Åbent netværk for videnskabsfilosofi og videnskabshistorie

Nyhedsbrev nr. 241 2008

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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Interacting Bodies: Posthuman Enactments of the Problem of Diabetes

Peter Danholt's PhD defence

Friday March 28th, 13-16
Room 37 in Building 42.2

Download the dissertation: danholdt.pdf

The PhD programme "Design and Management of Information Technology" at The Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, Roskilde University invites to Peter Danholt's PhD defence. Following the defence, the department will host an informal reception. (Room 37 in Building 42.2)

The assessment committee
Associate Professor Morten Hertzum, PhD., Roskilde University, Chair
Associate Professor Randi Markussen, Lic. Phil., University of Aarhus, Opponent
Professor Andrew Pickering, PhD., University of Exeter, Opponent

Principal supervisor
Associate Professor Keld Bødker, PhD.,, Roskilde University

The defence will be chaired by Associate Professor Jesper Simonsen, PhD., Roskilde University

About the tesis

Chronic diseases and their treatment constitute a significant problem in western societies and accordingly it seems obvious to try and solve this problem through organizational and technological means. But the general epidemiological problem does not say anything about how chronic diseases concretely and in practice is a problem for people with chronic conditions. This dissertation therefore opens with the question: what constitutes the problem of chronic disease, concretely diabetes?

The dissertation is premised by understanding science and technology as performative practices, which entails that knowledge and technology is produced through heterogeneous networks of human and non-human actors, as argued in posthuman Science, Technology and Society studies (STS).

The empirical fieldwork constituted an experiment where eight persons with diabetes type 2 were introduced to a mobile information- and decision-support system for diabetes self-care. Premised by a posthuman understanding the experiment employed a concrete solution as a means for investigating the problem of diabetes, in contrast to an attempt to develop a solution to a general problem. Thereby emphasizing how diabetes is enacted through practices, self-care technologies and understandings and how diabetes as a disease in return enacts persons with diabetes.

In conclusion the dissertation argues that with a posthuman disposition one can acquire an understanding where technology may be re-figured rather than concretely re-designed. The concrete technology is thus not altered, but re-conceptualized and thereby neither transgressed nor preserved, but multiplied. Last, it is argued that the problem of diabetes may be considered as a matter of managing a relation between interacting bodies engaged in affective relations.

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Where did Topology come from?

Tuesday 8 April at 5.15 p.m.
Auditorium 10, H. C. Ørsted Instituttet
Universitetsparken 5, 2100 Copenhagen Ø

Oranized by: Danish Society for the History of Science

At 4.30 p.m., coffee, tea and fruit will be served in the lunch room of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, room 04.4.19, on the 4th floor. (Prize: 10 kr.)

Talk by:
Professor Jeremy Gray
Mathematics and Statistics, Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K.

In the 20th Century topology became one of the most fundamental branches of mathematics, as well as a source of popular puzzles involving Möbius bands, knots, and the like, but its roots lie in numerous elementary ideas that came up in many different places in the 19th Century. Most of these ideas were originally seen as lying on the boundary of mathematics and as interesting problems that needed no deep mathematical theory to be understood. This talk will look at some of the ups and downs on the way these ideas were brought together and made into a new and basic branch of mathematics.

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Nature's Mind-Reader:

Hans Christian Ørsted's Discovery and his Position in European Science and in Danish Society

Monday 7 April, 14.15am
Auditorium M, Niels Bohr Institute
Blegdamsvej 17, Copenhagen

A Niels Bohr Archive History of Science Seminar by:

Dan Charly Christensen

After what I consider a successful year for seminars in 2007, I herewith announce the first one in 2008. Dan Charly Christensen has been working on his monumental Ørsted biography for about half a lifetime, and I am very happy that he has agreed to share the fruits of his labours with us, now at the completion of his writing.

Finn Aaserud
Niels Bohr Archive
History of Science Seminar


Two centuries ago there was no such thing as an international scientific community. Science was rooted in different national traditions. Denmark-Norway, however, was weak in science and did not uphold a tradition of its own, but followed French mechanical-mathematical science. Ørsted was the only Danish natural philosopher to embrace Kant's critique of mechanical physics. Ørsted's dynamical research programme was contested, even despised, by both French Laplaceanism and German Naturphilosophie. However, it was vindicated by his great discovery of electromagnetism, which was particularly celebrated in Britain while contributing to the downfall of Laplacean physics. In this paper I shall, firstly, try to elucidate Ørsted's concept of physics, its epistemology as well as its motivation. My point will be that Ørsted was the most successful natural philosopher among the few who took inspiration from Kant. Secondly, I shall elaborate on Ørsted's career and strategy to conquer a space for physics in Danish society. Rooted in Kantian and Neoplatonic dualism Ørsted's justifications for scientific education and research diverge significantly from today's political goals.

