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Indiana University Bloomington

Colloquium Series

FALL 2008 Colloquium Series

All talks are on Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM in Ballantine Hall 003, unless otherwise noted.

Calendar [click date for details]

Sep 19 Matthew Lund Between Tautology and Chronicle
Oct 17 Kevin Robbins The Largest, Secular Healthcare Network in Early Modern Europe: Beaune’s Hôtel-Dieu and Its Satellite Hospitals, circa 1550—circa 1700. Ward Care, Practical Pharmacology, and the Political Empowerment of Lay Nurses.
Oct 24 William Wimsatt The Evolution of Modularity and Normativity in Technological and Cultural Change
Nov 21 Brian Skryms Evolution of Signaling Systems with Multiple Senders and Receivers COFFA LECTURE Location: Woodburn Hall 003
Dec 05 Lisa Sideris The Varieties of Evolutionary Enchantment 01:30 PM to 03:30 PM

Sep 19

Matthew Lund

Department of Philosophy and Religion, Rowan University

Title: Between Tautology and Chronicle

Abstract: In 1960, N.R. Hanson became the founding chair of the University of Indiana’s Graduate Program in the History and Logic of Science, the first program of its kind in the United States. Despite having put the concept of HPSC on the institutional map, Hanson’s distinctive account of the interdependence between history of science and philosophy of science has been mostly forgotten, and often misinterpreted where it is remembered. The purpose of this talk is to show that a fruitful and transformative framework for understanding the interrelation of the history and philosophy of science is obtained by uniting three separate, and not wholly harmonious or fully developed, elements of Hanson’s philosophy of science: his analysis of the conceptual dynamics of science, his championing of Keynes’s interpretation of probability as providing a philosophically respectable means for appraising the evidential support for a theory at some point in history, and his discussions of the significance of the Genetic Fallacy for philosophical explorations of history. It is argued that the essential elements of his view remain legitimate and that extension of his approach is more likely to overcome the contemporary rift between philosophers and historians of science than the historiographic approaches of Lakatos and Kuhn. As Hanson himself put it, his account allowed him to navigate a via media between the Scylla and Charybdis of “Tautology and Chronicle”.

Oct 17

Kevin Robbins


Title: The Largest, Secular Healthcare Network in Early Modern Europe:Beaune’s Hôtel-Dieu and Its Satellite Hospitals, circa 1550—circa 1700. Ward Care, Practical Pharmacology, and the Political Empowerment of Lay Nurses.

Abstract: Between 1443 and 1700, the private charity hospital (or Hôtel-Dieu) in the French Burgundian town of Beaune dramatically expanded the reach of its unique medical operations. A cadre of lay female nurses, given exceptional administrative powers and opportunities for professional development by the hospital’s founder, expanded to create or take over more than fifty other hospitals for the sick poor in southeastern France and western Switzerland. These lay women nurses, whose public repute grew by solicitous ward care and their mastery of hospital pharmacies, became redoubtable opponents of men’s meddling in their medical service. Their active engagement in the power politics of the era made them vital architects of the public sphere in early modern Europe.

Oct 24

William Wimsatt

University of Chicago

Title: The Evolution of Modularity and Normativity in Technological and Cultural Change

Abstract: I discuss the difficulties in specifying relevant units in cultural evolution, the fact that most obvious modules are differentiated parts of larger systems, rather than replicators, and the reasons why—even more than for evodevo—a theory of cultural evolution must be developmental. I talk about the necessary components of a theory of cultural change, and how differential generative entrenchment allows for a different (and complementary) kind of account of the dynamics of evolutionary change than genetics-based or genetics inspired approaches. I then consider the biological and cultural significance of modularity, the roles of modularity in the explosive increase of technological variety in the 19th century, and discuss the common stages through with modularity and a class of normative standards can arise in technological evolution, illustrating with technological examples.

Nov 21 COFFA LECTURE Location: Woodburn Hall 003

Brian Skryms

Department of Philosophy, University of California Irvine

Title: Evolution of Signaling Systems with Multiple Senders and Receivers


Sender-Receiver games are simple, tractable models of information transmission. They provide a basic setting for the study the evolution of meaning. It is possible to investigate not only the equilibrium structure of these games, but also the dynamics of evolution and learning – with sometimes surprising results. Generalizations of the usual binary game to interactions with multiple senders, multiple receivers, or both, provide the elements of signaling networks. These can be seen as the loci of information processing, of group decisions, and of teamwork.

Dec 05 01 : 30 PM to 03 : 30 PM

Lisa Sideris

Indiana University

Title: The Varieties of Evolutionary Enchantment

Abstract: This paper examines the variety of ways in which scholars in religious environmental ethics and science/religion studies have sought to re-enchant the natural world. All of those I discuss have drawn in one way or another on evolutionary or Darwinian insights and many of them are engaged in a re-telling of scientific narratives in the form of a new “myth” or “story.” In particular, I look at the movement (and book) called “Thank God for Evolution” and related efforts to tell “The Universe Story” in mythopoeic language. I compare these approaches to those developed by Richard Dawkins and E. O. Wilson who promote enchantment not with nature per se but with science, and consider some of the ethical implications of these two forms of enchantment.