skip to content

Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Departmental Seminars

Seminars are held on Thursdays from 4.30 to 6pm in Seminar Room 2. There is tea beforehand from 4pm in Seminar Room 1.

Organised by Mary Brazelton and Marta Halina.

15 October Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter)
On the movements and value of research data
This paper reports on an ongoing effort to study the movement of scientific data from their production site to many other sites of use within or beyond the same discipline, from both an empirical and a philosophical standpoint. Empirically, the study is grounded on the reconstruction of specific data journeys within four research areas: plant biology, model organism biology, biomedicine and oceanography. Philosophically, the study aims to analyse the conditions under which data travel across what I call, following John Dewey, 'research situations', and what implications this has for the epistemology of science. I focus in particular on online databases set up to facilitate data dissemination and their multiple re-interpretations as evidence for a variety of claims across different settings; and on the wealth and diversity of expertise, resources and conceptual scaffolding used by database curators and users to expand the evidential value of data thus propagated. Through the reconstruction and careful analysis of data journeys, a great deal can be learnt about the multiple roles and valences of data, ranging from their essential function as evidence to their importance as currency in trading, tokens of identity and means to foster the legitimacy, accountability and value of research within a variety of contexts. These insights inform a philosophical analysis of knowledge production that is attentive to the processual, dynamic nature of research, as well as its embedding in social, political and economic settings that have a strong bearing on what comes to be viewed as scientific data, by whom, and why.
Friday 16 October
Special Joint Needham Research Institute and HPS Seminar
Floris Cohen (Utrecht University)
To explain the Scientific Revolution by means of comparison
In my talk I shall take up in succession the two constituent elements of the title: (1) Over past decades the idea that it makes historical sense to speak and keep speaking of 'The Scientific Revolution of the 17th century' has been much disparaged, not so say condemned as hopelessly outdated. In the 'Epilogue' to my 300 pages long book The Rise of Modern Science Explained (just published with Cambridge University Press) I give five major reasons, drawn from the book's argument, why it makes eminent sense to retain the idea of The Scientific Revolution, now properly reconceptualised in my book as compared to how the concept first arose in the late 1930s. (2) In the much lengthier parent book How Modern Science Came Into the World: Four Civilizations, One 17th Century Breakthrough (Amsterdam UP, 2010) I have set forth in general terms why I have throughout the book used historical comparison as the royal road toward historical explanation. In my talk today, I shall briefly sum up the general point and then illustrate it by means of some salient examples, drawn from the history of European as well as Chinese nature-knowledge.
22 October Alison Wylie (University of Washington)
How archaeological evidence bites back: putting old data to work in new ways
A passion for things has taken hold in the social sciences and humanities in the form of an enthusiasm for the capacity of material evidence to bear witness to dimensions of social, cultural life that are otherwise inaccessible. As Daston puts it, the 'bony materiality' of physical traces of human action sustains a certain epistemic optimism but, at the same time, she reports considerable ambivalence about their status as evidence. To make sense of how trace evidence constrains interpretative inference despite being, itself, a heavily interpreted construct I consider three strategies by which archaeologists elicit new evidence from old data. The first two – secondary retrieval and recontextualization – are a matter of reconfiguring the scaffolding that underpins evidential reasoning. The third turns on redeploying old data in the context of computational models that make possible the experimental simulation of the cultural systems and contexts under study.
29 October Samir Boumediene (History, Cambridge)
Questions and questionnaires: knowledge, evidences and rituals of speaking in the early modern period
I will present my new project on the history of questions and questionnaires from the 15th to 19th century. The works devoted to the scientific construction of the world have underlined two key processes: measurement and observation. In the continuity of these works I would like to study a common, though complicated, practice: asking questions. Techniques such as having somebody talk, preventing him or her from lying, collecting and cross-checking testimonies are essential to the history of scientific expeditions but also to the history of justice and confession. How did the ritual of avowal become a way to appropriate knowledge for scientists? How did the use of questionnaires move from courthouses, religious and civil administrations, to scientific activities? I will focus my presentation on the 1570s, when several questionnaires were sent to the Americas and when Francisco Hernández, a physician to King Felipe II, was sent to Mexico in order to ask questions to Amerindians.
