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Colloquia

Fall 2014

September 12, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"A Maze of Unintelligibility: Psychotherapy and African American Patients at Saint Elizabeths Hospital, 1900–1940"
Martin Summers
, Department of History, African and African Diaspora Studies Program, Boston College
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
abstract

September 19, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

“Generation, Individuation, and Teleology: Malebranche’s and Leibniz’s Divergent Theories of Pre-formation”
Karen Detlefsen,
Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
abstract

September 26, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Writing the Origin with Burned Fingers: Darwin's Penance for the ‘Sin of Speculation’"
Alistair Sponsel, Department of History, Vanderbilt University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 3, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall
Author meets Readers

The Yablo Paradox: An Essay on Circularity.
Author: Roy Cook, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota
Readers: Stephen Donaho, Department of Philosophy, Normandale Community College and Roy Sorensen, Department of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis
abstract

October 10, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Life on Display: The Exhibits Revolution in U.S. Science and Natural History Museums"
Karen Rader, Department of History, Virginia Commonwealth University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
abstract

October 17, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Next Generation Theory of Cultural Evolution"
Marcus Feldman,
Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University
Co-sponsored by the Winton Chair in the Liberal Arts
abstract

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October 24, 2014, 555 Diehl Hall (to be confirmed)

Mini-symposium
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 31, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"A Virtuous Theorist’s Theoretical Virtues: Einstein on Physics vs. Math and Experience vs. Unification"
Jeroen van Dongen
, History of Science, University of Amsterdam/Utrecht University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

abstract

November 14, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

'Baroque Ghosts: The Jesuits between the Old and the New science"
Rivka Feldhay, History of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
abstract

November 21, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Modeling, representing and experimenting in the study of genetic circuits"
Tarja Knuuttila, Department of Philosophy, University of South Carolina

November 28, 2014, THANKSGIVING no colloquium

December 5, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Vulnerable Subjects, Vulnerable Knowledge: Children’s Chemical Testing Programs in the United States and European Union"
Arthur Daemmrich, University of Kansas Medical Center
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
abstract

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Abstracts for Fall 2014

“A Maze of Unintelligibility: Psychotherapy and African American Patients at Saint Elizabeths Hospital, 1900–1940"
Martin Summers, History Department and African and African Diaspora Studies Program, Boston College
Abstract: With its emphasis on the individualization of mental disease, dynamic psychiatry held out the promise of more efficacious treatment modalities. If psychiatrists could get beneath the surface of patients’ symptoms and understand their “meanings and values,” then they had a better chance of facilitating mentally ill individuals’ readjustment to their social environments. This talk is an examination of the use of psychotherapy on African American patients at Saint Elizabeths Hospital, a federal mental institution in Washington, D.C., in the early twentieth century. The psychiatrists and nurses engaged with these patients in ways that both revealed a concern for their mental well-being and a deep sense of racial antipathy. African American patients were not merely objects of medical scrutiny and targets of institutional management however. They interacted with the staff in ways that challenged the medical authority to not only determine the clinical encounter, but to establish particular truth claims about black insanity as well.

"Generation, Individuation, and Teleology: Malebranche’s and Leibniz’s Divergent Theories of Pre-formation"
Karen Detlefsen, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
Abstract: When some early modern natural philosophers rejected Scholastic substantial forms in favor of a parsimonious, and often explanatorily powerful, mechanistic philosophy, one natural phenomenon they had particular difficulty accommodating was the generation of new living beings. In this talk, I look at how Malebranche and Leibniz deal with this difficulty, and the different ways they draw upon teleology to help them provide theories of generation that can preserve the new mechanism. In the process, I underscore the complexity of theories of teleology in the 17th century.

Author Meets Readers: "The Yablo Paradox: An Essay on Circularity" by Roy Cook
The Yablo paradox, which consists of an infinite sequence of sentences, each of which says that all sentences following it in the list are false, seems to provide us with an example of semantic paradox containing no circularity. In The Yablo Paradox Roy T Cook examines this puzzle in detail, paying particular attention to:

(1) The characterization problem: Determining which patterns of sentential reference—circular or not—generate paradoxes.
(2) The circularity question: Determining whether, and in what sense, the Yablo paradox is non-circular.
(3) The generalizability question: Determining whether the infinitely descending pattern found in the Yablo paradox can be used to construct non-circular variants of other familiar paradoxes.

