Past events

Current events can be found here.

WhenTimeDescriptionLocationAdd to Calendar
2 August 201811:00

"The future(s) of open science", Philip Mirowski (University of Notre Dame)

Almost everyone is enthusiastic that ‘open science’ is the wave of the future. Yet when one looks seriously at the flaws in modern science that the movement proposes to remedy, the prospect for improvement in at least four areas are unimpressive. This suggests that the agenda is effectively to re-engineer science along the lines of platform capitalism, under the misleading banner of opening up science to the masses. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
25 July 201818:30

WCCEH Event: An alternative to diagnosis?

This event will explore the role and nature of diagnosis in mental health and critically consider an alternative model to conventional diagnosis: The Power Threat Meaning Framework. Full details
Digital Humanities LaboratoryAdd this to your calendar
11 June 201815:30

"Phage therapy, or how to think about the complex assemblages of humans and microbes" Dr Charlotte Brives (Bordeaux)

Bacteriophages (or phages) are viruses that have bacteria as their hosts. Discovered a century ago, and rapidly used as therapeutic agents to treat bacterial infections, they were nevertheless eclipsed by the massive rise of antibiotics from the 1940s onward. Faced with the major public health scourge of antimicrobial resistance, some scientists and physicians are attempting to rekindle and develop therapeutic phages, encountering considerable difficulties along the way. This talk will develop the idea that phage therapy and antibiotic therapy rely on two radically distinct conceptions of infectiology, and of medicine more generally. It traces the way researchers and physicians are actively challenging dominant sociocultural narratives about our becoming with microbes. As such they are engaged in the production of a new narrative about humans, viruses and bacteria, a complex story that invites us to rethink our relationships with microbes, the environment and living things more widely. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
11 May 201814:00

Guest speaker - Professor Charis Thompson: On the Posthuman in the Age of Automation and Augmentation

Charis Thompson is Chancellor's Professor, Gender and Women's Studies and the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society, UC Berkeley, and Professor, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics. She is the author of Making Parents; The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies (MIT Press 2007), which won the Rachel Carson Prize from the Society of the Social Studies of Science, and of Good Science: The Ethical Choreography of Stem Cell Research (MIT Press 2013). Her book in progress, Getting Ahead, revisits classic questions on the relation between science and democracy in an age of populism and inequality, focusing particularly on genome editing and AI. Full details
IAIS Building/LT1Add this to your calendar
26 March 201815:30

"Turning Science into Legal Data: Where is the Invention in Patent Law?" Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent)

Egenis seminar series. This talk will explore the implications of patent law's digitisation on the understanding of scientific and technological inventions. Patent law is becoming increasingly datafied, both in terms of its internal workings as well as its social information, through interlinked databases. The result is that a patented invention, a scientific and/or technological artefact, is rendered into legal data. I probe the place of scientific knowledge in such a setting and show that the datafication of science and law results in different kind of calculability, namely a financial one. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
21 - 23 March 20189:00

Process Biology: Final Conference of the ERC Project ‘A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology’ Prof John Dupre

The ERC-funded project ‘A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology’ (2013-2018) has sought to rethink central issues in the philosophy of biology by elaborating an ontology for biology that takes full account of the processual nature of living systems. The goal has been to develop a concept of process adequate for addressing the multiple levels of interacting processes at different time scales characteristic of living systems. All biological entities can be analysed as stabilised processes relative to an appropriate time scale, and this conception provides a better understanding of familiar biological pluralisms (about genes, organisms, species, etc..) in terms of different ways in which distinct scientific practices intersect with biological processes. A process perspective has been used to shed light on a number of traditional philosophical problems, including individuation, classification, persistence, explanation, essentialism, and reductionism. It has also addressed the consequences of a process perspective for particular areas of contemporary biological and biomedical research. This final conference will present the main findings of the project and explore the broader consequences of a process ontology for biology, as well as suggest further avenues of future research in the philosophy of biology and metaphysics. Full details
The Royal Institution of Great Britain, LondonAdd this to your calendar
19 March 201815:30

"Tasting like a cheese. Lactic ferments, cheese specificity and the making of the dairy industry" Elise Tancoigne (University of Geneva)

Egenis seminar series. There are just few dairy breeds, yet there are hundreds of different cheeses. Then what makes the specificity of a cheese? In addition to dairy breeds, pasture, environmental conditions, cheesemakers’ practices, and lactic ferments have been among the most frequently cited sources of cheese specificity. Here I will explore how lactic ferments came to be considered as an essential determinant of cheese specificity and terroir in France, since the introduction of microbes in our understanding of fermentations in the mid-nineteenth century, and its relationship with the making of the dairy industry. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
7 March 201817:00

POSTPONED: "Animals and the Shaping of Modern Medicine" Dr Angela Cassidy (University of Exeter)

TO BE RESCHEDULED. Book Launch event. Egenis, CRPR (Centre for Rural Policy Research) and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health will be co-hosting a book launch event for “Animals and the Shaping of Modern Medicine: One Health and its Histories” co-authored by Abigail Woods (King’s College London), Michael Bresalier (Swansea University), Angela Cassidy (University of Exeter, CRPR/Egenis) and Rachel Mason Dentinger (University of Utah). Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
26 February 201815:30

POSTPONED - Dr Sarah Chaney (Queen Mary University of London)

To be re-scheduled. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
19 February 201815:30

"Trees as keys, ladders, maps: A revisionist history of early systematic trees" Petter Hellström (Uppsala University, Sweden)

Egenis seminar series. In recent years, there has been a profusion of studies charting the history of tree diagrams in natural history and biological systematics. Whereas some of these have focused on one or a few arboreal schemes, the majority have presented long histories, spanning centuries and occasionally even millennia. Early or ‘pre-Darwinian’ trees typically feature in these histories as precursors to phylogenetics; sometimes even as the ‘roots’ of later trees. Together with colleagues in France, I have previously argued that one of the most frequently cited early tree diagrams, Augustin Augier’s ‘Botanical Tree’ (1801), cannot in any reasonable way be made to play the role of forerunner to later, evolutionary trees—even as the author pitched his tree of natural families in explicitly genealogical terms. In this talk, I push the argument further by proposing an alternative reading of the historical record. Starting from Augier’s tree and other early examples, I argue that ‘pre-evolutionary’ trees should be understood less in terms of what came after, and more in terms of what came before. Attending to the functions they performed as keys, ladders, and maps, I argue that early trees were logical, rhetorical, and mnemonic devices drawn to imagine perfect, static order. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
12 February 201815:30

"History of continuous culture techniques and their promise of directed evolution" Gabriele Gramelsberger (RWTH Aachen)

Egenis seminar series. Continuous culture techniques were developed in the early twentieth century to replace cumbersome studies of cell growth in batch cultures. Devices — called "automatic syringe mechanism," "turbidostat," "chemostat," "bactogen," and "microbial auxanometer" — have been designed by Jacques Monod, Aron Novick and Leo Szilard and other scientists. With these devices cell growth came under the external control of the experimenters and thus accessible for metabolically and genetically studying organisms but also for developing a mathematical theory of growth kinetics. The paper explores the historical development of continuous culture devices. It further discusses contemporary designs of continuous culture techniques realizing a specific event-based flow algorithm able to simulate directed evolution and produce artificial cells and microorganisms. This current development is seen as an alternative approach to today's synthetic biology. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
5 February 201815:30

Liz Irvine (Cardiff University) “Interaction, Minds and Meaning in Pragmatics”

SPA Seminar series Full details
Amory C417Add this to your calendar
29 January 201815:30

"Culture, ‘mental’ illness, and embodiment: Survey evidence of helpful and harmful effects of fiction-reading for eating disorders" Dr Emilly Troscianko (University of Oxford)

Egenis seminar series. The healing power of literature is far more often assumed than tested—either that, or ignored as irrelevant to the serious medical business of curing illness. Neither attitude is helpful. Cultural factors can clearly be relevant to mental health, and the treatment-resistance of many mental illnesses, combined with the high financial cost of many existing therapies, makes the idea of using books to heal people an attractive one. But although fiction and poetry seem to be used fairly often in therapeutic practice, so far there is very little systematic understanding of what actually works and what doesn’t for different conditions and individuals. I take eating disorders as a case study, and report on evidence from a large-scale survey conducted with the charity Beat. We found that reading some kinds of fiction is perceived to have therapeutic effects, but that other kinds can be highly detrimental to mental and physical health—in particular those texts which thematise eating disorders, which seem often to be sought out by sufferers specifically with the aim of exacerbating their illness. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
22 January 201815:30

"Disturbances of We-Intentionality in Schizophrenia and Autism: An Initial Comparison" Dr Alessandro Salice (University College Cork)

Egenis seminar series. Main aim of this talk is to develop a comparison between the disturbed social behaviour in schizophrenia (SZ) and the disruption of sociality to be found in, especially, severe forms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
10 January 201815:30

"Objectivity and the reconstruction of life’s past" Edna Suárez-Díaz (The National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Egenis seminar series. Since the 1960s, the field of molecular systematics has been transformed by the mathematization and automation of criteria and decision-making. Its goal is the objective reconstruction of phylogenetic relations among biological species, also formulated as the elimination of subjectivity (E. Suárez-Díaz y Anaya-Muñoz 2008; Suárez y Anaya 2009). The molecularization of evolutionary biology, and the introduction of huge data-bases containing sequences of DNA and proteins, along with an increased use of computers and mathematical algorithms made this process possible. In this seminar, I will briefly describe the historical context for this “methodological anxiety”, and describe some of the statistical tools devised to solve the several problems arising in the reconstruction of life’s past. In a recent paper written with Victor Anaya we also argue that attention to the philosophical disputes between the taxonomic schools of cladism, evolutionary systematics, and phenetics has acted as an obstacle for a narrative focused on practices, and a historical and epistemological reflection on objectivity as practiced in a localized scientific field. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
8 January 201815:30

Francois Ribac (Université de Bourgogne) “Performing Arts and Music in the Anthropocene Era: issues and perspectives”

SPA Seminar series Full details
Laver Building LT3Add this to your calendar
11 December 201715:30

“What is an Ethical Autism Research Culture?” Chloe Silverman (Drexel University, USA)

Egenis seminar series. There is currently little formal guidance for autism researchers seeking to design studies in an ethically conscientious fashion, despite a history of research designs that have incorporated potentially harmful assumptions about the causes and consequences of autism. Published work on autism research ethics has focused primarily on research conduct and responsible communication of findings, with less focus on research design ethics. This persists despite lively conversations and substantive recommendations on this topic from self-advocates, as well as suggestive findings on how research design can be affected by a range of community engagement practices. This talk describes a project still in its early stages that aims to use stakeholder consultation to generate a set of guidelines for ethical autism research design. By comparing the perspectives and publications of researchers who do and do not use forms of community engagement, the project will evaluate whether and how such practices affect research design ethics. One goal of this project is to generate evidence of how community engagement (as one type of ethical research design practice) might benefit both stakeholders and researchers, yielding findings that may be both more innovative and more robust. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
6 December 201715:30

"Put more Ph into a biomedical Phd!" Prof Giovanni Boniolo (University of Ferrara, Italy)

Egenis seminar series. Please note that this is a Wednesday and not the customary Monday. - An increasing number of biomedical scientists and clinicians are asking for more philosophy. Are they in love with philosophy? And are the philosophers ready to provide them with the philosophy they need and ask for? Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
4 December 201715:30

Matt Dawson (University of Glasgow) “Morality as Rebellion: Towards a Partial Reconciliation of Bauman and Durkheim”

SPA Seminar series Full details
Amory B105Add this to your calendar
20 November 201715:30

"From A Glance to Insider View: Researching English Football Fans" Dr Jessica Richards (University of Sydney, Australia)

Egenis seminar series. Gaining access to the research field has received much academic attention, however little work has focused on the difficulties researchers face once in the field. This presentation proposes that by outlining the multiple stages of the fieldwork journey, a more reflexive approach to fieldwork and the research process can be attained. Drawing on a three-year ethnographic study of the match-day experiences of the fans of Everton Football Club, this presentation recounts how my position in my research community changed as the research developed. This presentation advocates that researchers should be more critical of their position in the field of their research, and should seek to identify this more clearly in their scholarship. This in turn would enable for more discussions of how each stage of the fieldwork journey affected the scope and overall findings of the research. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
13 November 201715:30

"Embryo in Silico: Time-lapse Embryo Imaging and the Datafication of Reproduction" Lucy Van De Wiel (University of Cambridge)

Egenis seminar series. Recent years have seen the emergence of in silico reproduction alongside the familiar in vitro reproduction (eg. IVF), as increasingly large and automatically-generated data sets have come to play an instrumental role in the technological reproduction of human life. This datafication of reproduction is evident at all stages of the reproductive process, whether in fertility apps for timing conception, genetic sequencing for predictive fertility testing, or time-lapse embryo imaging for selecting embryos. In this talk, I will zoom in on the latter case of time-lapse embryo imaging, a new data-intensive method of embryo selection that integrates reproductive and data technologies to decide which embryos will be implanted in the womb in IVF cycles. The presentation will analyse the new sets of images and data flows that capture the embryo in silico and discuss how patients and professionals increasingly make reproductive decisions in conjunction with digital technologies. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
6 November 201715:30

