In 2002, Evolution and Human Behavior published a study purporting to show that the differences in toy preferences commonly attributed to girls and boys can also be found in male and female vervet monkeys, tracing the origin of these differing preferences back to a common ancestor. Despite some flaws in its design and the prima facie implausibility of some of its central claims, this research received considerable attention in both scientific circles and the popular media. In what follows, I survey (...) some of the problems with this study that seem to be characteristic of research into sex differences in a particular research program in evolutionary psychology. I suggest that an epistemology of ignorance is at work that suppresses the methods and insights of an earlier research program, which emphasized the complexity and contingency that ultimately grounds the variety of human behaviors, in favor of one that has been widely criticized as empirically flawed and politically pernicious. I conclude with some speculative remarks on the persistence of this problematic research program in evolutionary psychology. (shrink)
The portrayal of novel neurotechnologies in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report serves to inoculate viewers from important moral considerations that are displaced by the film’s somewhat singular emphasis on the question of how to reintroduce freedom of choice into an otherwise technology driven world. This sets up a crisis mentality and presents a false dilemma regarding the appropriate use, and regulation, of neurotechnologies. On the one hand, it seems that centralized power is required to both control and effectively implement such technologies (...) and, on the other hand, individual heroic resistance is required to protect citizens from the invasions of personal privacy and state control made possible through neurotechnologies. While Minority Report, as a dystopic vision of emergent neurotechnologies, engages surface ethical issues it risks cheapening them through its rather simplistic, dichotomous analysis. Most conspicuously absent from this approach is a sense of the social matrices that work to circumscribe or augment expressions of human freedom, privacy, control and power that are all implicated in our engagement with novel neurotechnologies. Were Minority Report unique in this respect it would have little interest, but we think this type of cheapening of ethical discourse about novel technologies is common. Because science fiction film informs the social imaginary in which ethical considerations and ultimately policy decisions take place, such cheapening risks subverting pervasive and tangible ethical issues by focusing on the sensationalistic and simplistic. (shrink)
In this article, we critically examine some of the ethical challenges and interpretive difficulties with possible future non-clinical applications of pediatric fMRI with a particular focus on applications in the classroom and the courtroom - two domains in which children come directly in contact with the state. We begin with a general overview of anticipated clinical and non-clinical applications of pediatric fMRI. This is followed by a detailed analysis of a range of ethical challenges and interpretive difficulties that trouble the (...) use of fMRI and are likely to be especially acute with non-clinical uses of the technology. We conclude that knowledge of these challenges and difficulties should influence policy decisions regarding the non-clinical uses of fMRI. Our aim is to encourage the development of future policies prescribing the responsible use of this neuroimaging technology as it develops both within and outside the clinical setting. (shrink)
Meynell’s contention is that feminists should attend to pictures in science as distinctive bearers of epistemic content that cannot be reduced to propositions. Remarks on the practice and function of medical illustration—specifically, images Nancy Tuana used in her discussion of the construction of ignorance of women’s sexual function (2004)—show pictures to be complex and powerful epistemic devices. Their affinity with perennial feminist concerns, the relation between epistemic subject and object, and the nature of social knowledge, are of particular interest.
There are two distinct interpretations of the role that Feynman diagrams play in physics: (i) they are calculational devices, a type of notation designed to keep track of complicated mathematical expressions; and (ii) they are representational devices, a type of picture. I argue that Feynman diagrams not only have a calculational function but also represent: they are in some sense pictures. I defend my view through addressing two objections and in so doing I offer an account of representation that explains (...) why Feynman diagrams represent. The account that I advocate is a version of that defended by Kendall Walton, which provides us with a basic characterization of the way that representations in general work and is particularly useful for understanding distinctively pictorial representations - in Walton's terms, depictions. The question of the epistemic function of Feynman diagrams as pictorial representations is left for another time. (shrink)
In this paper I examine third wave leminism in the hopes of shedding light on its relationship to the concurrent contemporary backlash against leminism . I investigate this by attempting to answer two questions. First, given the nature of the first and second waves, is the third wave appropriately so called? I tentatively conclude that it is not. Second, I ask whether the issue of identity, which is central to third wave analysis, is addressed well by third wavers. I suggest (...) that there are serious problems with the rejection of identity politics that characterizes much third wave feminism, particularly in the repudiation of second wave feminism that seems to accompany it. I conclude that, at best, the third wave seems unprepared to light the present backlash and, at worst, it appears to be a part of it. (shrink)