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Panel-session at SPT2017: The Grammar of Things. 20th conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology

June 14-17, 2017 – Darmstadt, Germany.

The upshot of this panel-discussion is to bring together different perspectives on the epistemic and societal role of mathematics in its relation to data-science and the data-revolution. It is based on the assumption that only a realistic picture of mathematics, as emphasised within the philosophy of mathematical practices, can reliably inform such an inquiry. The latter presupposes a better understanding of the role of applied mathematics in the sciences, an appreciation of the diverse ways in which statistical theory can inform the development of data-processes, and a critical outlook on the societal status of mathematics. Such a realistic picture of mathematics serves two purposes. It should inform an analysis of what it means to “trust in numbers” or help us identify clear cases of “mathwashing”, but it should just as much clarify the critical role of mathematics and explain how certain epistemic virtues of mathematics can play a decisive role in exposing epistemic failures and poor practices in data-science.

Participants: Karen François (Brussels), Christian Hennig (UCL), Johannes Lenhard (Bielefeld), and Jean Paul Van Bendegem (Brussels).