Andreas Kapardis (University of Cyprus) “The Jury Criminal Trial: A Concept Fraught with Contradictions and an Uncertain Future? A Psycho-Legal Perspective”

SPA Seminar series Full details
Amory B105Add this to your calendar
18 October 201716:30

Stephen Thorpe "'Art worlds' and 'art fields' in relation to his own practice and the contemporary London art scene"

As part of the MA in Cultural Sociology, artist Stephen Thorpe will be coming to the University of Exeter on Wednesday, 18th October, 2017. Stephen will be presenting on the subjects of 'art worlds' and 'art fields' in relation to his own practice and the contemporary London art scene more generally. This is an excellent opportunity for postgraduate students based in sociology, philosophy and anthropology, to gain insights into the nature of art markets, artistic practice, aesthetics and creativity more broadly, from the perspective of the artist. All are welcome. A note on the artist: Referred to by art dealer and patron Charles Saatchi as 'one to watch' and regarded as one of Britain's up and coming contemporary artists, examples of stephen's work can be found at the following: Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
16 October 201715:30

"The Dynamic Present and the Primacy of Process" Antony Galton (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. The so called "at-at" theory of change and motion states that there is nothing more to change than objects' possessing different properties at different times, and nothing more to motion than their being in different positions at different times. In this theory the history of the world is reduced to a succession of individually static world-states which take it in turns to be present. In most versions of the theory, in order to accommodate continuity of change and motion, it is assumed that the present times at which such static world-states hold are instants. The picture of reality thus presented favours an ontology in which the first-class entities are substances, or objects, which act as the bearers of the static properties and positions whose different values at different instants constitute the changes and motions that those entities undergo. A persistent, if minority, strain in the history of philosophy, however, has held that the first-class inhabitants of the ontology should be processes rather than objects. This idea raises problems for the traditional instant-based model of time, since processes, being inherently temporally extended, can only exist over intervals, not at instants. This paper draws on the ideas of such philosophers as Whitehead, James, and Bergson to explore the ramifications of the idea that the present should be treated as an interval whose contents are inherently dynamic in nature, the dynamic present of the title. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
9 October 201715:30

“An Ethical Approach to Genomic Analysis and Data Sharing” Caroline Wright (UoE)

Egenis seminar series. Large-scale DNA sequencing is increasingly being used in research and clinical care. This talk will argue that, in order to maximise the benefits of genomic medicine and minimise the potential harms, making accurate molecular diagnoses for individuals with disease should be the focus of genome sequencing. In this talk, I will outline some of the key lessons learnt from the UK-wide Deciphering Developmental Disorders study, a unique partnership between the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and all the NHS Regional Genetics Services across the UK and Ireland. By sequencing all the genes of affected children and their parents, and developing novel methods for responsible and effective data processing and sharing, we have been able to provide a diagnose to thousands of families and discover dozens of new disease-causing genes. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
18 September 201715:30

Annemarie Jutel (Victoria University of Wellington) “To be a Sociology of Diagnosis or Not to Be: Disciplines,

SPA Seminar series Full details
Amory B105Add this to your calendar
11 September 201715:30

"Phenomenological Bioethics: Medical Technologies, Human Suffering, and the Meaning of Being Alive" Prof Fredrik Svenaeus (Södertörn University, Sweden)

Egenis seminar series. Emerging medical technologies are presently changing our views on human nature and what it means to be alive, healthy, and leading a good life. Reproductive technologies, genetic diagnosis, organ transplantation, and psychopharmacological drugs all raise existential questions that need to be tackled by way of philosophical analysis. Yet questions regarding the meaning of life have been strangely absent from medical ethics so far. In this talk – based on a newly released book of mine – I will try to show how phenomenology, the main player in the continental tradition of philosophy, can contribute to bioethical issues. Phenomenological bioethics may be viewed as an opportunity to scrutinize and thicken the rather thin philosophical anthropology implicitly present in contemporary mainstream bioethics. The concept of personhood in such an analysis may be substantiated by an exploration of phenomena such as embodiment, suffering, empathy, responsibility, and instrumentalization, drawing on philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Edith Stein, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Hans Jonas, and Charles Taylor. In the talk I will present the outline of the book and give some examples of how to approach and develop a phenomenological bioethics. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
6 - 9 September 2017

EPSA17 - European Philosophy of Science Association Conference

Exeter will be hosting the 2017 conference. The conference will feature contributed papers, symposia, and posters covering all subfields of the philosophy of science, and will bring together a large number of philosophers of science from Europe and overseas. We are also welcoming philosophically minded scientists and investigators from other areas outside the philosophy of science, for example as participants in a symposium, and we particularly welcome submissions from women, ethnic minorities, and any other underrepresented group in the profession. Full details
Forum Alumni Auditorium LTAdd this to your calendar
12 June 201715:30

POSTPONED. Thinking Like a Cheese: Towards an Ecological Understanding of the Reproduction of Knowledge in Contemporary Artisan Cheesemaking - Harry West (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. This seminar has been postponed until the next academic year. Date to be advise. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
22 May 201715:30

"Structure vs. Process: A Reconciliation (?)" Steven French (University of Leeds)

Egenis seminar series - According to ‘ontic’ structural realism, the world is structure and physical objects are ‘nodes’ of such structure. I have tried to ‘cash out’ that claim in terms of the relevant laws and symmetries of physics, interpreted via certain devices taken from current metaphysics. I have also tried to extend this stance to biology. Such a move can be contrasted with the ‘processual’ approach that takes certain processes as fundamental and reduces biological entities to be nexuses of such processes. Here I shall sketch the similarities and differences between these two accounts and try to indicate how they might be reconciled. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
15 May 201715:30

"Publics, Sciences, Citizens: Triviality, Aesthetics and Abduction" Mike Michael (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. In this exploratory paper I consider the differences between scientific citizenship and citizen science in relation to the fields of Public Understanding of Science (PUS) and Public Engagement with Science and Technology (PEST). The paper diverges from the usual focus on elements of technoscience that are, in one way or another, controversial or topical. Instead, the paper focuses on the apparently ‘trivial’: taking inspiration from recent process sociology, the paper examines the value of addressing non-controversial and sub-topical science and technology. As such two case studies are presented: the multiple ontologies of the nanotechnology Vantablack, and the ‘citizen science’ entailed in the YouTube genre of destroying i-Phones. Along the way, the paper proposes roles for ‘aesthetics’ and ‘abduction’ in the unfolding of the research event. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
10 May 201713:00

2017 SPA PGR Conference Keynote: Professor Alesandra Tanesini (University of Cardiff): Collective amnesia and epistemic injustice

Abstract: Communities often respond to traumatic events in their histories by destroying objects that would cue memories of a past they wish to forget and by building artefacts which memorialise a new version of their history. Hence, it would seem, communities cope with change by spreading memory ignorance so to allow new memories to take root. In this talk, I offer an account of some aspects of this phenomenon and of its epistemological consequences. The talk has three aims. The first is to show that the formation and maintenance of collective memories requires that other events are to some extent forgotten. All shared memories, including those which are shared by a large group, are the result of mechanisms that transform initially divergent recollections of the past into an agreed account. Those memories which do not survive this process so that they are excluded from the shared version become forgotten through neglect. The second is to argue that sometimes collective mnemonic silence or forgetfulness is not a mere by-product of the formation of memory. Instead, cognitive effort is specifically directed toward bringing about ignorance. Ignorance, in these instances, is a perverse kind of success. I reserve the term ‘collective amnesia’ for collective forgetfulness of this kind. The final aim is to demonstrate that collective forgetfulness is harmful. Here, I focus exclusively on the harms caused by its contribution to undermining the intellectual self-trust of some members of the community. Further, since some of these harms are also wrongs, collective amnesia contributes to causing epistemic injustices. Full details
IAIS Building/LT1Add this to your calendar
9 - 10 May 20179:30

2017 SPA PGR Conference

Student-led conference providing a platform to showcase the wide range of postgraduate research done in SPA. Presentations will bring together themes from the medical, social, and natural sciences as well as philosophy. Full details
IAIS Building/LT1Add this to your calendar
8 May 201715:30

Roman Frigg (LSE) “How Models Represent”

SPA Research seminar Full details
Laver Building LT3Add this to your calendar
3 April 201715:30

Isaac Ariail Reed (Virginia) “Chains of Power and Their Representation”

SPA Research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
30 March 201719:00

“The end of the world?': 2017 Existential Risk symposium"

Dr Adrian Currie will be joining us from the University of Cambridge to discuss Existential Risk with Professor John Dupré, director of Egenis, and Dr Sabina Leonelli, co-director of Egenis. Dr Currie is a postdoctoral researcher from CSER, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. CSER is an interdisciplinary research centre within the University of Cambridge dedicated to the study and mitigation of human extinction-level risks that may emerge from technological advances and human activity. They state on their website the 'aim to combine key insights from the best minds across disciplines to tackle the greatest challenge of the 21st century: safely harnessing our rapidly-developing technological power... to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future.' Full details
Alumni AuditoriumAdd this to your calendar
27 March 201715:30

Jackie Leach Scully (Newcastle) “On Strange Ground: Narrative Vulnerability and Identity Repair”

SPA Research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
20 March 201714:30

"Digital Infrastructure Innovation Dynamics, Computing in the Small, in the Large, and at Scale" Dr Carsten Sorensen (LSE)

Much data has sped through personal, local, and global data networks since Gore and Bangemann in the 1990 summarised the emergent importance of the Internet in terms of “The Information Superhighway” and “The Global Information Society”. It is difficult to succinctly characterise the changes global data communications have undergone since Tim Berners-Lee published the World Wide Web standard in 1991, and the first widely available Web Browser, Mosaic, followed in 1993. This talk will pragmatically summarise the architecture that has emerged in recent years as one combining: 1) Computing in the small through an expanding mobile and ubiquitous device ecology; 2) Computing in the large network connectivity through machine-to-machine, personal, local, and global digital infrastructures; and 3) Computing at scale, where powerful data-centres engage in heavy-lifting computational tasks utilising the exponential growth in processing power, reduction in storage costs, and increasingly complex capabilities. Full details
Streatham Court 0.28Add this to your calendar
13 March 201715:30

"On Being Schizophrenic: Diagnosis and the Medicalisation of Experience" Dr Ashley Tauchert

Egenis semainar series. In this talk I reflect on the meaning and implications of my diagnosis of schizophrenia in 2011. I consider the process of this diagnosis as a performative act which brings a certain kind of subjective experience under the authority and control of the medical model. Working through the ambiguity about being schizophrenic/ having schizophrenia I consider the possibility that medicalisation might erase the validity of psychosis as a limit experience. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
27 February 201715:30

CANCELLED - Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent)

To be resecheduled. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
20 February 201715:30

Rachel Cooper (Lancaster) “The Normal and the Pathological”

SPA Research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
13 February 201715:30

"Antigone's forensic DNA database. The Politics of 'futile' technologies & the search for the disappeared in Mexico" Ernesto Schwartz-Marin (Durhan University)

Egenis seminar series. Antigone’s tragedy and the search for the disappeared has been aesthetically and politically appropriated by artists and activists alike in Mexico and Latin America (Weiner 2015) both as a site ‘for radical political thought’ (Chanter 2010:22) as well as a ‘source of inspiration’ to ‘give voice to the disappeared, defend those who died, and demand a proper burial as an act of defiance, mourning, and remembrance’ (Poulson 2012:48-9). Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
23 January 201715:30

"Old cases as new research objects: On biomedical uses of the past" Lara Keurk (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Egenis seminar series. The talk scrutinizes the ways in which histological preparations and medical files of patients that died long ago have been re-used as biomedical resources. It takes the re-assessment of the first cases of Alzheimer’s disease as a case study to follow the scientists’ iterative meandering between learning from the present about the past and learning from the past about the present. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
20 January 201714:00

ESRC SWDTP Studentships Info Day

An afternoon to experience and learn more about what Social Sciences and International Studies Postgraduate Research in Exeter can offer. Full details
Building:One Pearson Teaching RoomAdd this to your calendar
5 December 201615:30

Marcel Boumans (Utrecht) “Science Outside the Laboratory”

SPA Research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
29 November 20169:30

"Breaking Boundaries Symposium" Andy Clark (University of Edinburgh) and John Dupre (University of Exeter)

“Where does the mind end and the rest of the world begin?” This question opens a now classic article, published in 1998, in which philosophers Andy Clark & Dave Chalmers advanced the idea that the mind is not realized just by the brain, but can sometimes “extend” into the world. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
28 November 201615:30

Andy Clark (Edinburgh) "Busting Out – Two Takes on the Predictive Brain"

SPA research seminar - In this talk, I contrast two ways of understanding the emerging vision of the predictive brain. One way (Conservative Predictive Processing) depicts the predictive brain as an insulated inner arena populated by richly reconstructive representations. The other (Radical Predictive Processing) stresses processes of circular causal influence linking brain, body, and world. Such processes deliver fast and frugal, action-involving solutions of the kind highlighted by work in robotics and embodied cognition. What remains, if this radical option is correct, of the traditional picture of inner states bearing familiar representational contents? The answer is not clear-cut. Full details
Amory C501Add this to your calendar
21 November 201615:30

"The emotional life of the laboratory dog: W. Horsley Gantt and the conditional reflex method" Edmund Ramsden (Queen Mary, University of London)

Egenis seminar series. Inspired by the work of Ivan Pavlov, and seeking to establish an experimental psychopathology, from the 1920s, American psychiatrists, physiologists and psychologists began to turn to the animal laboratory. My talk will focus on the use of the conditional reflex method for the study of “experimental neurosis” in dogs by W. Horsley Gantt at Johns Hopkins University. It will explore the ways in which Gantt struggled with, and ultimately reinterpreted, the persistent problems of emotional reaction and idiosyncratic behaviour among his research animals. While both the animal laboratory and the conditioning method are more commonly associated with the predictable, the general and the uniform, they provided Gantt with the means to build an experimental psychiatry focused upon the problem of individual difference, and mount a sustained critique of over-generalization and excessive determinism in science. A focus on Gantt’s laboratory work opens the door to a more complicated understanding of the reception and interpretation of the Pavlovian method, and to the important role played by non-human animals, individually conceived and personally affected and interconnected, in the behavioural, medical and life sciences. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
18 November 201616:00

"The Monist entitled: Fiction, Depiction, and the Complementarity Thesis in Art and Science" Elay Shech (University of Auburn)

In this paper, I appeal to a distinction made by David Lewis between identifying and determining semantic content in order to defend a complementarity thesis expressed by Anjan Chakravartty. The thesis states that there is no conflict between information and functional views of scientific modeling and representation. I then apply the complementarity thesis to well-received theories of pictorial representation, thereby stressing the fruitfulness of drawing an analogy between the nature of fictions in art and in science. I end by attending to the problem of depicting impossible fictions. It is suggested that progress can be made by understanding the role of impossible fictions in science, namely, allowing researchers to probe into the possible structure and representational capacities of scientific theory. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
14 November 201615:30

"Transnational “Truth machine”? Challenges of forensic DNA databases" Helena Machado (University of Coimbra)

Egenis seminar series - In the “genetic age” of criminal investigation, the expansion of large computerized forensic DNA databases and the massive exchange of DNA data at a transnational level have been portrayed as being significantly important resources for fighting crime. The growing expansion of forensic genetic surveillance apparatuses raises acute and ambivalent challenges to the nature of social control, citizenship and democracy. The ethical implications of DNA data exchange between different jurisdictions are paramount. My talk has three interrelated aims. First, to provide an overview of “new” and “old” ways of constructing social order that emerge from the transnational exchange of DNA data for combating criminality. Second, to propose a methodology for developing a multisite ethnographic research on this phenomenon. Third, to understand how a particular group of scientific experts – forensic geneticists – politicize and de-politicize privacy, data protection and public trust. Full details
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31 October 201615:30

"Evoluntionary Processes", Prof John Dupre (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. This talk represents the application of my current ERC project, a Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology, to evolutionary theory. After briefly describing the broader project, I shall consider some of the implications of understanding evolution as a process undergone by processes. A central focus will be to understand better the key processes to or in which evolution happens, lineages. I shall emphasise the diversity of kinds of lineages, ranging from mere units of classification to highly integrated units of evolution, and how this diversity provides the need for pluralism in evolutionary theory. I shall suggest, indeed, that many heated debates in contemporary evolutionary theory would be largely defused if it were recognised that different kinds of lineages undergo different kinds of evolutionary processes. Full details
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24 October 201615:30

"Explaining the global warming “hiatus": models, measurements and media", Wendy Parker (Durham University)

Egenis seminar series. Change in title and abstract. In both scientific journals and the blogosphere, there has been much discussion of a recent “hiatus” or "pause" in global warming. Climate skeptics see the hiatus as evidence that climate scientists have exaggerated the effects of greenhouse gases on climate. In the face of such criticism, climate scientists have found ways to explain the hiatus that do not require any significant revision to existing theory or models. Just as a coherent account seemed to be emerging, however, some climate scientists came to the conclusion that actually there is no hiatus to be explained(!), once appropriate corrections to the observational data are applied. This talk will discuss this unfolding hiatus episode, calling attention to some important features of explanatory practice in climate science: the centrality of computer models; the revisable nature of observational datasets; the multitude of causal factors that might be invoked in explanations; and the benefit and burden of substantial uncertainties. Full details
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24 October 201614:00

Jonna Vuoskoski (Oxford) & Sarah Wilson (SMART Project, London) “ Music, Empathy, and the 'Aesthetics' of Wellbeing: Perspectives from Music Psychology and Music Therapy”

SPA Research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
20 October 201616:30

Book launch - "CyberGenetics - Health genetics and new media" Anna Harris, Susan Kelly and Sally Wyatt

Online genetic testing services are increasingly being offered to consumers who are becoming exposed to, and knowledgeable about, new kinds of genetic technologies, as the launch of a 23andme genetic testing product in the UK testifies. Genetic research breakthroughs, cheek swabbing forensic pathologists and celebrities discovering their ancestral roots are littered throughout the North American, European and Australasian media landscapes. Genetic testing is now capturing the attention, and imagination, of hundreds of thousands of people who can not only buy genetic tests online, but can also go online to find relatives, share their results with strangers, sign up for personal DNA-based musical scores, and take part in research. This book critically examines direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing from a social science perspective, asking, what happens when genetics goes online? Full details
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17 October 201615:30

"Knowing Animal Health in the Environment: contesting bovine TB and British badgers since c. 1965" Angela Cassidy (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series - Bovine TB (bTB) is a chronic infectious disease of cattle which can also affect other mammals: until well into the 1940s it was a source of human disease in the UK, and remains so in some parts of the world today. While the risks of bTB have been well controlled in humans and animals since the late 1960s, the disease has persisted in British cattle herds, and since the 1990s infection rates have accelerated. The UK has also experienced an increasingly high profile public controversy over government policies to cull wild badgers in order to control bTB in cattle. This paper will give an overview of the history of this controversy, which has been ongoing since the early 1970s, when government veterinarians first connected persistent outbreaks of bTB in cattle herds to their discovery of infected wild badgers in Gloucestershire. I will discuss my research and book in progress, which maps the long term development of the badger/bTB controversy, exploring a series of factors contributing to the current situation. To close, I will discuss the implications of the bTB case for wildlife, agriculture and infectious disease policy; for relationships between science, evidence and policymaking; and for processes of public environmental debate, both within and beyond the UK. Full details
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10 October 201615:30

"Mapping Plant Life: From Humboldt to Early Ecology" Nils Guettler (ETH Zurich)

Egenis seminar series - Botanical distribution maps are a crucial tool for scientific ecology. For a long time, historians of ecology could agree on the notion that this has always been the case and [accordingly] have concentrated on the alleged "golden age“ of this map genre, as drawn by famous first-generation plant geographers such as Alexander von Humboldt. Rather than pursuing this line of inquiry, this talk focuses on botanical maps after this initial age of discovery. It detects both a quantitative explosion and qualitative modification of botanical distribution maps in the late 19th century. By spotlighting the case of the plant geographer Oscar Drude (1852-1933) and others it argues that the dynamics of botanical mappings were closely linked to a specific milieu of knowledge production: the visual culture of Imperial Germany. The scientific upgrading of maps was stimulated by a prospering commercial cartographical market as well as a widespread practice of mediating between professionals and amateurs via maps in the public sphere. In transferring skills and practices from these "popular" fields of knowledge to scientific domains, botanists like Oscar Drude established maps as an indispensable element of botanical observation. This wholesale dissemination of botanical maps had thus a formative influence on collective perception - the botanist's "period eye" - regarding plant distribution. Full details
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3 October 201615:30

Robert Stock (Konstanz) “The Cochlear Implant and the Impositions of Hearing”

This talk will discuss media practices of hearing with cochlear implants by focusing on the filmic production of ‘auditory ecologies’. The cochlear implant system is thereby not understood as a mere tool or prosthesis subject to human agency, which can easily be used by its bearers. Rather, the implant system, its social, technical and political ‘impacts’ need to be conceptualized as ‘effects’ of specific situations and environments. By connecting ANT, Sound Studies and Media Studies, it will be argued that the cochlear implant and the actors it assembles can be considered as a particular auditory ecology (Gatehouse et al. 1999). The latter will be described by analysing the long-term documentary film Natalie or the sound after silence, 2013, dir. Simone Jung. By doing so, I will demonstrate how various forms of hearing and non-hearing are constituted cinematographically. We hence propose that films are specific operations that constitute visibilities, invisibilities or (in-)audibility. Such an understanding of film foregrounds the performative production of hearing as an ‘audiovisual event’. Consequently, the description of the reciprocal relationship between user and implant, between image and sound, here understood as an integral part of a complex media ecology, allows us to get an idea of the audiovisual event of enabling and disabling practices of technological hearing. Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
26 September 201615:30

Bayesianism and the perception-cognition divide

Perceptual experience and belief are frequently treated as distinct kinds of mental states. A belief might prompt a new perceptual experience, and new experience can confirm or trigger a belief. Despite causal influences of this sort, it was commonly held that perceptual experience is insulated from the information contained in beliefs. However, recent scientific evidence shows that this picture is mistaken: perception is routinely influenced by beliefs and expectations. This evidence of cognitive penetration thus erodes a strict perception-cognition divide. Two recent approaches to the mind, Bayesianism and Predictive Coding, do further damage to the divide. According to these approaches, influences from cognition on perception are not just pervasive, but integral to its functioning. In this talk I’ll argue that if these two approaches are correct, there is no use in saving divide. Perception and cognition do not exist. Understood as paradigm changes, Bayesianism and Predictive Coding imply eliminativism with respect to belief and experience. They constitute a real revolution in the philosophy of mind, and it is time for philosophers to embrace the change Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
26 September 201615:30

Anya Farennikova (Bristol) “Bayesianism and the Perception Cognition

SPA Research seminar Full details
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28 July 201615:00

Diagnostic Disclosure: A Cultural Excursion — Professor Annemarie Jutel (Victoria University, Wellington, NZ)

Seminar times and abstract to follow. Annemarie Jutel originally trained and practised as a nurse, but left clinical work in 2000 to focus on sociological aspects of health and illness. Her ground-breaking work in the sociology of diagnosis focuses on how medical classification interacts with social and cultural interests. She has written on the medicalization of overweight, female sexuality and foetal death. She has also explored how the pharmaceutical and fitness industries act as specific agents of medicalization and at the use of self-diagnosis in the management of pandemic influenza. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
7 - 8 July 2016

Moral Enhancement: The Annual Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference 2016

The annual Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference is taking place this year at the University of Exeter, with the topic of moral enhancement. Full details
Reed HallAdd this to your calendar
4 - 5 July 2016

British Society of Aesthetics Connections Conference: Aesthetics and the 4E mind

Full details
Reed HallAdd this to your calendar
13 June 201615:30

"Human Persons – A Process View" Anne Sophie Meincke (University of Exeter)

What are persons and how do they exist? The predominant answer to this question given by Western metaphysics is that persons, human and others, are and exist as substances, i.e., as some sort of discrete particular whose identity is determined by a certain set of intrinsic essential characteristics. In my talk I want to suggest an alternative view which is motivated by metaphysi¬cal considerations about persistence as well as by recent insights from systems biology and the theory of cognition derived from it (‘enactivism’). If we take seri¬ously that at least human persons are living dynamical systems, embedded in a natural environment and for their existence at a time as well as through time de¬pendent on an interaction with that environment, we are led to recognise them as organised and stabilised higher-order processes rather than as substances in the traditional sense. Full details
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23 May 201615:30

"Evaluation, Participation and Social Learning, the Korean Case of TA" Prof Sang-Wook Yi (University of Cambridge/Hanyang University, Seoul)

I shall talk about the annual TA(Technology Assessment) of South Korean government, which has been performed by changing Ministries and governmental agencies since 2003. After surveying the aims of the TA and its overall executive structure, I will examine one of the most recent TAs in 2015 as regards so-called ‘genetic scissor’ technology from its initial stage of choosing the scope of its target technology to its final stage of producing the official report. I will discuss a number of controversial junctures of the entire procedure including the sensitive debate on the exact wording of the target technology and the thorny issues of the applicability of the current regulations to this frontier technology. I shall add what I think could be some general implications of Korean TA for the democratic control of scientific and technological research. Full details
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16 May 201615:00

“Troubling Genealogies: Conceptualizing Race, Belonging and Political Subjectivity in South Africa” Katharina Schramm (Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg)

SPA Research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
9 May 201615:30

"Pluralism in Psychiatric Classification" Anke Bueter (University of Hannover)

Psychiatric classification is considered by many to be in a state of crisis, and the controversial status of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has only been amplified by its latest revision. A central concern in these controversies is that the DSM lacks validity, which is often attributed to its atheoretical, syndromal approach. Shortly before the release of the DSM-5, the NIMH has therefore announced to replace the DSM with a theory-driven alternative, the Research Domain Criteria project (RDoC). RDoC presents a change in heuristic strategy that is well justified by the history of DSM-led research. However, it does not by itself end the classification crisis and leads to the important question of the DSM’s future. I argue that to enhance the trustworthiness of psychiatric classification, a combination of strategies is needed. These revolve around different kinds of pluralism: theoretical pluralism (1), nosological pluralism (2), and participatory pluralism (3). Full details
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25 April 201613:00