5 November Jeff Hughes (University of Manchester)
'Winston's Gestapo': Churchill, the Royal Society and scientific secrecy before the Bomb
In the summer of 1945, a number of leading British scientists were invited to attend the 220th anniversary celebrations of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The Royal Society quickly assumed responsibility for the organisation of the junket, turning it into a semi-diplomatic mission intended both to build scientific links with Britain's still-valued wartime ally and to strengthen its own position in relation to the British government as it began to frame a project for postwar institutional renewal. On the eve of the delegation's departure, the travel visas of eight of the scientists were suddenly cancelled for contrived reasons. The order came directly from Churchill who, in the last days of his caretaker government, misled Parliament about the reason for the scientists' treatment. Excavating this episode, the paper will reveal what lay behind the ban and explore its ramifications: for government, from high-level inter-allied politics to MI6 and the DSIR; for the Royal Society, whose Officers were embarrassingly compromised; and for the scientists themselves, for whom 'Winston's Gestapo' was a paradoxical and potent focus for debate about secrecy, freedom, and the values and governance of science as it shifted from war to an uneasy peace.
12 November Jacob Stegenga (University of Victoria)
Magic bullets
Some medical interventions – such as arsphenamine, penicillin, and insulin – are good examples of 'magic bullets'. The magic bullet model of medical interventions represents two principles: specificity and effectiveness. The magic bullet model gained currency in the mid-20th century with the introduction of antibiotics and insulin. However, scientists have begun to recognize the complexity of many pathophysiological mechanisms, and philosophers have begun to note what such complexity entails. I argue that once we appreciate the complexity of physiological mechanisms, the expectation of effectiveness and specificity ought to be mitigated. The expectation that drugs can intervene on one or few micro-level targets and thereby bring about an effect that is both clinically significant and symptomatically specific is, for many of our contemporary medical interventions, unfounded. Nevertheless, the magic bullet model is a good normative ideal for medical interventions, and the low effectiveness of many contemporary medical interventions can be understood in virtue of the fact that these interventions and their target diseases do not satisfy the principles of the magic bullet model.
19 November Bryan Roberts (LSE)
Electricity and crystallography: the history and philosophy of Curie's Principle
Many consider symmetry principles to be even more fundamental than the laws of nature, and Curie's Principle is often upheld as an example. In this talk I will argue that, on the contrary, Curie's principle arose out of a heuristic rule of thumb, which Pierre Curie and his brother used to show how crystals generate electricity when twisted and compressed. The principle they applied was strictly false, but still managed to play a fruitful role in the discovery of new physics.
26 November Robert Bud (Science Museum, London)
Negotiating 'applied science' in the early 1930s: new media, new discourses, new ideology
The study of the way science is talked about, in the press, literature and the media as well as academia and politics provides a way of going beyond the problems of 'popularisation'. The term 'applied science' has been redeployed and reshaped over two centuries since its introduction into English in the early 19th century. Its meanings have come certainly from negotiations among policy makers, but also from the institutions to which it has been applied, the speeches in which it has been invoked, and the stories through which its triumphs have been retold in books, broadcast through the media, and displayed in museums. Its progress has served to give substance to the difference between past, present and future. Having outlined this methodological framework, the paper will focus on a key period during the early 1930s in which BBC radio created a new context for talk about science and HG Wells deftly managed a variety of platforms – books, film and newspapers – to promote Wellsianism. During this period the concept of 'applied science' was allied to such related concepts as planning, rationalisation and research, as illustrated by Aldous Huxley's Brave New World of 1933. I shall argue for the relevance of Michael Freeden's term 'ideology' to denote this ensemble of concepts in the public sphere.

