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542Complexity Conference - Liverpool

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  • John H Spencer
    Dec 8, 2004

      On 11-14 September 2005 the Centre for Complexity Research will host an
      ambitious, multi-disciplinary conference at the University of Liverpool,
      England. At least 18 'subject areas' will occur simultaneously. This call for
      papers is for Ph.D. students, although the other 17 subject areas are for
      regular academics in numerous disciplines. Please read the information below
      and forward it to interested research students and academic staff. For queries,
      please email conference@....
      Thank you

      John H Spencer
      President Interdisciplinary Forum
      University of Liverpool


      Call for Papers

      Graduate Student Interdisciplinary Research on Complexity
      A subject area for the Complexity, Science and Society Conference,
      11-14 September 2005
      Centre for Complexity Research
      The University of Liverpool

      Attempting to demarcate clearly and unambiguously the boundaries between various
      disciplines is becoming more difficult than ever before. The further you analyze
      any given process in any discipline, the more likely you are to cross
      boundaries. To what degree do biologists and chemists need to take into
      consideration quantum mechanics? What are the distinctions between pure
      mathematics and theoretical physics, or theoretical physics and metaphysics? Is
      music 'nothing but' a process of sound waves interacting with brains via
      auditory channels, or is science incapable of reducing aesthetic experiences to
      mechanical process? To what degree can sociological studies be convincingly
      undertaken without considering individual or group psychology? And to what
      degree can an individual be adequately understood within a psychiatric model
      without considering the person's genetics, societal background, and personal
      philosophy or worldview? What philosophical assumptions are foundational to the
      numerous psychological, psychotherapeutic and psychiatric models of health and
      illness, and by what justification are these assumptions upheld and defended?

      Can businesses succeed without understanding various appropriate technologies,
      marketing strategies (which includes psychology and sociology) and the laws of
      any particular region or country where products are to be sold? What is the
      relationship between our environment and religious views, and how have our
      religious views influenced our attitudes and behaviour towards our environment?
      Can computers be programmed to think and feel like humans? If so, what other
      disciplines are necessary in aiming for such goals? Are ethical considerations
      to be imposed upon scientific research, or are ethics presupposed within the
      scientific method itself? Can archaeologists give us an adequate picture of the
      ancient human mind without considering questions related to linguistics,
      philosophy of language, neuroscience etc? How often have cosmologists
      speculating on the origins and possible futures of the universe sounded like
      medieval theologians?

      Virtually endless similar questions can be asked, and need to be asked and
      explored if we hope to continue to develop our understanding of ourselves and
      the universe. The aim of this subject area is to discuss these types of
      interdisciplinary questions in relation to complexity. Does the term
      'complexity' have different meanings, and therefore require different types of
      research, in various disciplines such as computer science or sociology? Does
      complexity 'emerge' from simpler systems and, if so, how does an apparently
      distinct or novel property emerge from simpler properties or interactions of
      simpler parts that apparently do not contain the new emergent property? For
      example, if the property of 'wetness' emerges from a collection of a certain
      number of H2O molecules, in what way does 'wetness' come into existence? Does
      wetness even exist apart from sensual creatures who can feel water, or does
      wetness exist in a transcendent sense that only becomes apparent when a certain
      level of complexity has been achieved by the molecules. These kinds of questions
      can be modified and applied to an interdisciplinary study of complexity in
      virtually any range of disciplines.

      Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to
      conference@... by March 31st, 2005. Do not send attachments; put
      the abstract in the body of your email. Include your name, department,
      institution, year of Ph.D. study, phone number and email. Decisions regarding
      acceptance will be made by April 30th, 2005. It is essential that your
      presentation be understandable to an educated but non-specialist audience. If
      you need to use specific jargon or formulas, they must be explained clearly. We
      encourage joint presentations especially when the presenters are from different
      disciplines. Presentations will be for a maximum of 20 minutes, not including
      discussion/question time. Although some subject areas may accept a very limited
      number of graduate students, we are the only subject area specifically for Ph.D.
      students. We have received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board
      to provide small bursaries (about £50) for several student presenters.
      Presentation times will be scheduled to allow you to go to various other
      subject area presentations and events.

      Further information regarding the Complexity, Science and Society Conference as
      a whole, including the registration form etc, is available at:
      http://www.liv.ac.uk/ccr/2005_conf/index.htm. In addition to the accommodation
      information provided at this website, you may also consider Feathers Hotel
      (http://www.feathers.uk.com/feathers/index.htm), or for those on a tighter
      budget see the International Inn (http://www.internationalinn.co.uk/). Please
      visit the Interdisciplinary Forum website (http://www.liverpoolidf.com) to gain
      a clearer understanding of our views on interdisciplinary research, and check
      our website periodically for more updates. We look forward to seeing you in

      John H Spencer
      Department of Philosophy
      University of Liverpool