'Species Natures: Against Aristotelian Realism ' Tim Lewens (University of Cambridge)

Philosophers of biology have had much to say--some of it positive, a lot of it negative--about efforts to formulate biologically respectable accounts of the 'natures' of humans and other species. They have had considerably less to say about prominent efforts on the part of workers in ethics--especially Philippa Foot and Michael Thompson--to develop neo-Aristotelian accounts of species natures. This talk begins with an overview of recent efforts to ground species natures in biological fact, before moving on to assess the plausibility of what I call Aristotelian Realism. I argue that the force of Thompson's transcendental argument for Aristotelian Realism has not been given due credit by critics of his position. I also argue that his argument gives better support to a position I call 'Kantian Projectivism' than it does to Thompson's own version of Aristotelian Realism. Full details
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11 April 201615:30

"Does Replication help with Experimental Biases in Clinical Trials?" Prof David Teira (UNED, Madrid)

During the last decade, a replication crisis has been detected in many experimental fields, and, in particular, in drug testing in clinical trials. Experimental outcomes published in top journals do not stand the test of reproduction. A widespread interpretation of this crisis puts the blame on the experimenters’ financial biases. Clinical trials are regulatory experiments in which a treatment may gain or not market access: the financial stakes for the sponsor of the development of the treatment are high. Therefore, the sponsor may put direct or indirect pressure on the experimenter to obtain a positive outcome. Often, once this pressure is relaxed, in further replications of the trial, the original positive outcome vanishes. The implicit assumption in this interpretation is that, once we correct for the sponsor biases, trials will become more replicable than they actually are. We want to contest this interpretation of the replication crisis with an analysis of the concept of experimental bias in clinical trials. We will focus on the biases that may flaw the design and conduct of the test. Our basic claim is that replication in experiments is only valuable once the experimenters have agreed on a standardized intervention and a list of debiasing controls to be implemented in the trial. Replicability mainly helps us in controlling for unintended deviations from the protocol, once the relevant debiasing procedures have been implemented. But the major problems with trials lie elsewhere: either in improperly debiased tests or in trials with clinically irrelevant variables. Against a widespread intuition, we will defend that the outcomes in these latter trials are perfectly replicable. If we want better trials, fostering replicability (good as it may be) is perhaps not helpful in itself. Full details
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21 March 201615:30

"To eat or not to eat cats and dogs: The making and breaking of animal taxonomies and dietary taboos in contemporary South Korea" Dr Julien Dugnoille (University of Exeter)

South Korea is widely regarded as a nation that eats cats and dogs. The consumption of these animals has attracted a considerable amount of international animal activist attention since the late 1980s, and raised questions about the nation’s indifference to violent methods used to tenderize and process the meat while animals are still alive. Today, South Korean civil and state discourses about the nation’s cat and dog meat trade mobilize principles of wellbeing and welfare inspired by those marshaled in Western discourses about democratic moral values. These Korean discourses also emphasize a clear boundary between cats and dogs regarded as pets and those consumed as food. However, an ethnographic approach to the South Korean cat and dog meat trade reveals that these moral and taxonomic discourses do not adequately represent how cats and dogs are treated or eaten in practice. Furthermore, a closer analysis reveals how maintaining this discrepancy between discourse and practice may benefit those with ulterior political and economic motives. Bringing together anthropological scholarship on cultural taxonomies, dietary taboos and the anthropology of ethics in the context of South Korea’s largest cat and dog meat marketplace, this paper interrogates conventional understandings of ethnicity, morality and cosmopolitanism. Full details
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14 March 201615:00

“The Complex Relations Between Narrative and Suffering” Prof. Arthur Frank (University of Calgary)

SPA research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
7 March 201615:30

"Parts, Wholes, Processes, and Rates: From Rigid to Dynamic Mechanisms" Jan Baedke (University of Bochum)

In the last ten years a number of authors of the new mechanistic philosophy have argued for conceptualizing the relations traced in causal-mechanistic explanations in the biosciences by means of the idea of compositional constitution. In other words, ‘vertical’ relations across levels of organization in mechanisms exhibit constitution and inter-level parthood. For many ‘new mechanists’ this means that changes in the causal properties of parts constitutively (not causally) make a difference in the properties of wholes. This paper show that (i) this conceptualization of inter-level relations leads to a view of ‘rigid mechanisms’. (ii) It radically contradicts those mechanistic investigations in biology seeking to understand the vertical build-up of organisms diachronically and over time, respectively. Thus, (iii) a new view of ‘dynamic mechanisms’ is presented that is able to overcome this problem by conceptualizing vertical relations in mechanisms in a more dynamic manner. It is centered not on the concepts of constitution and parthood but on causal process and rate. Investigations in evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) of the origin and change of levels of organization (i.e. evolutionary novelty and evolvability) will be reviewed to support these findings. Full details
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22 February 201615:30

"Names and Numbers: “Data” in Classical Natural History, 1758–1859" Dr Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter)

According to a famous formula going back to Immanuel Kant, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw the transition from natural history to the history of nature. This paper will analyze changes in the institutions, social relations, and media of natural history that underwrote this epochal change. Focusing on the many posthumous re-editions, translations, and adaptations of Carl Linnaeus’s taxonomic works that began to appear throughout Europe after publication of the tenth edition of his Systema naturae (1758), I will then argue that the practices of Linnaean nomenclature and classification organized and enhanced the flows of data—a term already used by naturalists of the period—among individual naturalists and natural history institutions in new ways. Species became units that could be “inserted” into collections and publications, re-shuffled and exchanged, kept track of in lists and catalogues, and counted and distributed in ever new ways. On two fronts—biogeography and the search for the “natural system”—this brought to the fore entirely new, quantitative relationships among organisms of diverse kind. By letting nature speak through „artificial“ means and media of early systematics, I argue, new powerful visions of an unruly nature emerged that became the object of early evolutionary theories. Classical natural history as an “information science” held the same potential for generating surprising insights, that is, as the experimentally generated data of today’s data-intensive sciences. Full details
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15 February 201615:00

Christoph Rehmann-Sutter (University of Lübeck) “Livingness: A Husserlian Approach”

SPA Research seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
9 February 201618:15

Professor Michael Hauskeller Inaugural Lecture "Asking the right questions: On being a Philosopher and Ethicist"

Hardly a month goes by without the announcement of yet another significant technological innovation. So much has changed during the past three decades, it is almost impossible to predict with any degree of certainty what we will be able to accomplish and what our world will look like a decade or two ahead. Anything seems possible. This makes it more pressing than ever to figure out what we actually want and what kind of life we should strive for. This talk looks into some of the challenges we face today and tries to identify the role philosophy and especially philosophical ethics must play in a world so rapidly changing as ours. Click here for Professor Michael Hauskeller profile. If you wish to attend the lecture and drinks reception please email: Full details
Streatham Court Old C Add this to your calendar
8 February 201615:30

"Epistemological Lessons from the Automation of Science" Prof Alexander Bird (University of Bristol)

Science is increasingly automated. Automatic weather stations and satellites have for some time collected raw data which is supplied directly to computers for analysis, whereupon weather maps are published on the web while the analysed results are also fed into meteorological and climate models. DNA sequencing, once a lengthy and expensive process involving considerable human input, is now almost entirely automated, where automation includes both the bio-chemical intervention with a sample and also the statistical analysis of the results of the biochemical assay. In this paper I focus on two sets of questions: 1. How should we understand `observation' in automated science? I argue for a functional rather than aetiological notion of observation. 2. What is scientific knowledge? I argue for a social conception of knowledge, where the `social' includes scientific infrastructure as well as scientists. Full details
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1 February 201615:30

“Phenomenology of the We: Reciprocal Empathy, Self-alienation, and Plural Self-awareness” Prof. Dan Zahavi (University of Copenhagen)

SPA Departmental Seminar Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
25 January 201615:00

"Measurement in Early Modern Science & Medicine" Dr Matteo Valleriani (MPI Berlin) & Dr Fabrizio Bigotti (University of Exeter)

Philosophy, technology and experimentation in Santorio Santorio (1561 - 1636) & Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642). Dr Matteo Valleriani - "The Changing Epistemic Function of Measurement in the Early Modern Period. Tartagelia's Quadrant and Galileo's Thermoscope" and Dr Fabrizio Bigotti - "Santorio on the the Use of Quantity in Logical Demonstration and Diagnosis" Full details
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11 January 201615:30

"On The Movements & Value of Scientific Data" Prof Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter)

This paper reports on an ongoing effort to study the movement of scientific data from their production site to many other sites of use within or beyond the same discipline, from both an empirical and a philosophical standpoint. Empirically, the study is grounded on the reconstruction of specific data journeys within four research areas: plant biology, model organism biology, biomedicine and oceanography. Philosophically, the study aims to analyse the conditions under which data travel across what I call, following John Dewey, “research situations,” and what implications this has for the epistemology of science. I focus in particular on online databases as infrastructures set up to facilitate data dissemination and their multiple re-interpretations as evidence for a variety of claims across different settings; and on the wealth and diversity of expertise, resources and conceptual scaffolding used by database curators and users to expand the evidential value of data thus propagated. Through the reconstruction and careful analysis of data journeys, a great deal can be learnt about the multiple roles and valences of data within research, ranging from their essential function as evidence to their importance as currency in trading, tokens of identity and means to foster the legitimacy, accountability and value of scientific research within a variety of contexts. These insights inform a philosophical analysis of knowledge production that is attentive to the processual, dynamic nature of research, as well as its embedding in social, political and economic settings that have a strong bearing on what comes to be viewed as scientific data, by whom, and why. Full details
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14 December 201515:30

“Bringing Biology into the Fold” William Goodwin (University of South Florida)

Though there have been many important insights and modifications, the basic approach of structural organic chemistry, has been in place since about 1880. Much of the progress in organic chemistry since then can be thought of as the result of articulations of the foundational concept of ‘structure’. In this talk I will consider two such articulations of ‘structure’ that resulted in consistent extensions of the practice, allowing for the solution of a whole new range of problems employing the explanatory concepts of structural organic chemistry. I will focus on developments that first made possible the use of structural organic chemistry to explain the physical and chemical features of biomolecules, thereby making some biological phenomena explicable in chemical terms. Full details
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30 November 201515:30

CANCELLED - Sara Green (University of Copenhagen)

Egenis Seminar - "Explaining Cancer Across Scales". Unfortunately, this seminar has been cancelled. We hope to re-scheduled for a future date. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
16 November 201515:30

"Place of Birth: Evidence and Ethics" Leah McClimans (University of South Carolina)

In the UK and US Births in obstetric units vastly outnumber births that take place outside of an obstetric unit. Still non-obstetric births are increasing in both countries. For example, in 2004 only .87% of US births occurred in non-obstetric units (home or midwifery units), but by 2012 1.36% babies were born in a non-obstetric unit. In the UK they have seen an even steeper increase, with only .9% of births occurring at home between 1985-8 rising to 2.4% in 2011. Is it professionally responsible to support a non-obstetric birth? It is morally permissible to support women in choosing where to give birth? These are the kinds of questions that shape the debate over place of birth, and for those who answer no to these questions, the increase in non-obstetric births is alarming. Given the emphasis on evidence-based policy and evidence-based medicine it may not be surprising that the current discussion of place of birth takes the shape of empirical studies investigating the relative riskiness of different birth place choices. This debate has become heated with those on both sides finding empirical support for their positions—sometimes within the same study. While to some this debate over the evidence is a distraction from what is genuinely at stake, namely different non-epistemic values, I will argue in this paper that the way forward is to take a closer and more fine grained look at the evidence. I am interested here in how the debate over place of birth is most fruitfully conducted; I will not attempt to answer the morally loaded questions that shape the debate itself. Full details
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2 November 201515:30

"Modeling Systems Biomedicine" Dr Annamaria Carusi (University of Sheffield)

In this presentation I shall give an overview of my research on modeling processes and practices in systems biomedicine. The focus of my talk is on the social and technological epistemology of computational modeling and simulation. The example I discuss is the conceptual framework of the MSE system (Model-Simulation-Experiment system) developed in my collaboration with scientists. I discuss the ambivalence and ambiguity of terms such as ‘representation’ and ‘comparison’ in the intensely social context of model construction and use, as modelers attempt the difficult passage to clinical implementations in the face of issues such as physiological variability. I propose a re-focusing on how grounds for comparability are instituted, and on the epistemic role of iteration. Full details
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19 October 201515:30

"Seeing Cellular Debris, Remembering a Soviet Method" Dr Ann Kelly (University of Exeter)

A microphotograph of a mosquito taken in the 1962 in a mountain laboratory in what was then Tanganyika provides a prompt to consider the socio-political salience and affective power of scientific images. Drawing inspiration from anthropological work on photographic practices, the paper excavates the context of the image’s production—both the geopolitical machinations of the global malaria eradication program and the domestic research station—to apprehend the relationship scientific work and lives. As much souvenir as ‘epistemic thing’, the microphotograph provides new directions in thinking about the materiality of memory in tropical medicine. Full details
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12 October 201515:30

Michela Massimi (University of Edinburgh) "Four Kinds of Perspectival Truth"

