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Indiana University Bloomington

Colloquium Series


Spring 2017 Colloquium Series

February 2, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Hanson Lecture

Chris ChoGluek
History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine Department, Indiana University

"The Error’s in the Gap: Synthesizing Accounts for Values in Scientific Reasoning"

Do societal values belong in science? If so, where? Kevin Elliott and others separate two common arguments for the legitimacy of societal values in scientific reasoning as the “gap” and the “error” arguments (respectively, the argument from underdetermination and from inductive risk). This paper poses two questions: How are these two arguments interrelated? Moreover, what can we learn about the value-ladenness of science from their interrelation? To the first, I argue that the error argument is nested within the gap because both share a similar logical structure, but the error relies on more narrow conditions than the gap. I then discuss the philosophical implications of this nested relationship regarding the constitutive role of values for managing uncertainty in the production of science knowledge.

February 24, 2017
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Lily Library
Finding the Gems: Approaches to Rare Books and Manuscript Libraries in the Midwest

Lia Markey, Travis McDade, Joel Silver
This event is presented by the Renaissance Studies Program

"Finding the Gems: Approaches to Rare Books and Manuscript Libraries in the Midwest"

Please join the IU Renaissance Studies Program for a hands-on workshop for faculty and grad students with key specialists from three Mid-Western rare books libraries with strong collections in Renaissance and early modern materials: · Lia Markey, Director of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library in Chicago · Travis McDade, Interim Head of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign · Joel Silver, Director & Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts, The Lilly Library, Indiana University Bloomington The workshop will alert IU’s Renaissance and early modern specialists to gems and unusual holdings in the field, with an emphasis on materials that have not yet been fully electronically catalogued, let alone digitized. The invited guests will also describe their funding programs for visiting scholars, including graduate students. The plenary session will feature presentations on Renaissance and early modern special collections by the three speakers, followed by breakout sessions with focus on relevant materials to support projects by members of the IU community. This event is presented by the Renaissance Studies Program, with generous support from the College Arts and Humanities Institute, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of French and Italian, and the Department of English.

March 2, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Karen Rader
History Department, Virginia Commonwealth University

"From Watchful Grasshoppers to Rat Basketball: The Pedagogy of Live Animal Museum Displays"

This talk will ask (and answer) the question: "What makes live animal museum displays a compelling topic for historical analysis?” It will briefly sketch the evolution of live animal displays in twentieth- and twenty-first century U.S. museums of science and natural history, in order to show how these displays function as a sampling device for particular pedagogies of science learning. Beyond illuminating dimensions of the history of informal STEM education, it will suggest that live animal displays are also crucibles for the cultural flexibility of living animal bodies, as these exhibits are, more often than not, interpreted by both their creators and their visitors in surprising ways.

March 9, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Alisa Bokulich
Boston University

"Representing and Explaining: The Eikonic Conception of Scientific Explanation"

The widely-accepted ontic conception of explanation, according to which explanations are "full-bodied things in the world," is fundamentally misguided. I argue instead for what I call the eikonic conception of scientific explanation, according to which explanations are an epistemic activity involving representations of the phenomena to be explained. What is explained, in the first instance, is not the phenomenon in the world itself, but a particular representation of that phenomenon, which is contextualized within a particular research program and explanatory project. I conclude that this eikonic conception of explanation has the following five virtues: first, it is able to better make sense of scientific practice; second, it allows us to talk normatively about explanations; third, it makes sense of explanatory pluralism; fourth, it helps us better understand the role of mathematics, models, and fictions in scientific explanation; and fifth, it makes room for the full range of constraints (e.g., ontic, epistemic, and communicative) on scientific explanation.

