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Past events

Upcoming Egenis events can be found here.

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24 May 202415:00

Modelling Climate Change: An Overview of the Crisis and Reconstruction Plans in Southern Brazil

We are hosting a rapid response online panel on Friday 24 May 2024 at 15:00 (BST) about the recent and devastating floods in South Brazil and the role of science in modelling, predicting and responding to extreme climate events, and how it can inform and support response and replanning efforts.. Full details
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22 - 23 May 20249:00

IDSAI - Artificial Intelligence for Geological Modelling and Mapping

Rapid developments in AI and data science are unlocking new opportunities for how we go about modelling and mapping the Earth. This timely conference will bring together international experts in geoscientific applications of statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to share perspectives and discuss how we can maximise the benefit of these technologies in the future of geological modelling and mapping. Full details
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20 May 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "When Infant Mortality Was Born: Dutch Preventive Child Health Care without the State, 1890-1930", Martijn van der Meer & Noortje Jacobs (Erasmus MC)

This talk investigates the emergence of Dutch preventive child health care in the first decades of the twentieth century. It shows that the rise of collective action on this terrain followed from the recognition of “infant mortality” as a public problem—a late nineteenth-century configuration that went hand in hand with the professionalization of paediatrics.. Full details
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13 May 202415:30

CANCELLED - EGENIS seminar: "Themes from Inference and Representation" Prof Mauricio Suarez (Complutense University of Madrid)

I review some of the main themes in the book I just published for University of Chicago Press, entitled Inference and Representation: A Study in Modeling Science. I focus in particular on the emergence of the modeling attitude in 19th century science and the claimed use of models in practice, with special emphasis on theoretical models in physics and evolutionary biology. I extract some of the consequences of taking an inferential deflationary approach to modeling and discuss some implications for the realism-antirealism debate. Full details
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13 - 14 May 20249:00

Embodiment, Experience, Enculturation: A joint Philosophy conference between the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the University of Exeter

What is it to be embodied and enculturated? How do human bodies interact, experience each other, and “experience with” each other? How do we interact with technologies, and how are contemporary technologies transforming experience? How do embodied experiences change over time? How should scientists study embodiment, and what role do embodiment and action have in scientific understanding?. Full details
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2 May 202416:00

SCI Project Showcase Series: Gene Drive Mosquitoes

Gene drive mosquitoes is a short documentary film that is beautifully shot in Uganda and explores Ugandan stakeholders’ hopes for gene drive mosquitoes – a radical new tool that offers a way to eliminate the mosquitoes that cause malaria. Uganda could be one of the first countries in the world to release this type of technology and malaria is the main cause of death in Uganda, so the stakes are high. The film builds on social science research at the University of Exeter and Makerere University in Uganda and shows the complexity of governing this technology. Following the film, Chris Opesen (Makerere University, Uganda) and Sarah Hartley (Exeter) will answer questions and facilitate discussion. Chris will also be available to talk about other global health topics he is working on. Funding to bring Chris to Exeter is from the Exeter’s Sub-Saharan Africa Partnership Development Fund. Film producers: Sarah Hartley and Tom Law (@tomlawsays). Full details
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29 April 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Tactical reporting, actionability and uncertainty in the genomic clinic ", Prof Adam Hedgecoe (Cardiff University)

Drawing on ethnographic observations in over 290 clinical team meetings and covering a range of conditions from inherited heart disease, cancer, developmental delays and dysmorphia, this paper seeks to explore professional decision making around clinical genomic sequencing. With a specific focus on decisions about a particular kind of ambiguous result – called Variants of Uncertain Significance (VUS) – this paper examines the role of the perceived ‘actionability’ of specific genomic results. The key insight centres on the way in which clinicians’ beliefs about how parents will react to a result feed back into decisions about the status of such ambiguous results, builds on previous STS work around actionability from Nicole Nelson, Alberto Cambrosio and Stefan Timmermans. Full details
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29 April 202413:30

SCI Project Showcase Series: Does Increasing Public Spending in Health Improve Health?

This project seeks to estimate the causal impacts of public health spending on individual health outcomes in Brazil. It studies a major health reform in Brazil in which municipalities were mandated to spend 15% of their revenue on health. Collecting microdata covering 5,507 Brazilian municipalities over 12 years, this project finds that the large increases in spending resulted in increased availability of hospitals and health professionals, greater individual access to primary care, and improvements in certain health outcomes such as infant mortality, with less evidence suggesting improvements in adult mortality.. Full details
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25 April 202414:00

Joint IDSAI/GSI Early Career Lightning Talks

We are excited to welcome you to the first ECR collaborative lightning talks event with IDSAI and GSI. Please sign up to either come along or talk on your research, recent publication, new areas for collaboration or anything else related to being an ECR. Each talk will be allocated 3-5 minutes!! There will be pizza!!:. Full details
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24 April 202412:30

IDSAI/Business School Research Seminar: 'Collaboration and Conflict in Human-Human and Human-Machine Teams' with Professor Taha Yasseri

IDSAI/Business School Seminar. Full details
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17 April 202414:00

IDSAI Research Seminar: 'SQL and Large Language Models: A Marriage Made in Heaven?' with Professor Paolo Papotti

IDSAI Research Seminar. Full details
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17 - 19 April 20249:15

Understanding Life in a Changing Planet: 20+2 Years of Egenis, the Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences

Marking the 20th anniversary of Egenis, this three-day event will feature an exciting line-up of distinguished international guest speakers, alumni, and current members of Egenis. Speakers will explore some of the key ideas developed at Egenis and their wider impact, as well as looking ahead to the main opportunities and challenges for the interdisciplinary studies of the life sciences in our changing planet. The event will also honour the achievements of Professor John Dupré, co-founder of Egenis and one of the world’s leading philosophers of biology. Full details
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16 April 202417:00

Exeter Science and Technology Studies (STS) Network Social

Egenis has a strong tradition of STS scholarship in conversation with philosophy and history of the life sciences across multiple generations. This extends beyond our home department of SPSPA and in recent years STS has been flourishing at Exeter across many more disciplines, and concerns beyond the life sciences.. Full details
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12 April 202414:00

Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group Seminar with Dr Marten van Schijndel

We welcome you to our next seminar by the Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group. We will have Dr Marten van Schijndel for a talk. Talk details will be announced soon. Room M1a, Innovation Phase 1 Building has been booked for online delivery if you would like to join us. Full details
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2 April 202415:00

The First Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group Seminar with Professor Dr Lilian-Cristine Hübner

Our first Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group seminar (hybrid meeting), presented by Professor Dr Lilian Cristine Hübner. We have a small space in IDSAI, Room M1, Innovation Centre Phase 1 Building for online delivery if you would like to join us in person. Full details
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25 March 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Are biopsychological theories addiction biased, prejudicial and harmful to drug users? Yes", Dr Lee Hogarth (University of Exeter)

Psychologists have a long history of exaggerating biogenic theories of unusual behaviour which are prejudicial and harmful to socially marginalised groups. This concern exists in relation to addiction theory, specifically, whether the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA), with its emphasis on biological determinants and medical solutions, promotes stigma towards drug users and degrades their confidence in personal recovery.. Full details
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19 March 202413:00

Workshop: “Mind and science in the early modern world”

The early modern period (1500-1800) saw remarkable and widespread changes in our conception of the mind and its role in scientific inquiry. Natural philosophers negotiated new concepts and new methods of proof, which transformed our understanding of the place of human beings in the natural world and their capacity to penetrate its secrets.. Full details
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18 March 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Plants as instruments of knowledge in early modern natural philosophy", Dr Oana Matei (Vasile Goldis Western University of Arad)

This session will discuss the development of an early modern “science of vegetation,” which emerged from the aggregation of a range of empirical and experimental practices of early modern naturalists. Full details
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13 March 202414:00

IDSAI Research Seminar: 'Studying emotions at individual and collective levels' with Professor David Garcia

IDSAI Research Seminar. Full details
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13 March 202412:30

Centre for Computational Social Science (C2S2)/IDSAI - Joint Seminar

An exploration of the incelopshere and how incels fit into the current self-initiated terrorists (SITs) landscape with Dr Lewys Brace. Full details
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11 March 202415:30

Egenis/IDSAI seminar: "Machine Learning in science: Dimension of understanding", Dr Emily Sullivan (Eindhoven University of Technology)

More and more sciences are turning to machine learning (ML) technologies to solve long-standing problems or make new discoveries—ranging from medical science to fundamental physics. At the same time, the exact same modelling technologies are used across society ranging from determining what news we see on social media to fraud detection and criminal risk assessment. The ever-growing fingerprint ML modeling has on the production of scientific and social knowledge comes with opportunity and also pressing challenges.. Full details
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7 March 202414:30

IDSAI Seminar with Dr Alden Conner: 'Creating sustainable research tools with real-world applications - lessons from the Alan Turing Institute’s Environment and Sustainability Grand Challenge'

IDSAI Seminar. Full details
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4 March 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Policymaking in a Catastrophe: A Precautionary Approach?" with Dr Lucie White (Utrecht University)

The precautionary principle is often put forward as potentially useful guide to avoiding catastrophe under conditions of uncertainty. But finding an adequate formulation of the principle runs into a problem when needed precautionary measures also have potentially catastrophic consequences – the imperative to avoid catastrophe appears to recommend both for and against the measures. Drawing from the early pandemic, we suggest a way around this “problem of paralysis”: We should recognize and incorporate an asymmetry between our options, based on whether there is a possibility of intervening later to prevent the worst outcome. Full details
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26 February 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Open to Whom? And for What?: Emerging issues in open movements, digital heritage collections and the life sciences", Dr Andrea Wallace (University of Exeter

Globally, more than 1,600 cultural institutions and organisations have published digitised public domain collections and data under open licenses and public domain tools as part of the growing movement called open GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). More than 95 million digital assets are now available for unfettered reuse. What have we learned about the potentials of digitsed collections and digitisation more generally? And what new trends or challenges are evident in global open GLAM activity?. Full details
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21 February 202414:00

IDSAI Research Seminar: 'Using large language models to help people find agreement' with Professor Chris Summerfield, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Oxford

IDSAI Research Seminar. Full details
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19 February 202415:30

EGENIS/GSI seminar: "Un/doing Time in the Anthropocene", Fiona Schrading (Art Academy Düsseldorf)

The Anthropocene is a time marked by irreversibilities – of an irreversible accelerated climate change and its fatal consequences, of mass extinctions, of whole regions becoming desolate and uninhabitable, of processes of change of the entire Earth system: we are in a situation of a palpable and relentlessly repeated 'no going back'. Full details
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12 February 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Facts Speak for Themselves: Climate Science as Contested Knowledge" Dr Susannah Crockford (University of Exeter)

In his Parliamentary testimony in response to the ‘Climategate’ scandal, Professor Phil Jones said: “The facts speak for themselves”. Jones was referring to the accuracy of his and other climate scientists’ measurements of increasing average global temperatures and other indicators of anthropogenic climate change. For Jones, the measurements scientifically validated the existential threat of climate change and were available to anyone who used the same instruments and methods.. Full details
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7 February 202412:30

IDSAI Research Seminar with Professor Dr Markus Strohmaier, Chair of Data Science in the Economic & Social Sciences, University of Mannheim

We are delighted to welcome Professor Dr Markus Strohmaier. Full details
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5 February 202415:30

CANCELLED - EGENIS seminar: "Post-ASF Chinese Corporate Pig Farms: Pathogenic Risk, Microbiome and Toxicity of Labour Health " Dr Kin Wing (Ray) Chan (University of Exeter)

cancelled. Hope to reschedule next academic year. Full details
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29 January 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Testosterone Epistemologies: In search of epistemic systems through knowledge practices" Dr Sophie Juliane Veigl (University of Vienna)

Testosterone is a quite charismatic molecule, used in many contexts for a variety of its effects, ranging from anti-aging and Alzheimer's research to muscle growth and virilisation. Many of these contexts lie outside of institutionalized science and medicine and are often use-based.. Full details
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24 January 202412:30

IDSAI Research Seminar with Dr Livio Fenga, Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter Business School

Seminar Title: Can terrorist attacks be predicted? A Quantitative Analysis and Proposal of a Hybrid Machine Learning – Statistical Model for Short-Term Forecasting of Future Attacks. Evidence from the UK, USA, and Italy. Full details
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22 January 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Knowing Citizen Science. Social epistemologies (and epistemic practices) in a national Citizen Science competition in Germany", Dr Julie Sascia Mewes (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin)

As the acceptance of Citizen Science grows, so does the demand for more reflexivity in the field with regard to its epistemologies, which calls for increased collaboration between Citizen Science and the social sciences and humanities, especially STS (Mahr et al., 2018). Full details
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19 January 202414:30

Towards applications of reinforcement learning in continuous environments with Professor Adam Sobey

As part of our IDSAI Seminar Series for 2023/2024, we are looking forward to welcoming Professor Alan Sobey, Programme Director, Data Centric Engineering at the Alan Turing Institute. Full details
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15 January 202415:30

Egenis/IDSAI seminar: “Data Science and Statistics for the Public Good? A Discussion with the Office for Statistics Regulation”, Edward Humpherson and Prof Sabina Leonelli

This session provides an opportunity to discuss what the ‘public good’ may or should mean for the development of data science, AI and other digital innovations within the UK. The session will start with brief talks and a dialogue between Edward Humpherson, Director of the Office for Statistics Regulation of the UK, and Sabina Leonelli, Director of Egenis and expert in the governance of data systems. The bulk of the session will be devoted to debate with participants. Everyone in Exeter working on these issues is warmly invited to attend this discussion. Full details
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8 January 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: POSTPONED "Mopping up the mainstream: on the turfing of clinical genomics", Prof Adam Hedgecoe (Cardiff University)

We hpoe to reschedule this seminar. Full details
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7 December 202315:30

IDSAI ECRN Christmas Lightning Talks!!