Coffee with Scientists

The aim of this group is to explore and enhance the interface between HPS and science. We in HPS do not often pull together in our activities in this direction, though many of us have close engagements with science and scientists. We could benefit from more explicit discussions about the relationship between HPS and the sciences themselves, and from encouraging HPS-scholars and scientists to help each other's work. Many of our graduate students and postdocs currently work in isolation from scientists; they may benefit from the stimulation of interactions with colleagues and mentors from various science departments (in Cambridge and elsewhere), which are difficult to induce in our regular seminars and reading groups, infused as they are with standard HPS expectations, assumptions and customs.

During Michaelmas Term 2015 we will continue to meet on Fridays, 3.30–5.00pm in Seminar Room 2. Listed below are the confirmed events, on which further information and reading materials will be distributed through the email list of the group; please contact Hasok Chang (hc372) if you would like to be included on the list.

23 October Alison Wylie (University of Washington, and Durham University) and John Robb (Archaeology, Cambridge)
Making archaeological knowledge
30 October Margaret Ann Goldstein (Baylor College of Medicine, and Clare Hall)
A 21st-century biologist looks at Sir Isaac Newton
13 November Corina Logan (Zoology, Cambridge)
Behavioural flexibility in birds and beyond
4 December
Keith Taber (Education, Cambridge)
The role of conceptual integration in understanding and learning chemistry
Eugene Kang (Science Education, Pusan University, and Visiting Scholar, HPS, Cambridge)
On the historical development and the pluralistic approach for the concept of electricity in secondary-school science

Cabinet of Natural History

This research seminar is concerned with all aspects of the history of natural history and the field and environmental sciences. The regular programme of papers and discussions takes place over lunch on Mondays. In addition, the Cabinet organises a beginning-of-year fungus hunt and occasional expeditions to sites of historical and natural historical interest, and holds an end-of-year garden party.

Cabinet of Natural History blog

Seminars are held on Mondays at 1pm in Seminar Room 1. You are welcome to bring your lunch with you.

Organised by Katrina Maydom.

12 October G.A. Cook (University of Hong Kong)
Is it one's cup of tea? Early-modern experimentation on tea as materia medica
From Antiquity onwards Europeans incorporated exotic, plant-derived materia medica into their pharmacopeia. The so-called era of exploration gave this process an enormous boost, making available a variety of new plants from the New World and Asia. Some of these enjoyed parallel existences both as medicines and as foods or beverages. They included not only spices, but also most prominently, plants with stimulant properties such as tea, coffee, chocolate, tobacco and ginseng. These novelties lent themselves to investigation using the experimental methods being propounded by the Royal Society and like-minded Continental savants.

The popularity of this approach was such that by the late 17th century, it was no longer sufficient for novel plants simply to be acclaimed by experts as materia medica based on traditions from the place of origin, travelers' accounts or other untested testimonials. The experts themselves – usually physicians – demanded proofs of efficacy using the experimental method and their writings primed an ever-larger and more well-informed reading public to follow suit. In 1730, for example, the physician Thomas Short advertised his tea experiments to readers as 'easy, and practicable by every curious Person on any Plant, without Experience, much Apparatus, Loss of Time, Danger to any Animal, or Acquaintance with the chymical Jargon of Words...'. In my talk I survey the surprisingly varied experimental history of tea over approximately one hundred years, from the late 17th century to the third quarter of the 18th century.

19 October Laura Jane Martin (Harvard University)
Recovery after attack: 1960s radioecology and shifting conceptions of humans as agents of ecosystem change
When ecologist Lauren Donaldson was hired by the Manhattan Project in 1943 to study whether radioactive effluent from Hanford Works affected Columbia River fisheries, most scientists considered nuclear contamination to be a localized threat. But by the time of the Castle Bravo detonation in 1954, scientists and the public had begun to conceptualize radioactive fallout as a regional, even a global, concern. As a number of environmental historians have argued, fallout studies played a central role in the rise of ecosystem ecology and the idea of an interconnected biosphere.

In this paper I likewise aim to illuminate the relationship between the Cold War, the rise of ecosystem ecology, and the postwar environmental movement. But my objects of analysis are not fallout studies, but rather studies in which ecologists simulated nuclear attacks. Alongside the Cold War era concern over nuclear fallout was the blunter fear of World War III. In 1950, the United States had 299 weapons in its stockpile. By 1960, it had 18,638. And by 1965, it had 31,139. As the United States and Russia increased both the power and the range of their nuclear weaponry, it became possible to conceive of a catastrophic, global-scale war, and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) funded studies to investigate the economic and environmental consequences of such a war. While ecologists and military planners were tasked with recognizing the immense destructive power of nuclear weaponry, they did not imagine the outcome of nuclear war as the total annihilation of life on earth. In a very definite way, there would have been no point to such a vision. Instead, ecologists and military planners envisioned the period of environmental and economic recovery after WWIII and considered how the government could hasten that recovery. Their visions both drew on and advanced ecological theory about the capacity of nature to self-regulate and to repair itself when damaged. Thus I argue that those Cold War narratives about ecological destruction, which have had such staying power, must be considered alongside those about ecological restoration. Both narratives emerged simultaneously from the ideational and material entanglements between atomic warfare and ecological science. And both would come to shape environmental management worldwide, and therefore, the material environment itself.

