Bogen and Woodward characterized data as embedded in the context in which they are produced (‘local’) and claims about phenomena as retaining their significance beyond that context (‘nonlocal’). This view does not fit sciences such as biology, which successfully disseminate data via packaging processes that include appropriate labels, vehicles, and human interventions. These processes enhance the evidential scope of data and ensure that claims about phenomena are understood in the same way across research communities. I conclude that the degree of (...) locality of both data and claims about phenomena varies depending on the packaging used to make them travel and on the research setting in which they are used. †To contact the author, please write to: ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, University of Exeter, Byrne House, St. Germans Road, EX4 4PJ Exeter, United Kingdom; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Karen-Sue Taussig: Ordinary Genomes: Science, Citizenship and Genetic Identities Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9150-8 Authors Sabina Leonelli, Department of Sociology and Philosophy, ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342.
This paper aims to identify the key characteristics of model organisms that make them a specific type of model within the contemporary life sciences: in particular, we argue that the term “model organism” does not apply to all organisms used for the purposes of experimental research. We explore the differences between experimental and model organisms in terms of their material and epistemic features, and argue that it is essential to distinguish between their representational scope and representational target. We also examine (...) the characteristics of the communities who use these two types of models, including their research goals, disciplinary affiliations, and preferred practices to show how these have contributed to the conceptualization of a model organism. We conclude that model organisms are a specific subgroup of organisms that have been standardized to fit an integrative and comparative mode of research, and that it must be clearly distinguished from the broader class of experimental organisms. In addition, we argue that model organisms are the key components of a unique and distinctively biological way of doing research using models.Keywords: Experimental organism; Genetics; Model organism; Modeling; Philosophy of biology; Representation. (shrink)
This paper discusses what it means and what it takes to integrate data in order to acquire new knowledge about biological entities and processes. Maureen O’Malley and Orkun Soyer have pointed to the scientific work involved in data integration as important and distinct from the work required by other forms of integration, such as methodological and explanatory integration, which have been more successful in captivating the attention of philosophers of science. Here I explore what data integration involves in more detail (...) and with a focus on the role of data-sharing tools, like online databases, in facilitating this process; and I point to the philosophical implications of focusing on data as a unit of analysis. I then analyse three cases of data integration in the field of plant science, each of which highlights a different mode of integration: inter-level integration, which involves data documenting different features of the same species, aims to acquire an interdisciplinary understanding of organisms as complex wholes and is exemplified by research on Arabidopsis thaliana; cross-species integration, which involves data acquired on different species, aims to understand plant biology in all its different manifestations and is exemplified by research on Miscanthus giganteus; and translational integration, which involves data acquired from sources within as well as outside academia, aims at the provision of interventions to improve human health and is exemplified by research on Phytophtora ramorum. Recognising the differences between these efforts sheds light on the dynamics and diverse outcomes of data dissemination and integrative research; and the relations between the social and institutional roles of science, the development of data-sharing infrastructures and the production of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Community databases have become crucial to the collection, ordering and retrieval of data gathered on model organisms, as well as to the ways in which these data are interpreted and used across a range of research contexts. This paper analyses the impact of community databases on research practices in model organism biology by focusing on the history and current use of four community databases: FlyBase, Mouse Genome Informatics, WormBase and The Arabidopsis Information Resource. We discuss the standards used by the (...) curators of these databases for what counts as reliable evidence, acceptable terminology, appropriate experimental set-ups and adequate materials (e.g., specimens). On the one hand, these choices are informed by the collaborative research ethos characterising most model organism communities. On the other hand, the deployment of these standards in databases reinforces this ethos and gives it concrete and precise instantiations by shaping the skills, practices, values and background knowledge required of the database users. We conclude that the increasing reliance on community databases as vehicles to circulate data is having a major impact on how researchers conduct and communicate their research, which affects how they understand the biology of model organisms and its relation to the biology of other species. (shrink)
Knowledge-making practices in biology are being strongly affected by the availability of data on an unprecedented scale, the insistence on systemic approaches and growing reliance on bioinformatics and digital infrastructures. What role does theory play within data-intensive science, and what does that tell us about scientific theories in general? To answer these questions, I focus on Open Biomedical Ontologies, digital classification tools that have become crucial to sharing results across research contexts in the biological and biomedical sciences, and argue that (...) they constitute an example of classificatory theory. This form of theorizing emerges from classification practices in conjunction with experimental know-how and expresses the knowledge underpinning the analysis and interpretation of data disseminated online. (shrink)
