New York University Professor Gives World Philosophy Day Lecture

World Philosophy Day has been celebrated internationally on the third Thursday of November since 2002. It was officially proclaimed by UNESCO in 2005 to celebrate and advance philosophy as “a discipline that encourages critical and independent thought and is capable of working towards a better understanding of the world and promoting tolerance and peace.”

With the support of funds from Alumni Annual Giving, the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies hosted NC State’s second World Philosophy Day Lecture on November 17, 2016. The speaker was Michael Strevens, Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Strevens completed a B.Sc. in Computer Science, a B.A. in Mathematics, and an M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Auckland. He came to America in 1991 to enter the graduate program in Philosophy at Rutgers. Since completing the Ph.D. at Rutgers in 1996, he has taught at Iowa State, Stanford, and New York University, where he has been on the philosophy faculty since 2004.

Professor Strevens specializes in the philosophy of science, but also works on the psychology of concepts and the philosophical applications of cognitive science. His publications include many articles and three books: Bigger than Chaos: Understanding Complexity through Probability (Harvard University Press, 2003), Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation (Harvard U.P., 2008), and Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure (Harvard U.P., 2013). He is currently writing a book about philosophical methodology.

In his World Philosophy Day Lecture, “The Importance of Irrationality in Science,” Professor Strevens argued that the success of science is largely due to its emphasis on data-driven evidence, even though this is irrational inasmuch as it excludes other relevant considerations.

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