Biographies of Scientific Objects

Author: Lorraine Daston
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226136721
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Looks at how whole domains of phenomena come into being and sometimes pass away as objects of scientific study. With examples from the natural and social sciences, ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries, this book explores the ways in which scientific objects are both real and historical.

About Method

Author: Jutta Schickore
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022644998X
Format: PDF, ePub
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Scientists’ views on what makes an experiment successful have developed dramatically throughout history. Different criteria for proper experimentation were privileged at different times, entirely new criteria for securing experimental results emerged, and the meaning of commitment to experimentation altered. In About Method, Schickore captures this complex trajectory of change from 1660 to the twentieth century through the history of snake venom research. As experiments with poisonous snakes and venom were both challenging and controversial, the experimenters produced very detailed accounts of their investigations, which go back three hundred years—making venom research uniquely suited for such a long-term study. By analyzing key episodes in the transformation of venom research, Schickore is able to draw out the factors that have shaped methods discourse in science. About Method shows that methodological advancement throughout history has not been simply a steady progression toward better, more sophisticated and improved methodologies of experimentation. Rather, it was a progression in awareness of the obstacles and limitations that scientists face in developing strategies to probe the myriad unknown complexities of nature. The first long-term history of this development and of snake venom research, About Method offers a major contribution to integrated history and philosophy of science.

Nonsense on Stilts

Author: Massimo Pigliucci
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226667871
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Recent polls suggest that fewer than 40 percent of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, despite it being one of science’s best-established findings. More and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children for fear it causes autism, though this link can been consistently disproved. And about 40 percent of Americans believe that the threat of global warming is exaggerated, despite near consensus in the scientific community that manmade climate change is real. Why do people believe bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudoscientific beliefs and practices? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and—borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham—the nonsense on stilts. Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a “taxonomy of bunk” that explores the intersection of science and culture at large. No one—not the public intellectuals in the culture wars between defenders and detractors of science nor the believers of pseudoscience themselves—is spared Pigliucci’s incisive analysis. In the end, Nonsense on Stilts is a timely reminder of the need to maintain a line between expertise and assumption. Broad in scope and implication, it is also ultimately a captivating guide for the intelligent citizen who wishes to make up her own mind while navigating the perilous debates that will affect the future of our planet.

Observing by Hand

Author: Omar W. Nasim
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022608440X
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Today we are all familiar with the iconic pictures of the nebulae produced by the Hubble Space Telescope’s digital cameras. But there was a time, before the successful application of photography to the heavens, in which scientists had to rely on handmade drawings of these mysterious phenomena. Observing by Hand sheds entirely new light on the ways in which the production and reception of handdrawn images of the nebulae in the nineteenth century contributed to astronomical observation. Omar W. Nasim investigates hundreds of unpublished observing books and paper records from six nineteenth-century observers of the nebulae: Sir John Herschel; William Parsons, the third Earl of Rosse; William Lassell; Ebenezer Porter Mason; Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel; and George Phillips Bond. Nasim focuses on the ways in which these observers created and employed their drawings in data-driven procedures, from their choices of artistic materials and techniques to their practices and scientific observation. He examines the ways in which the act of drawing complemented the acts of seeing and knowing, as well as the ways that making pictures was connected to the production of scientific knowledge. An impeccably researched, carefully crafted, and beautifully illustrated piece of historical work, Observing by Hand will delight historians of science, art, and the book, as well as astronomers and philosophers.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Author: Thomas S. Kuhn
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226458148
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.

Wonders and the Order of Nature 1150 1750

Author: Lorraine Daston
Publisher: Zone Books (NY)
ISBN:
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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The authors explore the ways in which European naturalists, from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, used oddities and marvels to envision and explain the world.

Natural Law and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Europe

Author: Michael Stolleis
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317089766
Format: PDF
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This impressive volume is the first attempt to look at the intertwined histories of natural law and the laws of nature in early modern Europe. These notions became central to jurisprudence and natural philosophy in the seventeenth century; the debates that informed developments in those fields drew heavily on theology and moral philosophy, and vice versa. Historians of science, law, philosophy, and theology from Europe and North America here come together to address these central themes and to consider the question; was the emergence of natural law both in European jurisprudence and natural philosophy merely a coincidence, or did these disciplinary traditions develop within a common conceptual matrix, in which theological, philosophical, and political arguments converged to make the analogy between legal and natural orders compelling. This book will stimulate new debate in the areas of intellectual history and the history of philosophy, as well as the natural and human sciences in general.

Science in the Archives

Author: Lorraine Daston
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022643253X
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Archives bring to mind rooms filled with old papers and dusty artifacts. But for scientists, the detritus of the past can be a treasure trove of material vital to present and future research: fossils collected by geologists; data banks assembled by geneticists; weather diaries trawled by climate scientists; libraries visited by historians. These are the vital collections, assembled and maintained over decades, centuries, and even millennia, which define the sciences of the archives. With Science in the Archives, Lorraine Daston and her co-authors offer the first study of the important role that these archives play in the natural and human sciences. Reaching across disciplines and centuries, contributors cover episodes in the history of astronomy, geology, genetics, philology, climatology, medicine, and more—as well as fundamental practices such as collecting, retrieval, and data mining. Chapters cover topics ranging from doxology in Greco-Roman Antiquity to NSA surveillance techniques of the twenty-first century. Thoroughly exploring the practices, politics, economics, and potential of the sciences of the archives, this volume reveals the essential historical dimension of the sciences, while also adding a much-needed long-term perspective to contemporary debates over the uses of Big Data in science.

The Halle Orphanage as Scientific Community

Author: Kelly Joan Whitmer
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022624377X
Format: PDF
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Founded around 1700 by a group of German Lutherans known as Pietists, the Halle Orphanage became the institutional headquarters of a universal seminar that still stands largely intact today. It was the base of an educational, charitable, and scientific community and consisted of an elite school for the sons of noblemen. Yet, its reputation as a Pietist enclave inhabited largely by young people has prevented the organisation from being taken seriously as a kind of scientific academy - even though, Kelly Joan Whitmer shows, this is precisely what it was. This book calls into question a long-standing tendency to view German Pietists as anti-science and anti-Enlightenment, arguing that these tendencies have drawn attention away from what was actually going on inside the orphanage.