26 October Annual Fungus Hunt
2 November Emma Spary (History, Cambridge)
Order and object: constructing collections in late 18th-century France
The recent digitisation of a large number of auction catalogues allows a more intensive enquiry into the composition of late 18th-century French collections than has hitherto been possible. On the principle that we cannot afford to make a priori judgements about who counted as an expert collector, this paper suggests some ways in which this material might be used: 1) to construct overarching parameters for analysing collecting practices, which can serve as a baseline for comparing styles of ordering and arrangement, and 2) to elaborate more tightly focused narratives of the movement and significance of individual specimens, collectors or collections, drawing upon work on 'object biographies' and networks. This dual perspective upon collecting as practice generates some interesting and unexpected links between categories of collector often separated in standard narratives, highlights some trends in collecting within the specific culture under consideration, and suggests the potential of a pan-European approach.
9 November Dominik Huenniger (University of Göttingen)
Systems, synonyms and strife – the making of European entomology around 1800
Inspired by general developments in natural history, a growing academic interest in insects developed in late 18th-century Europe. The five decades between c.1760 and 1810 can be considered a very important era for the development of entomology as an academic subject. The advancement of and disputes on Linnaean systematics in botany and zoology caused paradigmatic changes in the pan-European perception, systematization and classification of insects. Additionally, an increasing number of hitherto unknown species filled the European cabinets and collections. Hence, natural historians, amateur collectors, noble enthusiasts and draughtsmen developed new systems of classification and communicated about their 'objects' in letters, articles, monographs and multi-volume series. Furthermore, many of the actors involved in this process also travelled widely and exchanged their knowledge and objects in direct or indirect contact with each other.

In my presentation I would like to analyse how knowledge on insects was created, communicated and debated. What were the most contentious issues? How and why did early entomology come up with a variety of ordering systems? What were the practices of collecting? Additionally, I would also like to reflect on the epistemological status of the specimens as well as the debates on amateurism and professionalization. Finally, I'd like to address how practitioners of entomology reflected on political and cultural contexts like colonialism and nationalism.

16 November Debby Banham (ASNC, Cambridge)
The Norman Conquest of the materia medica? Expanding pharmaceutical horizons in 11th-century England
The 11th century was a time of great change in England. It is well known that the country was conquered twice, in 1016 and 1066, but less well known is that there were considerable changes in medicine, at least as far as the surviving manuscripts tell us. Latin replaced English, to a great extent, as the language of the extant texts, and there were changes in their structure, attribution, and vocabulary of medical writing. This paper will explore aspects of those changes that relate to materia medica, examining a manuscript, BL Sloane 1621, that was used and annotated at Bury St Edmunds in the late 11th century, in the context of earlier medical writings in both Latin and English.
23 November Dorit Brixius (European University Institute)
Spicing up Mauritius' gardens: informal empire and the hybridity of knowledge and plant exchange in the East Indies, 1740s to 1770s
In the 1740s, the young Frenchman Pierre Poivre (1719–1786) proposed to the Compagnie française pour le commerce des Indes orientales (hereafter the CIO) to gather 'useful' plants and spices in different parts of the world. In the 1740s and the 1750s, Poivre was not only missionary but also botanist, agronomist and later, between 1767 and 1772, intendant of the Mascarene Islands, a group of islands off the East coast of Madagascar, consisting of Isle de France (present-day Mauritius), Bourbon (present-day Réunion) and Rodrigues. On his first mission to the Moluccas Islands – coveted spice monopoly of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) – Poivre aimed at gathering luxury spices, namely clove and nutmeg, and introduce them to Isle de France with the idea to turn the island into the cultivating ground for the French spice trade. I argue that this enterprise was by no means 'purely' French but a hybrid project, which involved actors from different backgrounds with different types of knowledge.

