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SST Colloquia

Spring 2009

January 23, 2009 - Annual Science Studies Symposium

“Teaching Science Lawlessly”

Douglas Allchin: Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine & Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science - Abstract

“Objectivity as Trustworthiness”

Naomi Scheman: Departments of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies & Philosophy, University of Minnesota - Abstract

“Verbal–Visual Interaction in Science”

Alan Gross: Department of Communications Studies, University of Minnesota - Abstract

January 30, 2009

“Stephen Jay Gould, Niles Eldredge, and the 'True' History of Punctuated Equilibria”

Cosponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
David Sepkoski: Department of History, University of North Carolina

February 6, 2009

“The Story of N: Sustainability and Society's Changing Interaction with the Nitrogen Cycle”

Cosponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
Hugh Gorman: Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University

February 13, 2009

“Sympathetic Contagions and Investment Scheme Crazes: Mesmerism and Nineteenth-Century Theories of Social Influence”

Cosponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
David Schmit: Department of Psychology, College of St. Catherine

February 20, 2009

“Darwinian Evolutionary Ethics: Between Patriotism and Sympathy”

Peter Richerson: Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis - Abstract

February 27, 2009

“Is Chess the Drosophila of AI? Computer Games as Experimental Technologies in Artificial Intelligence”

Cosponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
Nathan Ensmenger: Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

March 6, 2009

“Herman Boerhaave and the Demarcation of Chemistry from Alchemy”

Cosponsored by the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology of Medicine and the Program in the History of Medicine
John Powers: Department of History, Virginia Commonwealth University

March 26, 2009 THURSDAY 2-233 Carlson School of Management

“Funding Opportunities at NSF in History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Technology”

Frederick Kronz: National Science Foundation - Abstract

March 27, 2009

“On Actual and Virtual Chances”

Frederick Kronz: National Science Foundation - Abstract

April 3, 2009

“Impersonal Rule: Logistical Power and the Canal du Midi”

Cosponsored by the Theorizing Early Modern Studies (TEMS) Research Collaborative
Chandra Mukerji: Communication Studies, University of California, San Diego

April 10, 2009

“Studying Behavior Biologically: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology”

Cosponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
Richard Burkhardt: Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

April 13, 2009 MONDAY 330 Blegen Hall

“Measurement and Particle Interactions in Field Theory”

Jeffrey A Barrett: Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, University of California, Irvine - Abstract

April 17, 2009

Special Colloquium in Honor of Alan E. Shapiro

Cosponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
"Isaac Newton and the History of Civilization"
Jed Z. Buchwald
: Department of History, California Institute of Technology
"Galileo's Theory of the Tides"
Noel M. Swerdlow
: Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago

April 20, 2009 MONDAY 330 Blegen Hall

“The Science of Causal Inference”

Peter Spirtes: Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University - Abstract

April 24, 2009

“Evolution and Relativism”

Jon Marks: Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina-Charlotte - Abstract

May 1, 2009

“What's 'The Big Idea'?: Patents and the Ideology of Invention”

Cosponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
Kathryn Steen: Department of History & Politics, Drexel University

Abstracts for Spring 09 colloquia:

Abstract – Allchin
Boyle's law is the epitome of science in the classroom. Yet using recent philosophical perspectives on scientific laws, one can see that Boyle's law is not universal or invariant, as implied by the term 'law'. Indeed, Boyle's law—and other scientific "laws"—are not lawlike at all. In addition, from a cultural studies perspective, we might also examine why we teach laws in science and what it means to name them after someone. Science studies thus seems critically poised to inform science education. Indeed, properly understood, it might well lead us to revolutionize what and how we teach.

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Abstract – Scheman
Why does objectivity matter? I argue that its importance stems from epistemic dependency: we are irremediably dependent on others, including institutionally accredited experts, notably scientists, for much of what we need to know. Objectivity is supposed to allow scientists to serve as generic knowers, in part by bracketing the influence of social location. But traditional accounts of objectivity leave unexamined factors crucial to the actual trustworthiness of scientific claims: (1) broader questions of the trustworthiness of the institutions within which science is done; and (2) the relevance of diverse social locations for understanding how the world works.

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Abstract – Gross
My current work focuses on the interaction of words and images in the creation of meaning in the sciences. Since the majority of scientific texts—from laboratory notebooks to published papers—consist of both words and images, an examination of their interaction seems a worthwhile means of illuminating scientific meaning. I approach the problem from the point of view Peirce's semiotics viewed within the framework of a general theory of cognitive processing, Allan Paivio's Dual Coding Theory. I ground my work in the philosophy of science of Martin Heidegger, a philosophy that, unlike analytical philosophy, does not privilege the proposition; rather, it places /seeing as /at the center of the scientific enterprise.

