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Colloquia

Spring 2014

fmri duo Estep

January 24, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

Annual Science Studies Symposium

"Art, Emotion, Mind: What can Brain Scans Tell us about Being Human?"
Jan Estep Department of Art, University of Minnesota
abstract

January 31, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"The Metabolism of History: Combustion, Homeostasis, Epigenesis"
Hannah Landecker
, UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

February 7, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

“On Causal Explanations of Quantum Correlations”
Robert Spekkens
, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada
abstract

February 14, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics
CANCELLED due to winter storm

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

February 21, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Experimental Empire: Science, Sugar, and Plantation Slavery in the English Atlantic, 1626–1688"
Eric Otremba,
Department of History, Macalester College
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

February 28, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

"Science, Patents, and Global Health: Contradictions of Tuberculosis Vaccine and Drug Development"
Susan Craddock,
Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies,
University of Minnesota

abstract

March 7, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Mimeography: Constructing Culture through Reproduction"
E. Haven Hawley
, Program in History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

March 14, 2014, No colloquium

March 21, 2014, No colloquium

March 28, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"A Film Never Made: History, Science, and Memory in Liberia"
Gregg Mitman, Department of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

April 4, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

“Ignorance, Excellence, and Diversity: Improving the Representation of Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”
Carla Fehr
, Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo, Canada
abstract

April 11, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

Elaine Leong, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

April 18, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Thinking through Technology and Religion: Islam and Industrialization in Late Twentieth-century Indonesia."
Suzanne Moon
, Department of History of Science, University of Oklahoma
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

April 25, 2014, 275 Nicholson Hall

“Carnap and Logic in the 1920s and 1930s”
Richard Zach, Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary, Canada
abstract

May 2, 2014, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Chemists' Labour's Lost: A History of Organic Chemistry in Four Acts"
Catherine Jackson, John J. Reilly Center, University of Notre Dame
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Abstracts for Spring 2014

" Art, Emotion, Mind: What can brain scans tell us about being human?"
Jan Estep Department of Art, University of Minnesota
Abstract: This talk will describe my participation in a collaborative interdisciplinary art and cognitive neuroscience project titled Thinking Portraits: Mind, Body, Language. The group used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the relationship between abstract and concrete language as processed by the brain during semantic decision tasks. As a test subject in the study, I collected hundreds of anatomical MRI images of my brain. Viewing these remarkable images got me wondering about the way brain scans convey empirical data, given the often hidden decisions and processing procedures that contribute to their production. They appear photographic and indexical, yet their actual relationship to their referent is far more complicated. They appear so informative, yet brain science is still very young. As an artist these philosophical issues naturally paralleled a set of more personal, emotional concerns about the connections between brain, body, mind, and world. Hoping to understand these connections on a more visceral, intuitive level, I began a series of drawings using the MRI images as a substrate. Working back into the brain with my hands has become a means to investigate my embodied experience and a way to question and qualify what a brain image does and does not show.
Bio: Jan Estep is an artist, writer, and educator with an expanded creative practice. Trained as a philosopher—PhD, Washington University, St. Louis, 1993—and an artist—MFA, University of Illinois, Chicago, 1997—the relationship between mind, human behavior, and visual expression fuels a wide range of formal and conceptual investigations, particularly involving how our sensory experience relates to the conceptual. She is Professor of Art at the University of Minnesota. Visit www.janestep.com to learn more about her work.

“On causal explanations of quantum correlations”
Robert Spekkens Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo
Abstract: An active area of research in the fields of machine learning and statistics is the development of causal discovery algorithms, the purpose of which is to infer the causal relations that hold among a set of variables from the correlations that these exhibit. We show that any causal explanation of certain quantum correlations—those that violate a Bell inequality—must contradict a core principle of these algorithms, namely, that an observed statistical independence between variables should not be explained by fine-tuning of the causal parameters. The fine-tuning criticism applies to all of the standard attempts at causal explanations of Bell correlations,such as superluminal causal influences, superdeterminism, and retrocausation. Nonetheless, we argue that by casting quantum theory as a theory of Bayesian inference, we can generalize the notion of a causal model and salvage a causal explanation of Bell correlations without fine-tuning.
(based on http://arxiv.org/abs/1208.4119)

"Science, Patents, and Global Health: Contradictions of Tuberculosis Vaccine and Drug Development"
Susan Craddock Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies
Abstract: For the first time in over four decades, tuberculosis drugs are being developed again. A more effective vaccine for TB is being developed for the first time in almost a century.  Why this is occurring now, both therapeutically and politically, is the main subject of this talk. Product Development Partnerships, or PDPs, constituting nonprofit organizations, academic researchers, philanthropic representatives, and pharmaceutical companies are collaborating on new treatments for several infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, considered to be ‘neglected’ because they primarily affect low-income populations and are therefore not lucrative enough prospects for pharmaceutical industry attention. Besides the why now question, this talk will ask what happens scientifically and ethically to the research and development process when you largely untether the profit incentive from pharmaceutical production.  