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International Conference on the History of Fieldwork, Cartography and Scientific Exploration

Extended Deadline for Abstracts: 15 April 2008


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First Announcement and Call for Papers:

The Epistemology of Liberal Democracy

- free speech, disagreement and common belief

University of Copenhagen, Denmark
November 20-21, 2008
Conference website

Confirmed speakers:
Alvin Goldman (Rutgers)
Erik Olsson (Lund)
Christian List (LSE)
Duncan Pritchard (Edinburgh)
Igor Douven (Louvan)
Klemens Kappel (Copenhagen)
Jesper Kallestrup (Edinburgh)
Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund)
Sandy Goldberg (Northwestern)

Call for papers.
Papers are invited on any of the topics of the conference. Abstracts of no more than 1000 words should be sent to the organizing comittee at csec08_mef [at]

Please prepare submissions for blind review. Deadline for submission is August 15th, 2008. Notifications of acceptance will be made no later than September 15th, 2008.

Registration details will be announced soon at conference website

For further information, contact Klemens Kappel (kappel [at]

Organizers: Klemens Kappel, Erik Olsson, Duncan Pritchard, Jesper Kallestrup, Mikkel Gerken.

One of the most important and cherished features of liberal democracy is the value placed on freedom of speech and inquiry. Regimes of free speech and free inquiry inevitably lead to disagreement, not only about issues of value, but also about very important factual matters. Another important feature of liberal democracy is the commitment to the toleration of disagreement, even over crucial factual matters.

Clearly, both features are extremely important for citizens within liberal democracies if they wish to arrive at true or justified beliefs about the world, and to correct mistaken views. Yet, these features of liberal democracies are rarely discussed from an epistemological point of view, despite their obvious epistemological import.

The aim of this conference is to foster new research in epistemology as well as cross-disciplinary research relating to the epistemological questions raised by liberal democracy. The topics for the conference will include but not be limited to the following:

What are the epistemological features of free speech and free inquiry? Under what conditions will free speech and free inquiry promote truth and justified belief?

How should one should one alter one's beliefs in the light of disagreement?

Under what circumstances will voting be truth-conducive?

What are reasonable ways to aggregate different factual judgements?

How should public policy take into account widespread disagrement over important factual matters?

When should one trust experts, in particular when purported experts disagree?

Applied issues, basic epistemological issues, as well metodologial issues concerning these questions: How should questions such as these be studied? How can philosophy contribute?

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Dansk Medicinsk-historisk Selskabs Studenterpris 2007

Til Sidsel Hald Rahlf

Dansk Medicinsk-historisk Selskabs Studenterpris uddelt til opgave om brandsår, krig og hudtransplantationer.

Sidsel Hald Rahlf, medicinstuderende ved Københavns Universitet, har med en opgave om brugen af hudtransplantation til behandling af brandsårskader i krig og fred vundet Dansk Medicinsk-historisk Selskabs Studenterpris på 10.000 kr.

Opgaven 'Brugen af hudtransplantation ved behandling af brandsårskader i Danmark 1870-1960' kan læses på Dansk Medicinsk-historisk Selskabs hjemmeside , hvor du også kan læse mere om selskabets studenterpris.

Flere af de store spring indenfor medicinen er uløseligt knyttet til krig. Dominique Jean Larrays "flyvende ambulancer" under Napoleonskrigene, Florence Nightingales sygepleje under Krim-krigen, og indførelsen af penicillin under 2. Verdenskrig er blot nogle eksempler på dette. Sådanne krisesituationer har skabt rum for radikal nytænkning og stillet ekstraordinære midler til rådighed - deres gru i øvrigt ufortalt.

Medicinstuderende Sidsel Hald Rahlf har sat sig for at undersøge sammenhængen mellem krigserfaringer og brugen af hudtransplantationer til behandling af brandsårskader i Danmark. Metoden stammer tilbage til 1870 og blev hurtigt taget i brug i Danmark, men i løbet af de næste hundrede år ændredes holdningen til den flere gange. Efter i flere årtier at have været standardbehandlingen ved svære forbrændinger, forlod man omkring 1920 brugen af hudtransplantation til fordel for forskellige former for salvebehandling. Dette skift skete i høj grad under indtryk af erfaringer indhøstet under 1. Verdenskrig. I kølvandet på 2. Verdenskrig blev hudtransplantationer igen taget frem, primært fordi behandlingen af stærkt forbrændte britiske piloter havde afsløret en række bivirkninger af salvebehandlinger.

