THE UNIT FOR HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SYDNEY CENTRE FOR THE FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENCE

2016 RESEARCH SEMINARS

The HPS Research Seminar Series runs on selected Mondays during Semester time.

All Welcome. No Booking Required. Free

Please note NEW START TIME: 5:45

CCANESA MEETING ROOM, MADSEN BUILDING
CAMPERDOWN CAMPUS

Best access to CCANESA is from the Eastern Avenue entrance of the Madsen Building. When you enter you will be on the 3rd floor. Please proceed across the foyer and take the stairs on the right up one floor. The door to CCANESA will be straight ahead on this landing


RESEARCH PRESENTATION DAY 28/10 WILL BE HELD AT THE SANCTA SOPHIA COLLEGE SEE LINK AT BOTTOM OF PAGE FOR DIRECTIONS. Pedestrians can enter via Missenden Road or through the University via St John’s Oval

Research Seminar Series - Semester 1, 2016
Date Venue Speaker Topic
August 8th

CCANESA MEETING ROOM

Katie Tabb

Columbia University

 "The Prospect of Precision Psychiatry: Some Ethical and Epistemological Concerns"

Abstract: Like other medical researchers, many psychiatrists have embraced what’s been heralded as a transformative new paradigm: “precision medicine,” the search for drug therapies based on an improved understanding of disease processes, especially at the molecular and genetic levels. The first part of this talk is medical-ethical: I will explain the notion of “precision psychiatry,” which has recently been championed by the USA’s National Institute of Mental Health, and argue that the program is problematic from a social-justice standpoint. I introduce the term “diachronic justice” to illustrate the sort of problem I have in mind: that precision medicine favors future, advantaged patients over current, disadvantaged ones. However, for reasons that will become clear, assessments of diachronic justice must be informed by the state of medical research and practice. The second half of the talk, therefore, provides such an assessment, presenting joint work with Maël Lemoine (Tours). We argue that the model of precision medicine that is showing promise in fields like oncology is currently inapplicable to psychiatry, which lacks the sorts of biomarkers that allow for precise interventions. Following Bechtel and Richardson, we describe such biomarkers as providing direct localizations, and distinguish them from two other sorts of biomarkers that are to be found in psychiatry. We argue that calling psychiatry “precise” on the basis of biomarkers that do not provide direct localization encourages unreasonable optimism about research strategies that cannot, as of yet, impact clinical care. I conclude by returning to a consideration of the ethical repercussions of such optimism. 

 


August 15th

CCANESA MEETING ROOM

Suman Seth

Science and Technolgy Studies

Cornell University

"Pathologies of Blackness: Race-Medicine, Slavery and Abolitionism"

This paper explores the relationships between race, medicine, abolitionism, and slavery within the British Empire in the second half of the eighteenth century. While the literature on abolitionist debates is large, comparatively little attention has been paid to the role played—on either side—by medical men. As we will see, however, relationships between medicine, climate, and disease were critical for a debate that turned on who was to blame for the inhuman and near-unimaginable losses of human life due to the ‘seasoning’ or whether black bodies were essential for the cultivation of sugar under a blazing New World sun. Medical men and medical logics were marshaled in arguments over African inferiority and the very question of their humanity. And doctors, surgeons, midwives and others all participated in ongoing discussions over the question of the single or multiple origins of different ‘races.’ As abolitionist critiques provoked changes—more or less cosmetic—doctors became even more thoroughly imbricated within the slave system. From the 1760s one begins to find medical texts written on ways to handle the initial seasoning and later care of slaves. From the 1780s, the writings of men who claimed to administer to the medical needs of thousands of slaves per year were cited, critiqued, and debated in parliamentary sessions devoted to the question of the continuation of the trade within the British Empire. Abolitionists, I show, excoriated planters for the death and suffering—from disease, neglect, and harsh treatment—of the slaves they owned, while some West-Indian doctors used their experiences to offer apologia and negations of precisely these charges.


August 22nd

CCANESA Meeting Room

Madsen Building

Eva Jablonka

Tel Aviv University

Learning and minimal consciousness: an evolutionary connection?