“Ignorance, Excellence, and Diversity: Improving the Representation of Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”
Carla Fehr, Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo
Abstract: Women and members of some minority groups are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). I argue that in addition to this being an ethical problem, it hurts the creativity and rigour of scientific and technological research. This talk draws on philosophical accounts of the social nature of scientific work, and on qualitative and quantitative research regarding women and minorities in the academy. I explore issues of diversity in STEM in ways that are both policy-relevant and that advance our understanding of the structures of scientific research communities.

“Carnap and Logic in the 1920s and 1930s”
Richard Zach Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary
Abstract: During the hey-day of the Vienna Circle, Rudolf Carnap pursued two technical projects in logic: the first was the general axiomatics program, in which he attempted to develop a general theory of axiomatized systems within the framework of the type theory of Principia mathematica. The second was the program of Logical Syntax. A proper understanding of the relationship of these projects, their relevance to the development of Carnap's though and the development of metamathematics, is best obtained by viewing it in the context of the broader history of logic at the time, e.g., the work of Tarski and Gödel.

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Fall 2013

September 13, 2013, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"The Telling of the Case: Rabies, Physicians, and Medical Community in Nineteenth-Century New York City"
Jessica Wang, Department of History, University of British Columbia
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

September 20, 2013, 155 Nicholson Hall

“Biological kinds as moving targets: Indifference and interactivity in biological classification”
Thomas Reydon,
Institute of Philosophy, University of Hannover
abstract

September 27, 2013, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Chasing Ghosts: Risk and Marginalization in the 2003 Heat Wave Disaste"
Rick Keller,
Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 4, 2013, 155 Nicholson Hall

“From the Mountains of the Philippines to the Shores of Lake Superior: An Archaeologist’s Quest to Understand the Relationship between People and Things”
James Skibo, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Illinois State University
Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology
abstract

October 11, 2013, 155 Nicholson Hall

"Isaac Newton's Scientific Method"
William L Harper
, Western University, Ontario, Canada
abstract

October 18, 2013, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"The History of Science and Its Problems"
Wijnand Mijnhardt, Descartes Center, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 25, 2013, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"China Embraces IT in Changing Times"
James Cortada,
Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

November 1, 2013, 155 Nicholson Hall

"Fitness, Abstraction, and the Environment"
Jessica Pfeifer
, Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland-Baltimore County
abstract

November 8, 2013, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"Honeymoon Caked in Mud: George Gaylord Simpson and Anne Roe in the Field, 1938"
Joe Cain, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

MONDAY, November 11, 2013, 3:30 pm
1-143 Carlson School of Management
*** Note change of day and location ***

"Standpoint Matters: Transformative criticism in archaeology"
Alison Wylie, Department of Philosophy and Department of Anthropology, University of Washington
Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology
abstract

November 15, 2013, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

'Passionate Knowledge: The Dilemmas and Anxieties that Shaped Modern Science"
Ofer Gal, Unit for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

November 22, 2013 155 Nicholson Hall

"Great expectations: The potential and perils of using models borrowed from neutral theory to study cultural transmission in the archaeological record"
Luke Premo
, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University
Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology
abstract

November 29, 2013, THANKSGIVING no colloquium

December 6, 2013, 131 Tate Lab of Physics

"What Makes a Good Experiment? Mendel, Millikan, and Others"
Allan Franklin, Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder
Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

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Abstracts for Fall 2013

“Biological kinds as moving targets: Indifference and interactivity in biological classification”
Thomas Reydon, Institute of Philosophy, University of Hannover
Abstract: In this talk I both question and develop the dichotomy between “interactive kinds” and “indifferent kinds” that was proposed by Ian Hacking. Hacking argued that classifications in the human sciences differ from classifications in the natural sciences because of feedback effects that may occur in the human sciences between classificatory practices on the one hand and the entities being classified (i.e., people) on the other hand. Such feedback, which allegedly doesn’t occur in the natural sciences, can affect the properties of the classified entities, rendering the products of classificatory practices in the human sciences (kinds of people as “interactive kinds”) epistemically less stable than kinds in the natural sciences (“indifferent kinds”). While I think Hacking pointed to an important aspect of how classification works, I want to suggest that instead of adopting a dichotomy between two kinds of kinds or two kinds of classificatory practices, classificatory practices in the sciences are better understood in terms of a continuum involving different degrees of interactivity and indifference. In particular the biological sciences seem to constitute a domain in which partly indifferent and partly interactive kinds can be found. I explore some reasons to think of biological kinds as partly indifferent / partly interactive kinds, as well as some consequences for the epistemic and practical uses of biological kinds.