Following the recent success of our first IDSAI ECRN Lightning Talks, we would like to do it all again!!. Full details
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4 December 202315:30

EGENIS book launch/seminar: "A History of Genomics Across Species, Communities and Projects’", Dr Miguel García-Sancho (University of Edinburgh) & Dr James Lowe (University of Exeter)

This event celebrates the launch of 'A History of Genomics Across Species, Communities and Projects', by Miguel García-Sancho and James Lowe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). Full details
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27 November 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Role of Automated Review within the Paradigm of Inclusive Science", Dr Vlasta Sikimić (University of Tübingen)

The peer review of scientific grant applications is time-consuming and costly. Furthermore, the objectivity of the reviewers as well as their ability to predict the success of the projects is often criticized. AI could speed up the grant review process and it is in some cases relatively reliable. Still, automated grant review might not be equally successful across different disciplines or for detecting outliers. Moreover, we are aware that algorithms that are trained on biased data can reproduce or even increase the initial unfairness. This is particularly dangerous when it comes to the inclusion of underprivileged groups in science. In this context, the question arises: How to ensure cognitive diversity and global epistemic inclusion when using an automated review in science? Some of the potential solutions to this tension are equity measures and a mixed approach to scientific review combining algorithmic assessment with the standard peer review method. Full details
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22 November 202312:30

Mapping sub-ice geomorphology and constraining Greenland Ice Sheet history using machine learning by Dr Guy Paxman, Durham University

Loss of ice from Greenland is one of the largest contributors to anthropogenic global sea level rise. To help inform global policy decisions, an overarching objective of the glaciological community is to develop numerical models of ice-sheet behaviour that are capable of robustly projecting the future evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Full details
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20 November 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Forests as Technologies", Prof Jennifer Gabrys (University of Cambridge)

There are no shortage of technologies and systems that would diagnose and fix the problem of planetary collapse. On one level, technologies have been instrumental to the formation of forests as spaces of conservation, production, and extraction. Their variable development as plantations and state territories, resources and commodities, as well as Indigenous sites for wildfire management and agroforestry, shows how designations of technologies and forests have been differently configured. Similarly, the framing of trees and forests as carbon-capture and “negative emission” technologies is a common thread within environmental development projects, where the aspiration to create climate-repairing technologies reconstitutes trees and forests as technological operators and operations.. Full details
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13 November 202315:30

EGENNIS seminar: "Interdisciplinarity, co-production and responsible innovation: from tick box to critical friendship", Dr Eleanor Hadley Kershaw (University of Exeter)

‘Interdisciplinarity’, ‘co-production’ and ‘responsible innovation’ are increasingly invoked by funders, policymakers and academics as modes of scientific governance and practice that open up research to include a more diverse range of actors, concerns, expertise and knowledges. These approaches are promoted as key to developing ‘solutions’ to grand challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainability transitions. They promise to surpass the limitations of more established forms of knowledge making and innovation governance, ensuring that research and emerging technologies achieve their full social, economic and environmental potential.. Full details
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10 November 202311:00

Environmental Data Science and AI

This event will give an overview of environmental projects where data science and AI has been used and provide an opportunity for networking for future collaborations. Full details
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6 - 7 November 20239:00

Joint workshop “Philosophy of AI and Digital Infrastructures”

How can failures of algorithmic decision-making be repaired? How does the automation of information affect democratic culture? How does AI affect or change Open Science? These are just some of the questions that will be addressed in this 1 ½-day workshop, which brings together the ‘Ethics in IT’ (EIT) group of Prof. Judith Simon at the University of Hamburg and researchers affiliated with the Egenis Centre at the University of Exeter. Using the broad range of disciplines and expertise represented at the workshop, we will explore the challenges and opportunities that recent developments in AI and digital infrastructures raise. Full details
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30 October 202315:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar: "What Makes an Experiment Beautiful? ", Dr Milena Ivanova (University of Cambridge)

Due to unforeseen circumstances this seminar is cancelled. We hope to reschedule in term 2. Full details
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20 October 20238:30

Workshop: Interdisciplinary perspectives on Cultures of Changes around Non-Animal Methods (NAMS) in the Biomedical Sciences

NAMs (non-animal methods or new approach methodologies) are rapidly becoming preferred approaches in a variety of domains that traditionally utilized in vivo non-human animal research. Alternatives to animal methods include approaches such as cell cultures, stem cell constructs, organoids, computer simulations, and others. This workshop seeks to bring together interdisciplinary scholars, practitioners, and policymakers involved in animal research and its alternatives to consider the interdisciplinary questions emerging as cultures of scientific research and responsibility shift and intersect in new ways during transitions to NAMs.. Full details
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19 October 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: The ‘First Line of Evidence’: Case Reports in Emergency Situations. Prof Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide)

Despite having a somewhat dubious reputation as a form of anecdotal evidence, case reports remain exceedingly popular forms of communication and publication in medicine. They are ill-understood even within biomedical research communities, often described as not counting as real evidence or even as equivalent to anecdotes. This paper begins by introducing the case report and its typical uses in the context of research in contemporary medicine, and exploring their status as a form of evidence particularly in our era dominated it is by ‘evidence-based medicine’ (EBM). I then flip the usual approach on its head: instead of criticizing how cases fall short of these ideals, I investigate a recent example where cases were extremely important, in order to show what cases are good for, and what it means to use them ‘well,’ including what epistemic resources need to be in place. Full details
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16 October 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Lambs to the scanner: high-throughput phenotyping in post-Brexit British livestock farming", Dr Hugh Williamson (University of Exeter)

High-throughput phenotyping, the use of digital sensing and imaging technologies to collect large volumes of data about organisms’ traits for biological research and breeding, is now well established in the science and cultivation of arable crops but has been slower to take root in the livestock research and breeding sector.. Full details
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12 October 202312:00

IDSAI/Turing Showcase

IDSAI are delighted to welcome Chief Scientist of the Turing, Professor Mark Girolami to Exeter on Thursday, 12th October at our IDSAI/Turing showcase event. Full details
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6 October 20239:30

Hacktoberfest Hackathon Event in Exeter!

Much of the technological infrastructure we use relies on open source projects built and maintained by passionate people who make their work open and accessible – very often during their free time. For example, the whole Python programming language is an open-source project hosted on GitHub! Hacktoberfest is a yearly celebration of open source code taking place every October! It is all about giving back to open source projects while sharpening programming skills! We would like to invite you to become a part of this celebration!. Full details
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2 October 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "The New N=1 Problem", Dr Carlos Mariscal (University of Navada, Reno)

We have a single example of life: that which originated on Earth. The N=1 Problem refers to the difficulty of inferring general properties for life based on this single sample. This problem is predicated on the assumption that life is a natural kind with essential properties to be discovered. Full details
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18 September 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Radioisotopes, electrophoresis, and the Third World: a global look into biomedicine", Prof Edna Suárez-Diaz (Universidad Autónoma de México)

African, Asian, and Latin American scientists have contributed heavily to the biomedical understanding of bodies and diseases that transformed health interventions in the second half of the 20th century. As researchers in newly created national institutions, or as officials at international agencies such as the IAEA and the WHO, they built and sustained scientific networks that took over a host of “neglected diseases”, most of them still classified under the label of tropical medicine. Radioisotopes, electrophoresis, immunoassays, and many other biomedical technologies of the 1950s-1970s can be used as historical tracers of biomedical research within these transregional networks, revealing the crossing of political and ideological frontiers in the context of development programs during the early Cold War.. Full details
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14 September 202310:30

EnigmaAI: Unveiling the Intelligence behind Optimisation & Machine Learning

In joint partnership with IDSAI and GSI, we are pleased to invite you to join us at EnigmaAI, a captivating workshop delving into the cutting-edge applications of AI in the realm of science. Full details
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7 September 202310:30

British Science Festival: 7-10 September 2023

IDSAI will be there on 7 September, with a stand on Artificially Intelligent' For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Large Language Models such as ChatGPT are Artificial Intelligence (AI) models that can write convincing essays, computer code, and answer open questions confidently. Used appropriately, it could provide a lot of positive outcomes for society; however, it is also open to misuse. So how can we make good use of this technology and at the same time protect ourselves from it being used in ways we don’t want? What are the limits on what it can do?. Full details
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4 - 15 September 20239:00

Turing/Exeter Data Study Group

In association with The Alan Turing Institute, the Defence Data Research Centre (DDRC) in partnership with IDSAI are running a Data Study Group, based on Streatham Campus at The University of Exeter.. Full details
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18 July 202314:00

ChatGPT and the Future of Society

We’ll be discussing the societal impact of this technology, how to regulate it, how it can benefit society as well as the risks that we need to manage.  We will also be talking about how it will impact on study, research and assessment at the University.   Confirmed speakers:  Prof Robin Pierce, Professor of AI and the Law; Prof Sabina Leonelli, Professor of Philosophy and History of Science; and Dr Fabrizio Costa, Senior Lecturer in Data Analytics. Full details
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14 July 202311:00

Science in Public Early Career Workshop

The Science in Public Research Network is an unfunded network for any and all people in the UK interested in science in the public sphere, in the very broadest sense. Science in Public (SiP) was founded by postgraduate students in 2006, holding annual conferences which became a central point of contact for UK based research communities considering ‘science in public’ across many disciplines, alongside professionals working in the area. Full details
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26 - 27 June 20239:00

Workshop: Reconciling New Mechanism and Processualism

Mechanism and processualism are two comparatively new philosophies of science. Both can claim especially good uptake among biologists, and philosophers of biology and medicine. However, since their introduction, they have been in conflict with one another. Taken separately, they have different ontological underpinnings, provide different descriptions of target phenomena, and even entail different things about what biological science is and how scientific discoveries are made. We think it is time to aim for some reconciliation.. Full details
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23 June 202315:15

Egenis book launch: Drawing Processes of Life, Molecules, Cells , Organisms. Gemma Anderson and John Dupre (University of Exeter)

Drawing Processes of Life is the product of biologists, philosophers, and artists working together to formulate new ways of representing our new approach to life. It is a mutualistic symbiosis, where identities are transformed, information and nutritive substances shared, and where new organisms emerge.. Full details
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19 June 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Cloud Coyotes in Los Angeles", Prof Christopher Kelty (University of California, Los Angeles)

Coyotes (Canis latrans) exist throughout North America and increasingly thrive in dense urban spaces; they also cause controversies when they eat small pets or seem to pose a threat. Based on fieldwork in Los Angeles, and an archive of over 400 conversations collected from the online application Nextdoor (2015-2019), we theorize the emergence of what we call the cloud coyote. Full details
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19 June 202311:00

Egenis: Second discussion session on American Metabolism with Hannah Landecker (UCLA)

We are delighted to host Professor Hannah Landecker, a top STS scholar and world-leading expert on the social and historical study of metabolism and sciences thereof. In these two interactive sessions, Professor Landecker will be discussing with us chapters from her forthcoming book American Metabolism. Full details
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16 June 202315:00

Egenis: First discussion session on American Metabolism with author Hannah Landecker (UCLA)

We are delighted to host Professor Hannah Landecker, a top STS scholar and world-leading expert on the social and historical study of metabolism and sciences thereof. In these two interactive sessions, Professor Landecker will be discussing with us chapters from her forthcoming book American Metabolism.. Full details
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12 June 202315:30

Egenis Book launch: Mind as Metaphor, by Adam Toon—with a response by Professor Daniel D. Hutto (University of Wollongong)

This event will celebrate the publication of Adam Toon’s new book, Mind as Metaphor: A Defence of Mental Fictionalism (Oxford University Press, 2023). Full details
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8 June 202314:00

IDSAI Seminar: 'Developing a resilient Data Science profession: observations from the UK’s national skills landscape' with Matthew Forshaw, Senior Advisor for Skills at the Turing

Abstract: In this talk, Dr Forshaw will explore the recent developments in the national data skills landscape, and advances in professionalisation of the data science occupation through certification and accreditation. This talk will draw upon labour market analysis studies in collaboration with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and outline emerging policy directions. This interactive session will explore the roles of industry and academia in delivering the data skills training required to equip the current and future workforce with skills required to confidently address current and future data challenges. Full details
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8 - 9 June 202312:00

Workshop - Past Material, Past Minds: Philosophy, Cognition & Archaeology

This workshop addresses methodological, theoretical and philosophical issues across cognitive archaeology and paleoanthropology. How are inferences drawn from material items to cognitive and social capacities? And from fossil and other specimens to demographic, behavioural and phylogenetic dynamics? What can knowing past minds tell us about the nature of cognition? How should cultural innovation and evolutionary novelties in the paleontological and archaeological records be treated? How should we understand the ontology of artefacts and specimens, and how does this relate to archaeological and paleoanthropological practice?. Full details
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7 June 202314:00