The case of Isle de France's spice garden serves as a particular place-in-the-making in order to understand the wider French imperial system and its dynamics from the overseas actors' point of view. While stressing the performative character of botany, I will consider actors as mobile agents from different backgrounds. These actors were connected between various geographical regions, yet, their disparity as opposed to their collaboration is assumed – when it comes to Europeans as opposed to Europeans or Europeans as opposed to non-Europeans. Thus, the purpose of my paper is to closely examine the connected and cross-cultural communication in botany through the lens of Poivre's exchange networks in a bottom-up perspective. What I call 'informal empire' is thus an umbrella term for the cross-cultural relations between actors offside imperial rule and rivalry. I hope that I can marry approaches from the history of science, economic history and global history – in short botany as a nuanced global science which I demonstrate through three dimensions: 1) the informal collaboration between European actors, 2) indigenous plant knowledge in the Indo-Pacific region, and 3) natural knowledge and slavery on Isle de France.

30 November Emily Hayes (University of Exeter)
From 'clap-trap and flummery' to 'scope and methods' – the Royal Geographical Society's lantern-slide lectures, c.1886–1924
Founded in 1830, the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) was conceived to promote 'that most important and entertaining branch of knowledge, geography'. Across the 19th century the RGS attempted to hold within its centre a diverse demographic of practitioners of science, explorers and audiences eager for 'red hot tales of adventure'. From the pre-magic lantern era to the provision of instruction in photography in 1886, the subsequent authorization of the much-debated medium of the lantern, and diversification of lecture practices, this talk traces some of the multiple registers in which geographical knowledge was communicated. In order to bring to light the 'overlooked images' and 'suspended conversations' of the RGS lantern-slide lectures, I outline three case studies of lantern-slide lectures given by Halford Mackinder, Vaughan Cornish and Julia Henshaw. These examples, I argue, illustrate the RGS's tailoring of geographical knowledge to the audiences of its own Fellowship, practitioners of science and children. I demonstrate that the RGS lantern-slide lectures were 'threshold' sites through which geographical knowledge and practices, a spectrum of sciences and diverse RGS communities circulated. I suggest that the synergy of the perceived effects of lantern projections and the spoken word were a galvanizing force that expanded the geographical imaginary. In doing so I bring to light the Society's history as centripete and centrifuge of individuals and ideas, and science and culture.

History of Medicine Seminars

Seminars are on Tuesdays from 5.00 to 6.30pm in Seminar Room 1. Tea and biscuits are available from 4.40pm. All welcome!

Other History of Medicine events

Early Science and Medicine

Organised by Lauren Kassell, Valentina Pugliano and Gabriella Zuccolin.

20 October Stefano Cracolici (Durham University)
Locked in colour: doctors and the bite of the tarantula
10 November Joseph Ziegler (University of Haifa)
On the political use of physiognomy around 1500
NOTE: This seminar will take place an hour earlier than usual, at 4pm
1 December Katharine Park (Harvard University)
Rethinking the one-sex body: sex, gender and medicine in the medieval world

History of Modern Medicine and Biology

Organised by Salim Al-Gailani and Mary Brazelton.

13 October Roberta Bivins (University of Warwick)
'Highly coloured': race, ethnicity and the NHS
3 November Dora Vargha (Birkbeck, University of London)
After the end of disease: looking past the epidemic narrative
24 November Sarah Bull (HPS, Cambridge)
The medical book in the Victorian pornography trade

Generation to Reproduction

These seminars are funded by our Wellcome Trust strategic award in the history of medicine. Organised by Lauren Kassell and Jesse Olszynko-Gryn.

27 October Generation to Reproduction Reading Group
We will read drafts of the Introduction and Conclusion to Nick Hopwood, Rebecca Flemming, Lauren Kassell (eds), Reproduction: Antiquity to the Present. Please email Lauren Kassell (ltk21) if you are not already on the reading group circulation list.
17 November Lucy Bland (Anglia Ruskin University)
Interracial relationships and the 'brown baby' problem: black GIs, white women and their mixed race offspring in World War II Britain


CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) is a network of academics and students working in the philosophy of science in various parts of the University of Cambridge, including the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and the Faculty of Philosophy. The Wednesday afternoon seminar series features current research by CamPoS members as well as visitors to Cambridge and scholars based in nearby institutions. If you are interested in presenting in the series, please contact Brian Pitts (jbp25). If you have any queries or suggestions for other activities that CamPoS could undertake, please contact Huw Price, Jeremy Butterfield or Hasok Chang.