March 24, 2017
9:00 AM - 3:30 PM

Midwest Junto

Midwest Junto For History of Science
March 24th-26th



March 29, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

The Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies and HPSC Department Co-Sponsored Lecture

Brian D. Farrell
Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Curator in Entomology at the Museum of Compara

"The Biology of Consciousness: From William James to Richard Schultes and Beyond"

I will connect the observations and outlook of William James concerning religion and consciousness with the work of another Harvard professor concerned with the particulars of human spiritual life, Dr. Richard Schultes, expert on the ritual use of plants and fungi by indigenous peoples across the Americas. The link between James's "religious propensities" and the use of consciousness-altering materials can be seen to lie in the brain and in cultural formation. The doors of perception, biological and cultural are the filters for the senses with which we learn about our world, outside and inside of our minds. Today we know of how our perception of our connections to other people and to nature can strengthen our immune systems and health. Is culture fundamentally biological? We are biological beings with memories recorded by neurons, and consciousness, attention schema and perceptions shaped by experience and influencing behavior that, in turn, can be remembered. Or is the biology of consciousness shaped by experiences and even religious experiences? In the broadest sense, our biological memories shape who we are, from our evolutionary history as great apes, through the great human migrations over the last 50,000 years to where we find ourselves today, molded by our childhood experiences and the people and places that hold us.

April 6, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Co-Sponsored by the Center for Documentary Research and Practice

Oliver Gaycken
English Department and the Film Studies Program, University of Maryland

"A Cinema of Living Facts: The Encyclopaedia Cinematographica's Archives of Movement"

A signature achievement of the Institut für den Wissenschaftlichen Film (IWF) was its Encyclopaedia Cinematographica (EC) project, which was active from 1952 until the early 1990s. Divided into three section dedicated to biology, ethnology, and the technical sciences, the EC was conceived as a comprehensive archive of movement whose core principle was to reduce complex phenomena into basic “movement events” (Bewegungsvorgänge). This reduction allowed both for the creation of records that trammeled film’s tendency to contain too much information as well as a systematic organizational grid that made it possible to compare similar processes (e.g. modes of bipedal locomotion, fertility rituals, methods of sifting fine-grain materials, etc.). This talk will provide an overview of the EC, which by the end of the twentieth century contained over 1000 films, which lie on the fringes of more established cinematic modes (wildlife filmmaking, visual anthropology, industrial films). As a coda, the talk will turn to one area where the EC has had a notable afterlife, namely, as a source for experimental filmmakers. As André Bazin noted in his appreciation of the science film’s inevitable aesthetic surplus, “For this is the miracle of the science film, its inexhaustible paradox. At the far extreme of inquisitive, utilitarian research, in the most absolute proscription of aesthetic intentions, cinematic beauty develops as an additional, supernatural gift.” The EC biology films provide exemplary instances of this paradoxical aesthetic surplus, which is particularly notable in the work of Gustav Deutsch.

April 13, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Coffa Lecture

Nancy Nersessian
Department of Psychology, Harvard University. Georgia Institute of Technology

"Managing Complexity: Challenges of Modeling in Integrative Systems Biology"

Over the last 10 years there has been a rapid growth in analyses of computational modeling and simulation in the philosophy of science. Research on simulations has concentrated largely on simulations built using established background theories or theoretical models and the relations between these simulations and theory. Examples have been sourced mainly from the physical sciences, including astrophysics, nanophysics, and climate science. My research group’s 5-year ethnographic investigations of modeling practices in integrative systems biology have revealed that not all equation-based modeling is theory-driven. The modelers we have studied have no background body of laws and principles of the biological domain, which could provide the resources for constructing models. In the labs we investigated, engineers and applied mathematicians with little biological knowledge and usually no experimental experience attempt to model complex nonlinear biological networks for which the data are often sparse and are rarely adequate for applying a set mathematical framework. Models are strategic adaptations to a complex set of constraints system biologists are working under, ranging from data constraints to cognitive constraints to collaboration constraints. I argue that simulation in systems biology is not, as currently characterized, just for experimenting on systems in order to find out the consequences of a model, but plays a fundamental role in incrementally building the model, enabling the modeler to learn the relevant known and unknown features of a system and to gain an understanding of and make inferences about its dynamics. Simulation’s roles as a cognitive resource make possible the construction of representations of complex systems without a theoretical basis. Through the building process modeler and model become a coupled cognitive system, which enables a modeler with limited knowledge of biology to make fundamental biological discoveries, as we have witnessed.