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2016-2017 Colloquia

Spring 2017

January 20, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall
Annual Science Studies Symposium

"Considering Temporal Heterogeneity in Autism”
Jed Elison, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
abstract

January 27, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

“Entangled Agencies: Healing and Harming in Pholela”
Abigail Neely, Geography, Dartmouth University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine and with the Institute for Advanced Study

February 3, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Red Dawn Rising: the Sketchy History and Techno-thriller Prospects of Geoengineering"
Ed Larson
, History, Pepperdine University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

February 10, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Thought Experiments in Economics"
Margaret Schabas
, University of British Columbia
abstract

February 17, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Exploring the Material World of Mechanical Hands in Early Modern Europe"
Heidi Hausse, History, Princeton University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine and with the Center for Early Modern History and the Center for Austrian Studies

February 24, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Prequel to the Love Letters of Albert Einstein: Does It Provide a New View of the Young Einstein?"
Robert Schulmann
, former editor of The Einstein Papers Project
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

March 3, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Precious Pills: Medical Governance and the Politics of Benefit in Qing China"
Stacey Van Vleet, History, University of California, Berkeley
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

March 10, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall
No Colloquium: Spring Break

March 17, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall
No Colloquium: Spring Break

March 24, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Making Maintainers: A Place for History in an Age of Innovation-Speak and Endless Tech Hype"
Lee Vinsel
, Science and Technology Studies, Stevens Institute of Technology
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

March 31, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall
Author meets Readers

"Representing Space in the Scientific Revolution"
Author: David Miller, Philosophy, Iowa State University
Readers: Katherine Brading, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, Samuel Fletcher, Philosophy, University of Minnesota, and Edward Slowik, Philosophy, Winona State University
abstract

April 7, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall
Medical Humanities Symposium

"Medical Materialities: Teaching, Feeding, and Healing the Body through Medical Humanities"
A Conversation with Barbara Troise Rioda (University of Bologna) and David Gentilcore (University of Leicester)
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

April 14, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Innovation on the Reservation: Information Technology and Health Systems Research Among the Papago Tribe of Arizona, 1965–1980"
Jeremy Greene, History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

April 21, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

“The Precision Medicine Turn in Psychiatry: Some Epistemic Puzzles and an Ethical Concern”
Kathryn Tabb
, Philosophy, Columbia University
abstract

April 28, 2017, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The Restless Clock: The Centuries-Long Argument over What Makes Living Things Tick"
Jessica Riskin
, History of Science, Stanford University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine and with the the Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World and the Anselm House

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Abstracts for Spring 2017

"Considering Temporal Heterogeneity in Autism”
Jed Elison, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
Abstract: The genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity integral to the phenomenon of autism is well characterized, yet recent evidence highlights a third source of variability that warrants careful consideration. Temporal heterogeneity, a term borrowed from ecological theory, considered in the context of psychiatric disorders, denotes observed variability in developmental timing as it relates to disease phenomena. Temporal heterogeneity may represent a specific feature of phenotypic heterogeneity or capture evolving patterns of environmental demands that temporally coincide with changes in the developing organism. And yet, simply entertaining the concept challenges traditional notions of diagnostic stability and issues related to nosology.

"Thought Experiments in Economics"
Margaret Schabas
, University of British Columbia
Abstract: This paper will demarcate thought experiments from models in economics, and argue that thought experiments and models are distinct types of conceptual tools. There are, however, some models that are near cousins to thought experiments, and vice versa. I will argue that thought experiments are in fact quite rare in economics, past or present. They are launched by a strong if not jarring counterfactual to a distant rather than proximate other world, and the journey the mind then takes back to this world is a familiar one. The paradigmatic case is Hume’s sudden doubling of the money supply, or Friedman’s helicopter drop. But the current rash of thought experiments in environmental economics, as posited by for example Martin Weitzman or Nathaniel Keohane, is misguided. We would be the better for finding a different name for models that speculate well into the future

"Representing Space in the Scientific Revolution"
Author: David Miller, Philosophy, Iowa State University
Readers: Katherine Brading, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, Samuel Fletcher, Philosophy, University of Minnesota, and Edward Slowik, Philosophy, Winona State University
Abstract: The novel understanding of the physical world that characterized the Scientific Revolution depended on a fundamental shift in the way its protagonists understood and described space. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, spatial phenomena were described in relation to a presupposed central point; by its end, space had become a centerless void in which phenomena could only be described by reference to arbitrary orientations. David Marshall Miller examines both the historical and philosophical aspects of this far-reaching development, including the rejection of the idea of heavenly spheres, the advent of rectilinear inertia, and the theoretical contributions of Copernicus, Gilbert, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. His rich study shows clearly how the centered Aristotelian cosmos became the oriented Newtonian universe, and will be of great interest to students and scholars of the history and philosophy of science.

“The Precision Medicine Turn in Psychiatry: Some Epistemic Puzzles and an Ethical Concern”
Kathryn Tabb
, Philosophy, Columbia University
Abstract: Recent methodological, financial, and rhetorical shifts by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reveal the Institute’s growing interest in funding basic science research over clinical research. The most dramatic adjustment has been the abandonment of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in favor of an alternative classification protocol for psychiatric research, the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework. I begin by giving a history of this shift, noting that RDoC is only a part a larger embrace by biomedical psychiatry of what has been called the “precision medicine model,” a new paradigm for medical research that uses biomarkers to stratify patients into new categories for treatment purposes. This shift in nosological practice is being accompanied—for contingent rather than necessary reasons, I show—by a heightened interest in neuroscientific explanations. I argue that these two new epistemic virtues—precision and neurocentrism—give rise to new epistemic puzzles about psychiatric progress, especially about the sort of explanations and interventions that biomedical researchers are likely to find. I conclude by showing that answering these epistemic puzzles will be a necessary part of tackling what I see as an important ethical concern about precision psychiatry: that it favors future patients over present ones.