Further details of the composition and activities of CamPoS

Seminars are held on Wednesdays, 1.00–2.30pm in Seminar Room 2.

14 October Raphael Scholl (HPS, Cambridge)
The argument from the good lot: unconceived alternatives and 20th-century genetics
21 October Bernhard Salow (Trinity College, Cambridge)
Expecting misleading evidence
28 October Shahar Avin (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge)
Simulating scientific merit dynamics
4 November Catrin Campbell-Moore (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)
Imprecise credences and the probabilistic liar
11 November Jacob Stegenga (University of Utah)
Absolute measures of effectiveness
25 November Sang Wook Yi (Hanyang University)
Three junctures of science and democracy: knowledge, value and policy
2 December Maria Serban (LSE)
On geometrical concepts, proofs and understanding in pure and applied mathematics

Special event at Trinity College, Saturday 14 November 2015

10.00–11.00 David Wallace (University of Oxford)
Quantum aspects of statistical mechanics
11.30–12.30 David Wallace (University of Oxford)
Two kinds of Maxwell's demon
2.00–3.00 James Ladyman (University of Bristol)
Is thermodynamics a control theory? If so what follows, and if not what is it?
3.30–4.30 Roman Frigg (LSE)
Rethinking equilibrium

HPS History Workshop

Need help writing a tricky part of your argument? Need some fresh ideas and references? Or simply want to see how your early-career colleagues approach the writing process? The History Workshop is an informal setting to discuss our written works-in-progress on any area of the history of science, technology and medicine, and share feedback. A draft PhD chapter, article or conference paper will be circulated by email before each meeting. We'll then discuss it together over tea and biscuits at 5pm on alternate Wednesdays in Seminar Room 1.

Contact Andreas Sommer and/or Seb Falk if you are interested in sharing your work in this forum, or would like to be added to the mailing list.

HPS Philosophy Workshop

Would you like to get feedback on your work-in-progress in a friendly and supportive atmosphere? Texts will be circulated one week in advance and discussed over tea and biscuits in Seminar Room 1 on alternate Wednesdays, 5–6pm. Share a draft of your MPhil essay, PhD chapter, potential article, or any research-in-progress in the philosophy of science, broadly construed.

Organised by Hardy Schilgen and Stijn Conix.

Philosophy of Psychology Reading Group

We meet on Thursdays, 11am–12noon in Seminar Room 1. Organised by Ali Boyle and Sarah Marks.

15 October Sarah-Jane Leslie (2014), 'Carving up the social world with generics', in Lombrozo, Knobe & Nichols (eds) Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy (OUP)
22 October Rachel Sterken (2015), 'Leslie on generics', Phil Stud 172, 2493–2512
29 October Prasada, Khemlani, Leslie & Glucksberg (2013), 'Conceptual distinctions amongst generics', Cognition 126, 405–422
5 November Andrei Cimpian & Erika Saloman (2014), 'The inherence heuristic: an intuitive means of making sense of the world, and a potential precursor to psychological essentialism', Behavioural and Brain Sciences 27, 461–527 (Target article & two commentaries of your choice)
12 November Susan Gelman (2003), The Essential Child: Origins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought, chapter 10 'Unfinished Business'
19 November Susan Gelman (2003), The Essential Child: Origins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought, chapter 11 'Why do we essentialise?'
26 November Michael Strevens (2000), 'The essentialist aspect of naive theories', Cognition 74, 149-175

Nature and Culture Reading Group

Meetings take place on Thursdays, 1–2pm, in Seminar Room 1, Department of History and Philosophy of Science. Please direct any queries to Samuel Murison.

This term's reading group will focus on the topic of emotion.

We will be discussing recent work on the emotions by philosophers, evolutionary psychologists, anthropologists, historians and cognitive scientists. Does it make sense to talk of basic emotions, or of emotions grounded in biology? On the other hand, do emotions vary between societies or over time? Can these two competing ideas be reconciled? If so, how?

