Friday, February 19, 2010

REMINDER CFP: Spontaneous Generations - Volume 4: Scientific Instruments: Knowledge, Practice, and Culture

REMINDER Call for Papers - Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science - Volume 4: Scientific Instruments: Knowledge, Practice, and Culture.

Spontaneous Generations is an open, online, peer-reviewed academic journal published by graduate students at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto.

In addition to articles for peer review, opinion essays, and book reviews, Spontaneous Generations is seeking contributions to its focused discussion section. This section consists of short peer-reviewed and invited articles devoted to a particular theme. This year, the theme is "Scientific Instruments: Knowledge, Practice, and Culture." See below for submission guidelines.

We welcome submissions from scholars in all disciplines, including but not limited to HPS, STS, History, Philosophy, Women's Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. Papers from all periods are welcome.

The journal consists of four sections:

A focused discussion section devoted to Scientific Instruments (see below). (1000-3000 words recommended.)

A peer-reviewed section of research papers on various topics in the field of HPS. (5000-8000 words recommended.)

A book review section for books published in the last 5 years. (Up to 1000 words.)

An opinions section that may include a commentary on or a response to current concerns, trends, and issues in HPS. (Up to 500 words.)

With the “practical turn” in history and philosophy of science came a renewed interest in scientific instruments. Although they have become a nexus for worries about empiricism and standards of evidence, instruments only rarely feature as primary sources for scholars in the history and philosophy of science. Even historians of technology have been accused of underutilizing the evidence embodied in material objects (Corn 1996). The fundamental questions are not settled. First, there is no general agreement as to what counts as a scientific instrument: Are simulations instruments? Can people function as instruments? Do economic or sociological instruments operate in the same way as material instruments? There is a second, related debate about how scientific instruments work: Is there a unified account? Do instruments produce knowledge or produce effects? Do they extend our senses (Humphreys 2006) or embody knowledge (Baird 2006)? Third, HPS has seen a variety of approaches to fitting instruments into broader historical and philosophical questions about scientific communities and practices: Shapin and Schaffer (1985) relate instruments to the scientific life, Galison (1997) gives instrument makers equal footing with theorists and experimentalists within the trading zone of scientific discourse, and Hacking (1983) elevates instruments to central importance in the realism-antirealism debate. Finally, it seems plausible that there are methodological concerns specific to scientific instruments: What lessons can we draw from anthropology, material culture, and other allied fields?

We welcome short papers exploring the history and philosophy of scientific instruments for inclusion in Spontaneous Generations Volume 4. We recommend that submissions intended for Volume 4 be sent by 26 February 2010 to accommodate the peer review process.

For more details or to submit a manuscript, please visit the journal homepage at:

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