Jon Williamson wins Leverhulme grant on physics and biology

16 July 2014

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Professor Jon Williamson from the Department of Philosophy has won a Leverhulme Trust research grant for a project entitled 'Grading Evidence of Mechanisms in Physics and Biology'.

Science is largely involved with discovering mechanisms. While protocols have been developed in evidence-based medicine for grading evidence of correlations, much less has been said about how to grade evidence of mechanisms that are on the path to discovery in science – this task is typically left to the intuition of individual researchers. With the advent of ‘big data’ and ‘systems’ science, eyeballing the evidence and appealing to intuition is becoming less of an option: more explicit methods are needed. The project will focus on mechanism discovery in physics and biology and will ask questions such as: what are the various kinds of evidence of mechanisms in physics and biology? How does evidence of mechanisms in physics relate to that in biology? How can case studies of mechanism discovery be used to shed light on the way in which different kinds of evidence of mechanisms should be graded? And how can philosophical work on evidence shed light on how scientific evidence of mechanisms should be graded?

This project will fund a PhD student and a postdoctoral researcher to work on how evidence of mechanisms should be evaluated in science. These posts will run from January 2015 for three years. More details of the positions will be available soon.

For more details of the Leverhume Trust, please see the website here:



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Last Updated: 24/01/2014