"From the Mountains of the Philippines to the Shores of Lake Superior: An Archaeologist’s Quest to Understand the Relationship between People and Things"
James Skibo, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Illinois State University
Abstract: The core of archaeology is understanding the relationship between people and the artifacts that are part of our everyday life. For nearly a quarter century Dr. Skibo has focused on understanding this relationship between people and things with a special focus on pottery.He has researched pottery experimentally, done ethoarchaeology among contemporary potters in the Philippines, and has studied pottery from a variety of locals in North America, focusing specifically on trying to infer actual vessel function by exploring use-alteration traces. He discusses some of this research and concludes with a discussion about his most recent work on Grand Island, Michigan.

"Isaac Newton's Scientific Method"
William L Harper, Western University, Ontario, Canada
Abstract: Newton employs theory-mediated measurements to turn data into far more informative evidence than can be achieved by hypothetico-deductive confirmation alone. This is exemplified in the classical response to Mercury’s perihelion problem. Contrary to Kuhn, Newton’s method endorses the radical transition from his theory to Einstein’s. Newton’s method is strikingly realized in the response to a challenge to general relativity from a later problem posed by Mercury’s perihelion.
We can also see Newton’s method at work in cosmology today in the support afforded to the (dark energy) cosmic expansion from agreeing measurements from supernovae and cosmic microwave background radiation

“Standpoint Matters: Transformative criticism in archaeology
Alison Wylie, Departments of Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Washington
Abstract: What are the conditions that foster transformative criticism in well established, productive traditions of empirical research? I argue that the mobilization of diverse social/epistemic standpoints is crucial, and must extend to forms of expertise that lie outside the research community. Community-based collaborative practice in archaeology is one context in which the epistemic value of such extensions is clearly evident. I offer an analysis of some key examples of intellectual partnerships with Indigenous, Aboriginal, and First Nations descendant communities that have been pivotal in reframing central archaeological questions, generating new evidence and redirecting interpretation. On this basis I make a case for reformulating Longino’s “tempered equality of intellectual authority” in terms that draw on feminist standpoint theory.

Alison Wylie is Professor of Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Washington. She is centrally interested in philosophical issues raised by archaeological practice and by feminist research in the social sciences: ideals of objectivity, the role of contextual values in research practice, and models evidential reasoning. Recentpublications include "Standpoint Matters," the 2012 Pacific Division APA Presidential lecture; essays that appear in Appropriating the Past (2012), Evidence, Inference and Enquiry (2011),How Well do 'Facts' Travel? (2010), and Agnatology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (2008); a collection of her own essays,Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology (2002); and edited volumes such as Value-free Science? (OUP 2007, with Kincaid and Dupré), Doing Archaeology as a Feminist (Archaeological method and Theory 2007, with Conkey), Epistemic Diversity and Dissent (Episteme, 2006).

" Fitness, Abstraction, and the Environment"
Jessica Pfeifer, Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Abstract: Fitness is always relative to an environment. However, not all features of an organism’s environment are relevant for its fitness, since not all features of an environment are selectively relevant. As a result, there are explanatory reasons to abstract from features of the environment that are not selectively relevant, even though they are causally relevant to evolutionary outcomes. This is, as I and others have argued, one of the main reason biologists invoke probabilities in understanding evolutionary processes. Building on my earlier work and on the work of others, I develop an account of which features of the environment are and are not relevant for selection and show how these environmental features ought to be factored in to determine fitness values. This account is then used to resolve some recent debates about the nature of fitness, selection, and random genetic drift.

"Great expectations: The potential and perils of using models borrowed from neutral theory to study cultural transmission in the archaeological record"
Luke Premo, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University
Abstract: High-fidelity cultural transmission sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. It makes possible adaptive cumulative culture, which has allowed humans to colonize and thrive in disparate environs the world over. What is more, the transmission of non-adaptive cultural variants yields incredible diversity in customs, laws, and social organization. Yet, despite its importance to the success of our species, cultural transmission has proven extremely difficult to study in pre-literate prehistoric societies. The proposition that models from neutral theory in population genetics could be used to study modes of cultural transmission in the archaeological record provided what seemed to be the breakthrough needed. However, the initial flurry of papers applying neutral theory based models to archaeological data has recently given way to studies that show why the population genetics models may not be quite as well suited to archaeological data as initially thought. Here, I recount some of the findings of such studies and discuss the important caveats they have brought to light. The conclusion I draw is that, while some of the population genetics models may yet provide at least some utility in studying cultural transmission in archaeological data, knowing which ones do--and why--requires careful thought about both the assumptions underlying the methods as well as the structure of the data 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. 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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