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Science in Context

Mónica García, Stefan Pohl-Valero
Argument Using the notion of styles of knowledge we refer to the ways diverse scientific communities claim to produce true knowledge, their understandings regarding the attitudes and values that scientists should have in order to grasp natural and social reality, and the practices and technologies developed within such styles. This paper analyzes scientific and medical enterprises that explored the relationship between environment, population, and society in Colombia between 1850 and 1920. We argue that similar styles of knowledge production were shared in human geography, medical geography, and climatic physiology at the mid-nineteenth century; and that some physicians working in bacteriology and physiology since the 1880s established epistemic boundaries between their work and earlier scientific activities, while others found these distinctions irrelevant...
September 2016: Science in Context
James Bergman
Argument The history of meteorology has focused a great deal on the "scaling up" of knowledge infrastructures through the development of national and global observation networks. This article argues that such efforts to scale up were paralleled by efforts to define a place for local knowledge. By examining efforts of the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, near Boston, Massachusetts, to issue local weather forecasts that competed with the centralized forecasts of the U.S. Signal Service, this article finds that Blue Hill, as a user of the Signal Service's observation network, developed a new understanding of local knowledge by combining local observations of the weather with the synoptic maps afforded by the nationwide telegraph network of the U...
September 2016: Science in Context
François Lê
Argument This paper challenges the use of the notion of "culture" to describe a particular organization of mathematical knowledge, shared by a few mathematicians over a short period of time in the second half of the nineteenth century. This knowledge relates to "geometrical equations," objects that proved crucial for the mechanisms of encounters between equation theory, substitution theory, and geometry at that time, although they were not well-defined mathematical objects. The description of the mathematical collective activities linked to "geometrical equations," and especially the technical aspects of these activities, is made on the basis of a sociological definition of "culture...
September 2016: Science in Context
Roi Wagner
Argument This paper reconstructs Wronski's philosophical foundations of mathematics. It uses his critique of Lagrange's algebraic analysis as a vignette to introduce the problems that he raised, and argues that these problems have not been properly appreciated by his contemporaries and subsequent commentators. The paper goes on to reconstruct Wronski's mathematical law of creation and his notions of theory and techne, in order to put his objections to Lagrange in their philosophical context. Finally, Wronski's proof of his universal law (the expansion of a given function by any series of functions) is reviewed in terms of the above reconstruction...
September 2016: Science in Context
Anne Eriksen
Argument Smallpox inoculation was introduced in Europe in the early eighteenth century and has been considered the first mass treatment of disease based on practical use of probability calculations and mathematical tools of computation. The article argues that these new approaches were deeply entangled with other rationalities, most emphatically that of exemplarity. Changes in inoculation methods around mid-century gradually changed the conceptualization of disease, seeing all cases as fundamentally equal, and thus making it more relevant to count them...
June 2016: Science in Context
Jung Lee
Argument Mutuality in "contact zones" has been emphasized in cross-cultural knowledge interaction in re-evaluating power dynamics between centers and peripheries and in showing the hybridity of modern science. This paper proposes an analytical pause on this attempt to better invalidate centers by paying serious attention to the limits of mutuality in transcultural knowledge interaction imposed by asymmetries of power. An unusually reciprocal interaction between a Japanese forester, Ishidoya Tsutomu (1891-1958), at the colonial forestry department, and his Korean subordinate Chung Tyaihyon (1883-1971) is chosen to highlight an inescapable asymmetry induced by the imperial power structure...
June 2016: Science in Context
Geoffrey Blumenthal
Argument The main thesis of this paper is that Copernicus's avoidance of all admission that scripture was contravened in De revolutionibus and his composition of its new Preface in 1542, as well as the non-publication of Rheticus's Treatise on Holy Scripture and the Motion of the Earth, were influenced by the early information they received on the failure of the 1541 Regensburg Protestant-Catholic colloquy, among the major consequences of which were significant increases in the problems concerning publishing works which contravened scripture...
June 2016: Science in Context
Michalis Sialaros, Jean Christianidis
Argument The aim of this paper is to employ the newly contextualized historiographical category of "premodern algebra" in order to revisit the arguably most controversial topic of the last decades in the field of Greek mathematics, namely the debate on "geometrical algebra." Within this framework, we shift focus from the discrepancy among the views expressed in the debate to some of the historiographical assumptions and methodological approaches that the opposing sides shared. Moreover, by using a series of propositions related to Elem...
June 2016: Science in Context
Etienne S Benson
Argument In recent decades, through the work of Jane Goodall and other ethologists, the practice of giving personal names to nonhuman animals who are the subjects of scientific research has become associated with claims about animal personhood and scientific objectivity. While critics argue that such naming practices predispose the researcher toward anthropomorphism, supporters suggest that it sensitizes the researcher to individual differences and social relations. Both critics and supporters agree that naming tends to be associated with the recognition of individual animal rights...
March 2016: Science in Context
Alison Winter
Argument In the 1940s-50s, one of the most central questions in psychological research related to the nature of neurosis. In the final years of the Second World War and the following decade, neurosis became one of the most prominent psychiatric disorders, afflicting a high proportion of military casualties and veterans. The condition became central to the concerns of several psychological fields, from psychoanalysis to Pavlovian psychology. This paper reconstructs the efforts of Chicago psychiatrist Jules Masserman to study neurosis in the laboratory during the 1940s and 1950s...
