Program in History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
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History of Science Colloquia

Colloquia 2010-11

The colloquium meets 3 times per quarter on, generally on the 3rd, 6th and 9th Thursdays at 4:15 in the Lane History Building, Room 307, unless noted below.

  • Ted Porter

    "Asylums of Hereditary Research in the Efficient Modern State."

    noon, October 18, 2010
    location: Encina Hall East, room 207

    Co-sponsored with Program in Science, Technology and Society

  • Angela Lorenz, Artist

    "History of Science as an Artist"

    October 21st, 2010
    location: Art Department

    Co-sponsored with Art Department, and the Cantor Center

  • Deborah Harkness, Professor, Department of History, University of Southern California

    Reading from A Discovery of Witches and Book Signing

    7:30pm Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Book signing at Stanford Bookstore with Continuing Studies

    location: Geology Corner (Bldg 320), Room 105

    Co-sponsored with Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Continuing Studies and the Department of English

    and Thursday February 10th, 2011, CMEMS talk at noon - grad students only!
    noon, Bldg 260 - 216

  • David K. Rosner, Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Science and History, Co-Director, Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health

    "Torts and Retorts: The Trials and Tribulations of a Historian in the Courtroom."

    4:00pm, Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
    location: History, room 203

  • Robert A. Hatch, Department of History, University of Florida

    "Inventing the Republic of Letters: Peiresc, Community, and the Nascent Public Sphere"

    Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, noon
    location: History Building 200, Room 307

    Co-sponsored with Republic of Letters Project

  • J.B. Shank, Department of History, University of Minnesota

    "Making Science and Society (Or the Other Way Around) in Louis XIVÕs France."

    March 31st, 2011, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
    location: Stanford Humanities Center Baker Room,

    Co-sponsored with French Historical Studies, and the Republic of Letters Project

  • Mark Bedau, Department of Philosophy, Reed College

    4:15, Thursday, April 21st, 2011

    location: Bldg 50 Room 52H (Anthro Building)

    "A Defense of Pluralism about Emergence"

    Much of the philosophical debate about emergence is directed at determining how to understand emergence and whether it exists. Behind much of this debate lies the monistic presupposition that there is one right way to understand emergence. In this talk I defend a pluralistic alternative, according to which a number of quite different conceptions of emergence each play important roles in our best scientific understanding of the natural world. This pluralism about emergence follows from two premises. The first is that any conception of emergence involves some interpretation of the twin hallmarks of emergence: the properties of certain wholes both depend on, and are autonomous from, the properties of their parts. The second premise is that a number of different conceptions of emergence are key players in our best scientific understanding of certain complex wholes. I will illustrate these premises with what I have elsewhere called "nominal" and "weak" emergence. I conclude that the two premises should structure all criticism or defense of any kind of emergence.

  • David Kaiser, MIT

    noon, Monday, April 25, 2011

    location: Encina Hall East, room 207

    "Calculating Times: Radar, Ballistic Missiles, and Einstein's Relativity"

    A popular image persists of Albert Einstein as a loner, someone who avoided the hustle and bustle of everyday life in favor of quiet contemplation. Yet Einstein was deeply engaged with politics throughout his life; indeed, he was so active politically that the FBI kept him under surveillance for decades, compiling a 2000 page secret file on his political activities. His most enduring scientific legacy, the general theory of relativity -- physicists' reigning explanation for gravity and the basis for nearly all our thinking about the cosmos -- has likewise been cast as an austere temple standing aloof from the all-too-human dramas of political history. One of the most sensitive tests of general relativity, however, took place in the thick of the Cold War, using some of the country's most vital defense technologies. By exploring the origins and location of the now-famous "time delay test" within a key defense laboratory -- the Lincoln Laboratory associated with MIT -- this talk aims to unpack the roles played by Cold War priorities, technologies, and personnel in the development of a seemingly pure and esoteric science.

    Co-sponsored with Program in Science, Technology and Society

  • Florence Hsia, Associate Professor History of Science and Integrated Liberal Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

    "Reading Lists in the Sinological Archive"

    12:00pm - 1:30pm, May 3, 2011

    Stanford Humanities Center, Board Room, 424 Santa Teresa Street

    Pre-circulated paper will be available

    Co-sponsored with Republic of Letter project
  • Carrie Figdor, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Iowa

    "Verbs and Minds"

    Cognitive neuroscience seeks to localize cognitive capacities in brain areas or networks. But what are these capacities? I argue that cognitive scientists determine their nature by the use of analogies to known activities: in effect, the key to explaining the mind lies in choosing the right verbs. I also draw out the implications of this thesis on the status of functionalism as the dominant metaphysics of mind, the modularity debate, and the notion of autonomy appropriate to an empirical science of the mind.

    4:15pm, May 5, 2011

    location : Building 50 Room 52H (Anthro Building)

  • Alisa Bokulich, Department of Philosophy & Director, Center for Philosophy and History of Science, Boston University

    4:15, Thursday, May 19th, 2011

    location: Building 380-380x (Math Corner on front of Quad)

    "Three Approaches to the Quantum-Classical Relation: Bohr, Heisenberg, and Dirac"

    Classical mechanics and quantum mechanics are two of the most successful scientific theories ever developed, and yet how these two very different theories can successfully describe one and the same world is far from clear. In my talk I shall examine how three of the founders of quantum mechanics - Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Paul Dirac - approached this question of the relation between classical and quantum mechanics. More specifically, I shall argue for the following two theses: First, although these three figures are often grouped together as members of the so-called "Copenhagen Interpretation," they each had a very different approach to intertheory relations in general, and to the quantum-classical relation in particular. Second, none of these three thinkers held what might be described as the current reductionist orthodoxy, namely, that the relation between classical and quantum mechanics is captured by the asymptotic limit of a parameter, such as Planck's constant going to zero. I shall show how Bohr thought quantum mechanics was a 'rational generalization' of classical mechanics, how Heisenberg held a strange theoretical pluralism combined with scientific realism, and how Dirac thought there was a deep structural analogy between classical and quantum mechanics that could be used for the continued development of both theories for decades to come.

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