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Lydia Patton

Lydia Patton, Professor

Lydia Patton, Professor
Lydia Patton, Professor of Philosophy and Affiliate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society

Department of Philosophy
231 Major Williams Hall
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-4564 | critique@vt.edu

Lydia Patton is a philosopher of science and a historian of the philosophy of science. Much of her recent work and work in progress centers on philosophical analysis of science and the history of science: especially on the development of experimental and formal methods, hypotheses, frameworks, and scientific communities. Her work focuses on finding links between that development and the process of theory building and testing. Recent work focuses on the development of gravitational wave astronomy, especially the LIGO project.

Patton has written many articles, details of which can be found on her personal website and on the website philpapers.

One of her most notable contributions to the profession is her editing work, especially at the journal HOPOS. She edited Philosophy, Science, and History (Routledge, 2014), and co-edited, with Walter Ott, the collection Laws of Nature (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Before the pandemic hit in 2020, Patton had a very active speaking career, nationally and internationally. She has been a featured speaker at the MidWest PhilMath Workshop, a keynote speaker at the Society for the Study of the History of Analytical Philosophy and the Tilburg History of Analytic Philosophy Workshop, and an invited speaker at multiple venues, notably the Institute Vienna Circle, Cambridge University, and Indiana University HPS. She has given about 60 talks overall, including at the Black Hole Institute’s inaugural conference, the Boston Colloquium for Philosophy of Science, the American Mathematical Society’s Joint Mathematics Meetings, the American Physical Society, and the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science.

In the spring of 2021, assuming that academic life has resumed, Patton will assume the Findlay Visiting Professorship at Boston University for one semester.  

  • Philosophy of Science
  • History of Science
  • History of Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Mathematics
  • Kant and Neo-Kantianism
  • PhD in Philosophy, McGill University, 2004
  • BA in Philosophy, University of Kentucky, 1996

Edited Books

Laws of Nature. Co-edited with Walter Ott. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Philosophy, Science, and History. Edited with substantial introductions. Routledge, 2014.

Journal Articles

“Expanding Theory Testing in General Relativity: LIGO and parametrized theories.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. 69: 142-153. | 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsb.2020.01.001

“Kantian Essentialism.” The Monist 100.3: 342-356. | 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/monist/onx014

“Methodological Realism and Modal Resourcefulness.” Synthese 192.11: 3443-63. | 2015. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-015-0917-8

“Hilbert’s Objectivity.” Historia Mathematica 41.2: 188-203. | 2014. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hm.2014.01.002

“Experiment and Theory Building.” Synthese 184.3: 235-46. | 2012. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-010-9772-9

“Reconsidering Experiments.” HOPOS 1.2: 209-26. | 2011. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/660167

Selected Book Chapters

“Kuhn’s Kantian Dimensions.” In Interpreting Kuhn: Critical Essays, ed. K. Brad Wray. Cambridge University Press. | In Press.

“Abstraction, Pragmatism, and History in Mach’s Economy of Science.” In Interpreting Mach: Critical Essays, ed. John Preston. Cambridge University Press. | In Press.

“New Water in Old Buckets: Hypothetical and Counterfactual Reasoning in Mach’s Economy of Science.” In Ernst Mach – Life, Work, Influence. Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook, ed. Friedrich Stadler. Springer. | 2019.

“Perspectivalism in the Development of Scientific Observer-Relativity.” In The Emergence of Relativism, ed. Martin Kusch, Katherina Kinzel, Johannes Steizinger, and Nils Wildschut. Routledge. | 2019.

With Walter Ott, “Intuitions and Assumptions in the Debate over Laws of Nature.” In Laws of Nature. Oxford University Press. | 2018.

“Helmholtz’s Physiological Psychology.” Philosophy of Mind in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Sandra Lapointe. Routledge. | 2018.

“Russell’s Method of Analysis and the Axioms of Mathematics.” In Innovations in the History of Analytical Philosophy, ed. Sandra Lapointe and Christopher Pincock. Palgrave Macmillan. | 2017.

“Kuhn, Pedagogy, and Practice.” In The Kuhnian Image of Science, ed. Moti Mizrahi. Rowman & Littlefield. | 2017.

  • Virginia Tech Global Change Center, Institute for Society, Culture, and the Environment
    • “Climate Change and the Dynamics of Mosquito Populations in Virginia”. Seed grant. Co-PI with C. Lahondère, C. Vinauger, L. Escobar.
  • From Unification to Pluralism. The Future of Integrated History and Philosophy of Science
    • National Science Foundation Grant #480225. With Jutta Schickore, Indiana University.
    • Grant for publication of work stemming from conferences of the International Committee for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science.

Interviewed for Hi-Phi Nation, Episode 9, “The Ashes of Truth”

Ph.D., Philosophy, Committee Member

  • Jamee Elder, thesis on philosophy and LIGO, thesis advisor Don Howard. University of Notre Dame.
  • Elisabeth Widmer, thesis on Marburg neo-Kantianism, thesis advisor Martin Kusch. University of Vienna.

M.S. Thesis Committee Member

  • Heta Patel, “Computation Methods for Parametric Analysis of Gravitational Wave Data,” M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2019.

Undergraduate Researcher

  • Eric Wuerfel, Virginia Tech. Undergraduate Student Project Member, 2017-2019.
    • ACC Creativity and Innovation Grant, Summer 2018.
    • Poster presented at the 2019 Dennis Dean Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Conference on Friday, April 19 at the Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech.
    • Mr. Wuerfel organized LIGO Open Data Workshop at Virginia Tech, March 28-29, 2019.

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