In this paper, I assess recent claims in philosophy of science about scientific perspectivism being compatible with realism. I clarify the rationale for scientific perspectivism and the problems and challenges that perspectivism faces in delivering a form of realism. In particular, I concentrate my attention on truth, and on ways in which truth can be understood and, has indeed been understood in perspectival terms. I offer a cost-benefit analysis of each of them and defend a version that in my view is most promising in living up to realist expectations. Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
5 October 201515:30

Working with Model Systems - Robert Meunier & Nina Kranke (University of Kassel)

The epistemic roles of models in science have been subject to much discussion in recent philosophy of science. While large parts of the discussion focus on the notion of representation adequate for an understanding of models, we will follow those who emphasized modelling as an activity and then ask what the consequences of such a view are for understanding models as representations. We will proceed in two steps. First, we will argue that the adequate units of analysis are model systems. In a second step, we address the question of representation. We argue that it is misleading to say that a model represents the world, as it is sometimes put in the literature. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
28 September 201514:00

Seminar: "Mixing or Matching: Hybridization and Taxonomy in the 19th Century" - Harriet Ritvo (MIT)

The possibilities offered by hybridization or crossing engaged the energies of animal experts from stockbreeders to zookeepers in the 19th century; it also attracted the fascinated or horrified attention of the general public. Motivations were equally various, from the pragmatic desire to improve agricultural breeds to idle curiosity. Since the results (and non-results) of these activities were unpredictable, they also provided a way of challenging the limits of individual species and, consequently, the definition of the category itself. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
10 - 12 August 2015

Anthrozoology Student Conference

'Anthrozoology looks at the many dimensions of how humans and other animals interact, yet we wish to stimulate our thoughts towards the future of human-animal relations. This three day student conference will be an exciting place to discuss new ways of being and seeing animals, both within academia but also in daily practice, and what can done to facilitate better lines of communication between the two. With increasing discussions about animal sentience and salience, how can we, as researchers, respond and engage with this? We hope to inspire dialogue in how to move forward with our research, how to encourage active participation in our fields and to improve interspecies relations. Full details
Reed HallAdd this to your calendar
1 July 201515:00

“Neurodiversity & the politics of autism diagnosis” - Dr Ginny Russell (University of Exeter)

Autism diagnosis is a site of political mobilisation, as well as biomedicalisation. While some patients seek diagnosis, others argue diagnosis is damaging to their integrity. One new alliance that sometimes contests autism diagnosis is known as the neurodiversity movement. The movement comprises politically mobilised adults with autism who frame their neurological difference as a valuable aspect of human variation and argue against medical diagnosis and treatment claiming it pathologizes normal behaviour. The label of autism provides a good illustration of some of the issues within ‘sociology of diagnosis’. Here diagnosis is not only as a method of categorisation, but also a social transactional process; an intervention in itself with consequences for health. In the case of autism, diagnosis dichotomises a series of normally distributed traits, such as reciprocal social ability, communication etc. Increased application of autism diagnosis comes with clear costs and benefits; and its use is frequently contested. This talk is centred on the content of a recent grant application to the Wellcome Trust. I will present an overview of a proposed programme of work covering theoretical issues, research questions, proposed design and methods. Full details
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17 June 2015

POSTPONED until 1st July - Dr Ginny Russell (University of Exeter)

“Neurodiversity & the politics of autism diagnosis” This seminar has been postponed until Wednesday 1st July 2015. Full details
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13 - 14 June 2015

The Seventh British Wittgenstein Society Annual Conference: Wittgenstein and the Social Sciences

Speakers: Jeff Coulter (Boston) John Dupré (Exeter) Raimond Gaita (Melbourne / King's College London) John Gunnell (UC, Davis) William Kitchen (Belfast) Sabina Lovibond (Oxford) Albert Ogien (CNRS Paris) John Searle (UC Berkeley) Wes Sharrock (Manchester) James Thompson (Halle-Wittenberg). Full details
Southgate Hotel Exeter (Mecure)Add this to your calendar
10 June 201515:00

"POSTPONED"- Dr Louise Bezuidenhout (University of Exeter)

"Data sharing in low resource settings: a capabilities approach." Unfortunately, this Egenis Seminar has been postponed until the next academic year. Full details
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8 June 201515:00

"King Philip Cried Out For Goodness Sake, no longer" and "Learning from our mistakes: Convergent simplification and the kingdom Fungi" - Dr Jeremy Wideman (University of Exeter)

Dr Jeremy Wideman (EMBO postdoctoral fellow, Biosciences) gives two talks with discussion time. "King Philip Cried Out For Goodness Sake, no longer" and "Learning from our mistakes: Convergent simplification and the kingdom Fungi" Abstracts attached. Full details
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3 June 201515:00

Dr Mattia Gallotti, University of London "Shared Intentionality and Social Understanding"

Abstract: Human life flourishes in a world of common habits and perspectives. In an influential paper, Jane Heal (2013) argued that considerations about the relevance of acts of shared intentionality, or ‘co-cognition’, suggest that the notion of mental content recommended by (social) anti-individualism enjoys pride of place in accounts of psychological knowledge. This claim draws upon a body of literature in social ontology and social cognition, which has improved understanding of the mechanisms and processes whereby people achieve knowledge of things by sharing mental resources. According to Heal, in discussions of the nature and mechanism of folk-psychological attributions, in particular, talk of shared mental states slips into natural descriptions of the externality of thought. I shall challenge this view by providing a different interpretation of the scope and philosophical significance of acts of shared intentionality for psychological knowledge. There are two meanings to claims about shared intentionality: although both are consistent with the anti-individualistic notion of content, neither recommends anti-individualism as the privileged view of the content of thoughts about others’ thoughts. Full details
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27 May 201515:00

"Things are Material Processes" - John Pemberton (London School of Economics)

I suppose an ontology, such as that of Aristotle, in which powers in suitable contact over some period give rise to changing over that period within the bearers of the powers, and hence a process of change, e.g. a star gravitationally attracting a planet (giving rise to its movement through an elliptic orbit), a fire heating a kettle, a heart pumping blood. I show how this ontology of change fits well with contemporary science, and how it licenses an account of things (e.g. organisms, atoms, molecules, larger chemical structures, bundles, mechanisms, artefacts, stars) as being material processes: functional parts performing functional roles at each stage so as to bring about the next stage of the process. This process view stands in opposition to the received view that things can be adequately characterised by a list of properties, e.g. things are co-instantiated universals, bundles of properties, collocated tropes, bare particulars with properties, collections of powers, etc. The list-of-properties view offers a static and discretised reconstruction (often reifying point-in-time entities) which misrepresents the complex inter-twining of dynamic processes apparent in the world, I argue. I show how recognising that things are processes provides a solution to van Inwagen’s ‘Special Composition Question’, and helps to address some major challenges within the philosophy of science. Full details
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21 May 201511:00

Eben Kirksey - seminar talk “Species: A Praxiographic Study” and Roundtable Discussion on Multiple Ethnography.

“Species: A Praxiographic Study” - Taxonomists, who describe new species, are acutely aware of how political, economic,and ecological forces bring new forms of life into being. Conducting ethnographic research among taxonomic specialists - experts who bring order to categories of animals, plants, fungi, and microbes - I found that they pay careful attention to the ebb and flow of agency in multispecies worlds. Emergent findings from genomics and information technologies are transforming existing categories and bringing new ones into being. This talk will argue that the concept of species remains a valuable Sensemaking tool despite recent attacks from cultural critics. Full details
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20 May 201515:00

"Processes and Powerful Persistence" Dr Anne Sophie Meincke (Spann), (University of Exeter)

Recent years have seen a revival of the idea that the entities existing in our world possess irreducible dispositions and powers by means of which they cause changes in the world. No longer being an outsider position, dismissible as obsolete and at odds with science, dispositional realism (‘dispositionalism’) has established itself as a viable and commonsensically appealing alternative to the hitherto predominant anti-realistic accounts of causation in the Humean tradition and, what is more, as a promising new approach to metaphysics in general. In my talk, I shall take these latter ambitions seriously by exploring the implications of dispositionalism for persistence theory. Given that things have irreducible powers and dispositions, how ought we to think about the way they exist over time? In particular, should we assume they persist by being wholly present at different times (‘endurance) or rather by having different temporal parts (‘perdurance’)? Dealing with two opposing proposals recently put forward by Stephen Mumford and Neil E. Williams, I will argue that the profile of ‘powerful’ persistence crucially depends on how one conceptualizes the processes involved in the manifestation of powers. As this is obviously not determined per se by subscribing to some view labelled ‘powers view’, further discussion is needed as to what processes are and to which kind of process theory a powers metaphysics should commit itself in order to be convincing. Full details
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13 May 201515:00

"Pathogenicities and the spatialities of disease situations" - Prof Steve Hinchliffe (University of Exeter)

What would a geography of emerging infectious diseases look like? A familiar answer to this question is based on a map or surface upon and across which diseases emerge and travel. The language is one of hotspots and viral traffic. It’s a contagionist as well as topographical disease imagination. In this paper I want to trace out alternatives that are based on what can be called a disease situation. In social theory, situations borrow from what might be called site ontologies. Situations link sites, but in ways that are non-coherent, and certainly fall short of any free-floating whole or emergent property. Situations are, I will argue, spatially and materially composite; they are, after Stengers, ecologies of practices that may well be eventful. To illustrate, I engage with a particular disease situation called avian flu. The aim is to demonstrate the spatial multiplicity that is involved when the object of concern flips between a pathogen and pathogenicity. The latter is a configurational issue, and invites a range of topological sensibilities. These sensibilities in turn seem to invite a form of abductive logic, a tacking back and forth between evidence and speculation. Whether this abductive logic reproduces a security neurosis or opens up new ways of addressing the emergence of disease emergencies is, I argue, an empirical question and requires engaging with disease events as reconfigured situations. Full details
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6 May 201515:00

Prof. Rob Hagendijk, Amsterdam. "The politics of rare diseases and orphan drugs"

Abstract: In 2012 a major controversy started in The Netherlands after a proposal was leaked to the media to stop reimbursing patients with Pompe or Fabry disease under the public health system. The high prices for drugs (between 150,000 and 800,000 Euro annually) and their low cost-efficiency inspired the proposal, then a draft to be discussed in the College for Public Health Insurance. The prime time TV coverage of the news caused public outrage and negative responses from all corners of society, including patients, professionals, columnists, members of the general public and politicians. The controversy calmed down a bit six weeks later, yet it took until late 2013 for a temporary solution for the next two years only to be arranged by the Minister for Public Health. The solution comprises price reductions, post-marketing research to improve cost-efficiency and increased European and international collaboration. In my presentation I will look at the controversy from a co-productionist perspective (Jasanoff, 2004, Hilgartner et al. 2015) and analyse how the biosciences and informatics become increasingly interwoven with major political and economic struggles. This controversy and associated ones elsewhere constitute public spaces in which broader legal, ethical, economic, political and technoscientific configurations are negotiated and defined. Looking at regulatory struggles about rare diseases and orphan drugs amounts to looking at the frontier of the new public health shaping up in an increasingly global order and political-economy. Full details
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29 April 201515:00

POSTPONED " - Dr Daniele Carrieri (University of Exeter)

"Is there a duty to re-contact patients in light of new genetic findings?". Unfortunately, this seminar has had to be postponed until the next academic year. Full details
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25 March 2015

CANCELLED - Dr Ann Kelly (University of Exeter)

"The Wild-Indoors: The Room Spaces of Scientific Inquiry”. Unfortunately, this seminar has had to cancelled. We hope to re-schedule during the next academic year. Full details
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23 March 201515:00

"Ethical harmonization across space: logistic and regulatory issues in implementing a multi-national clinical trial" - Prof Christine Hauskeller & Nicole Baur (UoE)

In this talk we report findings from an empirical investigation of the process in which a stem cell clinical trial is being implemented across 10 European countries. As part of a clinical trial team, we had the unique opportunity to study implementation – including its events and problems - while it happened. Obstacles for swift patient recruitment across clinical sites arose for a variety of reasons, but most are related to the minute standardization of practice which is the basis for the scientific approach in medicine that identifies clinical trials as ultimate evidence for clinical efficacy. We identified differences in resource management and in locally entrenched daily routines of patient care, but also in the practical implementation of regulations and insurance requirements, for example, which as such relate back to specific understandings of best practice in clinical care. Our findings show that the policies developed to harmonise medical practice and clinical trials in Europe can lead to serious delays before patient recruitment even starts. We especially focus on problems with the logistics and technological requirements following European Medicines Agency (EMA) regulations and the effects of the Voluntary Harmonisation Procedure (VHP), a protocol aimed at simplifying multinational ethics approval of general agreements which depend on both trust and coherence in other policies. Full details
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18 March 201515:00

"Stress and the Midlife Crisis" - Prof Mark Jackson (University of Exeter)