Sidsel Hald Rahlf bekræfter dermed hvordan krigssituationer skaber krav om nytænkning indenfor lægevidenskaben. Men ved at se på udviklingen i Danmark, der kun i ringe grad var involveret i krigshandlinger under de to verdenskrige, viser hun også hvordan andre forhold end de strengt videnskabelige har påvirket brugen af hudtransplantationer. De britiske brandsårsafdelinger fik stillet langt mere personale til rådighed, end der var mulighed og behov for i Danmark, og det gjorde det vanskeligt for danske læger at bruge hudtransplantation i samme udstrækning som deres britiske kolleger. De britiske erfaringer blev dog i høj grad brugt til organiseringen af brandsårsbehandlingen på hospitalskibet 'Jutlandia' under Korea-krigen.

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Stafet-interview med

Matthias Heymann

Discipline: History of technology (with a great interest in history of science and environmental history)

Title: Dr. (associate professor of the history of technology)

Institutional affiliation: University of Aarhus

Which is the last research related book that you have read?

I read usually several books at the same time which gives me the freedom of choice: I just finished Hans Peter Duerr, Rungholt: Die Suche nach einer versunkenen Stadt (The search for a sunken city), Frankfurt 2005.

This book is exciting for several reasons.

(1) Rungholt was known as a legendary rich city at the North Sea coast, which was destroyed in a storm flood in 1362 and totally disappeared. Being interested in natural disaster in history the book certainly caught my imagination.

(2) Duerr and his students claim to have found the remnants of Rungholt in archaeological excavations in the North German wadden sea in the 1990s. It is absolutely fantastic what they all found ranging from rests of walls and skulls to coins from Ancient Rome and wood of Minoan origin.

(3) It was a great surprise to me (who once started out as a physicist), how free and competently Duerr (a cultural historian) assembled all kinds of evidence to construct fantastic theories to explain his findings.

(4) Not being an archaeologist, but being a heavily battlesome person, Duerr (almost literally) fished in foreign waters and caused enormous conflicts, which he eagerly recounts in the book (to the pleasure of the historian of science).

Is there a book that you would recommend?

Read Henrik Knudsen's dissertation Konsensus og konflikt. Organisering af den tekniske forskning in Danmark 1900-1960 (2005), which I dare say though I didn't finish it yet, is a great piece of historical work. This is true also for Maiken Lolck's book Klima, kold krig og iskerner (2006), a fascinating account of Danish contributions to climate research.

For the non Danish readers I like to recommend Paul Humphreys Extending Ourselves: Computational Science, Empiricism, and Scientific Method (2004), which deals with a fascinating new and enormously influential practice in science and technology, computer simulation. The philosopher Humphreys competently analyses his topic and its many implications. But where are the historians of science?

Which is the most interesting paper that you have read within the last couple of months?

Michel Armatte and Amy Dahan Dalmedico, "Modèles et Modélisations (1950-2000): Nouvelles pratiques, nouveaux enjeux", in: Revue d'histoire des sciences, 57 (2004), pp. 245-305. This is the only comprehensive paper on the history of computer models.

Which is the last conference you attended?

My last conference was in Munich last November. It had the title "Vom Nutzen der Wissenschaft" (On the benefits of science). I published a report on HSOZUKULT (//... Heymann).

Are there any newsletters or web-activities that you would recommend?

Aren't there already too many newsletters and web-activities to be managed? Wouldn't it be time for a new round of this interview with a new question, such as "Are there any newsletters or web-activities that you would recommend to unsubscribe?"

What is HSOZUKULT (see last question)? Researchers in history interested in what's going on in Germany may be interested in the German version of the H-Net with the beautiful name HSOZUKULT ( Here, you find actual information on jobs, projects, reviews, journals, websites of interest to historians. You can also subscribe to it and get the information mailed (//...Anmeldung).

Which journals would you recommend?

Centaurus. An International Journal of the History of Science and its Cultural Aspects, is one of the oldest journals in the history of science with new ambitions as the official journal of the European Society for the History of Science. Have a look and submit good papers.

Give an example of a key issue in your research area

Growing up with the "Waldsterben" my key issue became the history of environmental problems. This is not very original. But this is how I ended up in the history of science and technology.

Give an example of a common misunderstanding

When I lived in Istanbul I learned that there is no Islam as understood in western media. There are many Islams. And most of them are not dangerous at all. Islamic people manage to comply with contradicting religious and cultural rules as easily and peacefully as do Christian people in the western countries.

Would you accept a ten-day trip to the Moon?

I would prefer to enjoy 10 days at the North Sea coast.

Do you have a hero?

My children: They don't just grow up in a globalizing world and have to cope with a postmodern family. They have to live it through, moving from one country to the next and experiencing changing cities, languages and cultures as well as two homes in two foreign countries.

To whom will you relay the list of questions?

Peter Karnøe, Copenhagen Business School, who was helpful and kind when I came to Denmark for the first time.

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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.