhard Schurz (Düsseldorf)
  • Mauricio Suárez (Madrid)



Please send registration requests by 1 June 2016 to the co-organizer Sebastian Lutz ( The email should have the subject: "register" and contain your name and affiliation as you would like it to appear on your conference name-tag. Also please indicate whether you plan to attend the conference dinner (24 June, 2016). The fees for the conference and dinner are as follows.

Senior researchers with permanent positions (associate and full
professors, etc.): conference fee and dinner EUR 50 (combined)

Junior researchers (assistant professors, post-docs, etc.): conference
fee and dinner EUR 30 (combined)

Students (masters, doctoral, etc.): conference fee and dinner EUR 15



Holger Andreas (British Columbia/MCMP), Seamus Bradley (MCMP/LMU Munich), Adam Caulton (Cambridge, MCMP/LMU Munich), Hans Halvorson (Princeton), Johannes Korbmacher (MCMP/LMU Munich), Elaine Landry (UC Davis), Kristina Liefke (MCMP/LMU Munich), Margaret Morrisson (Toronto), Reinhard Muskens (Tilburg), Francesca Pero (Madrid), Christopher Pincock (Ohio State), Laura Ruetsche (Michigan), Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem (Pretoria), Gerhard Schurz (Düsseldorf), Mauricio Suárez (Madrid)


Please direct any inquiry to the co-organizers: Erik Curiel ( and Sebastian Lutz

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June 1, 2016, 11:45pm CET

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