The story is familiar, perhaps timeless. A middle-aged man falters. The family begins to crumble. Or the reverse: his wife is frustrated and turns away. Their children have left. The home is empty, or perhaps filled with a common sadness. No one is surprised that a marriage is over. In 1965, this process of individual and family trauma acquired a new name. That year, a Canadian sociologist and psychoanalyst more famous for his studies of work, human capability and social justice introduced the world to the `midlife crisis’. For Elliott Jaques, the concept signified a crisis of confidence, a period of intense psychological uncertainty triggered by awareness of death and the fear of declining, or possibly too late flowering, creativity. Over subsequent decades, the meaning of the term expanded to include a variety of stereotypical features: dissatisfaction with work; disillusionment with life; a desperation to postpone the mental and physical decline associated with advancing age; shifting fashion sense; the replacement of the comfortable family saloon with a two-seater sports car or motorbike; a gradual detachment from family responsibilities; and, perhaps most catastrophically, sex with a younger, more athletic accomplice. This paper explores two contrasting explanations for the `midlife crisis’ that emerged during the 1960s and 1970s: a continuing psychoanalytical focus on internal psychological conflict; and the growing emphasis of stress researchers on external situational factors, or `stressful life events’. Although seemingly incongruent, both approaches were rooted in the experiences and understandings of inter-war and post-war populations in terms of: demographic shifts: marital relationships; biological clocks; situational stress; and spiritual fulfilment. Full details
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12 March 201515:00

"Developmental symbiosis: We are all lichens" - Prof Scott Gilbert (Swarthmore College, USA)

Professor Scott Gilbert, one of the leading figures in evolutionary developmental biology (eve-devo) and the pioneer of its expanded reformulation as eco-evo-devo, (see his groundbreaking book, S.F.Gilbert and D. Epel, Ecological Developmental Biology: Integrating Epigenetics, Medicine and Evolution, Sinauer 2009) will be visiting Egenis at 3.00 p.m. on Thursday March 12th, where he will give a talk entitled "Developmental symbiosis: We are all lichens". If you are interested in attending this talk, could you please contact John Dupre (, copying Chee Wong (, as space will be limited. Full details
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4 March 201515:00

“Causation, Convention and Individuation” - Dr Amber Carpenter (University of York)

This paper will consider two rival accounts of the relationship between causation and individuation. On both accounts, familiar individual things have a reality relative to purposes and conventions, making our everyday metaphysical presumptions matters of moral import. On one view, there are pre-conventional individuals which cause, and thus warrant, our practices of everyday individuation. On the other view, there are no such realities, and causation is itself merely conventional. Through contrasting the two views, we will assess the viability of tying individuation to causation, exploring the theoretic advantages and principle pitfalls. Full details
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25 February 201515:00

"What do biologists mean when they talk of 'things'?" - Dr Stephan Guttinger (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar Full details
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18 February 201515:00

POSTPONED - Prof Christine Hauskeller and Dr Nicole-Kerstin Baur (University of Exeter)

This Egenis seminar has been postponed until Monday 23 March. "Ethical harmonization across space: logistic and regulatory issues in implementing a multi-national clinical trial" Full details
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11 February 2015

POSTPONED until March - Dr Ann Kelly (University of Exeter)

Postponed until Wednesday 25th March 2015 Full details
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4 February 201515:00

Prof. Ilana Loewy, Paris. Snowball effects of prenatal diagnosis: sex chromosomes anomalies and deletions

SPA Research Seminar Full details
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28 January 201515:00

"Human Nature, Human Processes, and Human Kinds" - Prof John Dupre (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar Full details
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21 January 201515:00

Prof. XiaoWei, Tsinghua University, Beijing. "Confucian Culture, and Bioethics"

SPA Research Seminar Chinese culture is based on Confucianism, which still influences the thinking and behaviours of Chinese in many ways. Contemporary China has been facing many ethical issues, especially in the fields of Bioethics. Confucian ethical culture is a system of reflecting on ways of addressing these problems. In this talk I will firstly, discuss the characteristics of Confucian Ethical thinking. Secondly, I will discuss Bioethics and the features of Confucian Bioethics. Thirdly, I will talk about some practical bioethical issues and how they are framed in the perspectives of Confucian Bioethics. This talk is also a contribution to the ongoing debate “Is Confucianism similar to Feminist Ethics of Care?” Full details
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16 January 201514:00

Professor Aaron Gross (Uni of San Diego) "The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications"

Drawing from a recent book project, this presentation argues for a reconfiguration of the category of the animal in the study of culture and religion. Full details
Amory B106Add this to your calendar
12 January 201515:00

"The changing natures of natural medicines, as seen by regulatory scientists" - Dr Jennifer Cuffe (University of Exeter)

Please note change in date, was 14/1/14. Nature, as Raymond Williams remarked, “is perhaps the most complex word in the language” (1976). Nevertheless, the word (as a qualifier) was used, in Canada, to create a new legal category of commodified medicines: that of ‘natural health products.’ With this change in law, regulatory scientists were mandated to segregate out medicines that would be regulated as natural health products, from those that would continue to be regulated as drugs. Needless to say, which medicines should be considered natural for the purposes of regulation was not always self-evident. Full details
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7 January 201515:00

Dr. Rachel Jarvie, Exeter. '''Maternal Diabesity: The Disconnect between Policy/Practice and the Material Realities of Women's Lives'

SPA Research seminar: Abstract: There is increasing prevalence of ‘maternal obesity’, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) and Type Two Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) in pregnancy. Increasing prevalence of diabetes in pregnancy is widely attributed to dramatically increasing levels of ‘obesity’ in women of childbearing age. Co-existing ‘maternal obesity’ and GDM/T2DM, or ‘maternal diabesity’, complicates increasing numbers of pregnancies in the UK. These ‘conditions’ are associated with adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Recent research indicates an ‘obese’/diabetic ‘intrauterine milieu’ may epigenetically programme the foetus to obesity/diabetes in later life. This is considered to be an important factor in the perpetuation of the ‘diabesity epidemic’. Biomedical/policy discourses emphasise the necessity for women to effect lifestyle changes in order for this public health issue to be ameliorated. Full details
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10 December 201415:00

Prof. George Marcus, UC Irvine. title tbc

SPA Research Seminar Full details
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8 December 201415:30

"Studio Interventions in Fieldwork Along the Way: Contemporary Collaborative Environments of Ethnographic Research. “ - George Marcus (University of California)

Egenis Seminar. Late addition. Full details
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3 December 201415:00

Prof. Malcolm Cowburn"Ethical issues in (qualitative) research with sex offenders"

Abstract: This paper reflects on some ethical and epistemological issues involved in conducting qualitative research with sex offenders that is respectful to all parties involved in the offence. It considers three issues: • Hegemonic knowledge and the shaping of research agendas. Most research about sex offenders is conducted on/with convicted populations. Most sex offenders only receive one conviction for sexual offences. The number of sexual offences continues to increase. The ethical difficulties in researching ‘unconvicted’ offenders restrict research in an area that may be most helpful in reducing sex crimes. • Dilemmas related to the development of new knowledge whilst not contributing harming others. Central to this problem is the issue of confidentiality; traditionally criminological research has operated within a context of offering total confidentiality to research participants. In researching sexual and violent offences this is potentially problematic where participants may disclose unreported offences or the intention to harm others in the future. • Constraints and possibilities of the qualitative interview – recognising and managing interpersonal/dialogical issues. Two issues are considered here, and they both relate to the issue of ‘objectivity’ in interview practice. The first area briefly considers the problem of ‘value’ dissonance where interviewers are required to listen to material that strongly conflicts with their own values. The second area is the managing of distress in a qualitative interview. Whilst principle based ethics can provide guidelines for conducting research they potentially restrict respectful dialogue between researcher and research participant. Character relationship based approaches (e.g. ‘virtue ethics’, ‘ethics of care’ and ‘post-modern ethics’) may offer greater scope for developing respectful research practice. Full details
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27 November 201417:00

Book launch - Michael Schillmeier's "Eventful Bodies: The Cosmopolitics of Illness"

‘Bodies may indeed be everywhere in contemporary social theory, but rarely are they articulated with such feeling and conceptual rigour as in this beautiful and insightful book. The cosmopolitical approach to bodies under challenge that Schillmeier develops here looks certain to set the agenda for social approaches to embodiment for some time to come.’ Steven D. Brown, University of Leicester, UK Full details
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26 November 201415:00

“The epistemological problem of cryptic genetic variability in Waddington’s canalization of development.” - Ms Flavia Fabris (La Sapienza University of Rome/University of Exeter)

The concept of canalization, coined by Waddington to illustrate the complex functioning of all developmental processes, is now subject to some neopreformationist interpretations centred on the role of the notion of cryptic genetic variability. Waddington attributed to this concept the evidence of the genetic assimilation of the acquired characters, claiming that all organisms developed specific abilities to influence their evolutionary pathways through the regulation of buffering mechanisms of genetic variability. However, the contemporary approach of biotechnology has misrepresented the original content of the concept of cryptic genetic variability, transforming its sense to a mere genetic informationism. Consequently, the heuristics value of the concept of canalization has been reduced to a static representation of an “a-contextual developmental system”, closed with respect to its environment. The following presentation will analyze the contemporary assumptions of canalization in Molecular Biology researches with the aim to recover the original whiteheadian meaning of the concept as an open process of interaction between the organism and its environment. Full details
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12 November 201415:00

"Biomimetic science and the politics of pluripotent life" - Dr Elizabeth Johnson (University of Exeter)

This talk presents an overview of my current book manuscript on the implications of the growing but controversial field of biomimicry. Biomimeticists bridge the biosciences with technological engineering, finding inspiration for innovation in nonhuman life forms. In doing so, I suggest that the field creates a new class of natural resources through experimentation with biological organisms, opening up new interfaces between socio-political institutions and biological systems. Among other examples, I’ll explore the study of gecko foot adhesion, which has advanced the development of commercial adhesives and inspired ‘Geckoskin,’ military gear that enables urban soldiers to scale walls. The paper works to illustrate how this and other projects remake life as a set of what I call ‘pluripotent’ capacities—capacities that can be redistributed within global networks of economic production and geopolitical security. I’ll discuss the political implications of these transformations, particularly at the changing interface between ‘life’ and ‘production.’ Full details
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5 November 201415:00

Prof. Dominic Bartmanski, Yale. "Vinyl: The Analogue Record In the Age of Digital Reproduction"

SPA Research Seminar Recent years have seen not just a revival, but a rebirth of the analogue record. More than merely a nostalgic craze, vinyl has become a cultural icon. As music consumption migrated to digital and online, this seemingly obsolete medium became the fastest-growing format in music sales. Whilst vinyl never ceased to be the favourite amongst many music lovers and DJs, from the late 1980s the recording industry regarded it as an outdated relic, consigned to dusty domestic corners and obscure record shops. So why is vinyl now experiencing a 'rebirth of its cool'? Dominik will present his continuing research on the above topic. He has sent the following link to his article with Ian Woodward on the subject published last year in the Journal of Consumer Culture which you may find a useful background reading: Dominik Bartmanski completed his M.A. in Exeter in 2005. He earned his PhD in sociology at Yale University, USA and currently teaches at Bard College Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, both Germany, and Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Full details
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29 October 201415:00

"Dynamic Individuation Across Scales" - Mr James DiFrisco (University of Leuven / University of Exeter)

What is the most appropriate background ontology for thinking about biological systems at different levels of organization? This paper develops the rudiments of a hierarchical process ontology inspired by some ideas of the theoretical biologist K. L. von Bertalanffy, in which biological individuals are modelled as recurrent processes stabilized across different time scales. This perspective is then contrasted with more standard object-oriented and essentialistic approaches in terms of two central issues: (1) individuation and (2) identity over time, or persistence. Full details
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27 October 201415:00

"Knowledge byproducts in the mouse laboratory: Learning about environments while doing genetics" Nicole Nelson (University of Winconsin)

Scholars in Science and Technology Studies, have long noted that laboratory work produces much more than the officially recognized facts that end up in scientific publications. Investigations of local or tacit knowledges, as well as more recent calls to examine non-knowledge and processes of unknowing, draw attention to the many ways of knowing present in scientific work. This paper examines how the production of "knowledge byproducts" (a term I use to encompass the many non-privileged knowledges of ways of knowing present in the laboratory) interacts with the production of sought after scientific facts and privileged epistemic objects. Using ethnographic data from an animal behaviour genetics laboratory, I argue that (somewhat ironically) researchers end up accumulating much more knowledge about the effects of the environment on behaviour than they do about the effects of genes -- although knowledge about the interactions between animals and their environments is not explicitly valued or sought out, it accrues gradually in the laboratory through the process of working with animals and creating a controlled experimental setting. Taking the accumulation and distribution of knowledge byproducts into account helps to better understand animal behaviour genetics practitioners' stances on the certainty (or uncertainty) of their scientific findings. Full details
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23 October 201416:30

Antoine Hennion "Demanding Objects: Taste as a Care for Things in Process of Making"

Antoine's theoretical focus is on mediation and attachment and this topic will draw these notions together. As he puts it: 'The world of taste is constructed on the basis of organized places, trained bodies, texts, instruments and various material objects. Taste does not exist without these systems of collective and materialized appreciation that make it part of a history. It constantly produces its own questioning on what determines it, on the quality of objects, on the nature of the attachment itself. Thus defined, it is less an object to explain than a key area in which to grasp the combined formation of subjectivities and collectives, the objects that make us and the others with whom we live, relations between ourselves and our bodies.' Full details
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22 October 201415:00