8 October
Philosophers on What a Theory of Emotions Should Do

  • Goldie, Peter. 2007. 'Emotion'. Philosophy Compass 2 (6): 928–38. doi:10.1111/j.1747-9991.2007.00105.x.
  • Robinson, Jenefer M. 2004. 'Emotion: Biological Fact or Social Construction'. In Thinking About Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotions, edited by Robert C. Solomon, 28–44. Oxford University Press.

Introduced by Christopher Clarke

15 October
Evolutionary Psychologists on the Function of Emotions

  • Cosmides, Leda, and John Tooby. 'The Evolutionary Psychology of the Emotions'. In Handbook of Emotions. 3d ed. Edited by Michael Lewis, Jeannette Haviland-Jones, and Lisa Feldman Barrett, 114–137. New York: Guilford, 2008.
  • Ekman, Paul, and Daniel Cordaro. 2011. 'What Is Meant by Calling Emotions Basic'. Emotion Review 3 (4): 364–70. doi:10.1177/1754073911410740.

Introduced by Tim Lewens

22 October
Neuroscientists and Developmental Psychologists on Basic Emotions

  • Izard, Carroll E. 2011. 'Forms and Functions of Emotions: Matters of Emotion–Cognition Interactions'. Emotion Review 3 (4): 371–78. doi:10.1177/1754073911410737.
  • Levenson, Robert W. 2011. 'Basic Emotion Questions'. Emotion Review 3 (4): 379–86. doi:10.1177/1754073911410743.
  • Panksepp, Jaak, and Douglas Watt. 2011. 'What Is Basic about Basic Emotions? Lasting Lessons from Affective Neuroscience'. Emotion Review 3 (4): 387–96. doi:10.1177/1754073911410741.

Introduced by Adrian Boutel

29 October
How Do Emotions Vary Between Places and Societies?

  • Tsai, Jeanne L., James N. Butcher, Ricardo F. Muñoz, and Kelly Vitousek. 2002. 'Culture, Ethnicity, and Psychopathology'. In Comprehensive Handbook of Psychopathology, edited by Patricia B. Sutker and Henry E. Adams, 105–27. Springer US.
    • Excerpt of pages 114–124 only
  • Wong, Ying, and Jeanne Tsai. 2007. 'Cultural Models of Shame and Guilt'. The Self-Conscious Emotions: Theory and Research, 209–23.

Introduced by Riana Betzler

5 November
How Do Emotions Vary Between Places and Societies? II

  • Haidt, Jonathan, Paul Rozin, Clark Mccauley, and Sumio Imada. 1997. 'Body, Psyche, and Culture: The Relationship between Disgust and Morality'. Psychology & Developing Societies 9 (1): 107–31. doi:10.1177/097133369700900105.

12 November
Historians on Emotions in the Past

  • Matt, Susan J. 2011. 'Current Emotion Research in History: Or, Doing History from the Inside Out'. Emotion Review 3 (1): 117–24. doi:10.1177/1754073910384416.
  • Reddy, William M. 1997. 'Against Constructionism: The Historical Ethnography of Emotions'. Current Anthropology 38 (3): 327–51. doi:10.1086/204622.
    • We will discuss Reddy's article only (pages 327–339) not the commentary (pages 339–351).

19 November
Anthropologists on How to Write about Emotions

  • Beatty, Andrew. 2010. 'How Did It Feel for You? Emotion, Narrative, and the Limits of Ethnography'. American Anthropologist 112 (3): 430–43. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1433.2010.01250.x.
  • Beatty, Andrew. 2013. 'Current Emotion Research in Anthropology: Reporting the Field'. Emotion Review 5 (4): 414–22. doi:10.1177/1754073913490045.

26 November
Are Emotions a Natural Kind? Have Philosophers Anything to Contribute?

  • Griffiths, Paul E. 2004. 'Is Emotion a Natural Kind?' In Thinking About Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotions, edited by Robert C. Solomon, 233–50. Oxford University Press.
  • Griffiths, Paul E. 2013. 'Current Emotion Research in Philosophy'. Emotion Review 5 (2): 215–22. doi:10.1177/1754073912468299.

