Presidential addresses offer an opportunity to reflect on the history of our subject and where the history of science stands in our own day. Such reflections are particularly appropriate with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the British Society for the History of Science which is marked in 1997. Some may consider that looking back over our past is either an unacceptable luxury or an occasion for the kind of celebration that can all too easily degenerate into hagiography and (...) an excuse to rake over the past in a thoroughly uncritical manner. This address – and I trust the events of 1997 – will try to avoid such excesses and instead contribute to the historiography of our subject. (shrink)
: This paper considers whether a physician is criminally liable for administering a dose of painkillers that hastens a patient's death. The common wisdom is that a version of the doctrine of double effect legally protects the physician. That is, a physician is supposedly acting lawfully so long as the physician's primary purpose is to relieve suffering. This paper suggests that the criminal liability issue is more complex than that. Physician culpability can be based on recklessness, and recklessness hinges on (...) whether a physician has taken an unjustifiable risk of hastening death. The authors identify three conditions of justifiability. Their analysis helps to explain the distinction between euthanasia, which is legally banned, and the use of risky analgesics, which is permitted in limited circumstances. (shrink)
In the late 1810s and 1820s the Edinburgh phrenologists were largely concerned with trying to establish phrenology as the true science of mind. They challenged the accepted theories about the nature of mind and the brain; in turn, phrenology was attacked by the proponents of Scottish common-sense philosophy and by some medical men. The ensuing debate, which is discussed as an example of conflict between incommensurable world-views, involved a wide range of contentious theological, philosophical, scientific and methodological issues.
While many aspects of Shapin's historical thesis are accepted, this paper raises objections to specific parts of his historical account, and also to the historiographical assumptions underlying his sociological programme. In particular, Shapin's claim to have explained the Edinburgh phrenology debate in social terms is analysed and rejected.
The idea of an inevitable conflict between science and religion was decisively challenged by John Hedley Brooke in his classic Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives. Almost two decades on, Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives revisits this argument and asks how historians can now impose order on the complex and contingent histories of religious engagements with science. Bringing together leading scholars, this volume explores the history and changing meanings of the categories 'science' and 'religion'; the role of publishing and (...) education in forging and spreading ideas; the connection between knowledge, power and intellectual imperialism; and the reasons for the confrontation between evolution and creationism among American Christians and in the Islamic world. A major contribution to the historiography of science and religion, this book makes the most recent scholarship on this much misunderstood debate widely accessible. (shrink)
The Great Exhibition of 1851 is generally interpreted as a thoroughly secular event that celebrated progress in science, technology, and industry. In contrast to this perception, however, the exhibition was viewed by many contemporaries as a religious event of considerable importance. Although some religious commentators were highly critical of the exhibition and condemned the display of artifacts in the Crystal Palace as giving succor to materialism, others incorporated science and technology into their religious frameworks. Drawing on sermons, tracts, and the (...) religious periodical press, this essay pays close attention to the ways in which science and technology were endowed with providentialist significance and particularly examines the notion of human progress used by a number of Christian writers, especially Congregationalists, who set scientific and technological progress within a teleological religious perspective. This discussion sheds fresh light not only on the Great Exhibition itself but also on the deployment of natural theology in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. (shrink)
When Michael Hunter first publicized the idea of ‘Psychoanalysing Robert Boyle’ I understood that his main aim was to test three competing psychoanalytical theories against the historical evidence provided by the life and work of Robert Boyle. Although this would have been a valuable exercise, and one that the British Society for the History of Science meeting partly engaged, the papers by Brett Kahr, John Clay and Karl Figlio published here raise some far more compelling issues which I shall explore (...) in the ensuing discussion. Before turning to this discussion I offer a few introductory remarks. (shrink)
The book roots corruption in the idea of a departure from conventional standards, and thus offers an account not only of its corrosiveness but also of its malleability and controversiality. In the course of a broadranging exploration, it examines various links between private and public corruption, connecting the latter with other social and political structures.