Listed below are forthcoming events in Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology.

See also all events in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies.

Any college staff or postgraduates may always attend. Anyone else should contact the department or the centre in question.

WhenTimeDescriptionLocationAdd to Calendar
6 May 201415:00

Krithika Srinivasan (University of Exeter). Caring for collectives: Biopower in wildlife conservation.

This Paper explores the complicated manners in which animal wellbeing is constructed and pursued in contemporary wildlife conservation. Using insights from Foucault's work on biopolitics to examine turtle conservation in India, it offers an account of conservation as population politics, questioning the entanglement of harm and care that infuses this space of more-than human social change. In doing this, the paper elaborates the concept of agential subjectification in order to track the mechanisms that underlie the asymmetric circulation of biopower in human-animal interactions and to critically reflect on present-day manifestations of the 'will to improve'. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
12 May 201415:00

Dr Julian Kieverstein, U of Amsterdam Life-Mind Continuity and the Limits of Mechanistic Explanation.

Abstract: The starting point for my paper will be a debate about the limits of mechanistic explanation in neuroscience (and in the biological sciences more generally). Proponents of dynamical systems approaches to cognitive science have argued that brain processes exhibit system level dynamical properties that resist description in mechanistic terms (Silberstein & Chemero 2010; 2013). Neural systems are made up of component parts that systematically and continuously affect each other in a nonlinear fashion. Moreover, oscillations, feedback loops and recurrent connections play an essential role in understanding system-level, network properties in brains. Systems exhibiting these properties do not admit of functional decomposition and localization of functions to components parts that are the signatures of mechanistic explanation. Defenders of mechanistic explanation (Craver, Kaplan, Bechtel) have responded that a system can exhibit the type of emergent behaviours that make it resistant to localisation and decomposition, and still be susceptible to mechanistic explanation. Ill focus on the recent arguments of Bechtel in my talk (Bechtel 2008; forthcoming). He has been arguing that the lesson to be drawn from the arguments of the dynamists is that we need to update our view of biological mechanisms. In particular we must view biological mechanisms as functioning in the context of dynamically, active, living systems. This has led Bechtel to agree with dynamicists that the defining properties of living systems such as self-organisation, circular causality and autopoiesis are also the defining properties of cognitive systems. I will follow Godfrey-Smith and others in labeling this the life-mind continuity thesis. Some dynamicists (e.g. those defending an enactive theory of cognition) have argued that the life-mind continuity thesis means embracing a form of teleology that is unacceptable to the mechanist (Thompson 2007). The life-mind continuity thesis points to the limits of mechanistic explanation. The question I want to take up in my talk is whether one can endorse a life-mind continuity thesis without accepting this further claim that self-producing, self-organising beings make living systems fundamentally different from machines. I will pursue this question through the example of work in systems neuroscience that points to the interdependence of emotion and cognitive processing in the brain. I will suggest that this interdependence is naturally interpreted as supporting a life-mind continuity thesis but it can also be naturally understood by appeal to Bechtels concept of active mechanisms. Full details
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19 May 201415:00

Dr Adam Toon (Exeter), Situating Science

SPA Research Seminar: Dr Adam Toon (Exeter), Situating Science Full details
Amory A239ABAdd this to your calendar
20 May 201415:00

Speaker: Mathias Grote, Technische Universitt Berlin - Neither natural, nor species? Ways of classifying in 20th century microbiology

Bacteria have often been considered a tough case for biological classification due to their variability and a lack of morphological characters. Moreover, an accepted method for a phylogenetic (evolutionary) classification has arisen only recently on the basis of microbial genomics. As microbiology has been quite a successful field of science since the days of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, one may ask how microbiologists have actually classified their objects before the age of DNA sequencing. In this talk, I will follow the development of microbial classification closely on the level of experimental practices (culturing techniques, diagnostic tests), the rules and conventions needed to implement specific ways of classifying (nomenclature, manuals), as well as the influence of fields such as botany, medical bacteriology or statistics. It will become clear that bacterial classification was (and probably still is) a scientific activity that has established the grid of nature between the laboratory, clinic and the field through carefully negotiating novel results with existing data. Moreover, there has never been any consensus on the mode of doing it right.Non-phylogenetic modes of classifying bacteria (such as based on overall similarity or the organisms ecology) have been important for most of the 20th century and even nowadays, the status of DNA-based phylogeny for classification remains disputed. This allows me to ask the philosophical question of the relevance and place of evolution in biological classification. Is a phylogenetic classification the only scientific way of putting bacteria in order? Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
27 May 201415:00

Speaker: Pierre-Olivier Methot

Further details will be available shortly. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
2 June 201415:00

Prof Sarah Franklin (Cambridge University), Title TBC

SPA Research Seminar: Prof Sarah Franklin (Cambridge University), Title TBC Full details
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9 June 201415:00

Dr Matthew Smith (Glasgow Caledonian University) - 'Hyperactive around the World? The History of ADHD in Global Perspective'

A recent study out of Brazil has claimed that the global rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is 5.29%. Any variation in such rates in specific studies, argued the authors, was likely due to methodological problems, rather than differences in the actual distribution of the disorder. According to the authors, such findings give weight to the disorder's 'identity as a bona fide mental disorder ... as opposed to a social construction'. Such reports also strengthen the flawed notion that ADHD is a universal and essential disorder, prevalent in human populations regardless of cultural context, and consistently represented throughout history by the same characteristics.While it is true that the concept of ADHD has spread from the USA, where it emerged during the late 1950s, to most corners of the globe, as suggested by the membership of the ADHD World Federation, such superficial pronouncements mask profound differences in how ADHD has been interpreted in different countries and regions. In this paper, I will compare ADHD's emergence in a number of jurisdictions, including the USA, UK, Scandinavia, China and India, arguing that, while ADHD can be considered a global phenomenon, it remains very much a product of local historical, cultural and political factors. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
23 June 201411:00

Symbiology Workshop III. Speakers - Prof Hans-Joerg Rheinberger (Max Planck Institute, Berlin), Prof Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford), Prof Clare Hanson (University of Southampton), Prof Steve Hughes (University of Exeter)

Recent developments in molecular biology imply that classic distinctions between nature and nurture or biology and culture are not applicable to the human ecological niche. Research in epigenetics shows that the effects of culture on nature go all the way down to the gene and up to the stratosphere, and the effects of biology on culture are similarly inextricable. Living systems almost invariably involve the interaction of many kinds of organisms with a diversity of technologies. The anthropocenethe age of human cultures and technologies interacting with natural environmentschanges rapidly, and to understand and manage its functioning requires perspectives from each domain. We propose the study of Symbiology, the post-organismic study of relation. The kinds of relations we study include mutualism, parasitism, domination, recognition, separation, solubility, symmetric mutuality (relations among equals in power or status), asymmetric mutuality (relations among unequals such as parents/offspring, teacher/pupil, human/nonhuman animals), reciprocity, alienation, isolation, autonomy, and so forth, and these relations are discernible throughout nature and all cultures. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar