Rethinking Theory Construction in Social Science

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Date(s) - 11/03/2014
9:45 am - 5:20 pm

32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, LSE


Title: Rethinking Theory Construction in Social Science
Date: Tuesday 11th March 2014
Time: 9:45am – 17:20pm
Location: Room B.07, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, LSE

Prof. Mark Addis (Birmingham City University),
Prof. Fernand Gobet (University of Liverpool),
Prof. Leonard Smith (LSE),
Dr. Charlotte Werndl (LSE)

This interdisciplinary conference with speakers from Philosophy, psychology and statistics explores a novel research agenda arising from computational scientific discovery aimed at automatically generating theories in social science. Such theories are produced using genetic programming which estimates their success by the extent to which they account for experimental data and selects the best theories for the next generation (with possible modification by mutation or crossover). Some implications of this employment of genetic programming for the philosophy of social science will be considered. Currently the development of scientific theories is regarded as an exclusively human activity but the research agenda challenges this conception of theory construction. In doing so it becomes possible to regard social science theories as computationally tractable concrete objects rather than   abstract conceptualisations. Furthermore this agenda suggests new   philosophical perspectives on the difference between natural and social science, probabilistic interference (especially of a Bayesian kind) and causation, and the nature of explanation in social science. The conference will be of interest to those concerned with the philosophical issues raised by computational modelling of complex problems, the philosophies of machine and statistical learning, and the distinguishing characteristics of social science.

9:45am-10:15am > Coffee break
10:15am-10:30am > Welcome
10:30am-11:40am > Professor Fernand Gobet “Social Science Modelling through Genetic Programming”
11:40am-12:50pm > Dr. Charlotte Werndl “Model Selection Theory”
12:50pm-14:00pm > Lunch break
14:00pm-15:10pm > Professor Leonard Smith “Probability and Prediction in Complex Modelling Situations”
15:10pm-16:20pm > Professor Mark Addis “Explanation in Social Science and Genetic Programming”
16:20pm-16:50pm > Coffee break
16:50pm-17:20pm > Closing plenary

Please note that interested attendees must contact to register due to limited space and places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. There is no charge for attendance.

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