CFP: Revolutions: Scientific and Social

Submission deadline: February 19, 2016

Conference date(s):
April 1, 2016 - April 2, 2016

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, Concordia University
Montréal, Canada

Topic areas


Concordia Graduate Philosophy Conference

Revolutions: Scientific and Social

April 1st & 2nd, 2016 at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec

“Sciences (and technologies) and their societies constitute each other. Each provides resources for the development of the other - and this can occur whether such development is politically and intellectually progressive or regressive.”

  • Sandra Harding, “Beyond Postcolonial Theory: Two Undertheorized Perspectives on Science and Technology” in The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader (2011).

Call for Papers:

What do we intend to say when we use the language of Revolution and Disruption? Words like ‘revolutionizing’ and ‘radical transformation’ are commonly used by Silicon Valley startups, progressive CEOs and ‘green’ venture capitalists to describe their technological innovations as progressive market ‘disruptions’. The aim of this conference is to analyse, debate, problematize and get clearer on the meanings, uses, and consequences of revolutionary language in both scientific and social contexts. Important questions include: How does the co-optation of radical discourses by dominant discursive practices transform the meaning of progressive rhetoric? When does this co-optation bear the possibility of giving rise to an autoimmunity of dominant social orders? And when is it necessary to return to the use of revolutionary discourse as a means of disrupting dominant discursive practices?

Thomas Kuhn’s influential work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) greatly influenced these questions within the realm of scientific discourse as well as a large number of other theoretical backgrounds: from empiricism and realism, to constructivism and postmodernism. Revolutionary discourse in science has been utilised by radical feminist, Marxist and postcolonial critiques of the dominantly positivistic tendencies of western early 20th century philosophy of science. And the historiography and sociology of science has provided important insights into the nature of scientific discoveries.

In what ways do the contexts of discovery and justification change with changing social, economic or political contexts? How do sociopolitical values play a role in determining directions of innovation in scientific research? And how do the choices of which paths of inquiry to pursue, which methods of data collection to employ and which models to utilize influence our understanding of scientific worldviews?

The Anthropocene has challenged our understanding of the separation between nature and technological innovation. Industrialization and revolution in technological production has directly shaped the current geological epoch, where humanity’s role as a historical agent has come into view. How do epistemic and non-epistemic values in the adoption of climate change models effect shifts, not only in the conceptual, but in the actual world(s) that we inhabit? What role can social and scientific revolutions play in humanity’s reckoning with its own agency as a historical and geological force?

With rising inequality, decreasing labour rights, and increasing global temperatures, it is becoming increasingly important to create new and disruptive practices and ways of thinking. In the uptake of revolutionary rhetoric by both dominant and marginalized demographics, The diversity of scientific and social practices has prompted philosophical arguments in defense of the priority and legitimacy of certain projects over others. Such arguments explore linguistic, social, and ontological issues and demand practical engagement, by exploring and critiquing the philosophical assumptions and values behind those movements. While philosophy can sometimes wrongfully be seen as an excuse for inaction, it can provide an opportunity to get clear on and find the right reasons for action. By engaging with the scientific, social, and moral dimensions of revolutions, philosophy can play an important role in shaping our approach to the world.

The Concordia Graduate Philosophy Students’ Association invites papers from graduate students (as well as high quality papers from undergraduate students and independent scholars) from the broad spectrum of philosophical thought and other related disciplines that engage with the theme of social and scientific revolutions.

Papers or abstracts are welcome for submission, though priority will be given to papers. Abstracts should be 300-500 words.Papers should be suitable for a twenty minute presentation (maximum 3,000 words), followed by ten minutes for discussion. We highly encourage submissions from both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as from other disciplines or critical frameworks. Submissions in English and French are both welcome.

Please send submissions to [email protected], in .doc or .docx format by February 19th. Each submission should be prepared for blind review. Please include your name, the title of your presentation, and your institutional affiliation in your email.

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