"Evolution, Dysfunction and Disease: A Reappraisal." Prof Paul Griffiths, University of Exeter / University of Sydney

An evolutionary approach to function and dysfunction is common in the broader philosophical literature, but it remains a minority view in the philosophy of medicine. Instead, recent work on the definition of disease has been dominated by the biostatistical view of function and dysfunction. Criticism of the biostatistical view (BST) has led its adherents to embrace increasingly complex versions designed to accommodate problem cases. The theoretical rationale for adopting and retaining with this view of dysfunction in the context of medicine has become increasingly unclear. An evolutionary approach to function in the context of medicine has many advantages over the BST. Most importantly, the strong theoretical rationale of the evolutionary approach means that, rather than assessing this account of dysfunction by asking whether it is intuitively satisfying, we can use it to improve our understanding of dysfunction and disease. We illustrate the advantages of the evolutionary approach with a life-history theory perspective on diseases of old-age. Full details
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15 October 201415:00

Heather Strange: "Non-invasive prenatal testing", Cardiff,

The rapid scientific development and clinical implementation of non invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) technologies, which make use of fetal DNA found circulating in the mother's blood from an early stage of pregnancy, presents exiting new opportunities for the application and practice of both prenatal screening and diagnosis. Diagnostic tests for fetal sex (and a small number of specific disorders) are routinely used within clinical genetics and fetal medicine. NIPT screening tests for Down's syndrome have been made available to the population at large, via purchase from a number of private prenatal clinics, and are also being trialled within the NHS. With the publication of research proving that screening of the whole fetal genome is also possible via NIPT, there is much speculation over how quickly and how broadly NIPT tests may expand in scope. Building on a rich history of sociological research which highlights the significance of issues such as the routinisation of testing technologies (Rapp, Rothman), the medicalisation of pregnancy, and the normalisation of eugenic practices (Duster, Shakespeare), this study tracks the development of NIPT from its earliest stages, reflecting on how NIPT, as a technology around which healthcare, technology and capital align in specific ways, may shape experiences of pregnancy, diagnosis, disease and clinical practice. Drawing on interviews with scientists, clinicians, and parents, I will show how early encounters with NIPT shed light on how a new technology becomes aligned with routine, everyday practices, and how participants' (bio)political and moral interrogations give rise to complex and contested processes of division, classification and categorisation. I will show how encounters with this emerging technology become entangled with discussions around already-stigmatised practices and 'public secrets' (Taussig), revealing some of the complex ethical and social issues that lie at the heart of prenatal screening and diagnosis. Full details
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8 October 201415:00

What is the Impact of Big Data on the Science of Metabolism? Dr Nadine Levin (University of Exeter)

In this seminar, I discuss how big data or the so called rise of bigger, faster, and better technologies and ways of using data is impacting the science of metabolism. In other words, I discuss how scientific efforts to re-configure metabolism with big data are impacting understandings of cells and metabolic processes, and are also leading to new ways of intervening into health and disease. This is important in the contemporary biomedical landscape, because knowledge of metabolism is central to emerging disease interventions and medical systems, as well as to how people experience their bodies, environment, and health. Full details
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26 - 27 June 201410:30

'The "Artificial" and the "Natural" in the Life Sciences, c. 1850-1950'

The event is generously supported by Egenis, the University's Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, the British Society for the History of Science and the British Society for the Philosophy of Science.Details of this are on the workshop website located at: http://exeter2014.wordpress.comThe conference programme (also available on the website) includes three plenary talks by the following invited speakers: Helen Curry (University of Cambridge), Jon Hodge (University of Leeds), and Joeri Witteveen (Universiteit Utrecht). There are multiple contributed papers including:Cellular Utopias: Protoplasm and Early Twentieth-Century Synthetic Biology (Robert Brain)Thomas Hunt Morgan and the invisible genes: using the artificial to discover the natural (Guilia Frezza and Mauro Capocci)Why Wild Type? Historical Understandings of Nature, Species and Variation and the Field-Lab Threshold' (Tarquin Holmes)Women, science and technical subjectivity in Britain c.1860-1900 (Tom Quick)Drawings, poetry, videos and embryology: from Haeckel to Garstang and beyond (Simon Rundle, John Spicer, and Oliver Tills)Additionally, there will be two forums, on the themes of Can experimental intervention be natural? and Towards a philosophy of variation.The registration fee is 30 for the whole workshop, and the website to register at is here: For more details contact James Lowe at jwel201 [at] Full details
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20 June 2014

Thinking about a career in teaching: PGCE taster day

Full details
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16 June 2014

Speaker: Elizabeth Johnson - Reproducing Bees: Value and Bricolage in Biomimetic Practice

CANCELLED. Full details
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9 June 201415:00

Dr Matthew Smith (University of Strathclyde) - '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
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2 June 201415:00

Prof Sarah Franklin (University of Cambridge), 'Notes Toward a General Theory of Reproductivity'

SPA Research / Egenis / Symbiology Lab seminar. Using the case study of IVF, this talk contrasts two models of reproduction inside-out, and outside-in to ask where and how reproduction takes place, exactly. By examining how we situate reproductivity in relation, for example, to structure, agency, organisation, discourse, or materiality, we can usefully consider the uses of this concept. Like 'the question concerning technology', with which it arguably has much in common, how we model reproductivity is at once an obvious and under-analysed question, and one that is deservedly receiving much greater attention across the disciplines. Full details
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2 June 201415:00

Speaker: Prof. Sarah Franklin (University of Cambridge) 'Notes Toward a General Theory of Reproductivity'

Using the case study of IVF, this talk contrasts two models of reproduction inside-out, and outside-in to ask where and how reproduction takes place, exactly. By examining how we situate reproductivity in relation, for example, to structure, agency, organisation, discourse, or materiality, we can usefully consider the uses of this concept. Like 'the question concerning technology', with which it arguably has much in common, how we model reproductivity is at once an obvious and under-analysed question, and one that is deservedly receiving much greater attention across the disciplines. Full details
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27 May 201415:00

Speaker: Pierre-Olivier Methot, Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada, 'Mirko Grmek's investigative pathway'

Trained as a physician and well-versed in Ancient medicine, Croatian-born historian of science Mirko D. Grmek (1924-2000) was also a world reference on French physiologist Claude Bernard, a scholar on 17th and 19th century sciences of life, a leading thinker of the emergence of AIDS, and a commentator on the collapse of Yugoslavia. A member of the Resistance during the war, he directed the first Institute for the History of Medicine in Croatia before establishing himself in Paris where he worked under the guidance of Alexandre Koyre, Fernand Braudel, and Georges Canguihem, prior to becoming professor at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (1973-1989). Despite his scholarly achievements and international recognition - he received the Sarton Medal in 1991 - Grmek, as an intellectual figure, remains little known outside France. Focussing on his theoretical reflections deriving from his historical studies, this paper considers how these have led Grmek into an engagement with contemporary social and political problems, and examines more broadly the cultural and scientific currents that contributed in making him an influential figure in the intellectual history of science and medicine during the second half of the 20th century. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd 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

Is a phylogenetic classification the only scientific way of putting bacteria in order? Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
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
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 labelling 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
Amory A239ABAdd this to your calendar
6 May 201414:00

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
10 April 201412:00

Speaker: Warwick Anderson (University of Sydney) 'Getting Ahead of One's Self?'

This open seminar is part of a meeting on 'Immunitary Geographies', jointly organised by the Departments of Geography, History and Sociology, Politics and Anthropology and will be followed by a small workshop at Byrne House 'Topologies of Immunity' with further papers and more opportunity for discussion. Full details
Building OneAdd this to your calendar
31 March 201415:00

Speakers: Paul Griffiths & Karola Stotz: Causal Foundations of Biological Information

CANCELLED (20/3/14).We hope to reschedule this seminar for the next academic year. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
27 March 201415:30

Professor Karima Bennoune (UC Davis) '"Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here": The human rights struggle against Muslim fundamentalism.'

"Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here": The human rights struggle against Muslim fundamentalism.Karima Bennoune carried out nearly 300 interviews over three years with people from nearly 30 countries, from Afghanistan to Mali, to document peaceful, local human rights struggles against fundamentalism. These are some of the most important, and most overlooked, human rights struggles in the world today. From Pakistani peace activists to Tunisian feminists, from Chechen journalists to Algerian victims of terrorism, Bennoune will share their stories and provide a human rights analysis from these many frontlines.Karima Bennoune is Professor of International Law at UC Davis School of Law, a member of the board of the network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and a former Amnesty International Legal Advisor. Full details
Amory B316Add this to your calendar
24 March 201415:00

Dr John Danaher (Keele University), The Design of Social Epistemic Systems: Lessons from the Legal Trial

Abstract: Social epistemic systems are systems in which agents and institutions send and receive signals, and generate judgments of truth or falsity. The legal trial is a paradigmatic example of such a system. Taking this characterisation onboard, this paper sets out to provide a taxonomy of the different epistemic interventions into the legal system, and to develop a framework for evaluating such interventions. The taxonomy identifies four types of intervention, which vary in how they treat human agency (information hiding, instrumentalising, enhancing, and by-passing). The framework works from a multi-dimensional theory of legitimacy conditions. To illustrate the advantages of this framework, a specific case study is analysed. The case study is the increasing use of data-mining algorithms in legal decision-making. It is argued that the increasing use of such algorithms poses a new type of legitimacy threat to the legal system (the threat of algocracy). The paper concludes by evaluating three proposed solutions to this threat. Each is found to be lacking. Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
17 March 201415:00

Dr Tom Roberts (University of Exeter), Emotion Regulation and Responsibility

Abstract:Often, we hold individuals responsible for the emotions they undergo - for instance, we criticize a person for finding a racist joke amusing, and we praise someone for feeling righteous anger when she encounters injustice. Two competing approaches to the nature of emotional responsibility have emerged in the literature, whose defining disagreement is over the extent to which a subject must exert voluntary control over her emotions in order to be an appropriate target of praise or blame for them. On the one hand, Aristotelian accounts hold that a person's responsibility lies in the cultivation of character traits over time - the (often deliberate and self-conscious) development of emotional tendencies and responses over the course of a life. On the other hand, reasons-responsiveness views hold that what matters is the agent's rational sensitivity to appropriate kinds of reason, a sensitivity that reveals or discloses her values and identity. For example, a person is responsible for episodes of fear just when these states respond in a suitable way to dangers or threats. On theories of this kind, the historical provenance of an individual's emotional capacities, and the extent to which she has exerted voluntary control over them, is largely immaterial to the question of whether she is responsible for their outputs.I argue that these two approaches to understanding the nature of emotional responsibility have paid insufficient attention to our powers of emotional self-regulation, which offer a degree of short-term voluntary control over our affective states that is not the same as the long-term cultivation of character promoted by Aristotelian views, and which is not captured by reasons-responsiveness as typically understood. Our capacities of emotion-regulation come in several forms, including situation-selection and modification; cognitive change; attention-direction; and modification of expression. These powers permit us to modulate, suppress, initiate, or encourage emotional states in the course of our moment-to-moment affective responding. Regulatory powers can be exercised in such a way as to be in opposition to the subject's rational assessment of her situation (for instance, she can control her fear even though she takes herself to be in peril), or they can be deployed in order to bring her emotional response into line with that assessment (for example, to bring forth her grief at the loss of a loved one). Self-regulation contributes to our emotional responsibility, then, by offering ways of voluntarily affecting our emotional states that do not rely on long-term cultivation of character, and which do not always align with our rational assessment of relevant reasons. A thoroughgoing theory of emotional responsibility must attend to self-regulation. Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
10 February 201415:00

Speaker: Gemma Anderson (University of the Arts London and Falmouth University) Isomorphology; Artistic research as scientific critique

I will discuss how extensive research and collaboration with the Natural History Museum and Imperial College has developed the concept and practice of Isomorphology. A methodology which incorporates both artistic and scientific methods, Isomorphology reaches beyond conventional scientific understanding, and critiques the contemporary system of scientific order. I will discuss the creative possibilities of Isomorphology in both artistic and scientific contexts. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
3 February 201415:00

Professor Joanna Latimer (Cardiff), "Unsettling Conditions? Motility, human division and posthuman imperatives"

SPA Research Seminar: Abstract:Contrasting two trajectories of the posthuman debate, I explore how their different imperatives challenge humanisms binding binaries through the creation of new libratory imaginaries of hybridity and connection. The first longstanding trajectory of the posthuman debate arises out of concerns overtechnology. Utopian visions of human-technology hybrids that extend peoples powers to carve out their own futures run up against a lineage going back to Heidegger and Foucault - one that unpicks notions of the discrete, self-contained and autonomous individual, but nonetheless views the fall or disappearance of the human as dangerous and even dystopian. Drawing on ideas of relational extension that de-centre the subject, my own field studies show how the proliferation of technologies inside contemporary health care are not so much medical as they create materials for managing how care is conducted. Supporting Stratherns critique of the culture of enhancement - and her observation that technology works us as much as we work it - my findings suggest many technologies diminish peoples power; many are turned on practitioners and patients alike in ways that exaggerate the individuation of responsibility and intensify the precarity of identity and belonging. Contrastingly, the second trajectory derives from the DNA revolution in biology and the mapping of the genome. Debates here stress substance in common, affording possibilities for connection and new biosocialities that undo division in humanisms dualisms. Specifically, postgenomic imaginaries are seen to have the potential to change the conditions of possibility for the production and reproduction of humanisms central figure: the autonomous individual capable of living the ethical life. In my recent field studies of genetic medicine and ageing biology Ihighlight how humanist and posthumanist imperatives actually work together in ways that reject any totalising narrative. Instead of a new start that abandons the dividing practices that hold human exceptionalism in place, we see cultural performances within the clinic and the laboratory that are adept at shifting people and their grounds, back and forth, across both human and posthuman imaginaries. What comes into view in my work across both of these trajectories of the posthuman debate is elicitation for humans to be motile as much as mobile, moved by human and posthuman imperatives alike. The over-riding imperative though is to be on call, continuously switching extensions and shifting the world to hand; an endless condition of never being allowed to settle. Full details
Amory B219Add this to your calendar
28 January 201416:00

Speaker: Dr Helen Curry (University of Cambridge) - 'Tinkering with Genes and Chromosomes in the Lab and Garden, 1930 - 1960'

This talk will consider the history of a few techniques used to modify the genes and chromosomes of agricultural and horticultural plants in the mid-twentieth century. These include exposure to radiation from x-rays and radioisotopes and the application of chemical mutagens. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
20 January 201415:00

Speaker: Professor Peter Simons (Trinity College, Dublin) 'Why Process Metaphysics?'