Scientific knowledge production is currently affected by the dissemination of data on an unprecedented scale. Technologies for the automated production and sharing of vast amounts of data have changed the way in which data are handled and interpreted in several scientific domains, most notably molecular biology and biomedicine. In these fields, the activity of data gathering has become increasingly technology-driven, with machines such as next generation genome sequencers and mass spectrometers generating billions of data points within hours, and with little (...) need for human supervision. Given the relative ease and low costs with which datasets can be produced (that is, once a laboratory has been able to afford .. (shrink)
Arabidopsis is currently the most popular and well-researched model organism in plant biology. This paper documents this plant's rise to scientific fame by focusing on two interrelated aspects of Arabidopsis research. One is the extent to which the material features of the plant have constrained research directions and enabled scientific achievements. The other is the crucial role played by the international community of Arabidopsis researchers in making it possible to grow, distribute and use plant specimen that embody these material features. (...) I argue that at least part of the explosive development of this research community is due to its successful standardisation and to the subsequent use of Arabidopsis specimen as material models of plants. I conclude that model organisms have a double identity as both samples of nature and artifacts representing nature. It is the resulting ambivalence in their representational value that makes them attractive research tools for biologists. (shrink)
Scientific classification has long been recognized as involving a specific style of reasoning and doing research, and as occasionally affecting the development of scientific theories. However, the role played by classificatory activities in generating theories has not been closely investigated within the philosophy of science. I argue that classificatory systems can themselves become a form of theory, which I call classificatory theory, when they come to formalize and express the scientific significance of the elements being classified. This is particularly evident (...) in some of the classification practices used in contemporary experimental biology, such as bio-ontologies used to classify genomic data and typologies used to classify “normal” stages of development in developmental biology. In this paper, I explore some characteristics of classificatory theories and ways in which they differ from other types of scientific theories and other components of scientific epistemology, such as models and background assumptions. (shrink)
Hardly any ontological result of modern science is more firmly established than the fact that infrared radiation differs from light only in wavelength; this is part of the modern conception of the continuous spectrum of electromagnetic radiation reaching from radio waves to gamma radiation. Yet, like many such evident truths, the light-infrared unity was an extremely difficult thing to establish. We examine the competing arguments in favour of the unified and pluralistic theories of radiation, as put forward in the first (...) half of the nineteenth century by three of the most important early pioneers of the study of radiation: Herschel, Melloni and Draper. In this part of the paper, we conclude that there were no compelling reasons of observational adequacy to prefer the unified theory to the pluralistic theory. Keywords: Macedonio Melloni; John William Draper; William Herschel; Infrared; Observation; Theory-choice. (shrink)
Quine's Immanuel Kant lectures were delivered in English at Stanford University in 1980 under the title Science and Sensibilia. The English version of the text has never been published. An Italian translation by MicheleLeonelli, La Scienza e I Dati di Senso appeared in 1987. These translations fill an important gap. Wissenschaft und Empfindung strikes me as the best presentation of Quine's physicalistic program.
El tema del hombre ha sido el centro de la reflexión filosófica de los últimos siglos, siendo motivo de debate desde comienzos de la modernidad. El filósofo italiano Michele Federico Sciacca (1908-1975) tuvo conciencia clara de esto, estableciendo que la filosofía debe ser ontología y, sobre todo, ontología del hombre como existente. Esto para él significa, por lo menos, dos cosas: que el autoconocimiento es el punto de partida en el estudio filosófico y que desde el conocimiento del hombre (...) concreto, de la persona humana, podemos entender todo lo real. (shrink)
Michèle Le Dœuff considers the relationship between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir as a paradigmatic case of what she calls an "erotico-theoretical transference" relationship: De Beauvoir devoted herself to Sartre theoretically by adopting his existentialist perspective for the analysis of reality in general and the analysis of women's oppression in particular. The latter is especially strange since Sartre used strongly sexist metaphors and adopted a macho attitude towards women. In her book Hipparchia's Choice, Le Dœuff speaks in this context (...) of "theoretical masculinism." She convincingly shows in this book that Sartre without using images could not have closed his existentialist philosophy: without the feminine drawback he would not have been able to explain why man cannot become god. Sartre not only understands gaining knowledge as a rape of a woman he also fears that the possessed feminine (body) could reverse its position from being dominated to the dominating force by appropriating the masculine through slime. In Being and Nothingness Sartre states that "slime is the revenge of the In-itself. A sickly–sweet, feminine revenge." Despite of the fact that De Beauvoir used Sartre's heterosexist ontology and metaphysics she managed to provide a highly influential depiction of women's condition and offered an original approach to the understanding of selfhood which places woman inside the subject. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant, in ‘What is Orientation in Thinking?’ focuses on reason as the touchstone for speculative thought. The question of how to orient ourselves in thinking is still pressing, particularly if one does not take reason as providing principles for judgment. Hannah Arendt and Michèle Le Dœuff focus on this problem of orientation from a practical point of view and build up a compelling picture of how we can orient our thought. Both take imagination to be central to good judgment, (...) in addition to critical rationality. The project of enriching our imaginary and improving our judgments is an essential one in both ethics and politics, since imagination can either enable creative changes in our thinking or be stymied by pernicious myths. Arendt’s writings offer an account of the significance of the imagination to reliable judgment and suggest ways to avoid the extremes of arrogance and diffidence. Furthermore, Le Dœuff argues in recent work that we should challenge a range of myths in the epistemic imaginary and chart a course that involves hope for the future. I consider how it is possible to enrich the imaginary to overcome damaging myths, on Le Dœuff’s account, by taking political questions, particularly feminist ones, as reference points and also by avoiding the opposites of lack of faith in one’s own judgement and over-confidence. (shrink)
The unthought means that which it is possible to think, but which has not yet been thought, and also what we are prevented from thinking. Philosophical systems can prevent us from thinking otherwise and restrictions on women’s access to knowledge can prevent women from thinking apart from what is prescribed as suitable. The unthought is both what hasn’t been thought and what could be thought if there wasn’t a barrier of some sort. Michèle Le Dœuff directs us towards the unthought (...) as a measure of the extent to which writers on women’s education have allowed the possibility of women’s access to the unthought, not just to received knowledge to date. This unthought is also connected to creativity and originality, and philosophy that is not systematic. In this paper, I elucidate the nature of Michèle Le Dœuff’s project and the structure of her argument in The Sex of Knowing (2003) through the idea of the unthought. (shrink)
In this paper I show how Michèle Le Dœuff’s conception of philosophy as work is central to her articulation of a fresh conception of women’s role in philosophy and philosophy’s relation to other work. In Hipparchia’s Choice (1991, 168) she writes that ‘There is at least a third way of conceiving of philosophy and the history of philosophy: we can regard both as work, and thus as a dynamic, which can lead to and from each other.’ My objective is to (...) clarify this concept of philosophy as work and to show its significance and implications for understanding women’s relation to philosophy and the complexity of Le Dœuff’s thought concerning the nature of freedom and oppression. (shrink)
In _Aspects of Scientific Explanation_ (New York, 1965), Carl Hempel argued that the philosophy of science should focus on objectivist explanation and should not incorporate an account of pragmatic or subjective understanding. The stated aim of this collection of essays is to argue against Hempel's objectivist view by arguing for incorporating accounts of understanding into the philosophy of science and by giving a substantive account of the role of understanding in modeling and in scientific practice. The volume is ambitious and (...) wide ranging, including essays on economics, biology, psychology, and history, among other matters. The essays make a substantive contribution, not only to accounts of scientific understanding, but to debates about methodology in science and about methods in history and philosophy of science. The ambitious reach of the project raises inevitable questions, including a pressing one about the relationship between the subjective and the objective in science - how to distinguish substantive understanding from explanation. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's crisis of 1826 has received a great deal of attention from scholars. This attention results from reflection on the importance of the crisis to Mill's mature thought. Did the crisis signal rejection or revision of Benthamism? Or did it have little or no effect on Mill's view of his intellectual inheritance? Ultimately, an interpretation of the cause and resolution of the crisis is integral to an understanding of the nature of Mill's moral and social philosophy. Scholars, in (...) their zeal to understand Mill's crisis, have suggested various reasons for both the onset of the crisis and the recovery. Yet Mill's own perception of his crisis has often been overlooked or rejected. (shrink)
In this article, I examine Michele Moody-Adams’ critique of the ‘inability thesis’, according to which some cultures make the resources for criticizing injustice ‘unavailable’ to their members. I investigate Moody-Adams’ alternative ‘affected ignorance’ thesis. Using the example of slavery in ancient Greece, I consider two potential candidates for affected ignorance which involve, respectively, ‘unawareness’ and ‘mistaken moral weighing’; in neither, I hold, may one ascribe culpability to those involved.
In the 1970s feminist scholars rediscovered J. S. Mill's writings on sexual equality. The new feminist appraisal confronted traditional Mill scholarship which had tended either to neglect Mill's writings on women or to concentrate on Harriet Taylor's influence on Mill's views on sexual equality. But even the most cursory review of the writings of feminist scholars reveals a lack of consensus.
