THE UNIT FOR HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SYDNEY CENTRE FOR THE FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENCE

2017 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: 5:30

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


Dr Maurizio Meloni

Senior Research Fellow

Dept of Sociological Studies

University of Sheffield

Research Seminar Series - Semester 1, 2017
Date Venue Speaker Topic

MONDAY

31ST JULY

CCANESA Meeting Room

Madsen Building

 

Hannah Landecker

University of California, Los Angeles

Antibiotic Resistance and the Biology of History

Beginning in the 1940s, mass production of antibiotics involved the industrial scale growth of microorganisms to harvest their metabolic products. Unfortunately, the use of antibiotics selects for and drives resistance at answering scale. In this talk I will discuss the history of the scientific and medical study of antibiotic resistance, focusing on the realization that individual therapies targeted at single pathogens in individual bodies are environmental events affecting bacterial evolution. In turning to biological manifestations of antibiotic use, medicine and microbiology today are staying the material outcomes of their own previous concepts and practices. Archival work with stored soil and clinical samples produces a record that could be called ‘the biology of history’: the physical registration of human history in bacterial life. The phenomena of antibiotic resistance challenge traditional divisions between human social history and natural history; the particular case of antibiotic resistance in war will be used to illustrate the importance of understanding both the materiality of history and the historicity of matter in theories and concepts of life today.

 MONDAY

7TH AUGUST

CCANESA MEETING ROOM

MADSEN BUILDING

ELAY SHECH

AUBURN DEPT OF PHILOSOPHY

 

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FICTION, DEPICTION AND THE COMPLIMENTARITY THESIS IN ART AND SCIENCE

In this paper, I appeal to a distinction made by David Lewis between identifying and
determining semantic content in order to defend a complementarity thesis expressed
by Anjan Chakravartty. The thesis states that there is no conflict between informational
and functional views of scientific modeling and representation. I then apply the
complementarity thesis to well-received theories of pictorial representation, thereby
stressing the fruitfulness of drawing an analogy between the nature of fictions in art
and in science. I end by attending to the problem of depicting impossible fictions. It is
suggested that progress can be made by understanding the role of impossible fictions
in science, namely, allowing researchers to probe into the possible structure and representational
capacities of scientific theory.

MONDAY 14TH AUGUST

 

NO SEMINAR

 

MONDAY 21ST AUGUST  CCANESA MEETING ROOM MADSEN BUILDING

NICK SHEA

Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy,
School of Advanced Study, University of London; and
Faculty of Philosophy, Radcliffe Humanities Building, University of Oxford

 


 

'Representations in the Brain that Exploit Correlations'.


MONDAY 28TH AUGUST  CCANESA MEETING ROOM

 DANIEL DOR

The Gershon H. Gordon Faculty of Social Science

Dept of Communication

Tel Aviv University

 

The Instruction of Imagination: The Nature and Evolution of Language as a Communication Technology

In this talk, I will present the backbone of the new general theory of language and its evolution that I develop in Dor (2015). In the first part, I will claim that language should be properly understood as a socially-constructed communication technology of a very particular type, collectively constructed for the very specific function of the instruction of imagination. All the other systems of intentional communication, used by humans and other species, work with what I call the experiential strategy: they provide materials for the interlocutors to experience with their senses and thus allow for the actual sharing of experience. Crucially, the experiential strategy is inherently limited: only what can be directly presented to the interlocutor's senses can be communicated. Language is the only system that goes beyond the sharing of experience. It allows speakers to intentionally and systematically instruct their interlocutors in the process of imagining the intended experience - instead of directly experiencing it.

In the second part of the talk, I will show how this characterization of language opens up new venues for the understanding of the origin and further evolution of language and its speakers. Ancient human communities (as early as half a million years ago) invented the first prototypes of language, on the basis of experiential communication, when experiential communication was no longer enough to sustain the growing complexity of social life. When the new function of the instruction of imagination began to show its potential, a developmental process was launched that was directly driven throughout by the constant pressure to raise the levels of collective success in instructive communication. Then, language began to function as a selective environment for individuals. Eventually, Homo sapiens emerged as a language-ready species. Our language-ready brains and physiologies were forced into existence by language, not the other way around.

 MONDAY OCTOBER 2ND  CCANESA MEETING ROOM

 

 

Dr Maurizio Meloni

Senior Research Fellow

Dept of Sociological Studies

University of Sheffield

 

 

 

Impressionable Biologies:

Plastic Bodies and the Politics of Knowledge from Humoralism to Postgenomics

Claims of a profound plasticity of the human body characterize 21st century postgenomic biology. Particularly in disciplines like environmental epigenetics and microbiomics, the biological body is understood as always porous to, and impressionable by, social factors. In my talk, I sketch a possible genealogy of current views of human plasticity to rethink a less linear history of the body. Rather than the latest breakthrough moment in a history of continuous scientific innovation, I understand the plasticity of the postgenomic body as the return of subjugated and forgotten traditions in the history of biology. These traditions, from humoralism to neo-Lamarckism, have always assumed a profound permeability of the body to ‘environmental factors’, understood race as plastic and biological identity as mutable and in flux. After discussing such long-duree history of the plastic body, I will look at the implications of the present shift toward plasticity in terms of politics and geography of knowledge. If the modernistic body of biomedicine with its fixed boundaries and stable identity was mostly a late nineteenth and twentieth century Euro-American construct, where shall we expect to find the most significant reverberations of the plastic body of postgenomics? I advance in conclusion a few emerging examples regarding a specific Southern resonance of the plastic and impressionable body of postgenomics