IDSAI Seminar: 'A Capability Approach to AI Ethics' with Emanuele Ratti (Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol)

In partnership with Egenis, we are delighted to welcome Emanuele. In the past few years, the rapid dissemination of AI tools has radically changed the way public and private institutions relate to users and citizens. Full details
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5 June 202315:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar: Dr Susannah Crockford (University of Exeter)

This seminar has been postponed until Autumn 2023. Full details
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24 May 202312:30

IDSAI Seminar: Creating data assets and collaborative partnerships for artificial and computational intelligence: the opportunities in the healthcare domain with Umesh Kadam, Professor of General Practice and General Health, Medical School

To maximise the potential of human-centred artificial and computational intelligence methods in the healthcare domain, requires an understanding of the increasing data assets; their quality and structure, their potential applications and how they will evolve in a changing landscape. Full details
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22 May 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Invention of Biodiversity as a Conceptual Tool for Science Communication", Stefan Bargheer (Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies)

Few scientific concepts have the same amount of public resonance as the notion of biodiversity. The talk traces the creation of this relatively new concept and its impact on scientific research. I show based on archival documents that the neologism was coined in the mid-1980s by conservation biologists connected to the U.S. National Committee of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program in order to buffer the adverse economic impacts of an announced withdrawal of the United States from UNESCO.. Full details
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17 May 202314:00

Using socially-aware word embeddings to infer variation in the meaning of political terms over time with Hubert AU, DPhil student at University of Oxford

Semantic change occurs organically as languages and current events evolve. For example, “Leave” and “Remain” were understood differently before and after the Brexit campaign and vote. Full details
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15 May 202315:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar: Prof Jennifer Gabrys (University of Cambridge)

This seminar has been postponed until Autumn 2023. Full details
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28 April 20239:30

Ocean Waves, Ocean Science, Ocean Media - Stefan Helmreich

How do oceanographers apprehend ocean waves? This presentation draws on anthropological work I undertook among wave scientists in the United States to argue that what oceanographers take ocean waves to be has been strongly imprinted by the techniques, technologies, and media — maritime, photographic, filmic, information theoretic — through which waves have come to be known.. Full details
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27 - 28 April 202310:30

International Workshop - Values at sea: Science Studies meets Marine Biology

Across many disciplines, attention is increasingly focused on the sea. This is no surprise: it is a site of immense value, supporting and shaping the global biosphere, and is under considerable threat. Whilst ocean ecosystems are pushed to the brink, scholars now often talk of the blue humanities and oceanic turns, of blue economics and accelerations, and of ocean decades. These trends necessitate a similar refocusing towards the sea in the history, philosophy, and social studies of science, fields that are well placed to help understand and contextualise some of the changes occurring to marine systems. To facilitate the emergence of social studies of marine life, as well as the integration of such scholarship with biological and ecological research, this two-day seminar will bring together people engaged in and focused on interactions between scientists and the sea.. Full details
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26 - 28 April 202311:30

Human Centric Artificial/Computational Intelligence and Applications

In collaboration with partners at University of Oxford and the University of Birmingham, the workshop is designed to bring key sciences and AI experts from both academia and industry to sharing up to date research and innovation developments themed on HCAI/CI and also help identify the key challenges in stakeholders. Full details
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31 March 202316:30

Is Open Science Good for Research?

This public debate brings together world-leading scholars working at the intersection of Open Science, Science and Technology Studies and the philosophy of science, to discuss the value, opportunities and challenges involved in making research more open. The Open Science movement has been tremendously successful, spurring a global shift in research policies, evaluation procedures and publication channels. At first sight, this seems to be a very good thing: a necessary development in the face of research and publication practices that have grown more and more restrictive, inaccessible and (arguably) unreliable over the last few decades. At the same time, the specific ways in which science is being made open – ranging from Open Access publishing agreements to Open Data mandates by funders and research institutions – are proving controversial and, in some cases, downright damaging to at least some forms of research.. Full details
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30 March 202318:00

Can I Trust Science?

From anti-vaxxers to climate deniers, not everyone trusts science. Join us for a special live event with a panel of international experts to look at why there is mistrust and positive antidotes to deal with it. We’ll be exploring the Open Science movement, which is sweeping the globe promoting practices to make science more transparent and less biased. One method is sharing data – that increases trust through openness and accelerates the quality of research. There are hurdles to sharing data: who owns it, how it’s arranged, and the motivation of scientists when their careers are driven by publishing results. But are there limitations, a tyranny of openness? Sharing data without acknowledgement or payment may lead to exploitation of those who produced it. We’ll examine the ethics of data and share positive solutions to make science more responsible, so we can all trust it.. Full details
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30 - 31 March 20239:30

Workshop "Whither Open Science?"

OS movement is transforming research, with OS policies adopted around the globe and widespread agreement on implementing key OS principles like openness, transparency and reproducibility. However, the philosophy of science underpinning the OS movement has not been clearly articulated. Moreover, there are significant epistemic risks in implementing OS across widely different research settings, such as the marginalisation of contributions from low-resourced environments. This raises questions about the relation between open and good science. Full details
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28 March 20239:00

Workshop: Community Engagement as Scientific Practice

With this workshop, three philosophers of science who have experimented with various forms of engaged philosophy across different continents come together to reflect on their experiences and discuss the role of community engagement (and particularly minority and underrepresented communities) in the development, evaluation and use of scientific knowledge, as well as within philosophy and science studies. All who are interested in the role that philosophy, history and social studies of science can play across different societies – and especially in cases where relevant voices and contributions tend to be overlooked due to inequity, discrimination and unfair privilege – are warmly welcome to join this conversation. Full details
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15 March 202312:00

CANCELLED: Workshop: Perspectives on Scientific Practice

CANCELLED. We often think of science in a rather abstract, disembodied manner—as a collection of theories, for instance, or as a special method for gaining knowledge of the world. And yet science is also a human practice, carried out in a particular material and social context. This workshop will explore new ways of understanding scientific practice and consider their implications for the nature of scientific knowledge.. Full details
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13 March 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: “Social Practices as Biological Niche Construction”, Prof Joseph Rouse (Wesleyan University)

This talk introduces central themes from a forthcoming book that seeks to overcome the conceptual bifurcations between human animality and sociocultural persons that are built into our academic disciplines and intellectual life. This re-conception draws on recent developments in evolutionary biology--- ecological-developmental biology, niche construction, and work on early hominin evolution. It also reworks the social theory of practices as the basic makeup of human social life into a “naturecultural” conception of the evolution of practice-differentiated human developmental environments. Full details
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6 March 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Are continuity claims a challenge to medical classification?", Prof Lara Keuck (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science) and Dr Ariane Hanemaayer (Brandon University)

The boundaries of many disease categories are contested: when does Covid end? What should count in the Autism Spectrum? When does Alzheimer’s Disease begin? In our collaborative research we combine historical, philosophical and sociological perspectives to examine the role of continuity claims—such as that of a continuity between states of health and disease—in these debates. Continuity is often depicted as the opposite of categorical thinking, and therefore as a challenge to the validity of medical classification. However, we want to argue that the relationship between continuity claims and disease categories is more heterogenous and complex; up to the point that continuity claims can stabilize existing structures and, indeed, save contested categories. Full details
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20 February 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Stylistic Pluralism and Its Discontents", Dr Matteo Vagelli (Ca' Foscari University of Venice/Harvard University)

Post-positivist philosophy of science, as it developed in the second half of the twentieth century, is characterized by a “pluralist turn”, partially building on previous “historical” and “practice” turns. Contrary to the prevalently monist approach espoused by mainstream philosophy of science during the first half of the twentieth century, the pluralist turn is normally taken to emphasize the disunity of the sciences, in terms of both methods and results. However, pluralism has developed in different directions, giving place to different ontological, epistemological, and methodological positions that are at times in tension with one another.. Full details
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13 February 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Managing Medical Authority: How Doctors Compete for Status and Create Knowledge", Daniel Menchik (University of Arizona)

Despite our interest in determining our health decisions, physicians have great control over our bodies, minds, and lives. How do doctors manage this privileged authority? This talk, based on my recent book, draws on over six years’ worth of ethnographic data to answer this question, incorporating factors internal and external to medicine. I argue that doctors manage their authority in the context of competing for status among doctors who share with them an interest in developing new knowledge. Specifically, the terms for status among doctors will be closely tied to the expectations of these peers regarding how knowledge is produced, and public expectations for the practice of medicine. Physicians compete with peers for status by making a case for the quality of the knowledge they have developed and would like to have orient practices profession-wide.. Full details
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6 February 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Climate, Fertility and Heredity in Airs Waters Places ", Prof Rebecca Flemming (University of Exeter)

The Hippocratic treatise Airs Waters Places is perhaps the founding text of environmental medicine. The author explains how living bodies, in health and disease, are all crucially shaped by climate, topography and water sources. Its ideas and advice proved influential across millennia, in the ancient Mediterranean, the medieval Islamicate and Christian worlds, and into the Early Modern Period, as neo-Hippocratism followed new colonial pathways. The focus of the text on questions of fertility and childbearing has been generally overlooked, however, and its models of generation and heredity have been rather hastily subsumed into more modern formulations such as ‘pangenesis’ and the ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics’. Full details
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30 January 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Pain and suffering: Racialized immigrant women’s compliance and defiance to psychiatric discourses and treatments in Canada", Dr Shahina Parvin (Brandon University)

This presentation engages in an intersectional interrogation of psychiatric discourses, categorization, and treatments. I present findings from interviews with 13 racialized immigrant women in rural Canada with diverse cultural and geopolitical backgrounds reflect on psychiatric discourses. After describing how their pain was categorized and treated by mental health professionals, I analyse how the women either fully complied with the medicalisation and psychiatrisation processes associated with their diagnoses, or chose to strategically comply with or refuse mental health discourses.. Full details
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23 January 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: Extraordinary moments of coronavirus crisis and Brexit seen through the lens of a new interactive art exhibition, Prof Katharine Tyler (University of Exeter) & Helen Snell (artist in residence, Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation

In this talk Snell and Tyler will introduce and reflect on their experiences, from the standpoint of their differing disciplinary perspectives, of producing an interactive on-line art exhibition designed by Snell entitled ‘Red Amber, Green Britain’ (https://www.redambergreenbritain.com/). Red, Amber, Green Britain is an online exhibition of work produced by Helen Snell during her tenure as artist in residence at the University of Exeter from September 2020 to March 2022, as part of the project ‘Inequality, Identity and the Media in Brexit-Covid 19 Britain’ led by Katharine Tyler. This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response initiative to COVID-19. Full details
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12 December 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Algorithmic fairness and decision thresholds", Kate Vredenburgh (LSE)

Procedurally fair decision-making in the fair machine learning literature is primarily understood in terms of a requirement of equal treatment, or treating like cases alike. In the fair machine learning literature, equal treatment is understood as requiring at least the following two conditions: (1) the same threshold is applied regardless of one’s social identity or arbitrary characteristics, and (2) some form of parity in error rates, regardless of one’s social identity or arbitrary characteristics. Criticisms of the fair machine learning literature mainly focus on (2) (e.g., Eva 2022). In this talk, I focus on (1), or the application of the same threshold. I argue that thresholds violate a plausible further notion of fairness, that of respecting claims in proportion to their strength (Broome 1991). This account of fairness pushes us towards the greater use of (weighted) lotteries for algorithmic decision-making.. Full details
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2 December 202215:00

BOOK Launch: Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Data Challenges for Agricultural Research and Development

This event celebrates the launch of the new volume Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Data Challenges for Agricultural Research and Development, edited by Hugh F. Williamson and Sabina Leonelli (Springer, 2022). All are welcome. Full details
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28 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Climate Trauma and the Virtue of Cooperation", Rachel Elliott (Visiting researcher, University of Exeter)

Climate change is expected to increase the incidence of trauma and mental illness through several different mechanisms. Trauma can in part be understood as a modulation in subjective temporality, which could be described as a limit on the openness of what Husserl calls protention, a phenomenon otherwise described by Winnicott in Fear of Breakdown as a search in the future for what happened in the past. Without a robustly open protentional temporal structure, we become less able to react to indeterminate stimuli in new ways. The raised incidence of trauma associated with the environmental crisis combined with the future-altering nature of traumatic consciousness creates an array of problems for the possibility of marshalling a collective response to climate change. In this talk, I would like to focus on the impact of trauma on virtue ethical approaches to the climate change crisis.. Full details
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21 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Give me a phenomenon to observe, and an intervention precise enough, and I can find the mechanism", Caterina Schürch (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)

In 1928, chemist Fritz Laquer framed the Archimedes-postulate of hormone research: „Give me a test object! — and one can hopefully begin the chemical processing of a hormone.“ This talk looks at the study of plant growth hormones and other cases from the 1920s and 1930s in which researchers attempted to elucidate the chemical processes taking place in living organisms. Taking Laquer’s metaphor one step further, I argue: In order to elucidate biochemical processes, researchers not only needed precise intervention techniques (levers), but also regular biological phenomena (places to stand on). The analysis highlights the essential role of research organisms and their behaviour in the experimental life sciences. Moreover, we better understand why the chemists and biologists cooperated as equals: Both disciplinary groups had resources and skills that the other needed to achieve their epistemic goals. Full details
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14 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "MSM face barriers? The politics of biomedical non-use in English discourse", Mr Adam Christianson (Wellcome Doctoral Candidate, Goldsmiths, University of London)

