Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Call for Papers: 6th Annual HAPSAT Conference

Call for Papers: 6th Annual HAPSAT Conference
Instruments: Mental and Material

On Sunday April 25, HAPSAT, the Graduate Student Society at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science at Technology at the University of Toronto, will host its sixth annual conference, Instruments: Mental and Material.

Scientific instruments have emerged as a central theme in the history and philosophy of science and in science and technology studies. In Leviathan and the Air Pump, Shapin and Schaffer cite instruments, together with writing style and modest witnessing, as the technologies that enable the new scientific life. More recently, Galison’s Image and Logic gives instrument makers equal standing with theorists and experimentalists within the trading zones of scientific discovery. The historiography of medicine has also explored how instruments played a significant role in changing the diagnostic acumen of doctors and revolutionizing concepts of disease. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done in order to consider instruments as both a serious subject of study, and a resource for historical investigation and argumentation. Similarly, since Hacking’s seminal Representing and Intervening, philosophers of science have acknowledged instruments as being of central importance to the practice of science. They have become a nexus for worries about empiricism and standards of evidence; Latour (Science in Action) for instance, has argued that facts and artifacts are constructed in the same way, while Davis Baird (Thing Knowledge) argues that instruments contain knowledge of how to produce effects.

The keynote address will be given by Jacalyn Duffin (Queen’s University): “Stethoscope: Technology and the Meaning of Life”

We welcome papers addressing, but not limited to, the following questions:

How do we learn from instruments? What roles do scientific instruments play in scientific investigations of nature?

What is the relationship between science and instrumentation?

To what extent have medical instruments transformed the patient-practitioner relationship?

Can abstract entities like scientific models or mathematical equations be considered instruments? Is there anything to be gained by doing so?

How have social, cultural, and economic contexts shaped decisions about instruments?

How can we, as historians, learn from instruments? Can our textual field learn to effectively marshal material evidence?

How can we trust scientific instruments?

What kind of evidence do we get from scientific instruments?

We invite graduate students and recent graduates working in fields such as HPS, STS, history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, gender studies, and law, to submit paper and panel proposals that critically engage with this theme. For papers please email abstracts of up to 250 words to HAPSAT@gmail.com by March 19, 2010 and for panels please email a document with a 250 word abstract describing the panel as a whole in addition to individual abstracts for each paper (also 250 words). Each presenter will be given 20 minutes.

We hope to be able to offer billeting and small travel subsidies for graduate students traveling to Toronto for the conference.

More details and our past programs

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