Åbent netværk for videnskabsfilosofi og videnskabshistorie

Nyhedsbrev nr. 226 2007

Nyt om aktiviteter indenfor Videnskabshistorie og Videnskabsfilosofi og tilgrænsende områder f.eks. Videnskab, teknologi og samfund, Forskning i forskning, Videnskabsteori, Videnskabsetik, Videnskabssociologi, STS, Bioetik, Forskningspolitik, Naturfilosofi, Videnskabsformidling.

Redaktør: Marie Svarre Nielsen, CNV.
Annoncering af møder i Hugin og Munin, tilmelding, afmelding, og andet:

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The Genealogy of a Categorical Trickster:

The Preterm Baby as Modernist Transcription

Tirsdag d. 8. maj
kl. 14.00-16.00
Medicinsk Museion
Fredericiagade 18

Open research seminar with Kyra Landzelius (Department of Science and Technology Studies, Gothenburg University).

Arrangør: Medicinsk Museion

Further information:, or s.nexoe @

The presentation explores the boundary transgressions put in place by the preterm baby as a new category of person - one who represents a logical if hyperbolic extension of the modern self. Preemie personhood is not engendered by technoscience alone; rather, it represents a dynamic project taking shape in and across multiple domains - domains of kinship, of citizenship, of sociality, of politics. In the hospital, the home, the courts of law and legislation, in the workplace and in the community, and, not least, via media channels - the Preemie has come into existence: as an ontological novelty, an uncanny patient, a cyborg kin, an enigmatic celebrity, a contested citizen. While Preemies continue to problematize the actual and conceptual boundaries of `normality', they nevertheless are increasingly mainstreamed into our society, families, and worldviews.

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Concepts - Content and Constitution

May 11-12
Room 23.0.50
Njalsgade 80
University of Copenhagen
2300 Copenhagen S

2-day symposium organized by the Danish Society for Philosophy and Psychology in collaboration with the Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen.

Recently a number of discussions have taken place on topics concerning the conceptual/non-conceptual boundary. Two dominant issues have been 1) how sophisticated abilities can become without involving concepts and 2) the extent to which intersubjectivity plays a determining role in conceptual competences.

The symposium will present some of the most provocative and carefully articulated thoughts on these two strands.

More information:


F. Gregory Ashby
Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Separate Systems (and their Neural Substrates) for Conceptual and Non-Conceptual Category Learning"

José Luis Bermúdez
Professor of Philosophy and Director of Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program, Washington University in St. Louis
"Concepts in philosophy and cognitive science"

Daniel C. Dennett
Professor of Philosophy and co-director of Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University
"Varieties of content"

Peter Gärdenfors
Professor of Cognitive Science, Lund University Cognitive Science
"The convexity of concepts and the meeting of minds"

Ruth G. Millikan
Professor of Philosophy, University of Connecticut
"The Vital Role of Useless Concepts (and Other People)"

Jesse J. Prinz
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
"Picture This: Concepts Are Constituted By Percepts"

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Cyberconference on converging technologies

Conference convenor:
Steve Fuller
Professor of Sociology
University of Warwick

You are invited to participate in a two-week-long cyberconference on the 'converging technologies' research agenda that has become prominent in recent years in science policy circles around the world. By 'converging technologies' is meant the channelling of research funding in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science into an interdisciplinary framework that can be used to enhance human performance and welfare.

The cyberconference is organized around a series of opening statements to which anyone may respond. They are reproduced at the end of this message. Generally speaking, the statements relate to our understanding of the current state of research vis-à-vis future prospects. Any comments made in the cyberconference are in the public domain and will be archived for research purposes. Consequently participants' comments will be monitored for civility. However, participants are also encouraged to hyperlink relevant resources to support their opinions.

This project is sponsored by the European Union, under its Sixth Framework Research Programme, 'Knowledge Politics and New Converging Technologies'. For more information about the programme, see

To participate in the cyberconference, go to: We anticipate the start date to be Monday 7 th May.

The ultimate aim of the cyberconference is to provide a public airing of reasoned global opinion on the future of humanity in light of a quickly shifting research frontier. The cyberconference convenor, Steve Fuller, will intervene for 'real time' discussion (in English) at the midpoint. It is planned that this will be from 18.00 to 20.00 (Central European Time) on Tuesday 15th May. But this time may change.