What is accomplished by the claim “patients face barriers”? Though the term implies an excluded patient, I argue barriers play an important role in constructing the users and non-users of an evidence-based interventions. This paper examines ‘barriers’ as a strategy in the problematization of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) non-use in England between 2015 and its commissioning in 2020.. Full details
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7 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "How to Incorporate Non-Epistemic Values in a Theory of Classification", Marc Ereshefsky (University of Calgary)

Non-epistemic values play important roles in scientific classificatory practice, such that philosophical accounts of kinds and classification should be able to accommodate them. However, available accounts fail to do so. I aim to fill this lacuna by showing how non-epistemic values feature in scientific classification, and how they can be incorporated into a philosophical theory of classification and kinds. To achieve this, I present a novel account of kinds and classification (the Grounded Functionality Account), discuss examples from biological classification where non-epistemic values play decisive roles, and show how this account accommodates the role of non-epistemic values. Full details
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31 October 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "AI in Medicine: Finding equilibrium in global data capture", Prof Robin Pierce (University of Exeter)

The range of applications of AI in medicine has grown considerably in recent years. The increase in computational capacity has allowed for an array of technologies that can uncover a vast number of correlations that could improve health outcomes or yield scientific knowledge. Increased understanding of the impacts of the social determinants of health, environmental, and other (non-) biological factors on health outcomes would seem to support the drive to amass, aggregate, and integrate different types of data. Yet, even in global data capture, what is absent may be the greater challenge for data governance, possibly affecting explainability, accuracy and, ultimately, health outcomes. Data governance aims to govern data but may have little to say about “absent” data. Using examples of data-intensive technologies, e.g., Deep and Frequent Phenotyping, this paper explores the terrain of finding equilibrium as a regulatory challenge for health research. Full details
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17 October 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Data Integration without Unification", Beckett Sterner (Arizona State University)

How should billions of species observations worldwide be made reusable? Data unification according to a universal hierarchy of domains has been a popular ideal for biodiversity science, but it relies on heuristic assumptions that are known to fail systematically in practice. We propose a new regulative ideal for how scientists can coordinate their knowledge-making without unification to achieve better results when pluralistic conditions apply. We focus on data pooling as a crucial form of integrative research in science that supports data reuse. We define data pooling as a process that combines data from multiple sources into one harmonized body of information, provide infrastructure for managing and accessing the combined data, and governs it as a shared resource for a community of users and stakeholders beyond a single research project or lab.. Full details
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10 October 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Disunity of Science and Unity of the World", Prof John Dupré (University of Exeter)

This talk reflects on the relations between the philosophy of science and metaphysics. I have tried to show for many years that these are essential to one another, though with respect to a view of metaphysics that remains a minority one, that metaphysics must be grounded in empirical science, a so-called “naturalistic” metaphysics. I begin by sketching the view of disunity of science articulated in my 1993 book, The Disorder of Things. I then trace the evolution of my ideas about the implications of this thesis to metaphysics, leading to the advocacy of the processual metaphysics that I have been defending more recently. The adoption of processual metaphysics enables a proper reconciliation between a disunified science and the intuitively compelling thesis that there is only one world. Finally, illustrating my view that metaphysics and science are mutually informing, I illustrate some scientific consequences of this processual metaphysics.. Full details
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12 September 202215:30

Seminar: Linking health and social data for research: the CIDACS experience in Brazil

The Centre for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health (CIDACS, Fiocruz) was established in December 2016 in Salvador (Bahia-Brazil). Its main purpose is to conduct interdisciplinary research on populational health, generating scientific knowledge and providing evidence to support public policymaking. The core data come from integrating Brazilian national health and social datasets into two main resources - the 100 Million Brazilian Cohort and the CIDACS birth cohort. CIDACS has been developing and consolidating its data management and governance practices and experimenting with novel methodological approaches for data linkage (Cidacs-RL) and data analysis (quasi-experimental designs).. Full details
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6 - 8 July 2022

BSPS Annual Conference 2022

The BSPS 2022 Annual Conference will take place on 06–08 July at the University of Exeter. At this stage, the BSPS Committee are planning on BSPS 2022 being an in-person event. That said, there will be provision for speakers to present remotely if they wish. The Committee will continue to monitor the situation and necessary steps will be taken to ensure the safety of attendees. Full details
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30 March 202210:00

COVID Research Across Borders Workshop

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21 March 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "An Impossible Science? The quest for biomedical measurement and clinical management in pain medicine", Dr Ariane Hanemaayer (Brandon University)

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there existed another pandemic known as the opioid crisis. Over the last 30 years the Global North saw a rise in addiction to opiates and opioid related deaths, many of which began as medically prescribed therapeutics to manage both acute and chronic pain (e.g., oxycontin). Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom had all declared national crises related to opiate addiction by 2019. Even now, well into the pandemic, research has continued to demonstrate a worsening of the crisis as a result of public health restrictions.. Full details
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14 March 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Risk of Biological Race Realism", Dr Celso Neto (University of Exeter)

Biological race realism (hereafter BRR) is the view that humans form biologically distinct groups. Non-racist versions of BRR have emerged recently based on sophisticated and reputable work in science and philosophy (Hardimon 2003; 2017; Spencer 2012; 2014; 2019a). In this chapter, I examine Quayshawn Spencer’s new version of BRR and argue that it fails to consider how social, political, and moral values influence the metaphysics of race. To do so, I rely on the “science and values” literature and the notions of inductive, epistemic, and ethical risk (Douglas 2000; Douglas 2009; Brown 2015; Biddle and Kukla 2017; Elliot and Richards 2017). Once one realizes the complex relationship between these types of risks and BRR, Spencer’s sophisticated metaphysical arguments become less appealing than one might think. Furthermore, broad questions arise concerning how socially responsible metaphysics should be done.. Full details
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28 February 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Madness, dictatorship and utopia. The case of the "protected community" inside the El Peral Psychiatric Asylum, 1983-1999", Dr Cristian Montenegro (University of Exeter)

In this presentation, Cristian will talk about two projects. First, his ongoing project about psychiatric deinstitutionalization in Chile. And then the project that he aims to develop while working at the Wellcome Centre and SPA. Here are the titles and abstracts for both parts of the talk. Full details
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21 February 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "The International Space Station as a Platform for Plant Biology: Institutionalising a Research Community", Dr Paola Castaño (University of Exeter)

The International Space Station (ISS) is commonly defined as a laboratory in Low Earth Orbit for hundreds of experiments across disciplines. What kind of social object is a space station? What kind of platform for scientific research is the ISS? How might one study that research? And what are the conceptual implications of this study? In my previous work, I have examined those questions using NASA experiments in plant biology, biomedicine, and particle astrophysics as my units of analysis. For this presentation, part of work in progress, I shift my focus to the process of institutionalisation of research communities around the ISS. Specifically, I concentrate on space plant biologists and the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences Research in Space (2023-2032) that is currently underway (2020-2022) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in the United States. Full details
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31 January 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Environmental health and the protection of P. oceanica; developing an intersectional approach for more-than-human categorization", Dr Jose Canada (University of Exeter)

In this presentation, I discuss work in progress that follows the scientific, social and political dynamics of destruction and protection of Posidonia Oceanica, a recently protected seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean that plays a key role in the landscapes of Mallorca (the biggest of the Balearic Islands) and its ecologies.. Full details
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24 January 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "A New Tuskegee? Unethical Human Experimentation and Western Neocolonialism in the Mass Circumcision of African Men", Dr Brian Earp (University of Oxford)

Campaigns to circumcise millions of boys and men to reduce HIV transmission are being conducted throughout eastern and southern Africa, recommended by the World Health Organization and implemented by the United States government and Western NGOs. In the United States, proposals to mass-circumcise African and African American men are long standing, and have historically relied on racist beliefs and stereotypes. The present campaigns were started in haste, without adequate contextual research, and the manner in which they have been carried out implies troubling assumptions about culture, health, and sexuality in Africa, as well as a failure to properly consider the economic determinants of HIV prevalence.. Full details
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29 November 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "A Spinosaurus Tail Tale: Underdetermination, Capacities & Historical Knowledge", Dr Adrian Currie (University of Exeter)

Most discussion of paleontology’s credentials focus on ‘epistemic scarcity’: paleontological data is rare, degraded, incomplete and hard to manage. In virtue of this, paleontological hypotheses are often underdetermined, that is, we lack sufficient evidence to discriminate between competing hypotheses. However, this discussion assumes that paleontological knowledge is focused on understanding life’s actual history: token events and processes. I’ll push against this interpretation via an examination of secondarily aquatic vertebrates, that is, once-terrestrial critters who have returned to the sea, in particular the enigmatic, enormous theropod Spinosaurus.. Full details
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22 November 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Demonstrations, Definitions and Newton’s Experimental Philosophy", Dr Kirsten Walsh (University of Exeter)

Newton’s Opticks Book 1 opens with a set of definitions and axioms, so one might expect to find the theorems contained therein to be proved from said definitions and axioms via deductively valid rules of inference. But they’re not. Instead, Newton employs ‘proof by experiment’: each theorem is proved via a series of experiments, which are represented by geometrical diagrams and accompanying text. Newton’s axioms and definitions do not feature explicitly in these proofs—they are not even mentioned in the discussions. I address two questions in relation to this case. First, how does ‘proof by experiment’ function as a proof? Second, what roles do axioms and definitions play in the trajectory from experiment to proven theorem? I argue that this case is revelatory of Newton’s understanding of experimental philosophy and the probative force of his (in)famous experimentum crucis.. Full details
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8 November 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Out of control: creating reliable data in the laboratory", Dr Stephan Guttinger (University of Exeter)

The idea of experimental control is often associated with positive notions such as reliability, certainty, and reproducibility; control is seen as part of what makes the laboratory-based sciences powerful and trustworthy. It is part of the reason why scientists can create reliable data. However, like in society, control can also have a negative effect: exert too much of it and you stifle freedom, creativity, and exploration. This is a problem for science. As Hans-Jörg Rheinberger has highlighted, experimental systems cannot become too rigid and standardized because science depends on a certain openness to unfold its full potential; uncertainty and fuzziness are at the heart of the experimental process.. Full details
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25 October 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Quality judgment in data production processes: two case studies on economic and health data", Dr Quentin Dufour (Mines ParisTech)

Despite the rules and measurement conventions that structure quantification processes in statistical institutes, producing data always involve a moral dimension, that of quality judgment. By those terms, I refer to a set of techniques, knowledge and know-how, that helps a community of practice to define and evaluate what a correct data is in specific contexts. Quality judgments involve thoughts about the right ways to produce data, and the characteristics of the result to be achieved. At the crossroads of Science Studies and the sociology of quantification, this presentation tackles the problem of quality judgment following two data production processes.. Full details
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11 October 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: Tracking a Concept through a Medical Humanities Perspective: The Strange Case of the “Parthenos” , Dr Eftihia Mihelakis (Brandon University)

Working with concepts in the field of medical humanities means recognizing that discourses, be they cultural or medical, have an indubitable role to play in how we think, imagine, speak or remain silent about different domains of inquiry and how these thought processes erupt, devolve or mutate over time. In this talk, I will trace the emergence of the Ancient Greek concept of “parthenos” as it pertains to illness as well as lack or excessive knowledge by documenting its transformations in humoral medicine, medical jurisprudence, legal texts, and will conclude on sketching out future directions for this research. Full details
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4 October 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "From pluripotent stem cells to human embryos", Dr Ge Guo (University of Exeter)

Our life starts from a fertilized egg that develops into a distinctive multicellular structure called blastocyst. The blastocyst comprises three founding tissues, the epiblast, trophectoderm and hypoblast. Epiblast is the origin of the embryo proper and the source of pluripotent embryonic stem cells. Trophectoderm and hypoblast give rise to extra-embryonic tissues, the placenta and yolk sac, that support embryo development in the uterus. We have established human naïve embryonic stem cells. They are called “naïve” because they represent an earlier developmental stage than conventional human embryonic stem cells. Classic developmental biology studies in animal models suggested that epiblast and embryonic stem cells cannot regenerate trophectoderm. Full details
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7 June 202110:00

EGENIS seminar: "Ferrets Here and There: Global Development of Experimental Practices for Influenza Modelling", Prof Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide)

Since at least the 1930s, ferrets have been recognized as extremely well-suited models for studying the pathogenicity and transmissibility of both human and avian influenza viruses. Ferrets are attractive mammalian models due to their relatively small size and other physiological features including the similarity of their lungs to humans, but particularly because they evidence numerous clinical features associated with human disease, especially influenza. Ferrets are highly susceptible to the influenza virus, and have become indispensable for elucidating virus-host interactions following influenza virus infection. However, unlike many other more traditional model organisms such as mice, ferrets are not standardized and often are sourced from diverse types of locales.. Full details
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26 May 202115:00

Joint IDSAI / Egenis Seminar - "From blind optimism to complete rejection: Lessons from the UK’s exams algorithm experience"

Join us for this seminar with Ed Humpherson, Head of the UK’s Office for Statistics Regulation. The seminar is hosted by the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences. Full details
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17 May 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Making up publics: configuring expertise, knowledge and ignorance in environmental research", Prof Judith Green (University of Exeter)