March 2016: Science in Context
Lydia Marinelli, Andreas Mayer
Argument Animals played an important role in the formation of psychoanalysis as a theoretical and therapeutic enterprise. They are at the core of texts such as Freud's famous case histories of Little Hans, the Rat Man, or the Wolf Man. The infantile anxiety triggered by animals provided the essential link between the psychology of individual neuroses and the ambivalent status of the "totem" animal in so-called primitive societies in Freud's attempt to construct an anthropological basis for the Oedipus complex in Totem and Taboo...
March 2016: Science in Context
Stéphane Schmitt
Argument This paper aims to understand the emergence of comparative anatomy in the eighteenth century in the Parisian Académie Royale des Sciences. As early as the 1670s, a program centered on animal anatomy was conceived, which was a first attempt to give some autonomy to studies on animals and to link anatomy with natural history, but it declined after 1690. However, a variety of studies on animals was published in the Mémoires of the Académie during the eighteenth century. We propose a descriptive typology of them in order to explore the status of animals and the significance of anatomy in each type, and to determine, in particular, which elements of Perrault's program were passed on at the Académie throughout the century...
March 2016: Science in Context
Alexandre Métraux
Animals are "in" - since prehistoric times when humans (or their ancient ancestors) were hunting animals, and when they fabricated the Paleolithic dog as well as the Paleolithic cat. In less general terms, animals are "in" since they received names and were listed, observed, mummified, turned into totems, and, later on, dissected, tortured under laboratory conditions, trained as experimental subjects or "purified" as model organisms. And they are massively "in" again, but now from overtly legal and moral points of view, at least since the last two decades of the twentieth century...
March 2016: Science in Context
Till Grüne-Yanoff
Today's models of temporal discounting are the result of multiple interdisciplinary exchanges between psychology and economics. Although these exchanges did not result in an integrated discipline, they had important effects on all disciplines involved. The paper describes these exchanges from the 1930s onwards, focusing on two episodes in particular: an attempted synthesis by psychiatrist George Ainslie and others in the 1970s; and the attempted application of this new discounting model by a generation of economists and psychologists in the 1980s, which ultimately ended in the diversity of measurements disappointment...
December 2015: Science in Context
Annalisa Capristo
My contribution focuses on two aspects strictly related each other. On one hand, the progressive marginalization of Volterra from Italian scientific and political life after the rise of Fascism - because of his public anti-Fascist stance, both as a senator and as a professor - until his definitive exclusion on racial grounds in 1938. On the other hand, the reactions of his French colleagues and friends to this ostracism, and the support he received from them. As it emerges from several sources (Volterra's correspondence, institutional documentation, conference proceedings, etc...
December 2015: Science in Context
Thomas Michael Mueller
In 1877, a young mathematician named Joseph Boussinesq presented a mémoire to the Académie des sciences which demonstrated that some differential equations may have more than one solution. Boussinesq linked this fact to indeterminism and to a possible solution to the free will versus determinism debate. Boussinesq's main interest was to reconcile his philosophical and religious views with science by showing that matter and motion do not suffice to explain all there is in the world. His argument received mixed criticism that addressed both his philosophical views and the scientific content of his work, pointing to the physical "realisticness" of multiple solutions...
December 2015: Science in Context
Helena Ekerholm
Field research stations are households as a result of allegoric notions of the scientific family, and because they fulfill the purpose of a home in the field in a literal sense. They meet the practical and physical need for bed and board, as well as the emotional and intellectual need for social cohesion. I argue that this, in combination with local gender identity, opened the door for a woman of lower social strata, the daughter of a fisherman, to take upon herself the role as station household matriarch, thus gaining an integral role within an inner circle of influential scientists...
December 2015: Science in Context
Jemma Lorenat
A plagiarism charge in 1827 sparked a public controversy centered between Jean-Victor Poncelet (1788-1867) and Joseph-Diez Gergonne (1771-1859) over the origin and applications of the principle of duality in geometry. Over the next three years and through the pages of various journals, monographs, letters, reviews, reports, and footnotes, vitriol between the antagonists increased as their potential publicity grew. While the historical literature offers valuable resources toward understanding the development, content, and applications of geometric duality, the hostile nature of the exchange seems to have deterred an in-depth textual study of the explicitly polemical writings...
December 2015: Science in Context
Andrea Sangiacomo
This paper argues that Spinoza's notions of "conatus" and "power of acting" are derived by means of generalization from the notions of "force of motion" and "force of determination" that Spinoza discussed in his Principles of Cartesian Philosophy to account for interactions among bodies (impacts) on the basis of their degrees of contrariety. I argue that in the Ethics, Spinoza's ontology entails that interactions must always be accounted for in terms of degrees of "agreement or disagreement in nature" among interacting things...
December 2015: Science in Context
Maria Björkman
This paper examines the intertwined relations between eugenics and medical genetics from a Swedish perspective in the 1940s and 1950s. The Swedish case shows that a rudimentary form of genetic counseling emerged within eugenic practices in the applications of the Swedish Sterilization Act of 1941, here analyzed from the phenomenon of "heredophobia" (ärftlighetsskräck). At the same time genetic counseling also existed outside eugenic practices, within the discipline of medical genetics. The paper argues that a demand for genetic counseling increased in the 1940s and 1950s in response to a sense of reproductive responsibility engendered by earlier eugenic discourse...
September 2015: Science in Context
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