It is our intention to conduct this cyberconference in as many of the world's languages as possible, by which we mean parallel streams, each going in their own direction. We anticipate streams in at least French, German, Spanish, Polish, Hebrew, Portuguese/Brazlian and Chinese/Taiwan. For this purpose we are looking for people willing to translate the opening statements into other languages and monitor the subsequent discussion in their native languages which will be linked to our website. They will also need to make a brief summation of the issues raised, which will be posted in English. (The responses to the opening statements do not need to be translated into English.) Those who are interested in providing translation of the opening statements and monitoring the proceedings in their native languages should contact either info @ or webmaster @ .


The converging technologies agenda will more than pay for itself within a generation, as only marginal improvements in the performance of human beings would be needed to trigger a quantum leap in the global capacity for wealth production. This might include cutting the number of lost workdays from sickness or adding another year or two to effective job performance.

The role of national governments and international agencies in the converging technologies agenda should be mainly to 'regulate' research but not to dictate its exact terms or to dominate the resources necessary for its pursuit. The actual pace and direction of research should be left to specialists in the relevant sciences and technologies.

When it comes to converging technologies, 'regulation' should be interpreted broadly to include both the anticipation of potential harms and inequities and the provision of tax relief and legal protection designed to encourage the development of the relevant innovations. Since these innovations have the potential to re-define the human condition in fundamental ways, any proposed regulation should include a stick as well as a carrot.

An apt historical analogue for the magnitude of the impact that nanotechnology is likely to have on both the conduct of research and the economy is information technology, where in over a single generation computers came to be a universal mediator of knowledge and wealth production production. Allowing for the relevant developments, nanotechnology should occupy a role in 2050 similar to that information technology in 2000.

Transhumanist visionaries like Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy have shown a remarkable lack of social science imagination in their heightened sense of security threats from recent and anticipated developments in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. They forget that 'necessity is the mother of invention'. If anything, rather than unleashing another Cold War, the converging technologies agenda is likely to foster the merger of national defence and medical care in a general 'welfare science'.

As the enhancement of human capabilities and performance becomes integrated into everyday life, the weight of our evolutionary past will weigh more lightly. Indeed, once an entire generation has grown up used to prosthetic limbs, silicon chip implants and nanobotic medicine, talk of the genetic legacy of our hunter-gatherer ancestors will sound quaint, if not reactionary, much like reverential talk of 'tradition' sometimes sounds today. Darwin will finally go the way of his 19th century comrades Marx and Freud.

Short of total annihilation of Homo sapiens, it really doesn't matter if the converging technologies agenda ends up having substantial negative consequences. By the time those consequences will have been realized, society's value system will have adapted to them. They will then appear as a fair price to pay for the benefits made possible by the relevant advances. After all, the doomsayers 100 years ago turned out to be correct when they predicted that the proliferation of cars and planes would pollute the environment, but should we have listened to them then?

Some supporters of the converging technologies agenda have called for a proactionary principle to mitigate, if not replace, the precautionary principle that is nowadays often invoked to regulate research and development. The proactionary principle would have the need to do good overall outweigh the prospect of whatever particular harms might result. Among the policies licensed by this principle include limited liability laws for the application of new technologies and the liberalisation of conditions under which people might offer themselves for innovative treatments.

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The Schooling of Landau

Monday 21 May at 14:15
Auditorium A, Niels Bohr Institute
Blegdamsvej 17, Copenhagen

History of Science Seminar by:

Karl Hall
Central European University,

Karl Hall -- who has been invited to Denmark to take part in the highly interesting seminar series at Roskilde University Centre [...See "Ideer i Kontekst" in Hugin og Munin 224] wrote his Ph.D. dissertation (1999) at Harvard University on Soviet theoretical physics during the interwar period.


Finn Aaserud
The Niels Bohr Archive


"Lev Landau is perhaps the only Russian physicist whose "school" is readily acknowledged internationally, without resort to any special pleading. Among physicists the social and intellectual coherence of the Landau school naturally rests heavily on Landau's own personal agency: his charismatic brilliance, the scope of his research, his pedagogical program. In this paper I will attend more closely to some of the structural and conjunctural factors that made the Landau school both possible and sustainable. For Russian science, the social utility of a "school" linked to a crucial figure (rather than an institution) dates from the late nineteenth century, when Russian physics was highly integrated with Central European institutions of learning. Many of the identifying characteristics associated with the Landau school indeed had prior Russian analogues in the early twentieth century. During the 1920s Landau'Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac: Father and son in sciences own training in turn took place in an atmosphere of unstable social relations that rewarded behaviors neither previously nor subsequently tolerated. Yet the founding of the Landau school was not peculiar-because-Soviet-and thus "merely" social in origin-but also the product of Landau's own intellectual development in interaction with crucial "outside" figures like Niels Bohr. Landau famously claimed Bohr as his only teacher, yet in his own work he adopted the Bohr "style" in only a very restricted sense, and actively discouraged his students from embracing Bohr's epistemological concerns. I will briefly describe the context of their arguments over the measurement problem in quantum electrodynamics, and use that to motivate a further account of the development of Landau's school as an autonomous research program held together by a set of pedagogical practices that were not replicated outside the Soviet Union until the late 1950s."

