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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

M Norton Wise
Alexander von Humboldt provides a point of reference for questions that arise when reflecting on the papers in this special issue on "Experiencing the Global Environment," for he aimed to integrate local and global experience and qualitative and quantitative observation in his conceptions of physiognomy and of instruments. What are we to understand by direct experience? How do we draw the limits of our senses, whether in the larger world or internally? Does recent scholarly interest in distributed cognition illuminate the distributed experience of global phenomena obtained through mapping? How do our concepts shape our experience, whether local or global? Finally, do recent trends in the sciences, emphasizing complexity and contingency, tend to make traditional tensions between local and global priorities and between qualitative and quantitative description less relevant? Humboldt would have thought so...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Angela N H Creager
The testing of human blood and urine for signs of chemical exposure has become the "gold standard" of environmental public health, leading to ongoing population studies in the US and Europe. Such methods first emerged over a century ago in medical and occupational contexts, as a means to calibrate drug doses for patients and prevent injury to workers from chemical or radiation exposure. This paper analyzes how human bodies have come to serve as unconscious sensors of their environments: containers of chemical information determined by expert testers...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Lino Camprubí
Deep ocean currents are not accessible to direct human perception. Their insertion into global structures of circulation is even more profoundly removed from individual sensorial experience. But oceanographers tend to use wider concepts of experience to include instruments, traditions of observation and theoretical models. Historians and philosophers of science, as well as STS scholars, have also redefined scientific experience as operational and collective transformations of parts of the world around us into fragments of larger bodies of knowledge...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Fa-Ti Fan
This paper examines the international research on abnormal animal behavior prior to earthquakes, with a focus on Chinese seismology during the Cultural Revolution. China experienced a series of powerful earthquakes in the 1960s and 1970s; in response, its scientists developed approaches to earthquake prediction, including the use of bio-sentinels. The paper demonstrates that Chinese seismology did not treat an earthquake simply as a geophysical event, but rather as an amalgam of environmental phenomena, including sensory experiences...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Elena Aronova
A familiar story of seismology is that of a small field originally focused on local studies of earthquakes through diverse disciplinary perspectives being transformed, in the second half of the twentieth century, into a highly specialized field focused on global studies of the earth's deep interior via sophisticated instruments and transnational networks of seismological stations. Against this backdrop, this essay offers a complementing account, highlighting the significance of local circumstances and disciplinary agendas that were contingent not only on transformations in the geophysical sciences but also on the concurrently changing biological sciences during the Cold War...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Philipp Lehmann
This paper examines the co-construction of global and local views of the weather and climate at the turn of the twentieth century through a history of data gathering efforts in the German colonies in Africa. While both governmental officials and metropolitan practitioners aimed at producing standardized - and thus globally comparable and economically useful - data in different environments, these efforts often tended to break down in practice. Rather than being able to turn the field into a finely tuned laboratory, both European and African data gatherers were confronted with complex and challenging environmental and institutional realities...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Etienne S Benson
In 1985, more than thirty geomorphologists, planetary scientists, and remote sensing specialists gathered at a conference center in Oracle, Arizona, to discuss an emerging area of research that they called "mega-geomorphology." Building on a conference of the same name held in London in 1981, they argued that new techniques of remote sensing and insights emerging from the study of extraterrestrial planets had created opportunities for geomorphology to broaden its spatial and temporal scope. This new approach was, however, neither unproblematic nor uncontested...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Jeremy Vetter
Before many of the global environmental knowledge producing networks and technologies emerged later in the twentieth century, another spatially extended form of field science was implemented at a continental scale by the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, revealing similar tensions and dynamics. Specimens and observations from across continental spaces were integrated through railroad-based transportation and communications networks in order to map distributions of birds and mammals and delineate "life zones" stretching across the continent...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Lino Camprubí, Philipp Lehmann
The Scales of Experience introduces the special issue Experiencing the Global Environment by focusing on three dimensions of the theme that are reflected to various degrees in the constitutive essays. First, the introduction highlights the links between the epistemological and political contexts of the historical constitution and development of the global environment (or global environments) in the earth and environmental sciences from the late nineteenth century to today. Second, it argues for a historical approach to the complex concept of scientific experience, whose mutable and contingent qualities are demonstrated by the contributions to the special volume...