This paper takes an example from a field where scientific knowledge is emergent and uncertain - the health impacts of artificial light at night – to explore how knowledge and ignorance are mobilised to create publics. Artificial light at night has become a matter of political, environmental and public health concern, as urban administrations across the world seek to reduce carbon emissions and costs by using emergent LED and smart technologies to manage street lighting. In doing so, these administrations interact with civil society and academic groups concerned by the impacts of light pollution on the ecosystem and human experiences of the night sky. However, urban light at night is not just a technological accomplishment and light pollution risk: providing it is intricately tied to the histories of city governance, and the making of modern spaces of security and safety. Full details
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5 - 7 May 2021

Philosophy of Plant Biology Workshop

Plants are very interesting organisms. They implement unique internal processes and modes of interaction with their environments. Needless to say, as the primary harvesters of solar energy they are vital parts of ecosystems. Serious attention to plants provides novel and interesting perspectives on many topics in philosophy of biology, including individuality, organisation, cognition, and disease. For example, the growth of plants requires us to stretch the concept of organism. If vegetative spread, for example via suckers from roots, is counted as mere growth, a forest can be considered a single organism, as is the case with ‘Pando’, a Populus tremuloides forest in Utah. And although there seems to be no centre of the coordination in a plant body as in animals, there is usually a highly-tuned coordination of the body parts that has led some theorists to attribute cognitive capacities to plants.. Full details
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26 April 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Regulating the Circulation of Knowledge across US Borders: A transnational approach" Prof John Krige (Georgia Institute of Technology)

This talk will explore the contours of a gray zone of knowledge that is neither classified, nor can circulate freely, and then trace the historical arc of one major instrument – export controls – as mobilized by the U.S. national security state to regulate its movement across national borders. To illustrate the range of regulatory instruments devised, I will then briefly describe how the meaning of fundamental research in biomedicine was recently fashioned by the NIH to bring it within the purview of the national security state. To conclude, I will discuss the interest of a transnational approach to knowledge circulation as a method that can help us to overcome the more or less total absence of any engagement with this gray zone in the scholarly literature. Full details
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26 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Session 4 & Conclusion: Social challenges of data linkage

The social implications of plant and agricultural biotechnologies have been the focus of much debate in recent decades. Data production, sharing and linkage raise new issues concerning the inclusion of diverse stakeholders and ensuring that data works for them, practically and equitably. Building plural knowledges into plant data infrastructures, through the inclusion of practical and traditional knowledge from farmers and breeders, the recognition of diverse (e.g. gendered, but also professional) expertise and the implementation of multilingual systems, will be an important facet in establishing the relevance of those infrastructures to a wide range of stakeholders. Ensuring that global circulations of plant data are fair as well as FAIR, moreover, requires sustained attention to the distribution of scientific and computing resources that facilitate access to and effective use of data resources. Throughout all of this, ensuring that key subjects of food security and end-users of data. Full details
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22 March 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: Exploring the Easter E.g. - Shifting Baselines and Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological "Aliens" Prof Naomi Sykes (University of Exeter)

Very little of what we see around us in Britain today can be classed as 'native'. When the sea cut off the island from the rest of the continent (c. 8,000 years ago) the flora, fauna and human population were very different. Over millennia, Britain's ecology and culture have been transformed. Change has been the only constant, with population movements being responsible for the island's unique bio-cultural heritage. Full details
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19 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Session 3: Governance Challenges of Data Linkage

New flows and intersections of big data from -omics research in plant science, including field-based phenomics as well as genomics, to various types of socioeconomic and environmental data, pose distinct challenges for governance. Data access and ownership for the common good and/or scientific advancement remain areas of considerable contestation, especially given the distinctive intellectual property landscape of plant science, which is marked by the predominance of transnational corporations on the one hand and regimes of national sovereignty on the other. Moreover, longstanding challenges of implementing Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) schemes in regard to biological materials are renewed by the increasing availability of digital data, while the integration of biological with socioeconomic data raises new questions of privacy. This session will address these and other governmental issues raised by plant data linkage, from open science policy through legal and political regulation. Full details
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15 March 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Hard Knock Life: Concussion, Dementia and Sport" Dr Greg Hollin (University of Leeds)

The first decades of the twenty-first century have seen a ‘concussion crisis’ in sport. While there has been increased, and considerable, concern about the acute health risks associated with brain injury, much of the crisis has oriented around ‘Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy’, or CTE, a form of dementia associated with repetitive head injuries such as those experienced as part of sporting activity. Within this context, there has been widespread criticism levelled at innumerable Sports Governance Organizations with accusations that responses to the crisis have been both too slow and too circumscribed. Nonetheless, concussion governance has been embedded in numerous sports in the form of, for example, new or altered rules, increased medical provision, diagnostic technologies, compulsory coaching courses, return to play protocols, and legislative change.. Full details
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12 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Session 2: Technical Challenges of Data Linkage

Making plant data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) has been the subject of much effort. Extensive semantic tools are now available, including the multiple, intersecting ontologies that comprise the Planteome project, as are metadata standards such as the Minimum Information About a Plant Phenotyping Experiment (MIAPPE). Such tools nevertheless require collective work to develop and maintain. Beyond ensuring data themselves are FAIR, actively linking and circulating data poses further challenges. These include finding ways to link biologically, experimentally or geographically related yet heterogeneous datasets consistently, and to make data usable in practice to potential users with divergent aims and resources, not only reusable in theory. This session will address the technical challenges of data linkage, including the development of standards and infrastructures; epistemic issues; and the organizational requirements of this work.. Full details
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8 March 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "AI Extenders and the Ethics of Mental Health" Dr Karina Vold (University of Toronto)

The extended mind thesis maintains that the functional contributions of tools and artefacts can become so essential for our cognition that they can be constitutive parts of our minds. In other words, our tools can be on a par with our brains: our minds and cognitive processes can literally ‘extend’ into the tools. Several extended mind theorists have argued that this ‘extended’ view of the mind offers unique insights into how we understand, assess, and treat certain cognitive conditions. In this chapter we suggest that using AI extenders, i.e., tightly coupled cognitive extenders that are imbued with machine learning and other ‘artificially intelligent’ tools, presents both new ethical challenges and opportunities for mental health. We focus on several mental health conditions that can develop differently by the use of AI extenders for people with cognitive disorders and then discuss some of the related opportunities and challenges. Full details
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5 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Introduction & Session 1: Experiences from The Trenches

How is data managed in practice? To start the workshop, this session will discuss case studies of plant data use and linkage in the context of particular research projects and breeding programs, drawn from contemporary experience as well as historical research. Consideration of these cases will ground the thematic discussion of the following sessions, and provide an opportunity to reflect on the practical dimensions of the various challenges of data linkage and their solutions. This session will also begin with a general introduction to the online workshop goals and format by the organisers. Full details
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22 February 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Data through time: Figuring out the narrative self in longitudinal research" Prof Jane Elliott (University of Exeter)

This paper will explore the ways in which individuals can be obscured and revealed through the practices of longitudinal social research. In particular it will juxtapose qualitative and quantitative data from the 1958 British Birth Cohort study (which has followed thousands of individuals from their birth in 1958 through childhood and adult life) in order to consider the ways in which different approaches to research can reinforce or disrupt narrative conceptions of the self. It will also discuss the opportunities and challenges for longitudinal research provided by new practices of self-tracking e.g. using apps and wearable devices made possible following the digital revolution. Full details
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15 February 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: Book Launch: 'The Rise of Autism: Risk and Resistance in the Age of Diagnosis' Dr Ginny Russell (University of Exeter)

The book is about how the use of diagnosis has increased over the last 30 years in the UK and is a key output from our Exploring Diagnosis project. An initial overview will describe how it was written as a counterpoint to work with the neurodiversity movement, and present some data from the latest surveys that demonstrate the dramatically increased diagnosis of autism in Europe and US since the 1990s. The book offers a critical understanding of autism statistics, and why there are competing interpretations of the same data. It provides both commentary on, and contribution to, the neurodiversity movement. After a talk to introduce the contents of the book, discussants will give their own unique take on the rising use of autism diagnosis and the phenomenon of diagnostic creep. Full details
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8 February 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Politics of Scientific Pluralism in Global Perspective" Dr David Ludwig (Wageningen University & Research)

Epistemic and ontological diversity have become core topics in debates about global challenges from deforestation to food security to public health. Responding to these challenges does not only require scientific expertise but the knowledge of diverse stakeholders who are commonly marginalized in academic knowledge production. The aim of this talk is to bring concerns about global knowledge diversity in dialogue with philosophical debates about scientific pluralism.. Full details
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29 January 20219:00

Philosophy of Coordination

As a follow-up to the workshop held in Nijmegen in Nov 2018, Egenis, The Centre for the study of Life Sciences at University of Exeter and the Philosophy of Mind and Language group at Radboud University Nijmegen are organising a small online workshop on the Philosophy of Coordination on Friday January 29th 2021. Full details
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14 December 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Emotions online: What are they, and what can they do for us?" Dr Anna Bortolan (Swansea University)

The seminar explores from a philosophical perspective the nature and role of emotions experienced in the context of social media use. First, I will argue that a narrative theory of emotion is better positioned than competing approaches to account for the key features of affective experiences on the internet. I will claim that these experiences are best understood as socially shaped processes, suggesting that such an account enables us to make sense of some of the characteristics of emotions undergone on social media (e.g. their intensity and contagiousness). I will then move to outline how such an account can shed light on the way in which online interactions may have transformative effects on one’s self-experience and self-understanding.. Full details
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7 December 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Signalling, Solidarity, and Strategic Delusions", Dr Daniel Williams (University of Cambridge)

Some widely held beliefs seem absurd. They appear so radically at odds with the available evidence that it is difficult to understand how anyone could genuinely hold them. Unlike clinical delusions, however, they do not appear to be produced by a dysfunctional psychology. Such beliefs therefore generate a puzzle: How – and why – do functional psychological mechanisms give rise to absurd beliefs? Drawing on signalling theory and research in the psychological and social sciences, I clarify, defend, and explore the hypothesis that such beliefs are a strategic response to the signalling incentives generated by coalitions.. Full details
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30 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "An ethnography of metagenomics: Preliminary Results and Next Steps" Dr Roberta Raffaeta (Alma Mater University of Bologna)

This presentation will be a critical discussion of my last book ‘Antropologia dei microbi. Come la metagenomica sta riconfigurando l’umano e la salute’ CISU, 2020. The book illustrates how the ecosystemic understandings of health and of biology introduced by microbiome research is perceived and enacted by metagenomics researchers. The main argument is that metagenomics working practices develop across the tension between theory and practice, holism and reductionism, and the molecular and the ecosystemic view. Full details
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23 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Cognitive Science Goes Green: The Quest for Plant Intelligence", Prof Paco Calvo (University of Murcia)

Cognitive science provides the means to make headway in the quest for plant intelligence. Contrary to common belief, plants are not merely acted upon; they rather take action autonomously according to their own needs. Plants are intelligent insofar as they behave adaptively, flexibly, anticipatorily, and in a goal-directed manner. Plausibly, to do so, self-propelled mobility is needed—although, unlike animal locomotion, plant movement takes the form of growth and development. With that being said, being rooted, plants need to be much more distributed and decentralized than animals. Unfortunately, the default understanding of the relation between mobility and cognition is by resorting to an information-processing paradigm.. Full details
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16 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "A Candyman in Letchworth: Making Human Environments Liveable", Prof Des Fitzgerald (University of Exeter)

It is commonplace now to say that mental life is partly a product of the environment – to say that a person’s mental health is rooted in the external circumstances of their life, and not (only) in the internal workings of their body. There is however an emergent wrinkle in this form of thought, which is not new, but has nonetheless gained prominence in recent years: for both cultural and scientific practitioners, the environment, as it relates to mind, has come to signify not simply a generalisable set of social and cultural circumstances, but rather a person’s immediate physical environment; which is to say, the materials composing the building they are in, the arrangement of the urban scene they are passing through, or the set of small plants and shrubs with which they desperately populate their living and working spaces.. Full details
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9 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Intercultural dialogue and learning across difference in traditional fishing communities using the partial overlaps methodology" Charbel El-hani (University Federal da Bahia)

I will describe the partial overlaps methodology as an approach to deal with ontological, epistemological, ethical and political issues related to knowledge integration, by taking a via media between overly optimistic and pessimistic views on the possibility of integrating different knowledge systems. A central topic will be how learning may take place through partial overlaps, both when there is overlap between knowledge systems and when they diverge from each other. I will illustrate both the partial overlaps methodology and some mutual learning process from fieldwork in artisanal fishing traditional communities from Northeast Brazil. Full details
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26 October 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Spaces In Between: What geographic data can and cannot tell us about the past" Prof Leif Isaksen (University of Exeter)

The appeal of geographic data to those studying the past seems self-apparent. Few sources of evidence provide such immediate and compelling means of conveying broader context and identifying correlatory relationships between ostensibly separate phenomena. But without disputing its importance as an essential component of historical inquiry, this seminar will seek to problematise the use of spatial data using two case studies.. Full details
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19 October 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Social practices, contested values. Forensic genetics innovations for policing" "Dr Matthias Wienroth (University of Northumbria)

This paper contributes to studies of values and valuation within debates about social practices of responsible innovation. It proposes to understand innovation as social practice, and values in innovation as temporary settlements of considerations around validity, operability, and social compatibility of socio-technical innovation. As such, the paper adopts a practice-based approach to values in new technologies and their respective emerging governance and practice arrangements around Reliability, Utility and LEgitimacy (RULE). These three principles combine scientific with operational and social aspects of innovation as centre points around which deliberative engagement can be facilitated between different societal perspectives, offering the opportunity to develop greater awareness of diverse and at times competing understandings of values.. Full details
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9 October 202014:00

"COVID Societies: What is the place of the social sciences and humanities in pandemic times?"