My essay begins with Michèle Le Doeuff's singular account of the "primal scene" in her own education as a woman, illustrating a universally significant point about the way in which education can differ for men and women: gender difference both shapes and is shaped by the imaginary of a culture as manifest in how texts matter for Le Doeuff. Her primal scene is the first moment she remembers when, while aspiring to think for herself, a prohibition is placed in her (...) reading of literature. Her philosophy teacher - at a boys' school - told the young Michèle that Kant's _Critique of Pure Reason_ was "too difficult" for her to read. In recalling this scene, the older Michèle - now, a woman philosopher - directs her readers to this text by Kant, in order to demonstrate how knowledge has been constrained by the narrative and imagery in the text of a philosopher; similarly, in the texts of others. She finds the central imagery of Kant's text for setting the limits to human knowledge in his account of "the island of understanding," or "land of truth," surrounded by "a stormy sea" of uncertainty; the latter image also retains a seductive appeal, threatening to destroy the confidence of any knower who ventures out beyond the well-marked out island. Moreover, women have often been associated with the dangers at sea beyond the safety of the island, where falsehood and worse reign. I propose that "text matters" here not only for gender issues, but for the postcolonial theory which Le Doeuff's reading of island imagery enhances in western literature and culture. The suggestion is that women in the history of ideas have been more susceptible than men to prohibitions : women's negative education is against going beyond certain boundaries which have been fixed by a generally colonialist culture on the grounds of gender-hierarchies. I stress the significance of confidence in the production of knowledge. A lack or an inhibition of confidence in one's own ability to think critically risks the damaging exclusions of, for example, colonialism and sexism. My aim is to unearth the political biases evident in textual imagery, while also pointing to new epistemic locations, with island-and-sea imagery that transgresses patriarchal prohibition, liberating subjects for confident reading and writing of texts today. (shrink)
Ces deux ouvrages tentent de présenter l'évolution du concept de l'utopie. L'ouvrage de Claude Cohen-Safir voudrait recenser les noms des penseurs européens et américains qu'elle considère comme importants dans la trajectoire des idées utopiques outre Atlantique. On trouve mention, dans ce livre, d'utopistes présents dans l'ouvrage dirigé par Michèle Riot-Sarcey qui s'intéresse davantage aux questions de définition et de méthodologie. Le but de chaque auteur dans ce collectif est aussi..
My aim in this article is to analyze and extend Michèle Le Dœuff’s work on philosophy’s exclusionary practices, examining and enhancing both her diagnosis of the problem and how philosophy might be transformed. I proceed in three steps. First, I briefly outline the main features of Le Dœuff’s account of the reasons for the exclusion of women from philosophy. Le Dœuff’s focus is on the structure of philosophical pedagogy and its implications for the philosophical imaginary. Second, I examine Le Dœuff’s (...) proposals for transforming the imaginary so as to resist exclusionary practices. These suggestions involve the introduction of an original understanding of plurality in philosophy. However, Le Dœuff’s proposals are... (shrink)
Michèle Roberts: Female Genius and the Theology of an English Novelist Since Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex in 1949, feminist analysis has tended to assume that the conditions of male normativity—reducing woman to the merely excluded "Other" of man—holds true in the experience of all women, not the least, women in the context of Christian praxis and theology. Beauvoir's powerful analysis—showing us how problematic it is to establish a position outside patriarchy's dominance of our conceptual fields—has helped to (...) explain the resilience of sexism and forms of male violence that continue to diminish and destroy women's lives because they cannot be seen as questionable. It has also, I would argue, had the unintended consequence of intensifying the sense of limitation, so that it becomes problematic to account for the work and lives of effective, innovative and responsible women in these contexts. In order to address this problematic issue, I use the life and work of novelist Michèle Roberts, as a case study in female genius within an interdisciplinary field, in order to acknowledge the conditions that have limited a singular woman's literary and theological aspirations but also to claim that she is able to give voice to something creative of her own.The key concept of female genius within this project draws on Julia Kristeva's notion of being a subject without implicitly excluding embodiment and female desire as in normative male theology, or in notions of genius derived from Romanticism. Roberts' work as a writer qualifies her as female genius in so far as it challenges aspects of traditional Christianity, bringing to birth new relationships between theological themes and scriptural narratives without excluding her singular female desires and pleasures as a writer. This paper—as part of a more inclusive, historical survey of the work of women writers crossing the disciplinary boundaries between literature and Christian theology over the last several centuries also asks whether, in order to do proper justice to the real and proven limitations imposed on countless women in these fields across global and historical contexts, we need, at the same time, to reduce the Christian tradition to something that is always antithetical or for which women can take absolutely no credit or bear no responsibility. (shrink)
For Michele Tosini, the baptism of Christ has profound allusions to Christ's suffering and death. In the Baptism of Christ and Temptations, Tosini is creative in his placement of the temptation narratives and in his selection of the Lukan account.