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Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac: Father and son in science

Thursday 31 May at 14:15
Auditorium A, Niels Bohr Institute
Blegdamsvej 17, Copenhagen

History of Science Seminar by:

Graham Farmelo
Senior Research Fellow at the Science Museum, London
Associate Professor of Physics, Northeastern University, Boston

Graham Farmelo, who in the spring of 2003 gave a talk at our seminar based on his well-received book It Must Be Beautiful: Great Equations of Science (Granta Books, London, 2003), is completing a biography on Dirac.


Finn Aaserud
The Niels Bohr Archive


"Among the pioneering quantum physicists, Paul Dirac is often regarded as the great loner. Yet his relationships with his peers were extremely important to him, none more than his friendship with Niels Bohr. Using research done for a new biography of Dirac, I shall argue that Bohr was a father-figure to Dirac and that no relationship was more important to the shy Englishman. I shall also present some of the findings that have emerged in the course of research for the biography, which I hope will shed new light on the personality of Dirac."

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IX Annual Swedish Symposium on Biomedicine, Ethics and Society:

Searching for the Animal of Animal Ethics

11.-12. juni 2007
Sted: Seglarhotellet, Sandhamn, Sverige

Hvad kan samtidens etologi, evolutionære psykologi og videnskabens indsigter i dyrenes verden fortælle os om deres moralske evner?

Læs mere her:
Centre for Bioethics

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Buddhisme og naturvidenskab

Fredag den 8. juni kl. 19.30
Buddhistisk Center København
Svanemøllevej 56
2100 KBH Ø
(På hjørnet mellem Rosbæksvej og Svanemøllevej)


Kristian Priisholm.
foredrag @

Kristian er kandidat i biologi og matematik, buddhist og mangeårig elev af Lama Ole Nydahl og arbejder til dagligt som gymnasielærer.

Foredraget er gratis.

I foredraget vil nogle af aspekter af det store spørgsmål "Hvad er virkeligheden og hvad kan vi sige om virkeligheden?" blive belyst dels ud fra buddhismens klassiske belæringer om bevidsthedens kvaliteter og dels ud fra moderne naturvidenskabelige resultater. Særligt vil det blive diskuteret i hvor høj grad, der kan drages paralleler mellem disse to områder og i hvor høj grad de paralleler, der drages, er rimelige og hvordan de eventuelt kan forstås. Foredraget er henvendt til alle interesserede og der vil blive lagt vægt på at gøre buddhisme og centrale naturvidenskabelige resultater tilgængelige.

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Fra interview til viden

Om at analysere kvalitativt interviewmateriale. Med eksempler fra antropologisk forskning i infertilitet og kræftrehabilitering.

24. maj kl. 15.15-17
Center for Sundhed og Samfund
Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 2
Lokale CSS 2.2.55


Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen er lektor på institut for Antropologi, Københavns Universitet og har i sin forskning arbejdet meget med antropologisk metodeudvikling og forskningsetiske problemstillinger inden for sundhedsområdet.

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The History and Poetics of Scientific Biography

Ny bog inden for videnskabsstudier:

Thomas Söderqvist, red.
Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007
ISBN: 0 7546 5181 9

Biografigenren, især forfatterbiografien og politikerbiografien, har fået meget opmærksomhed igennem de seneste ti år, og er desuden blevet genstand for en række litterære genrestudier. Også biografier om forskere er en hurtigt voksende genre, men har ikke været genstand for analytiske studier i samme udstrækning. I The History and Poetics of Scientific Biography bidrager en række historikere, filosoffer og litterater til den første samlede undersøgelse af forskerbiografien som genre.

Bogen, der udkommer første uge i maj, er resultatet af en international workshop, der blev afholdt for at markere afslutningen på en samlet forskningsrådsbevilling til satsningsområdet 'Forskning i forskning' i 1997-2002, og det dertil hørende forskningsprofessorat i videnskabsstudier til Thomas Söderqvist og ph.d.-stipendium til Signe Lindskov Hansen.

Se endvidere: Forlagets side om bogen.


Thomas Söderqvist
Introduction: A new look at the genre of scientific biography.

Liba Taub
Presenting a 'life' as a guide to living: ancient accounts of the life of Pythagoras.

Stephen Gaukroger
Biography as a route to understanding early modern natural philosophy.