 

(work done with Simona Ginsburg and Zohar Bronfman)

 

Inspired by an  origin-of-life research program, I (and my colleagues) propose an evolutionary-transition approach to the study of minimal consciousness – the most basic (non-reflective) subjective feeling that includes exteroceptive (e.g. visual, olfactory), interoceptive (e.g. pain, hunger, thirst) and proprioceptive (e.g. bodily position and movement) experiences. Our goal is to identify an evolutionary transition marker for minimal consciousness – the phylogenetically earliest overt trait that is sufficient for ascribing minimal consciousness to an animal. We  suggest that the transition marker for minimal animal consciousness is unlimited associative learning (UAL). We characterize UAL  at the behavioral and functional levels and argue that the attributes of UAL’s enabling system (the system that enables its developmental construction and maintenance) correspond to the properties that philosophers and cognitive scientists attribute to a biological system manifesting minimal consciousness.  Since UAL had evolved during the Cambrian, we propose that minimal consciousness evolved during this era in the context of selection for UAL.

 

AUGUST 29TH    

NO TALK TONIGHT

SEPTEMBER 5TH    

NO TALK TONIGHT

September 12th

CCANESA Meeting Room

Sonja Van Wichelen

Dept Sociology

University of Sydney

"Legitimating Life: Adoption as Postcolonial Technoscience"

The history of international adoption tells us that the practice has taken a lot of forms over time. Beginning with charitable organizations often denominational and then taken on new forms with the rise of assisted reproductive technologies, the application of scholarly knowledge on adoption, and the regulation of adoption through international law. If we look at international adoption today, we see that the practice is entangled in various institutions and histories. Apart from a form of family-making, it is also the subject of scientific inquiry. There is growing interest in adoption from the life sciences because of the issues that adoption raises with respect to child development, attachment, nature and culture, genetics and epigenetics.

 

My talk starts from the premise that the phenomenon of Western legal adoption should be understood as a project of modernity in which scientific rationales, international cooperation, and humanist moralities combine to lend weight to a modern ontological understanding of Euro-American kinship. Influenced by directions in anthropology that look at the “anthropology of the contemporary” and that take as a central problematic the project of modernity, I demonstrate that while the globalization of legal adoption introduces Euro-American kinship knowledge to other parts of the world the current practice also contributes to disrupting modern ontologies. By examining the dynamic relationship between capitalism, science, and humanitarianism in the legitimation work of transnational adoption I develop the argument that adoption knowledge functions as postcolonial technoscience. Such a framework allows us to see how technoscientific legitimations of a globalizing practice are rearticulating colonial and orientalist logics of race and civilization. Yet, as I will show, it also lets us see beyond the biopolitical project and into alternative ways of making kin.

 September 19th

CCANESA Meeting Room

Madsen Building

John Norton

Dept of HPS

University of Pittsburgh

There is no complete calculus of inductive inference.


What is inductive inference? An appealing answer is that it is just inference that conforms to some mathematical calculus, such as the probability calculus. For then all questions concerning inductive inference are answerable mechanically by doing sums in the calculus. This answer fails, I argue, on the basis of a demonstration of the incompleteness of all, non-trivial calculi of inductive inference. The talk will give an informal account of the result and its significance for inductive inference.

 October 10th

CCANESA Meeting Room

Madsen Building

 

 Blaise Dufal

Groupe d'Anthropologie Scolastique

EHESS

  “Anthropological approaches to medieval scholasticism”

 

 October 17th

 CCANESA Meeting Room

Dr. Mirjam Brusius

Oxford University

Archeology, Heritage and Science Studies

 FRIDAY OCTOBER 28TH

PRESENTATIONS 11AM TO 5PM

DRINKS AND CANAPES

5PM - 7PM

 

*** SANCTA SOPHIA COMMON ROOM

 

*** SANCTA SOPHIA QUADRANGLE

See link below for directions

 

SEMESTER TWO RESEARCH PRESENTATION DAY

KEYNOTE

COMPLETING HONOURS AND GRADUATE STUDENTS

 

FOLLOWED BY DRINKS AND CANAPES TO CELEBRATE.

 RSVP hps.admin@sydney.edu.au

 

   

 

 
       

Directions to Sancta Sophia