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Colloquia

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Fall 2018

September 7, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Four Facts Everyone Ought to Know About Science"
Andrew Zangwill, Physics, Georgia Insitute of Technology
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

September 14, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The Medical Origins of Experimental Science? Professors, Students, and the Cultivation of Experiment at Universities in Padua and Leiden"
Evan Ragland
Uniersity of Notre Dame
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

September 21, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The Neurophilosophy of Memory: Reconciling Stable Engrams and Neural Dynamics"
Sarah Robins
Philosophy, University of Kansas
abstract

September 28, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Exploring Hapticity, Slavery and the Emergence of American Gynecology"
Deirdre Cooper Owens
History, Queens College, CUNY
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 5, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Epigenetics is 76 years old, so why are you just now hearing about it?"
Erik Peterson
History, University of Alabama
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 12, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"The Homelands of the Plague: Soviet Disease Ecology in Central Asia, 1920s–1950s"
Susan Jones
Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 19, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Mechanical Quackery: Electrical Cures for Deafness in the United States, 1880–1930"
Jaipreet Virdi
History, University of Delaware
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 26, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Margaret Cavendish’s Medical Recipes: Medicine, Experience, and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England"
Benjamin Goldberg
Humanities and Cultural Studies, University of South Florida
abstract

November 2, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall
No colloquium

November 9, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Reform or Exclude?: Debating Medicine’s Role in Disability and Mental Health"
Andrew J. Hogan
, Director of Science and Medicine in Society Minor, Creighton University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

November 16, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"El Principio Sacarino: Organic Chemistry Meets Racial Capitalism in the Cuban Sugar-Mill"
Daniel Rood
History, University of Georgia
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

November 23, 2018
No Colloquium Thanksgiving

November 30, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

“The intersection of Social Values and Methods in Attributing Climate Change to Extreme Events: A Controversy”
Elisabeth Lloyd History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Indiana University
abstract

December 7, 2018, 275 Nicholson Hall

"From the Old to the New World of Nuclear Physics, 1919–1939"
Roger Stuewer
Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

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Abstracts for Fall 2018

"The Neurophilosophy of Memory: Reconciling Stable Engrams and Neural Dynamics"
Sarah Robins Philosophy, University of Kansas
Abstract:
The neurobiology of memory is the study of engrams—the neural mechanisms responsible for forming, storing, and retrieving memories. Commitment to engrams has long been presumed necessary for explaining memory, but is challenged by increased attention to neural dynamics. How does the stable engram fit into an ever-changing brain? There are many proposals for revising engrams, allowing a memory’s content, location, or structure to change over time. Each offers a distinct conception of the engram and they cannot all be tested simultaneously. Using the resources of philosophy of neuroscience and memory, I provide a theoretical framework for evaluating these alternatives.

"Margaret Cavendish’s Medical Recipes: Medicine, Experience, and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England"
Benjamin Goldberg
Humanities and Cultural Studies, University of South Florida
Abstract: In collaboration with Justin Begley (Helsinki), I am working on a transcript of Margaret Cavendish’s family book of medical recipes (often called ‘receipts’). This previously unpublished manuscript (MS Pw V 90, located at the University of Nottingham, UK) is a fascinating and rare document, written by a number of hands (including Margaret’s), and which provides some unique insights into Cavendish’s thought.
In this talk, I describe the contents of the MS, placing it in its proper context, namely, recent historiography on food, medicine, and cooking in early modern England. I focus, in particular, on how this work differs from most other recipe collections, both manuscript and printed, in, e.g., its exclusive medical focus and its inclusion of doctor’s reports. I then discuss how to interpret this work within the larger context of Cavendish’s natural philosophy, noting that we must be careful in how we interpret it, since it is not exclusively her writing, though there is evidence she was the one who compiled and organized it. With this proviso, I argue that this MS places some pressure on the received view of Cavendish’s conception of experience and experiment, seemingly undermining her anti-experimentalism and penchant for speculation. When this MS is read along with Cavendish’s extensive, if scattered and disorganized, discussions of medicine and food, however, we can resolve these apparent tensions by carefully attending to the various roles that empirical experience plays in Cavendish’s thought. Taken together with recent historiography on non-traditional aspects of the Scientific Revolution (women, kitchens, cooking, etc), this work can help us define some of the novel ways that experience was thought about in these various alternative contexts.
I conclude with some thoughts on our historical accounts of experience by scholars such as Steven Shapin and Peter Dear. I argue that these accounts, while not untrue, also do not exhaust the ways in which these ideas were understood in early modern England. Our accounts of experience and experiment are thus in need of revision and expansion so as to adequately account for the complex ways in which these ideas were used by various thinkers beyond thecanonical philosophers andscientists of early modernity.

 


Elisabeth Lloyd
History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Indiana University
Abstract: Climate scientists sometimes analyze “extreme events,” like storms, floods, or droughts, and try to determine whether such extreme events were partially caused by climate change or not. The standard method for doing this analysis is called the “risk-based” method. It carries the risk of underestimating the role of global climate change in extreme events and missing connections that are really there; this practice thus underestimate society’s risk of socially-significant damages, to both physical and psychological well-being. A new, “storyline,” method has recently been proposed and proved controversial. It is meant to be applied when the conditions needed for the risk-based method are lacking. The storyline method is like an autopsy: it gives an account of the causes of the extreme event—the flood or storm—and can indicate whether climate change was one of these causes. It carries the risk of false alarms, or of overstating the role of climate change, a risk that we contend has rarely been actualized.
Proponents of each account are concerned about different risks. On my analysis with Naomi Oreskes, the two approaches are complementary, and the resistance to the storyline approach to evaluating extreme events and climate change has arisen from undue conservatism and an under-appreciation of how much scientific methods can and do change over time. We advocate more discussion of the societal risks of extreme events; the choice of method should depend on which risk is more worrisome in the case at hand.

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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

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