David Aubin & Charlotte Bigg
Neither genius nor context incarnate: Norman Lockyer, Jules Janssen and the astrophysical self.

Patricia Fara
Framing the evidence: scientific biography and portraiture.

Thomas L. Hankins
Biography and the reward system in science.

Christopher A.J. Chilvers
The tragedy of Comrade Hessen: Biography as historical discourse.

Helge Kragh
Received wisdom in biography: Tycho biographies from Gassendi to Christianson.

Signe Lindskov Hansen
The programmatic function of biography: Readings of 19- and 20th-century biographies of Niels Stensen (Steno).

Rebekah Higgitt
Discriminating days? Partiality and impartiality in 19th-century biographies of Newton.

Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent
Biographies as mediators between memory and history in science.

Jacalyn Duffin
'La mauvaise herbe': unwanted biographies both great and small.

Rena Selya
Primary suspects: reflections on autobiography and life stories in the history of molecular biology.

Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis
Pas de deux: the biographer and the living biographical subject.

Beth Linker
Resuscitating the 'Great Doctor': the career of biography in medical history.

Thomas Söderqvist
'No genre of history fell under more odium than that of biography': The delicate relations between scientific biography and historiography of science.

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Stafet-interview med

Cathrine Hasse

Fag: Antropologi og Uddannelsesforskning
Titel: Lektor, Ph.D.
Ansættelsessted: Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitet

Hvad er den sidste fagrelaterede bog, du har læst?

"Jonathan Crary: Suspension of Perception. Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture. En interessant indføring i hvordan vores intentionelle opmærksomhed formes af sociale faktorer, når kulturelle forhold omskaber vores perception. Det er også den vinkel jeg lægger på studiet af videnskab og science education. Crary er først og fremmest kunstteoretiker, men kommer også ind på relationen mellem kunst, teknologi og videnskab. Jeg søger forbindelserne mellem human- og naturvidenskaben. Jeg lægger hovedvægten i mit arbejde på at forstå relationen mellem læreprocesser og perception, der jo både har betydning når man ser på grafer, modeller og malerier. Mine teoretiske inspirationskilder er primært kulturpsykologi og postfænomenologi men nu er jeg begyndt at koble til kunstteori. Jeg ser det som et frugtbart bindeled, når man spørger til hvad der former perception i videnskaben og naturvidenskabelige uddannelser."

Er der en bog, du vil anbefale?

"Science and an African Logic af Helen Verran fra 2001 udgivet af University of Chicago Press. Bogen tager udgangspunkt i Verrans egne oplevelser som lærer i Nigeria, hvor hun gradvis bliver klar over at hun løber ind i problemer med at forklare vort vestlige numeriske system for Yoruba børn, fordi de har en anden grundlæggende forståelse af mængde. Hvor vi opererer med et lineært abstrakt talsystem, der går fra en til to til tre osv. så har afrikanske børn historisk og kulturelt opbyggede mængdeforståelse med anden struktur. De ser mængder som del-helhed, relationelt i forhold til de kulturelt formede opgaver, de er i gang med at løse. Kvantitet er ikke absolut men altid relationel. Hun startede som kulturrelativist, men ender med en ny forståelse af al generaliserende logik. Det er den slags bøger jeg mener der er behov for, hvis vi skal udvikle vores egen videnskabsforståelse og kvaliteten af vores naturvidenskabelige uddannelser. Jeg er overbevist om at det vil styrke interessen for naturvidenskabsuddannelser at de inkorporerer denne form for Science and Technology Studies - som jo blandt andre den feministiske fysiker Karen Barad har gjort med stort held i Australien og USA. Vi skal have nedbrudt den ureflekterede mur vi har sat op mellem human- og naturvidenskaben, som min egen forskning har vist er en særlig kulturel konstruktion vi forsvarer mere i Danmark end for eksempel i Italien. Der kan være store forskelle på videnskabelige arbejdsområder, men der er behov for såvel det vi traditionelt kalder humanistisk viden og naturvidenskabelige erkendelser i næsten alle discipliner."

Hvad er den sidste konference, du har været til?

"Jeg var med til en rigtig sjov workshop ledet af teknologi filosoffen Don Ihde, som jeg har arrangeret flere workshops med i selskabet 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) men det her var i forbindelse med Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, SPEP/SPHS i Philadelphia og den var primært for filosoffer, der jo, som visse naturvidenskabsmænd, kan være ret ekskluderende overfor folk, der ikke er uddannet inden for deres fagfelt. Men den tværvidenskabelige tilgang til videnskabsstudier blev en stor succes. Emnet var Postphenemology og lokalet var fyldt og der var mange folk som prøvede at følge med ude i gangen."