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Abstract – Richerson
Darwin believed that his theory of evolution would stand or fall on its ability to account for human behavior. No species could be an exception to his theory without imperiling the whole edifice. One of the most striking features of human behavior is our very elaborate social life involving cooperation with large numbers of other people. The evolution of the ethical sensibilities and institutions of humans was thus one of his central concerns. Darwin made four main arguments regarding human morality: (1) that it is a product of group selection; (2) that an immense difference existed between human moral systems and those of other animals; (3) that the human social instincts were “primeval” and essentially the same in all modern humans; and (4) that moral progress was possible based on using the instinct of sympathy as the basis for inventing and favoring the spread of improved social institutions. Modern studies of cultural evolution suggest that Darwin's arguments about the evolution of morality are largely correct in their essentials.

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Abstract – Kronz, March 26
NSF's Science, Technology, and Society supports a broad variety of research in history and philosophy and sociology of science and technology via several distinct funding modes. After reviewing the range of research areas covered by the program and the various modes of support (including budgetary guidelines and eligibility requirements), the discussion turns to other funding opportunities at NSF for researchers (both individuals and groups) in these areas. Some guidelines for writing effective STS grant proposals will also be provided.

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Abstract – Kronz, March 27
The standard account of the two-slit experiment is presented, and that is followed by a careful examination of some of the key assumptions involved in the account. Logical, metaphysical, and probabilistic assumptions are revealed and then called into question. The standard logic of the experiment presupposes a particle model, and that leads to paradoxical probabilistic consequences. An alternative logical structure is proposed for the experiment; it is based on a wave model. That logical structure leads to a non-standard theory of probability that has distinct advantages, including the ability to give a coherent account of the two-slit experiment. That account explicitly involves a distinction between actual and virtual chances, which may have important interpretive consequences for the quantum realm and more broadly including such areas as economics, queuing theory, and psychology.

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Abstract – Barrett
I will argue that if one adopts the standard interpretation of quantum states and if one supposes that measurement interactions generate determinate local records, then measurement interactions must violate relativistic constraints in field theory. David Albert has recently shown that local particle interactions between entangled systems may also violate relativistic constraints. While I take providing a faithful account of measurement to pose a serious and particularly difficult problem for field theory, I will explain why Albert's problem is likely not a problem for field theory.

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Abstract – Spirtes
Much of the work in the social sciences and elsewhere that attempts to infer causal relationships uses data gathered under conditions where fully controlled experiments are not possible. Despite the fact that a significant part of the practical application of statistics attempts to infer causal structure from statistical data, within some segments of the statistical community there is serious doubt whether this is possible at all. By being explicit about the interpretation of causal models, the methods of causal inference that are being employed, the assumptions that are being made, and the standards of success, philosophers can both (i) clarify the issues, and (ii) improve upon the current methodology.

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Abstract – Marks
In The Grammar of Science (1892), Karl Pearson explained the application of Darwinian evolutionary principles to the human species: “a capable and stalwart race of white men should replace a dark-skinned tribe which can neither utilize its land for the full benefit of mankind, nor contribute its quota to the common stock of human knowledge,” and later clarified, “there is cause for human satisfaction in the replacement of the aborigines throughout America and Australia by white races of far higher civilization.” This is problematic because if the choice is between genocide or creationism, the correct choice is obviously creationism. It is also problematic because if Pearson was misrepresenting Darwinism (and where were you when he laid the foundations of quantitative biology? – Job 38:4) then it undermines the credibility of other generations of scientists who also claim to speak authoritatively about evolution. Accepting that creationists seek to undermine science education in America, I will discuss the failure of biology to deal adequately with them. I will suggest that an anthropological, relativistic approach may have some value in identifying and solving some of the problems raised by the persistence of creationism.

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Fall 2008

September 12

"Phlogiston Revisited: An Argument for Scientific Pluralism"
Hasok Chang
University College London

September 19 Noon, Room TBA

**Note different time and place
"Bólatú's Pharmacy: Theriac in Early Modern China"
Carla Nappi
Department of History and Philosophy, Montana State University
Cosponsored by The Center for Early Modern History

September 26, 2008

Author Meets Readers:
The Mantra of Efficiency
From Waterwheel to Social Control

by Jennifer Karns Alexander

HSTM and Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota
Commentators: 
1. Naomi Scheman, 
Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies & Philosophy, University of Minnesota

2. Andrew Feenberg, School of Communication, 
Simon Fraser University
3. David Valentine, Anthropology, University of Minnesota

