2013 Cushing Prize Lecture. Charlotte Werndl - "What are New Implications of Chaos for Unpredictability?"


Location: 320 DeBartolo Hall

Charlotte Werndl

Charlotte Werndl will give the Cushing Prize Lecture 2013. Dr. Werndl is lecturer at the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, at the London School of Economics. Previously she was a Junior Research Fellow in Philosophy, at Queen's College, University of Oxford.

Areas of specialization: general philosophy of science, philosophy of climate science, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of biology


From the beginning of chaos research until today, the unpredictability of chaos has been a central theme. It is widely believed and claimed by philosophers, mathematicians and physicists alike that chaos has a new implication for unpredictability, meaning that chaotic systems are unpredictable in a way that other deterministic systems are not. Hence one might expect that the question "What are the new implications of chaos for unpredictability?" has already been answered in a satisfactory way. However, this is not the case. I will critically evaluate the existing answers and argue that they do not fit the bill. Then I will approach this question by showing that chaos can be defined via mixing, which has never before been explicitly argued for. Based on this insight, I will propose that the sought-after new implication of chaos for unpredictability is the following: for predicting any event all sufficiently past events are approximately probabilistically irrelevant.

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