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Fall 2016

September 9, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

Introductions and
"Common Origin <Inferences> Ideas"
Michel Janssen, History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

September 16, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Drawing on Galileo: Art, Astronomy, and Appropriation"
Eileen Reeves
, Comparative Literature and History of Science, Princeton University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

September 23, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"How to think about mechanisms in medicine"
Robyn Bluhm,
Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University
abstract

September 30, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Inventing Atmospheric Science: Gordian Knots and the Quest for Prevision"
James Fleming
, Science, Technology, and Society, Colby College
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 7, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

Colloquium Cancelled

"Environmental Demography in Early Modern London"
Will Cavert, Department of History, University of St. Thomas
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 14, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The conceptual weight of Homology"
Günter Wagner
, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
abstract

October 21, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

“The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language”
Tania Munz
, Vice President for Research and Scholarship, Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 28, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Forging the Moon; Or, How to Spot a Fake Galileo"
Nick Wilding
, History, Georgia State University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

November 4, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall
No Colloquium

November 11, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Scientific Modelling and the Nature of Speculation"
Margaret Morrison
, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
abstract

November 18, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The Telescope Against Copernicus— Marius, Galileo, Riccioli, and the problem of telescopic observations of stars in the early 17th century"
Christopher Graney
, Physics, Jefferson Community and Technical College
Co-sponsored by the CLA Quantitative Methods Collaboration Committee

November 25, 2016
No Colloquium Thanksgiving

December 2, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"On the Metaphysics of Biological Functions"
Marcel Weber
, Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva
abstract

December 9, 2016, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Material Things and Technologies of the Body in the Golden Mirror, 1742"
Marta Hanson
, History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

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Abstracts for Fall 2016

“How to think about mechanisms in medicine”
Robyn Bluhm, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University,
Lyman Briggs College
Abstract: In this talk, I argue that the best way to think about knowledge of mechanisms in medical research and practice is to consider the relationship between knowledge of physiological mechanisms and knowledge gained from epidemiological methods, particularly clinical trials. The dominant view, rooted in evidence-based medicine, is that only clinical trials can establish treatment effectiveness, but not all such trials are equally useful. I draw on work by James Tabery and C. Kenneth Waters to show how knowledge of physiological mechanisms can improve the design and interpretation of clinical trials.

"The conceptual weight of Homology"
Gunter Wagner, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
Abstract: The homology concept, i.e. the idea that different species can have the same or corresponding body parts, is fundamental to biology but has, as many basic concepts in biology, a rather varied history. Opinions range from accepting homology as a fundament of all of biology to complete dismissal as a pure illusion. I will give a brief outline of how we arrived at this state of affairs and then make an argument for a “reformed” homology concept that is not only capture the essence of the classical theories of homology but also is able to connect to a mechanistic understanding of developmental biology. The key idea is that homology requires developmental and genetic individuality and that many of the difficulties of current applications of homology result from ignoring this problem. I will finish with the argument that evolutionary biology needs, besides population thinking (Mayr) and tree thinking (O’Hara) a third form of intellectual framework that could be called “homology thinking” (Ereshefsky 2012).

Wagner, G. P. 2014. Homology, Genes and Evolutionary Innovations. Princeton University Press.

"Scientific Modelling and the Nature of Speculation"
Margaret Morrison, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Abstract: The multiverse is often thought to be speculative account of how one might solve problems in fundamental physics. Yet this kind of speculation seems different from the unrealistic assumptions instrinsic to scientific modelling more generally, e.g. infinite populations of genes in population genetics. This latter kind of modelling can be further distinguished from the construction of fictional or toy models. I discuss these different modelling practices and the nature of speculation associated with each, showing why the “models as fictions” view not only fails to capture the subtleties in modelling strategies but undermines the larger goals of modelling as a scientific activity.

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"On the Metaphysics of Biological Functions"
Marcel Weber, Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva
Abstract: This talk tries to clarify some ontological issues concerning biological functions. The guiding question is to what extent functions can be viewed as being mind-independent relations. I examine some standard arguments according to which functions are interest-dependent and show that these arguments simply fail to take into account the relational nature of functions (according to the most common analyses). However, there are other concerns that arise once we ask what kind of relation functional dependency relations are (e.g., the relation between the heart’s capacity to pump blood and the whole organism’s fitness). I argue that much like in causal relations, the truth-makers for functional statements are variegated. I examine various contenders that can play the role of a functional dependency relation, including causality, supervenience, metaphysical grounding, mechanistic constitution and mereology. I argue that each one of these (except supervenience) can be used to characterize a functional dependency relation in some set of cases, but that there is no unified account to be given for the truth-makers of functional relations.

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Colloquia Information

Unless otherwise indicated, the lectures are held on Fridays, in conjunction with the Colloquium in Studies of Science and Technology, at 3:35 PM in Room 275 Nicholson Hall.

If you would like to be notified by email of upcoming Center colloquia, please email your request to mcps@umn.edu

Previous Colloquia

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