« January 2011 »

Wed Jan 19, 2011

Science for Aliens

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Location: Notre Dame Room, 202 Lafortune Student Center

Kate Marshall, Department of English, University of Notre Dame

In this brown-bag session, I will discuss how science studies has informed my trajectory as a literary scholar, and describe the continence I see between directions in the study of literature and science and what is loosely grouped under the rubric of media studies in the language disciplines. Drawing on examples from my current projects on media and architecture in American fiction and narrators imagined after genomic and technological shifts, I’ll outline some key questions I see emerging from the specifically literary forms of thinking about science. I will also include a view of the “two cultures” cliché as seen through the lens of C. P. Snow’s Corridors of Power

Mon Jan 24, 2011

Morality Before Religion: Empathy, Reciprocity, and Fairness in Our Fellow Primates

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Location: McKenna Hall Auditorium

Frans de Waal C.H. Candler Professor of Psychology, Emory University

Homo homini lupus – “man is wolf to man” - is an old Roman proverb popularized by Thomas Hobbes. Even though it permeates large parts of law, economics, and political science, the proverb fails to do justice to our species’ thoroughly social nature as well as to canids, which are among the most gregarious and cooperative animals. For the past quarter century, this cynical view has also been promoted by an influential school of biology, followers of Thomas Henry Huxley, which holds that we are born nasty as a result of “selfish” genes. Accordingly, it is only with the greatest possible effort that we can hope to become moral beings. Charles Darwin, however, saw things differently: he believed in continuity between animal social instincts and human morality. He wrote an entire book about The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Modern psychology and neuroscience support Darwin’s view about the moral emotions. Human moral decisions often stem from “gut” reactions, some of which we share with other animals. I will elaborate on the connection between morality and primate behavior. Other primates show signs of empathy, prosocial tendencies, reciprocity, and a sense of fairness that promote a mutually satisfactory modus vivendi. I will review evidence for continuity to support the view that the building blocks of morality are older than humanity.…

Thu Jan 27, 2011

Women and War

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Location: Oak Room, South Dining Hall

Mike Desch Emerging Technologies of National Security and Intelligence

ROTC Women has teamed up with The Gender Relations Center, Women in International Security, Feminist Voice and Women in Politics, for a panel discussion, “Women and War: In and Out of Uniform,” on at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27 in the Oak Room of South Dining Hall. Our purpose is to explore “how the unique characteristics of women, both civilian and military, are impacting war zones and, in turn, how war affects women, emotionally, physically and mentally” and foster some dialogue of the subject on campus.…

Fri Jan 28, 2011

Three Kinds of Pluralism about Scientific Ontology

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Location: 220 Malloy

Anjan Chakravartty, Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto

What ontology of the world is revealed by our best science? On even the most optimistic view of the epistemic credentials of the sciences ­- scientific realism ­- the answer is yet unclear. This paper investigates one aspect of the question of how realists should conceive of scientific ontology. I argue that between the implausible extremes of naïve realism and full-blown constructivism, the realist must come to grips with three forms of pluralism: one concerning the ways in which scientists "package" properties into entities; another concerning the precise metaphysical natures of these entities; and another concerning the context relativity of their behaviour.…