Er der et eller flere nyhedsbreve eller andre net-aktiviteter, du vil anbefale?

"Jeg bruger ikke selv så meget nyhedsbreve, fordi jeg får informationer på anden vis gennem mine personlige kontakter. Om et års tid vil jeg godt anbefale vores egen hjemmeside - et EU-projektjeg koordinerer, hvor vi ser på hvordan kulturelle læreprocesser forbinder køn og naturvidenskab forskelligt i fem forskellige europæiske lande. Den er ikke så interessant endnu fordi vi endnu ikke har analyseret feltmaterialet og de 220 interviews med fysikere i Danmark, Italien, Polen, Estland og Finland - men det bliver den når vi får lagt resultaterne ud i 2008."

Er der et eller flere tidsskrifter, du vil anbefale?

"4S publikationen Social Studies of Science inden for Science and Technology Studies og Culture & Psychology, fra SAGE, der giver mange gode indsigter i, hvorledes kultur og psyke former hinanden gensidigt."

Giv et bud på et centralt spørgsmål for forskningen i dit felt.

"Hvordan former kulturelle læreprocesser perception i videnskaben og de naturvidenskabelige uddannelser."

Giv et bud på en udbredt misforståelse.

"1. At man kan adskille natur- og humanvidenskab som vi har gjort det tidligere i Danmark (der blødes op på det nu, men det er tydeligvis en vanskelig proces fordi adskillelsen er så kulturelt indgroet)
2. At man skal være bange for psykologisme når man kobler psykologi og naturvidenskab. At man kan afvise psykologisk indsigt som psykologisme er en lige så stor misforståelse som at solen drejer om jorden.
3. At man er kulturrelativist, hvis man tager kultur alvorligt."

Ville du tage imod en tidagestur til månen?

"Det ville jeg bestemt. Jeg vil godt selv opleve den nye tid, jeg er overbevist om kommer, hvor vi drager videre ud i rummet. Problemet for os bliver, at selv om vi har teknikken, skal vi blive meget bedre til at forstå, hvad teknologiske muligheder gør ved den menneskelige psyke og hvordan den åbner og lukker for nye fantasier. Derfor skal vi have flere humanister - og gerne også kunstnere - ud i med ud i rummet."

Har du en helt?

"Jeg har nogle stykker. Antropologen Gregory Bateson er en helt, fordi han havde mod til at bevæge sig frit mellem så mange videnskabelige discipliner uden at lade sig afskrække af alle de gatekeepers, der formanede ham om at det kunne man da ikke. I dag har han forandret antropologien, psykologien og dele af naturvidenskaben.
En anden helt er den russiske psykolog Lev Vygotsky, fordi han på samme måde frit inddrog alle de elementer i sin tænkning, der skulle til for at bringe ham videre. I dag regnes han for grundlægger af kulturpsykologien.
Helen Verran fordi hun har haft mod til på en og samme tid at udfordre kulturrelativisme (der ellers ville have elsket at omfavne hende) og vores vestlige grundforståelse af kvantitativ videnskab og formår at gøre det sagligt - uden at gøre det til en diskussion om at være 'eksotiske' og 'etniske' i Afrika."

Hvem vil du give stafetten videre til?

"Theresa Schilhab, min kollega fra DPU, fordi hun i sit arbejde stiller nogle grundspørgsmål til relationen mellem perception og krop som jeg selv."

Om Stafetten
I Stafetten bliver en forsker bedt om at besvare en række spørgsmål og derefter sende Stafetten videre til en ny forsker efter eget valg.

Tidligere Stafet-interview:
Claus Emmeche
Brit Ross Winthereik
Lene Koch
Maja Horst
Randi Markussen
Ninna Lykke
Stine Adrian
Tom Børsen Hansen
Jens Dolin

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HUGIN og MUNIN er et elektronisk nyhedsbrev for aktiviteter indenfor videnskabsteori, videnskabsfilosofi, videnskabshistorie, videnskabssociologi og tilgrænsende emneområder. Det udsendes af Center for Naturfilosofi og Videnskabsstudier, Københavns Universitet, for at styrke kontakten mellem grupper og enkeltpersoner indenfor de nævnte fagområder.

Hugin og Munin - tanke og erindring - er de to vise ravne, der sidder på Odins skuldre og hvisker ham alle tidender i øret. Han sender dem ud ved daggry, og ved morgenmåltidet er de hos ham igen med nyheder fra hele verden.

Ravnene er her valgt som vartegn for den filosofiske eftertanke og den historiske erindring.