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world. As the temporal horizon of the pandemic moves into years, and perhaps decades, however, it becomes clear that there are more than medical and scientific questions at stake, both in the pandemic and in our response to it. Learning to live with COVID also means identifying, understanding and tackling the social, cultural, political, ethical and environmental shifts emerging from the pandemic. This means, in turn, that research from experts in the social sciences and humanities will increasingly move towards the forefront of how we respond to the pandemic – sometimes in collaboration with clinical and scientific research, but sometimes under its own steam too. In this online roundtable, we draw together social science and humanities expertise from Exeter University to situate COVID-19 as a crisis that is posing major questions to research in these disciplines.. Full details
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5 October 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Processual Empiricism the COVID-19 Era: Rethinking the research process to avoid dangerous forms of reification" Prof John Dupre and Prof Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter)

Whether we live in a world of autonomous things, or a world of interconnected processes in constant flux, is an ancient philosophical debate. Modern biology provides decisive reasons for embracing the latter view. How do we understand the practices and outputs of science in such a dynamic, ever-changing world - and particularly in emergency situation such as the current pandemic, where scientific knowledge is regarded as bedrock for decisive social interventions?. Full details
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5 - 9 October 2020

Egenis Studies of COVID

Online events exploring COVID research in Egenis, the Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences. Full details
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30 July 202011:00

"Do Not Feed the Animals?"

Signs stating ‘Do not feed the animals’ are ubiquitous in zoos, national parks and urban spaces. They stress that uncontrolled feeding by people can affect animal health, alter wild animal behaviour and create public hygiene and nuisance issues. However, humans appear to have a deep-seated proclivity to feed animals. Many ancient cults fed animals, some modern religions require it, and feeding is often actively encouraged as a tourist attraction. Millions of people feed wildlife in gardens and in 2018, the pet-food industry was worth £2.7 billion in the UK alone. Full details
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3 July 202015:30

Book Launch: Data Journeys in the Sciences

This event features the official launch of the Springer Open Access volume Data Journeys in the Sciences, edited by Sabina Leonelli and Niccolo Tempini and appearing in July 2020. The volume is a key output of the ERC project DATA_SCIENCE (led by Sabina Leonelli from 2014 to 2019, see www.datastudies.eu) and brings together leading thinkers in the history, philosophy and social studies of science to reflect on the challenges and conditions for mobilizing and (re)using research data. Full details
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3 July 202015:30

Book Launch: Data Journeys in the Sciences

This Joint event between the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and Egenis, features the official launch of the Springer Open Access volume Data Journeys in the Sciences, edited by Sabina Leonelli and Niccolo Tempini and appearing in July 2020. The volume is a key output of the ERC project DATA_SCIENCE (led by Sabina Leonelli from 2014 to 2019, see www.datastudies.eu) and brings together leading thinkers in the history, philosophy and social studies of science to reflect on the challenges and conditions for mobilizing and (re)using research data. Full details
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19 June 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series / book launch: Prof Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter)

To be rescheduled. Full details
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8 June 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: Dr Marta Halina (University of Cambridge)

We hope to reschedule. Full details
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18 May 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Prof Alison Wylie (University of British Columbia)

May be rescheduled. Full details
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4 May 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: Exploring the Easter E.g. – Shifting Baselines and Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological ‘Aliens’, Prof Naomi Sykes (University of Exeter)

Easter is the most important event in the Christian calendar. Despite its global reach and cultural significance, Easter has attracted minimal academic attention since the 1970s. Astonishingly little is known about the festival’s genesis, when it first appeared in Britain, the origins of its component customs – e.g. the gifting of eggs purportedly delivered by the Easter ‘bunny’ – or how they coalesced to form current practices. Equally obscure are the timing and circumstance by which animals that have come to be associated with the festival – notably the brown hare and the rabbit but also the chicken – arrived in Britain. As a result, Easter is a high-profile natural and cultural history puzzle. This talk, timed to coincide with the festival, will bring together the results of an AHRC-funded project on the subject.. Full details
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29 April 202015:00

IDSAI Seminar: Dr. Pier Luigi Buttigieg - The art and science of knowledge representation for Earth and Environmental Science

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27 April 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: Prof Carole McCartney (Northumbria University)

We hope to reschedule. Full details
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23 March 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: "Beliefs, Signals, and Groups" Dr Daniel Williams (University of Cambridge)

An increasingly influential hypothesis in political science is that certain forms of group-based misinformation are driven by psychological and social processes in which unfounded beliefs come to function as signals of group identity and loyalty. I clarify, scrutinise, and offer a partial defence of this ‘signalling hypothesis’. Drawing on signalling theory and various characteristics of human psychology and groups, (i) I develop a theoretical framework for understanding why and how beliefs come to perform group-signalling functions and (ii) I explain how this phenomenon can be distinguished from other explanations of group-based misinformation.. Full details
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16 March 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Dr Matthias Wienroth (Newcastle University)

Hope to re-schedule in the autumn. Full details
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9 March 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Prof Leif Isaksen (University of Exeter)

Hope to be reschedule in the autumn. Full details
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24 February 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Dr Gregor Greslehner (University of Bordeaux/CNRS)

May be rescheduled. Full details
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17 February 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Using open data to define problems: How residents, policymakers, and engineers approach open government data" Dr Caitlin Donahue Wylie (Virginia University)

Making a city’s data publicly available online can serve the democratic ideal of transparency. Advocates argue that open civic data can equip stakeholders to achieve such lofty goals as supervising their government, identifying social problems, making evidence-based arguments for reform and social justice, and designing tailored solutions and research projects. As a result of this variety of uses, open data brings together several stakeholder groups, such as residents, elected officials and government staff, and engineering researchers. How these groups understand, interpret, and apply the same datasets offers a valuable comparison between their values, beliefs about knowledge, and conceptions of public good. Understanding these groups’ different epistemic approaches to data is crucial for identifying factors that influence whether and how users succeed in transforming open data into knowledge. Full details
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10 February 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Plant Phenome", Dr Ozlem Yilmaz (University of Exeter)

Plant Phenome Project* has started last month. Plant Phenomics has been growing and advancing rapidly in the last decades. Two important facts drive this growth: 1) the need for growing more, and more nutritious crop plants, for the rapidly growing world population, a growth that has been marked by increasing social inequalities; 2) the need for better understanding of plant-environment interaction, thereby improving the ability to produce crops better adapted to uncertainties in future climate. While recent research has focused heavily on genomics, it is increasingly recognised that achieving these vital goals will require matching genomic insights with deeper understanding of phenomes. The main purpose of the Plant Phenome Project is to provide a philosophical analysis of the main concepts in plant science.. Full details
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22 January 202015:00

IDSAI Seminar - Sharing your data story: how to get the most impact from your data and research

Watch the recording of the seminar from Dr Sarah Callaghan, Editor-in-Chief, Patterns.. Full details
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13 January 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Open Knowledge Institutions: Is there a future for the university in a networked world?" Prof Cameron Neylon (Curtin University)

From the inside it feels as though universities are under threat. Trust in expertise and support from governments seems to be ebbing, at the same time as massive tech giants pose an apparent threat to our core business of disseminating curated knowledge to students and sites of innovation. Yet universities are amongst the oldest surviving institutions in western society, predating the nation state, the corporation, and modern government. They have weathered massive societal change in the past. Are they well placed to do so through the crises of today? And are the tools available to university leaders fit for purpose, or even actively dangerous to the future of our institutions? What could a university be in the 21st century?. Full details
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8 - 9 January 20209:30

Turning the Mirror: From Scientific Pluralism to Pluralism in HPS

Turning the Mirror: From Scientific Pluralism to Pluralism in HPS All welcome, but please RSVP here https://philevents.org/event/show/74754 for catering purposes. 8-9 January 2020, Egenis, University of Exeter, UK Panel discussions are 90 minutes, talks are 60 minutes.. Full details
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16 December 20199:30

"AI between Plant and Agricultural Science: Green Paths towards Environmental Intelligence"

The workshop seeks to bring together experts in the plant and agricultural sciences who are working with computational methods of analyses, the integration of diverse datasets spanning biological and environmental data, and the management of plant data infrastructures, in order to discuss what possibilities might be offered for the field by the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s National Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and the Environmental Intelligence initiative based at the University of Exeter. The Environmental Intelligence initiative seeks to develop new ways to understand complex interactions between climate, ecosystems, and human social and economic systems through the application of data science tools. Full details
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9 December 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: Book Launch "Badgers and Bovine TB: Past, Present and Future", Dr Angela Cassidy (University of Exeter)

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25 November 201915:30

POSTPONED - Egenis seminar series: Prof Leif Isaksen (University of Exeter)

To be re-scheduled. Full details
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11 November 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Offerings and Interruptions: co-creating with life" Heather Barnett (University of the Arts London)

Heather Barnett is an artist, researcher and educator working with natural phenomena and biological systems. Working with live organisms, imaging technologies and playful pedagogies, her work explores how we observe, influence and relate to the world around us. Full details
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28 October 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Connecting the plots: 176 years of Long-term Experiment data and samples" Richard Ostler (Rothamsted Research)

The Rothamsted Long-term Experiments (LTEs), started by Lawes and Gilbert between 1843 and 1856 are among the oldest continuing agricultural field experiments in the world. Seven of these early "Classicals" continue today, and more LTEs have been added since, the most recent being the Large Scale Rotation Experiments started in 2015/16.. Full details
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21 October 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: 'The coordinative function of cultural conventions', Prof Marc Slors (Radboud University)

In this talk I want to argue that there is an intimate connection between trivial cultural conventions—such as social etiquette, styles of clothing and architecture and the styling of public space—and the (massive) division of roles and tasks that are characteristic of human societies. Full details
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14 October 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Cultivating Bioscience Image: A New Approach to Understanding the Life Sciences and Life Science Education as Participatory Visualisation Process" David Hay (King's College London)

In this paper I set out to challenge the firmly held assumption that bioscience research is a quest for knowledge and the imperative to change, develop, modify, and manipulate things. In its place I will advance a different thesis, one that situates researchers and their objects in a line of understanding. Without contesting the obvious association that bioscience is for human benefit: healthcare, economy, conservation, and the like, I will also assert that these potential gains are only half the story and that while this goes on, there is another current of research in which human and non-human sensitivities are being cultivated by the practice of research for different – more important – reasons. Full details
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11 October 201915:30

Professor Xiao-Li Meng: AI, Beatles, and Elections - A Nano Tour of Data Science

Professor Xiao-Li Meng is the Whipple V.N. Jones Professor of Statistics at Harvard University and the Editor in Chief of the Harvard Data Science Review. Professor Meng received his BS in mathematics from Fudan University in 1982 and his PhD in statistics from Harvard in 1990. He was on the faculty of the University of Chicago from 1991 to 2001 before returning to Harvard, where he served as the Chair of the Department of Statistics (2004-2012) and the Dean of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2012-2017). Full details
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30 September 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: “Evolution evolving”, Prof John Dupre (University of Exeter)

My title refers both to changes in the theory of evolution and to changes in the processes of evolution themselves. With regard to the former, I shall discuss the gradual relaxation of the hegemonic grip of so-called neo-Darwinism, as this has had to confront insights into phenomena such as the variety of modes of inheritance and of sources of novelty, the two-way interaction between organism and environment, and the widespread significance of biological plasticity. Full details
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12 September 201914:00

Politics of Wonder: Difference and Dignity in Nature and Society

Half Day Workshop Hosted by the Dept of Politics' Centre for Political Thought & Egenis' Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, featuring a range of guest speakers including Prof. Jeremy Bendik-Keymer (Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA), Prof. Amy Linch (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Dr. Urszula Lisowska (University of Wrocław, Poland), Prof. Christopher Gill (University of Exeter, UK), Dr. Jack Griffiths (University of Exeter, UK). Full details
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15 July 201917:30

Keynote Lecture - Animal Research Unbound: The Messiness of the Moral. Lesley A. Sharp (Barnard College, Columbia University)

Interspecies intimacy defines an inescapable reality of lab animal research. This talk is an effort to disentangle this reality’s consequences—both in and outside the lab—as framed by the quandaries of ethnographic engagement. Full details
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15 - 16 July 20198:30

"Animal Research Unbound" Conference

Much social scientific, philosophical and historical work on animal research has followed the enclosures around research communities and the relatively closed nature of animal research to highlight the construction of boundaries around animal research. This includes the ethical boundary work used to justify the use of animals in research, the human-animal and species boundaries constructed through research practices, the regulatory boundaries shaping responsibilities for animal use and care, through the spatial and material infrastructures that separate the animal house and laboratory. Even work tracing the accelerating mobilities and movements of research using animals often starts from consideration of how these might overcome boundaries between previously closed species and spaces of animal research. Full details
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24 June 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "On the Nature and Intelligibility of Medical Knowledge and Practitioners", Prof Dr Hakan Ertin