Process metaphysics is a species of metaphysical view according to which the most fundamental entities in the natural universe are processes rather than things or substances. While a minority view in the history of metaphysics, it has enjoyed supporters from Heraclitus to Whitehead, its most frequently cited 20th century advocate. Whiteheads own view, influential though it has been, chiefly in North America, is in fact somewhat eccentric in its understanding of the term process. Process metaphysics has made something of a comeback in recent years under the names perdurantism and four-dimensionalism. In this talk I will consider reasons from science and philosophy for and against subscribing to the priority of processes, finding some good and some less so, and concluding with an argument to the effect that, while processes are arguably the fundamental entities, there is a further layer of metaphysical ultimates below that of processes. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
13 January 201415:00

Eva von Redecker, Institute for Philosophy, Humboldt University Berlin, "Disobedience as association: Butler with Arendt on radical change."

Abstract: Usually, "subversion" or "resignification", the post-structuralist concepts for change put forward most prominently in the work of Judith Butler, are seen as the constricted, if not defeatist vocabulary of a political theory beyond hope for radical change or revolution. Contrary to this, I want to reconstruct Butler's notion of performative critique as a key term to account for social transformation.The norm-changing effect of a particular local practice was initially construed in Butler's analysis of the Drag Queen at the end of Gender Trouble. Interestingly, Butler gives there an account of critique closely mapped on acts of civil disobedience, especially as they were performed by ACT UP protesting the AIDS crisis. Yet within her own framework, Butler cannot account for the felicity conditions of the performative she envisages. Hannah Arendt's critique of individualist conceptions of civil disobedience provides the cue to solve this dilemma: only if we consider the collective dimension of deviant acts can we account both for their precarious stability and their transformative impact.Speaker Bio: Eva von Redecker works in the area of critical theory and social philosophy, both in the tradition of the Frankfurt School and from the perspectives of feminist and queer theory on social change, history, gender, property, recognition and power. Eva has authored an introduction to the work of Judith Butler and a monograph on Hannah Arendt's moral philosophy. Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
25 November 201315:00

Data labours: Looking after the sequence universe

How are we to practically engage with distributed information infrastructures in order to address questions of form, design, and creativity? Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
11 November 201315:00

Symbiology Lab Seminar with Dr Astrid Schrader

This paper explores the relationship between scientific responsibility and nonhuman contributions to agency in experimental practices. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
4 November 201315:00

Prof. John Eade, (UCL), 'Desecularisation in the Global City: Religious Diversity and Growth in Contemporary London'

Abstract:During the last 60 years three forms of mobility have played a crucial role in the process of home-making across London global migration, suburbanisation and gentrification. While these mobilities have been extensively analysed in terms of secular processes, the role of religion is becoming ever more evident as Christian congregations revive and a variety of mosques, temples and gurudwaras transform local landscapes. This talk will explore the continuing, albeit changing, relevance of religion in London by analysing the involvement by Christian, Muslim and Hindu congregations in the making of multiple homes across the metropolis. I will link this process of diverse home-makings to current debates about post-secular cities. While global migration, suburbanisation and gentrification operate here in specific local contexts across a particular city, these modes of mobility operate around the globe and encourage comparison with American and Australian cities. Hence, the talk will conclude by referring to the global context of both desecularisation and secularisation in urban conditions. Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
18 October 201319:00

Dr Christine Hauskeller will take part in a debate organised by the University of Exeter Debating Society

Full details
Newman Lecture TheatresAdd this to your calendar
14 October 201315:00

Dr Samantha Hurn (University of Exeter) - Baboon cosmopolitanism: other-than-human moralities in a multi-species community

Egenis Seminar: Human conflict with other-than-human animals (henceforth animals) is a regular occurrence where species meet and compete for access to resources (Knight 2005). This paper focuses on a specific example of inter-species conflict; that which occurs between humans and Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) on South Africas Cape Peninsula. While baboons are widely regarded by locals and wildlife managers as part of South Africas wildlife heritage, the conservation of these animals is controversial because they are not classified as an endangered species. Moreover, their ability to adapt to increased urbanization through, amongst other techniques, the exploitation of non-traditional foodstuffs appropriated from their human neighbours, places them in often mortal danger of retributive attacks they have, quite literally, become victims of their own success. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
7 October 201315:00

Dr Jean Harrington (Kings College London), Title TBC

SPA Research Seminar: Dr Jean Harrington (Kings College London), Title TBC Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
30 September 201315:00

Iconic Representations and Representative Practices

Egenis Seminar.A discussion of Peirces philosophy, and in particular his distinctive formulation of pragmatism. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
12 - 14 July 2013

Joint Session 2013

The Joint Session is a philosophy conference run by the Aristotelian Society in conjunction with the Mind Association. It is a key event in the annual philosophical calendar, attracting prestigious UK and international speakers working in a range of philosophical areas. The 87th Joint Session will be held at the University of Exeter from 12 - 14 July 2013. Full details
Building OneAdd this to your calendar
4 - 5 July 2013

British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference 2013

The purpose of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science is to study the logic, the methods, and the philosophy of science, as well as those of the various special sciences, including the social sciences. The annual conference of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science for 2013 will be held at the University of Exeter on 4-5 July. The conference comprises plenary sessions and sessions of contributed papers. Full details
Building OneAdd this to your calendar
26 June 201313:00

Prof Jeffrey Alexander (Yale), Title TBC

SPA Research seminar - Prof Jeffrey Alexander (Yale), Title TBC Full details
XFiAdd this to your calendar
10 June 201316:00

Department seminar with Prof Gavin Kitching (De Montfort)

Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology seminar Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
20 May 201315:30

Dr Javier Lezaun: Screens and filters: curating the open archive

Egenis seminar with Dr Javier Lezaun Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
10 - 11 May 2013

The SSIS Annual Postgraduate Research Conference

On Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May the SSIS Annual Postgraduate Research Conference will be held. The event will bring PGR students from across the college together to discuss their current research. Full details
Queen'sAdd this to your calendar
9 May 201313:30

Annual SSIS Research Methods Festival

The Annual College of Social Sciences and International Studies Research Methods Festival has been designed to complement the PGR research seminar training sessions which take place across the academic year. The event aims to introduce delegates to a range of contemporary research projects and methodological issues and to allow students further exploration and discussion of research related issues. Our keynote speaker for the event will be Professor Gaby Weiner, who will be speaking about her recently published text: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Lives. The event will end with a mock viva, which will enable students an insight into this process of examination. A drinks reception will also be held after this session. Full details
Queen'sAdd this to your calendar
29 April 201315:00

Dr Shane Glackin, (Exeter), "The Publicity of Language and the Species Concept"

Dr Shane Glackin, (Exeter), "The Publicity of Language and the Species Concept" Full details
Amory B105Add this to your calendar
25 March 201315:30

Egenis seminar with Ann-Sophie Barwich (Egenis)

Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
18 March 201315:30

Egenis/CMH seminar with Professor Holger Maehle

Professor Holger Maehle is Director of the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease, Durham University Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
11 March 201315:30

Egenis seminar with Professor Barry Barnes

Professor Barnes, formerly co-director of Egenis, is known for his pioneering work on the sociological study of knowledge generation and evaluation in science. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
6 March 201315:30

Prof. Victor Caston (Michigan) - Title TBC

Prof. Victor Caston (Michigan) - Title TBC Full details
Amory B219Add this to your calendar
28 February - 1 March 201313:00

The Anthropology of Kinship(s): Imagine Kinship

Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
18 February 20133:30

Professor Julie Kent - Blood relations: Gender, maternity and blood safety

Egenis Seminar with Professor Julie Kent (University of the West of England) Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
28 January 201315:00

Dr Stephen Burwood (Hull) "Head, Brain and Self: a Phenomenological Entanglement"

Dr Stephen Burwood (Hull) "Head, Brain and Self: a Phenomenological Entanglement" Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
28 January 20139:30

ESRC Seminar Series: The role of diagnosis in health and wellbeing: Diagnosis, technologies and innovation

A social science perspective on the social, economic and political costs and consequences of diagnosis. Key speakers include: Andrew Webster, Sally Wyatt and Katie Featherstone Full details
Reed HallAdd this to your calendar
18 January 201310:30

Expert workshop: Understanding Evolvability and Robustness

This workshop brings together biologists, philosophers, engineers and mathematicians interested in systems and synthetic biology, in order to discuss the central notion of evolvability: the capacity of organisms for adaptive evolution, which secures the emergence of beneficial traits that can undergo natural selection. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
3 December 201215:00

CANCELLED: Sociology & Philosophy Research Seminar: Dr Stephen Burwood, University of Hull, "Phenomenological Reasons for Thinking that the Brain is the Self"

Please note this event has been cancelled. Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
5 November 201215:00

Sociology & Philosophy Research Seminar: Dr Ed Skidelsky: 'Happiness and Pleasure

Abstract: In the utilitarian tradition, happiness and pleasure are not usually distinguished. I argue that this is a mistake. Happiness typically entails beliefs about the world; pleasure typically does not. Once the distinction between happiness and pleasure is recognised, utilitarianism as an ethical system becomes considerably less attractive. Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
12 - 13 July 2012

Making Data Accessible to All

Data curation, use and publication in plant science. Plant scientists are often required to donate data to open access databases (for instance, by the BBSRC data management policy). They are also encouraged to make use of these databases in order to boost their research and speed up discovery. It is not yet clear, however, whether and how these practices are affecting experimentation within the plant sciences, and whether data donation and use on a large scale has been effective in fostering innovative research. The focus of this workshop is to discuss issues surrounding data donation, data use and publication from the viewpoint of plant biologists, with the aim to produce a series of recommendations about the problems involved in data dissemination in plant science. Full details
Innovation CentreAdd this to your calendar
12 June 201215:00

Egenis Seminar: title to be confirmed

Egenis Seminar Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
31 May 201215:30

Robert & Edward Skidelsky present & sign their new book, "How Much is Enough?"

Book presentation and signing by Robert & Edward Skidelsky, with commentaries from Ian Hampsher-Monk and Richard Seaford Full details
Queens Building LT2Add this to your calendar
21 May 201215:00

Egenis Seminar: Growing meat with stem cells: In vitro meat in context

Egenis Seminar Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
14 May 201215:00

Egenis Seminar: title to be confirmed

Egenis Seminar Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
7 May 201215:00

Interactive Origins of the Socially Extended Mind

Sociology and Philosophy Departmental Seminars 2011-2012 Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
30 April 201215:00

Rethinking the Patentability of Human Genes in view of the recent US and EU Judicial Resolutions

Egenis Seminar Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
2 April 201214:00

Egenis Seminar: title to be confirmed

Egenis Seminar Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
26 March 201215:00

Producing Sound Judgments: Inside the Music Adjudication Process

Sociology and Philosophy Departmental Seminars 2011-2012 Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
12 March 201215:00

Music Therapy and Health Humanities

Professor Brian Abrams, Department of Music, Montclair State University, USA Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
20 February 201212:00

What to do with a degree in Philosophy?

Ruth Porter, Communications Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs will talk from her own experience about the interaction of think tanks and trade associations with the government and talk about communication and media roles.This event is for students in the Philosophy department. If you would like to attend this event, please email Julia Paci Full details
Building OneAdd this to your calendar
6 February 201215:00

Research and Pedagogy. A History of Quantum Physics through its Early Textbooks

Sociology and Philosophy Departmental Seminars 2011-2012 Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
9 January 201215:00

Moral Enhancement

Sociology and Philosophy Departmental Seminars 2011-2012 Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
5 December 201115:00

Critical Theory in the Neo-Liberal Age

Sociology and Philosophy Departmental Seminars 2011-2012 Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar
7 November 201115:00

Muslim/non-Muslim relations in the UK

Sociology and Philosophy Departmental Seminars 2011-2012 Full details
Amory B315Add this to your calendar