HPS Centre Seminar Series

2018-19 Semester 1

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History and Philosophy of Science

HPS Seminar Series 2018-19: Semester 1

Seminars are held biweekly on Wednesdays in Baines Wing G36 from 3:15 to 5:00 pm

All welcome!

Enquiries to Mike Finn M.Finn@leeds.ac.uk

17 October 2018

Prof Gowan Dawson (Department of English, University of Leicester)

‘The Cross-Examination of the Physiologist’: Huxley, Darwin and the Resurrection of Jesus

Accounts of Jesus’s apparent recovery from non-fatal injuries sustained during the crucifixion, the so-called ‘swoon theory’, had been a familiar feature of German biblical criticism since the early nineteenth century, but it was only in the 1870s that the issue of whether Jesus actually died on the cross became a subject of controversy in Victorian Britain.  Both Thomas Henry Huxley and Charles Darwin, as this paper will show, became involved in this debate, lending both scientific and financial support to the case for Jesus’s putative resurrection being merely a naturalistic recovery rather than a supernatural miracle, and thus helping to undermine the most fundamental tenet of Christian belief. 

31 October 2018

Dr Anna Marie Roos (Lincoln)

‘Only meer Love to Learning’: A rediscovered travel diary of naturalist and collector James Petiver (c.1665-1718)

This paper analyses a rediscovered diary by James Petiver, recording a journey he made in 1691. During his two-month trip, Petiver left his home in Kendal, travelled to Yorkshire, and subsequently visited Oxford, Essex, and London to botanize and to view scientific collections. Petiver’s diary represents a nascent early modern form of scientific peregrination – ‘science on the move’ – that was prevalent in England from 1650 to 1750. Not yet formal fieldwork, not as sybaritic as the experience of the Grand Tour, scientific peregrination was a means of developing empirical expertise of naturalia, both artificial and in the field. My analysis of Petiver’s diary represents a form of humanistic fieldwork, giving insights into the natural history specimens, mode of travel, noted antiquities, and other evidence that allow us to reconstruct the mental world of the early modern virtuoso and scientific collector.  

14 November 2018

Dr Sally Frampton (Oxford)

A New Power: Medical Journalism in the Late Nineteenth Century

In 1853 the obstetrician and former Lancet journalist William Tyler Smith described the medical press as ‘emphatically a new power; but it has already proved itself not the least of the powers of the profession…no delusion can long pass undetected, no imposture unexposed, and, I will add, no wrong unredressed…it is thus that the medical press must become more powerful than Halls or Colleges in uniting the whole profession as one body’. Smith’s words alluded to the significant impact of medical journalism upon the profession over the course of the preceding decades. His lifetime had seen a striking expansion in the number of medical journals published in Britain. But the ‘new power’ he referenced also spoke to medical journals’ role in shaping professional and ethical codes of conduct. The last three decades of the nineteenth century would see a further rapid expansion in medical journalism, with publishers and editors responding to a trend toward specialist medicine as well as a growing demand for popular health literature among the public. This paper focuses on that period, when the vast constellation of medical and health-related journals available prompted the profession to re-examine the objectives and ethics of the medical press itself. Doctors premised their increased cultural authority upon an ideal of their professional community as motivated by selfless concern for the sick. But the taint of trade which came with journals meant that doctors often operated in the world of journalism with a sense of unease, carefully working to avoid accusations of advertising and self-promotion. The resurgence of ‘popular’ medical and health journals revealed a profession situated uncomfortably within the increasingly tumultuous world of mass print, where, in the 1880s, commercialism, medicine and literature were blending together in ever more visible ways, heightening tensions around the ethics of medical publishing. I’ll conclude by looking at how anxieties about advertising fostered greater dialogue between medical journalists across Europe and America, contributing to the creation of the International Association of the Medical Press in 1900.

28 Nov 2018

Dr Andrew Buskell (Cambridge)

Cultures as Species?

Are cultural groups akin to species? The idea has a long history in evolutionary thinking, going back at least to debates raised in Darwin’s Origin. Especially in The Descent of Man, Darwin noted the similarities between languages and species and considered how these related to variation in the mental traits of the various human races (Radick 2008). In recent decades, the analogy has come to bear increasing weight, and is used in a range of empirical (e.g. Mace and Holden 2005; Maffi 2005; Atran, Medin and Ross 2004) and normative projects (e.g. Kymlicka 1995; Patten 2014). Yet despite its positive heuristic role, the analogy remains sketchy. Here I flesh out what it would mean to treat cultures as akin to species—focusing in particular on research that draws the analogy in phylogenetic terms—and outline some situations in which the analogy loses its grip.

12 Dec 2018

Dr Fiora Salis (York)

Knowledge through scientific imagination

How do we learn through imagination in scientific models? Answering this question requires understanding the role of imagination in models and the ways in which it is constrained to generate plausible hypotheses. I will develop the first unifying taxonomy of constraints on imagination, i.e. architectural, context-specific, and epistemic. And I will argue that scientists use imagination in the construction of models and in the derivation of their outcomes. That is, they use imagination to create an idealised system as the object of study and to generate hypotheses and assess their truth-likeness before assessing them with respect to reality. 

Pages in this document

  1. 2018-19 Semester 1
  2. 2017-18 Semester 2
  3. 2017-18 Semester 1
  4. 2016-17 Semester 2
  5. 2016-17 Semester 1
  6. 2015-16 Semester 2
  7. 2015-16 Semester 1
  8. 2014-15, Semester 2
  9. 2014-15, Semester 1
  10. 2013-14, Semester 2
  11. 2013-14, semester 1
  12. 2012-13, Semester 2
  13. 2012-13, Semester 1
  14. 2011-12, Semester 2
  15. 2011-12, Semester 1