What kind of knowledge is produced in the realm of medicine? Does the medicine have exact results as mathematics and physics have? Or is medical knowledge not certain? Medical professionals believe that the result of medical knowledge is not always as precise as two and two is four. Why is this so? If so, what kind of results can be deduced from this situation? For instance, does complementary and alternative medicine take advantage of this situation? The complex nature of medical knowledge involves some challenges for scientists outside the medicine researching issues relating to the medical field. This is often encountered while medical (and/or technical) knowledge is being interpreted by social scientists. In fact, German pathologist Rudolf Virchow describes medicine as social science, but medical professionals - usually physicians - cannot even imagine that medicine can be a social science. This perception has become stronger as more and more new technologies enter -even occupy- th. Full details
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20 - 21 June 2019

"Science and Values" Integrated History and Philosophy of Science Workshop

Questions of value have always played a role in the history and philosophy of science. Philosophical questions surrounding scientific realism, for instance, often turn on the epistemic value or otherwise of virtues such as ‘simplicity’. While historians have long recognised this, philosophers have recently begun to acknowledge a wide range of values - the political, moral and aesethetic - in understanding scientific practices. This opens up a variety of new questions, both historical and philosophical, regarding the relationship between scientific practice and its historical development on the one hand, and the role of values—understood broadly. Consideration of the role of values in research provokes a host of historical and philosophical questions, typically well suited to an integrated HPS approach. This meeting of the iHPS will focus on such questions. Full details
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17 June 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Public Health, Biopolitics, Security", Ariane Hanemaayer (Brandon University, Canada)

Biopolitics is a force relation that deploys security mechanisms to regularize general biological processes within a population according to a norm. These mechanisms are institutionalized around those uncertain or random elements within a population of living beings with the objective of optimizing the state of life. This presentation analyzes a case study of the preparation of The Health of a Nation – a strategy for England, a public health policy for the National Health Service in the 1990s. I argue that the power-knowledge of public health and the policies installed to organize and inform the rates of mortality within the NHS have congealed within a dispositif of security.. Full details
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10 June 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "An empirical challenge for scientific pluralism – Alternatives or Integration?" Sophie Juliane Veigl (University of Vienna, Austria)

Scientific pluralism has become an increasingly popular position in the philosophy of science. One shared notion among scientific pluralists is that some or all natural phenomena require more than one theory, explanation or method to be fully understood. One distinction within pluralist positions is often overlooked. Some pluralists argue that several theories or explanations should be integrated (e.g. Mitchell, 2002). Others rather treat different theories and explanations as alternatives (e.g. Kellert, Longino and Waters, 2006). But does this distinction address the “nature” of the respective phenomena? And, consecutively: Are there genuine cases of “alternative” or “integrative” pluralism? In this talk I challenge this perspective and argue that it is not possible to uphold the distinction of alternatives vs. integration. Full details
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22 May 20199:30

Inner Speech, Self-talk and Mental Health

For several decades the phenomenon of inner speech has been seen as relevant to understanding psychiatric conditions; most notably, voice hearing and thought insertion. But inner speech itself is far from being fully understood. Full details
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20 May 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Assembling the Dinosaur" Lukas Rieppel (Brown University, USA)

Although dinosaur fossils were first found in England, a series of dramatic discoveries during the late 19th century turned North America into a world center for vertebrate paleontology. At the same time, the United States emerged as the world’s largest industrial economy, and creatures like tyrannosaurus, brontosaurus, and triceratops became emblems of American capitalism. Large, fierce, and spectacular, American dinosaurs soon dominated the popular imagination, making front-page headlines and appearing in feature films. Full details
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15 April 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Developing a cross cultural comparison of child mental health: stories from the field", Dr Ginny Russell, Dr Abby Russell & Daisy Elliott (University of Exeter)

In this seminar we want to examine differing cultural understandings of child mental health gleaned from our recent working visits to Peru, India and Vietnam. We will each give a brief introduction to the history of one region, our host institutions, and the understandings of child mental health that we gleaned, using photos to illustrate. We hope to discuss how to synthesise culturally informed understandings about children’s mental health in a planned trans-national comparison. We will have a particular focus on girls’ mental health and gender inequality. Full details
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25 March 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Citizen-Led Science and Participatory Science and Technology Studies" Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin (University of Exeter)

Weakness and vulnerability lie at the centre of what we call Citizen-Led Science. Paradoxically the strength of weak knowledge production is to systematically start our activities and enquiries not with a position authority, or in the know, but in the margins of what we have considered possible, desirable and realistic so far. Citizen-Led Science begins in the what if? Nonetheless, Citizen-Led Science will hardly (if ever) become solely a thought experiment, a foundational principle is that it should be a matter of practice: citizen-led scientists learn by doing. Actioninside and outside laboratory settingshelps to reveal the boundaries, limits and unspoken rules of the status quo and scientific production. Intervention is revelation. Taking inspiration from Karl Marx’s famous 11th thesis, I argue that all interpretations are interventions, but not all interventions are equal. In short disrupting is not necessarily subverting, and subversion does not necessarily lead to justice.. Full details
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18 March 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Epigenetic Variables and Postgenomic Influences", Dr Lara Choksey (University of Exeter)

This paper looks at what counts as a variable in human epigenetics, and at how a combinatorial approach in postgenomic research is producing novel accounts of experience, embodiment, and inheritance, while also throwing up problems of interdisciplinary methods. When it comes to epigenetics, the question, “what matters, and how?” passes through a network of distinct disciplinary conventions of identification, assembled - sometimes speculatively - into cause and effect. Moreover, the process of identifying life experiences as biologically significant often follows established narrative conventions of understanding human life within different disciplines – commonly, psychological and sociological approaches – while also urging reconceptualisations of their significance and processes.. Full details
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11 March 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Responsible Futures:Industrial Biotechnology and the Challenge of Responsible Innovation", Dr Achim Rosemann (University of Exeter)

The seminar explores one of the key problems of contemporary society: to develop new forms of technology and industrial production that are safe, sustainable and accepted by the public. Industrial biotechnology (IB) is often portrayed as fulfilling this promise. Hailed as part of a new industrial revolution, IB is seen as offering solutions to some of the world’s largest problems: climate change, clean production, food shortages and major global health issues. However, akin to the industrial transformations of the past, IB is also creating new types of challenges, such as risks arising from manufacturing accidents, unintended environmental effects, and disruptive impacts on economic systems and human societies.. Full details
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25 February 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: “The Greenpeace Research Laboratories and the role of science within a global environmental campaigning organisation”, Dr David Santillo (Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter)

In working towards a more sustainable future across all aspects of society, Greenpeace aims to bear witness to environmental problems and to support work to identify innovative solutions. Campaigning is in part about winning ‘hearts and minds’, but that is only likely to lead to secure change in the right directions if work is underpinned by a strong evidential basis, including in science. The role of the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, which have been based within the University of Exeter and affiliated with the School of Biosciences for more than a quarter of a century, is to provide objective scientific advice and primary analytical research capabilities to Greenpeace’s offices around the world, across a range of disciplines. Full details
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18 February 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Linnaeus in Lapland: Generating Knowledge in Transit" Dr Staffan Müller-Wille & Prof Elena Isayev (University of Exeter)

We present our plans for a collaborative research project that consists of two intertwined elements: a new English on-line edition and translation of Carl Linnaeus's diary of a journey through Lapland undertaken in 1732, and a re-enactment of that journey. Full details
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11 February 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Who is Afraid of Mimesis?", Dr Chiara Ambrosio (University College London)

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28 January 201915:30

"Receiving an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis for a child: a longitudinal interview study on parents’ experiences" Delphine Jacobs (KU Leuven, Belgium)

Egenis seminar series. In a longitudinal empirical study, I investigate how the autism concept is understood and experienced by parents. Parents who ask for an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnostic assessment for their child are interviewed at three different moments (Saldaña, 2003): before the ASD diagnostic assessment, right after the feedback session, and 12 months later. Full details
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21 January 201915:30

"The Art of Moving in Biology", Janina Wellmann (Leuphana University of Lüneburg)

Egenis seminar series. Since ancient times, self-propelled movement has been considered the distinguishing characteristic of the living, setting it apart from mere matter. Motion has always been observed, described and visualized: cells “dancing”, “swimming”, or “swarming”, for example, or “twitching”, “floating”, and “curling” have vividly brought to life the hidden world inside our bodies. But what is biological motion? While motion has always been central to studying the living world it appears to have been taken for granted in biological analysis. Full details
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14 January 201915:30

"Expressivism about the Attribution of Mental Illness" Dr Sam Wilkinson (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. There is an on-going debate surrounding different answers to the question “What is mental illness?” My aim in this paper is not to engage directly with this debate, but to see the consequences of adopting a form of expressivism with regards to the attribution of mental illness. In other words, I am (at least initially) retreating from the contested ground about what mental illness might be, to an exploration of what attributing mental illness might do. I argue that calling someone mentally ill expresses (in a sense that I will clarify) certain evaluative attitudes (in a sense that I will clarify). I end by investigating consequences of this view for related issues, including: cultural relativism, the nature of illness more generally, and, returning to the more traditional debate, a potential answer to what mental illness might actually be. Full details
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10 December 201815:30

POSTPONED "Linnaeus in Lapland: Generating Knowledge in Transit" Dr Staffan Müller-Wille & Prof Elena Isayev (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. This seminar has been postponed until Monday 18th February.. Full details
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26 November 201815:30

"Fragile cultures and unruly matters: the role of microbial lives in collaborative knowledge practices in synthetic biology", Dr Sally Atkinson & Prof Susan Molyneux-Hodgson (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. In this paper we describe the pluralistic and mutable roles attributed to and enacted by microbes in the process of microbial engineering for bioproduction. Examining the tension between live cultures as bio-objects and bio-actants, we discuss how such roles reveal and shape scientific practice and emerging knowledge in an industry-academic synthetic biology collaboration.. Full details
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19 November 201815:30

"Squandered value? How to overcome the challenges of joining up government data for statistics and research", Ed Humpherson & Catherine Bromley (UK Statistics Authority)

To speak to people involved in linking Government datasets is to enter a world that at times seems so ludicrous as to be Kafkaesque. Stories abound of Departments putting up arcane barriers to sharing their data with other parts of Government; and of researchers waiting so long to get access to data that their funding runs out before they can start work. Full details
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12 November 201815:30

"Creativity as Strategy", Dr Adrian Currie (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. Against most philosophers who are interested in creativity, I think there is good reason to want an account of creativity that doesn’t tie it to agents or individuals. First, the arguments for tying creativity to agenthood are based on unstable, historically contingent intuitions which are a bad basis for analysis. Second, if creativity is importantly linked to knowledge-production, and knowledge-production is best thought of as a population-level phenomena, then we should develop ways of understanding creativity at the population-level. Third, some arguments for human exceptionalism turn on our capacity to be creative, and I suspect our ability to articulate and critique such positions are marred if we cannot get a non-anthropocentric grip on creativity in the first place: decoupling creativity from agenthood is one way of doing this. In light of this, I present an account of creativity which is non-agential and non-purposeful but, I think, both deserves to be named creativity and sheds light on arguments for human exceptionalism. Full details
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29 October 201815:30

"Inductive risk in framework shifts: the case of cultural evolution", Azita Chellappoo (University of Cambridge)

Egenis seminar series. Non-epistemic values have been long-acknowledged to play a significant role in scientific inquiry: for example, in problem selection, and directing the use of scientific knowledge. Douglas (2000) provides a widely-applied account of another avenue for non-epistemic values to play a legitimate role: inductive risk. Inductive risk refers to the risk involved with the acceptance or rejection of a hypothesis: in the decision whether to accept a given hypothesis or not, there is always the risk of either accepting a false hypothesis (a Type 1 error, or ‘false positive’) or rejecting a true hypothesis (a Type 2 error, or ‘false negative’). When these errors have non-epistemic consequences, non-epistemic values will influence the ‘rule of acceptance’ (the level of evidence or statistical significance required to accept the hypothesis). Full details
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8 October 201815:30

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

Egenis seminar series. There are just a 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, and its relationship with the making of the dairy industry. Full details
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24 September 201818:00

An Inaugural Lecture by Professor Sabina Leonelli

What impact are big and open data having on research and on what counts as empirical knowledge in the 21st century? One way to answer this question is to engage in empirical philosophy of science. In this talk, I exemplify what this involves by examining three dimensions of this type of scholarship. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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26 February 201815:30

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

To be re-scheduled. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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25 May 2017

'Process Epistemology' (A workshop with Bill Bechtel)

The argument for process epistemologies in studies of the life sciences has arguably been growing for a number of years now. At Egenis there are two ERC-funded projects, ‘A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology’ and ‘The Epistemology of Data-Intensive Science’, which are dealing with particular aspects of this topic. In this workshop we will take stock of this development and explore different areas linked to this issue through some of the research being conducted as part of these two projects. Full details
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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
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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
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10 May 2017

POSTPONED - BSA Regional Postgraduate Event: Medical Interpreting under a Sociological Lens

This event will be rescheduled to either late 2017 or early 2018, to be advised. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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9 - 10 March 20179:00