August 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
K Brad Wray
J. D. Trout has recently developed a new defense of scientific realism, a new version of the No Miracles Argument. I critically evaluate Trout's novel defense of realism. I argue that Trout's argument for scientific realism and the related explanation for the success of science are self-defeating. In the process of arguing against the traditional realist strategies for explaining the success of science, he inadvertently undermines his own argument.
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Devin Sanchez Curry
Descartes held the following view of declarative memory: to remember is to reconstruct an idea that you intellectually recognize as a reconstruction. Descartes countenanced two overarching varieties of declarative memory. To have an intellectual memory is to intellectually reconstruct a universal idea that you recognize as a reconstruction, and to have a sensory memory is to neurophysiologically reconstruct a particular idea that you recognize as a reconstruction. Sensory remembering is thus a capacity of neither ghosts nor machines, but only of human beings qua mind-body unions...
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Cornelis Menke
John Stuart Mill, in his debate with William Whewell on the nature and logic of induction, is regarded as being the first to dismiss the supposed value of successful predictions as merely psychological. I shall argue that this view of the Whewell-Mill debate on predictions misconstrues Mill's position and argument. From Mill's point of view, the controversial point was not the question whether predictions 'count more' than ex-post explanations but the alleged assertion by Whewell that the successful predictions of the wave theory of light prove the existence of the ether...
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Torbjørn Gundersen
The role of scientists as experts is crucial to public policymaking. However, the expert role is contested and unsettled in both public and scholarly discourse. In this paper, I provide a systematic account of the role of scientists as experts in policymaking by examining whether there are any normatively relevant differences between this role and the role of scientists as researchers. Two different interpretations can be given of how the two roles relate to each other. The separability view states that there is a normatively relevant difference between the two roles, whereas the inseparability view denies that there is such a difference...
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Ann-Sophie Barwich
Empirical success is a central criterion for scientific decision-making. Yet its understanding in philosophical studies of science deserves renewed attention: Should philosophers think differently about the advancement of science when they deal with the uncertainty of outcome in ongoing research in comparison with historical episodes? This paper argues that normative appeals to empirical success in the evaluation of competing scientific explanations can result in unreliable conclusions, especially when we are looking at the changeability of direction in unsettled investigations...
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Sonia Maria Dion
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Amy A Fisher
Building on Norton's "material theory of induction," this paper shows through careful historical analysis that analogy can act as a methodological principle or stratagem, providing experimentalists with a useful framework to assess data and devise novel experiments. Although this particular case study focuses on late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century experiments on the properties and composition of acids, the results of this investigation may be extended and applied to other research programs...
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Jelscha Schmid
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Andrea Reichenberger
Émilie Du Châtelet is well known for her French translation of Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. It is the first and only French translation of Newton's magnum opus. The complete work appeared in 1759 under the title Principes mathématiques de la philosophie naturelle, par feue Madame la Marquise Du Chastellet. Before translating Newton's Principia, Du Châtelet worked on her Institutions de physique. In this book she defended the Leibnizian concept of living forces - vis viva. This paper argues that both of these works were part of a critical transformation and consolidation of post-Newtonian mechanics in the early 18th century, beyond Newton and Leibniz...
June 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Zoe Drayson
The neural vehicles of mental representation play an explanatory role in cognitive psychology that their realizers do not. Cognitive psychology individuates neural structures as representational vehicles in terms of the specific causal properties to which cognitive mechanisms are sensitive. Explanations that appeal to properties of vehicles can capture generalisations which are not available at the level of their neural realizers. In this paper, I argue that the individuation of realizers as vehicles restricts the sorts of explanations in which they can participate...
April 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Lena Kästner
Talk of levels is ubiquitous in philosophy, especially in the context of mechanistic explanations spanning multiple levels. The mechanistic conception of levels, however, does not allow for the kind of integration needed to construct such multi-level mechanistic explanations integrating observations from different scientific domains. To address the issues arising in this context, I build on a certain perspectival aspect inherent in the mechanistic view. Rather than focusing on compositionally related levels of mechanisms, I suggest analyzing the situation in terms of epistemic perspectives researchers take when making scientific observations...
April 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
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