"Life on Display: The Exhibits Revolution in U.S. Science and Natural History Museums"
Karen Rader
, Department of History, Virginia Commonwealth University
Abstract: Once defined primarily by their collections, by the end of the twentieth century, American natural history and science museums had become institutions defined largely by their displays. This talk will use life science exhibits to illustrate how and why this transformation occurred. Efforts to modernize displays shaped and were themselves shaped by new institutional roles and identities for museums in twentieth-century
science education and in American culture.
Drawing on the speaker’s co-authored book of the same name, the talk will reflect on the controversies that accompanied exhibition building, chronicling how and why curators, designers, and educators worked with and against one another to build displays intended to communicate new ideas about topics like evolution, animal behavior, and radiation to various American publics. Scientists were extraordinarily invested in the success of museums' displays and saw display as an integral element of their own public outreach work and research agendas. In turn, rapidly professionalizing exhibit designers were periodic participants in the research process, supplementing and sometimes prompting research projects through the displays they built.

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"Next Generation Theory of Cultural Evolution"
Marcus Feldman, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University
Abstract: The human cultural niche can influence both biological and cultural evolution. The effects of changes in some norms and values may have unexpected consequences for other norms and values. One example will be shown. The role of culturally determined marriage preferences on cultural niche construction also has entirely unexpected effects. Rarely modeled effects of learning styles on the stochastic dynamics of cultural traits in small populations will be explored using agent-based simulation techniques.

"A virtuous theorist’s theoretical virtues: Einstein on physics vs. math and experience vs. unification"
Jeroen van Dongen, University of Amsterdam/Utrecht University
Abstract: When Albert Einstein formulated the general theory of relativity, he combined a physical and mathematical approach, as Renn c.s. have shown. He retained and explicitly referred to these categories also in his later work in unified field theory, but emphasized their usefulness differently, just as his later recollections of how he found general relativity gradually changed. These altered recollections were not only the consequence of his new, highly mathematical unification program, but also served as an advertisement for that program: Einstein enlisted idealizations of his self as justification for his highly controversial work.

"Baroque Ghosts: The Jesuits between the Old and the New science"
Rivka Feldhay, History of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University
Abstract: My aim in this lecture is to tell a different historical story about the Jesuits than the one usually told. I will argue that the Jesuits' religious mission was not anti-science. On the contrary, it was precisely the religious mission that pushed them to explore, teach, criticize and argue with the ideas of those "savants" identified with the "moderns". Thus, what we now call "science" and the Jesuits named "physico-mathematics"—the exploration of physical phenomena with mathematical methods—had a central and very important role in Jesuit education. In the context of the Jesuit educational system, however, new ideas were presented in a form that seems alien to our modern view of science. It was not alien, I argue, to the historical practices of Kepler, Galileo and Descartes. I shall hence tell the story of how Keplerian or Galilean science was transformed and transmitted to generations of young Catholics and prepared them for modernity.

"Vulnerable Subjects, Vulnerable Knowledge: Children’s Chemical Testing Programs in the United States and European Union"
Arthur Daemmrich, University of Kansas School of Medicine
Abstract: Methods for identifying health risks in children—and the very characterization of children as a vulnerable population—have undergone significant transformations in recent decades. Attention to the risks posed by industrial chemicals has expanded from waste streams to commercial products, and from surveying the environment for known toxins to mapping the ‘body burdens’ of hundreds of synthetic substances—especially potentially endocrine disrupting chemicals—found in humans. This talk presents findings from a historical and sociological research project concerning long-term testing programs in the United States and Europe. In both settings, children came to be understood as vulnerable to synthetic compounds found in breast milk or absorbed through exposure to cleaning compounds and plastic toys. Test methods, especially plans to recruit minority participants through financial incentives, proved more controversial in the United States than in the European Union. At the same time, EU member states carried out competing studies and regulators found it impossible to integrate test results. Furthermore, issues of cooperation among otherwise competing firms and between the industry and government regulators plagued efforts in the United States, while the complexity of fitting children’s testing into a major new regulatory framework for chemicals slowed testing in Europe. The talk presents an analysis of testing programs and offers historical and comparative insight on initiatives intended to generate new regulatory knowledge that is disruptive to existing governance systems and the social roles occupied by physicians, industry, government regulators, and health-oriented NGOs.

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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. Colloquia sponsored by the Program in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine are held in room 131 of the Tate Laboratory of Physics on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota.

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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