October 3 3:35pm, 555 Diehl Hall

**Note different day, time, and place

Reception before the talk in the Wangensteen Library (Diehl Hall 5th floor)
"Striking a Blow at Medical School Segregation: Edith Irby Goes to Medical School"
Vanessa Northington Gamble, MD, PhD
Professor of Medical Humanities, George Washington University
Cosponsored by the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology of Medicine and the Program in the History of Medicine

October 10

"The Uses of Infinity: A philosopher looks at emergent phenomena in physics"
Jeremy Butterfield
University of Cambridge

October 13 MONDAY 3:30pm, 1-143 Carlson School of Management

**Note different day, time, and place
"Natural Kinds: Between Metaphysical Conservatism and Epistemological Liberalism" Thomas Reydon
Leibniz University of Hannover

October 17

"Kunst and Cabala: Anna Zieglerin's Alchemical Secrets"
Tara Nummedal
Department of History, Brown University
Cosponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study and Theorizing Early Modern Studies

October 24

"The Role of Vivisection in 17th-Century Anatomy"
Domenico Bertoloni Meli
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University

October 31

"Philosophical Issues in the Levels of Selection Debate: Reduction, Causality, Emergence"
Samir Okasha
University of Bristol

November 5 WEDNESDAY Noon, Room 20 Hubert Humphrey Center

**Note different day, time, and place
"The Many Faces of Fitness: A Pluralist Interpretation of Natural Selection Theory"
Marcel Weber
University of Basel

November 14

"Mountaineering and Physics"
Michael Reidy
Department of History, Montana State University

November 21

"The Philosophical Inadequacy of Engineering"
Carl Mitcham
Hennebach Program in the Humanities, Colorado School of Mines

Unless otherwise indicated, the lectures are held on Fridays at 3:30pm in Room 131 of the Physics Building on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota (refreshments at 3:15pm in Room 216). For further information, please contact Janet McKernan at mcps@umn.edu or (612/625-6635).

Spring 2008

January 25

"What is Empirical Testing?"
Michael Strevens
New York University

February 1

"Austrian and German Émigré and Homeguard Social Scientists during the Nazi Period: A Prosopography"
Christian Fleck
University of Graz, Austria

February 8

"Tracing Anthrax: History, Ecology, and Phylogenetics"
Susan D. Jones
University of Minnesota

February 14 THURSDAY 4:00pm, Nolte 125

**Note different day, time, and place
"Making and Knowing: Lived Experience and the Written Word in Early Modern ‘Europe'"
Pamela Smith
Columbia University

February 15 Noon, Social Sciences 712 (Ford Room)

**Note different day, time, and place
"Book Discussion: The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution"
Pamela Smith
Columbia University

February 22

"Why Do We Care about 'Hitler's Bomb,' and should we?"
Mark Walker
Union College

February 29

"Stratifying a Population By Race"
Michael D Root
University of Minnesota

March 7

"Quantum State Collapse Along a Light Cone: History and Objections"
Brian A. Woodcock
Carleton College

March 28

"Race, Medicine, and Money: Contextualizing the Emergence of 'Ethnic' Drugs"
Jonathan Kahn
Hamline University

April 4

**There will be two talks on this date

2:30-3:45pm
"On Reflection (...more or less)"
John Doris
Washington University

3:45-4:00pm Coffee

4:00-5:15pm
"A Science of the Whole Environment: Wildlife Ecology"
Robert Kohler
University of Pennsylvania

April 18

"Professional Imperatives in Engineering Communities: A Contest in Constructing the St. Louis Bridge, 1867 - 1874"
John Brown
University of Virginia

April 25

"Maupertuis on attraction as an inherent property of matter"
Lisa Downing
Ohio State University

May 2

"Consuming Landscapes: Parkways and Driving Cultures in the United States and Germany, 1920-1970"
Thomas Zeller
University of Maryland

May 9

"Thinking Through Science: Philosophical Perspectives on Biology, Geography and History"

Spring Science Studies Symposium of McKnight summer fellows, University of Minnesota

"Temporal Dimensions of Reductionism in Biology"
Alan C. Love
Department of Philosophy

"Cartographic knowledge and Emerging Dutch colonialism: the View from Population Biology"
Arun Saldanha
Department of Geography

"Towards a 21st-Century Galileo: Philosophical Reflections on the Problem of Writing the Origination of Science"
J. B. Shank
Department of History

"Getting Real about Genetics and Genomics: An Antirealist Perspective"
C. Kenneth Waters
Department of Philosophy


The Studies of Science and Technology Colloquium gratefully acknowledges the support of the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences for this year's series.

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