History and Theory Reading Group

Meetings take place every other Friday, 11am–12.30pm in the Board Room. Organised by Matthew Drage. All welcome.

Why study the history of science, technology and medicine?

For this term's History and Theory we will be examining some of the disciplinary, political and metaphysical projects which have sought expression within, or through the use of, the history of science, technology and medicine. In doing so, we will also have an opportunity to discuss the broader aims and implications of our own knowledge practices.

16 October

30 October

  • Owsei Temkin, 'An Essay on the Usefulness of Medical History for Medicine', Bulletin of the History of Medicine (No. 19, January 1946), pp. 9–47
  • Georges Canguilhem, Knowledges of Life (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), Ch. 2, pp. 25–58

13 November

27 November

Philosophy and History of Physics Reading Group

Organised by Daniel Mitchell, Hasok Chang and Jeremy Butterfield.

The topic of this term's meetings is mathematical representation in physics. We will concentrate on the long 19th century and consider such developments as algebraic functions, the vector calculus, the quantity calculus, and dimensional analysis, from philosophical and historical perspectives. We are particularly interested in learning how historical circumstances led to the introduction of these mathematical formalisms into physics; the impact this had on physical concepts; and what philosophical issues arose.

The group will meet weekly between 4pm and 6pm on Tuesdays in the Board Room beginning on 13 October. Further information and reading materials will be distributed through the email list of the group; please contact Daniel Mitchell (djm232) if you would like to be included on the list.

The programme is as follows:

13 October Morris Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times (OUP, 1972), ch. 26 'Mathematics as of 1800' and Craig Fraser, 'Mathematics', in Roy Porter (ed.), The Cambridge History of Science: Volume 4, Eighteenth-Century Science (CUP, 2003), ch. 13.
20 October Jesper Lutzen, 'Between rigor and applications. Developments in the concept of function in mathematical analysis', in Mary Jo Nye (ed.), The Cambridge History of Science: Volume 5, The Modern Physical and Mathematical Sciences (CUP, 2003), ch. 24.
27 October Elizabeth Garber, The Language of Physics. The Calculus and the Development of Theoretical Physics in Europe 1750–1914 (Birkhäuser, 1999), ch. 4 '"Empirical literalism": mathematics versus experimental physics in France, 1790–1830'.
3 November Oliver Darrigol, Physics and Necessity (OUP, 2014) ch. 6 'Numbers and math' and Nadine de Courtenay, 'The double interpretation of the equations of physics and the quest for common meanings' in Lara Huber and Olivier Schlaudt (eds), Standardization in Measurement: Philosophical, Historical, and Sociological Issues (Pickering and Chatto, 2015), ch. 4.
10 November Daniel Jon Mitchell, 'James Thomson, J.D. Everett, and the Making of Dimensional Analysis', draft paper.
17 November Jim Grozier, 'Are angles dimensionless?', draft paper.
24 November Michael J. Crowe, History of Vector Analysis (University of Notre Dame, 1967), ch. 4 'Traditions in vectorial analysis from the middle period of its history'.
1 December TBC

Latin Therapy

Latin Therapy is an informal reading group. All levels of Latin (including beginners) are very welcome. We meet on Fridays, 4.00–5.30pm in the Board Room, to translate and discuss a text from the history of science, technology or medicine. If a primary source is giving you grief, we'd love to help you make sense of it over tea and biscuits! Thus we provide a free translation service for the Department, and a means for members to brush up their skills.

To be added to the mailing list, or to suggest a text, please contact Tillmann Taape or Natalie Lawrence.

Arabic Therapy

The Arabic Therapy group meets every Tuesday, from 3.00 to 4.30pm, in Room P19.

We are an informal group for beginners and more experienced learners who want to improve their Arabic language. Each week we spend a little time discussing some light grammar, before reading through a text together. For more information, or to be added to the mailing list, please contact Seb Falk.

Greek Therapy

Greek Therapy meets every Wednesday during term time in the Board Room from 5.30 to 7pm.

We are an informal group for beginners and for experienced readers of Greek seeking to brush up their skills – all levels are welcome. Sessions usually involve a basic grammar session at the beginning followed by reading through a more advanced text. We will be reading Lucian's Philosophies for Sale this term.

For more information or to be added to the mailing list, please email Liz Smith.