"Organisms: Living Systems and Processes" workshop

Organisms are living systems. What does this mean? One answer given by systems biology is that organisms are self-organising dynamical systems that demarcate themselves from their environment by interacting with this environment on different levels. Non-reductionist top-down approaches in systems biology stress that organisms, as living systems, exhibit biological autonomy; they are integrated entities able to maintain themselves by actively adapting, whether by bodily reorganisation or by performing bodily movements, to changes in the environment rather than being the passive victims of such changes.. Full details
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27 February 201715:30

CANCELLED - Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent)

To be resecheduled. Full details
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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
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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
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11 - 13 January 201712:30

"Data Journeys in Biomedicine: Data Use, Research Translation and the Management of Infrastructures"

This workshop aims to trace the variety and mutual interlinking of contemporary data practices in biomedicine, through the discussion of the epistemological, ontological, methodological and societal implications of the development and adoption of complex digital data infrastructures and their methods and techniques.. Full details
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8 - 9 December 201610:00

CBMNet ‘Social and Political Challenges for the Bioeconomy’ Organiser: Susan Molyneux-Hodgson

This event will address the challenges facing the bioeconomy related to rapid scientific, technological and social change. It will bring together UK industrial biotechnology leaders and academics to discuss grand challenges and then hopes to forge new collaborations between delegates, who will go on to apply for funding to begin to solve these problems. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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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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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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
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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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2 - 3 June 20169:00

Biological Identity

Recent debates in metaphysics on personal identity and material constitution have seen a rise of theories which appeal to a biological understanding of identity. So-called animalists claim that the puzzles of standard psychological theories of personal identity can be avoided by the insight that we are essentially animals or organisms rather than persons and that the necessary and sufficient conditions of our identity over time therefore are purely biological in character. Moreover, it has been argued (most famously by Peter van Inwagen) that if there are any composite objects at all in the world, then these are those studied by biology. According to this view, there are no inanimate things like stones or cars, strictly speaking, as these turn out to be just collections of particles; but there are living organisms, due to a special unity making them each one rather than many. It is time to investigate whether, and if so how, the concept of biological identity can indeed serve the functions metaphysicians attribute to it. For that purpose, the conference will aim to confront the metaphysical motives for proposing biological conceptions of identity, diachronic as well as synchronic, with the scientifically informed research on biological identity which has been carried out within the philosophy of biology but which so far has been little noticed by the metaphysics community. The conference seeks to connect these two hitherto largely separate debates so as to put future metaphysical allusions to biological identity on more solid grounds and, at the same time, to raise awareness for the metaphysical implications of the empirically founded models of biological identity developed in philosophy of biology. 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 - 17 May 201613:00

"Pace Science:Data, Acceleration, Duration"

The handling and management of time is a crucial aspect of research environments and of expectations around the processes and outputs of scientific research, including how scientific evidence is marshalled in trials and policy-making. And yet discussions of the garnering of evidence and data sharing tend to forgo the temporal aspect in favour of static requirements and time-independent guidance on best practice. This workshop highlights and critically examines assumptions and implications of focusing on research as a historical process, whose various stages inhabit different temporal expectations from researchers, funders, governments, regulatory agencies, and relevant publics. In particular, we focus on situations where the temporality associated with research environments—for a variety of reasons ranging from material infrastructures to interpretations of value and efficiency— varies substantially, to the point of making research carried out under different temporal regimes practically incommensurable (e.g. data collection in the qualitative social sciences versus genomics; management of evidence in publicly funded versus commercial research; data sharing in developed and developing countries). Through this we will be able to understanding the demands and limitations raised by the increasing uses of controlled trials and other forms of evidencing across diverse settings.. Full details
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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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26 April 201614:00

'Scientific Models:Imagination and Practice'

Half day workshop. For more information, please contact Adam Toon (a.toon@exeter.ac.uk). No registration required. 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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21 - 22 April 201612:00

"Integrating Large Data into Plant Science: From Big Data to Discovery"

This workshop brings together prominent biologists, data scientists, database leads, publishers, representatives of learned societies and funders to discuss ways of harnessing and integrating large plant data to foster discovery. Over the last decade, data infrastructures such as cloud, grids and repositories have garnered attention and funding as crucial tools to facilitate the re-use of existing datasets. This is a complex task, and within plant science a variety of strategies have been developed to collect, combine and mine research data for new purposes. This workshop aims to review these strategies, identify examples of best practices and successful re-use both within and beyond plant science, and discuss both technical and institutional conditions for effective data mining.. 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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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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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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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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22 January 201611:00

Global Access to Open Software: Fostering Uptake - Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter) GYA & Data Studies, Exeter)

This workshop showcases results of a recent survey conducted by the GYA Working Group “Global Access to Research Software” in collaboration with the GYA Working Group “Open Science” and the INASP Institute in Oxford, which explored the conditions for access to and use of Open Software in middle and low income countries. The survey targeted specifically researchers in Bangladesh, Nigeria and Ghana. Within the workshop, results will be presented and discussed, and participants will have the opportunity to inform the writing of a report and a publication emerging from this research. These results will also be used by the Global Young Academy to inform current science policies concerned with Open Science. For more information, see http://globalyoungacademy.net/activities/open-science/.. 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
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19 - 20 November 2015

'Symbiotic Processes' workshop, organised Prof John Dupre and Dr Stephan Guttinger

This workshop is part of the ERC-funded project, “A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology (ProBio)” led by Prof. John Dupré. The project explores the advantages, problems, and implications of a fully processual understanding of living systems. The near omnipresence of symbiosis has been one of the main motivations for the project. The dependence of most life cycles on profound inter-connections with other symbiotic life cycles has been recognised by many philosophers and biologists as problematizing standard assumptions about the nature and boundaries of the organism. This poses ontological questions that, we believe, are much more tractable for a process ontology that is not committed to unambiguous boundaries between entities. This workshop will bring together scientists with various interests in symbiosis and philosophers concerned with biological ontology with a view to an in depth exploration of these basic issues.. Full details
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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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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
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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
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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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10 June 201515:00

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

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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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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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29 April 201515:00

POSTPONED " - Dr Daniele Carrieri (University of Exeter)

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25 March 2015

CANCELLED - Dr Ann Kelly (University of Exeter)

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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 (J.A.Dupre@exeter.ac.uk), copying Chee Wong (S.C.Wong@exeter.ac.uk), 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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16 February 201513:30

"Understanding in Scientific Practice: Reasoning, Cognition, Mechanisms" organised by Prof Sabina Leonelli & Dr Adam Toon (University of Exeter)

The workshop is funded by the European Research Council, through the project DATA_SCIENCE. No advance registration needed. For information, contact the workshop organisers: Sabina Leonelli (s.leonelli@exeter.ac.uk) and Adam Toon (a.toon@exeter.ac.uk).. 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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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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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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17 - 19 December 201412:30

"What is Data-Intensive Science?" - Dr Sabina Leonelli

This workshop is the first event in the project DATA_SCIENCE (www.datastudies.eu ). It brings together the key participants in the project, with the aim to start long-term discussions around what constitutes data-intensive science, compare the ways in which different scholars and fields conceptualise and enact data practices, and agree on the set-up, methods and themes to be pursued by the project team and collaborators over the next four years. Speakers will be presenting the specific sciences that they are researching, the methods that they use and the themes that they are interested in exploring in the future. The workshop is meant to provide an informal occasion for discussion, and will therefore not showcase full papers except from the keynote lecture provided by Professor Luciano Floridi, which will target the intersections between philosophy of science and philosophy of information in ways that will stimulate data-related discussions.. Full details
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15 - 16 December 20149:00

"DARK DATA: ABSENCES, INTERVENTIONS AND DIGITAL WORLDS" - Organised by Sabina Leonelli, Gail Davies, Brian Rappert, Kaushik Sunder Rajan and Neal White

Programme attached. 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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28 - 29 November 2014

"Concerning Relations: Sociologies of Conduct, Care and Affect" - Prof Michael Schillmeier

This interdisciplinary symposium, funded by Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (FSHI) and Exeter University, aims to interrogate the implications of shifting the focus of health care away from delivery towards care as an ongoing everyday accomplishment. This symposium examines spaces of collisions, elisions or alignments of social worlds, within which the affective dimension of social life in healthcare may be fruitfully examined. Drawing upon relational concerns as a distinct and distinctive mode of sociological inquiry, the symposium seeks to develop an understanding of care and its consequences that help us get beyond the economics of care as a commodified and managed form of engagement with the other.. 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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20 - 21 November 20149:00

"Process Philosophy of Biology" - Prof John Dupre and Dr Dan Nicholson

This is the first workshop for the EU grant project PROBIO organised by Professor John Dupre.. 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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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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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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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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23 June 201411:00

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

Recent developments in molecular biology imply that classic distinctions between nature and nurture or biology and culture are not applicable to the human ecological niche. Research in epigenetics shows that the effects of culture on nature go all the way down to the gene and up to the stratosphere, and the effects of biology on culture are similarly inextricable. Living systems almost invariably involve the interaction of many kinds of organisms with a diversity of technologies. The anthropocenethe age of human cultures and technologies interacting with natural environmentschanges rapidly, and to understand and manage its functioning requires perspectives from each domain. We propose the study of Symbiology, the post-organismic study of relation. The kinds of relations we study include mutualism, parasitism, domination, recognition, separation, solubility, symmetric mutuality (relations among equals in power or status), asymmetric mutuality (relations among unequals such as parents/offspring, teacher/pupil, human/nonhuman animals), reciprocity, alienation, isolation, autonomy, and so forth, and these relations are discernible throughout nature and all cultures. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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10 - 11 April 201413:00

Quo Vadis Namomedicine? Organiser: Prof Michael Schillmeier

The aim of this two day workshop is to bring together leading nanomedicine researchers and scholars from the Science and Technology Studies to reflect and discuss the past, present and future of nanomedicine. Full details
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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
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10 April 2014

Workshop - Topologies of Immunity (organiser - Prof Gail Davies)

This workshop will seek to understand the spaces and places associated with alternative ways of thinking about immunology. We seek to bring together, scientific, social theoretical, artistic and wider public experiments with understandings of immunological relations to encourage on-going and inventive exchange about these new species, sites and spaces of immunology. The workshop follows a seminar by Warwick Anderson in Building One. For further details and programme please see attachment. Full details
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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
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6 March 201410:00

Workshop - Epigenetics: Assessing the evidence & its implications (organiser - Dr Ginny Russell)

This workshop will briefly review the various understandings of epigenetics and review the designs used to assess epigenetic evidence, and whether the claims made about this new field are reasonable.We are also interested in asking questions about the social and philosophical implications of Epigenetics and this workshop is designed to be a platform to discuss what these might be. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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16 December 201314:00

Nightshades: You say potato, I say patata

Part of the HASS-funded project Symbiology Lab: The Arts of Living Together the workshop is the first in a series of events to address questions of form, design, and creativity in the applied biosciences, and to contribute to new ways of thinking about and engaging with the interface between culture and nature in the postgenomic age. Full details
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12 - 13 December 201314:00

The Value of Open Science

This workshop brings together biologists, social scientists and philosophers to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the recent RCUK policy on Open Access. We will discuss the impact of Open Access mandates on scientific practice and the ways in which they foster research and innovation, particularly in the fields of systems and synthetic biology.. Full details
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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
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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
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18 October 201319:00

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

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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
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23 May 201313:00

Structural Realism in Biology: A (Sympathetic) Critique

Speaker: Sahotra Sarkar (University of Texas at Austin). Full details
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20 May 201315:30

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

Egenis seminar with Dr Javier Lezaun. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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20 May 201315:30

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

Egenis seminar with Dr Javier Lezaun. Full details
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23 May 201313:00

Structural Realism in Biology: A (Sympathetic) Critique

Speaker: Sahotra Sarkar (University of Texas at Austin). Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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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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16 June 2014

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

CANCELLED.. 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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11 February 2015

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

Postponed until Wednesday 25th March 2015. 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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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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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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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 (J.A.Dupre@exeter.ac.uk), copying Chee Wong (S.C.Wong@exeter.ac.uk), as space will be limited.. 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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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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25 March 2015

CANCELLED - Dr Ann Kelly (University of Exeter)

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29 April 201515:00

POSTPONED " - Dr Daniele Carrieri (University of Exeter)

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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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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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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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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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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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10 June 201515:00

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

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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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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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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
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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
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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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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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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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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
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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
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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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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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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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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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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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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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27 February 201715:30

CANCELLED - Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent)

To be resecheduled. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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26 February 201815:30

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

To be re-scheduled. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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8 October 201815:30

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

Egenis seminar series. There are just a 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, and its relationship with the making of the dairy industry. Full details
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29 October 201815:30

"Inductive risk in framework shifts: the case of cultural evolution", Azita Chellappoo (University of Cambridge)

Egenis seminar series. Non-epistemic values have been long-acknowledged to play a significant role in scientific inquiry: for example, in problem selection, and directing the use of scientific knowledge. Douglas (2000) provides a widely-applied account of another avenue for non-epistemic values to play a legitimate role: inductive risk. Inductive risk refers to the risk involved with the acceptance or rejection of a hypothesis: in the decision whether to accept a given hypothesis or not, there is always the risk of either accepting a false hypothesis (a Type 1 error, or ‘false positive’) or rejecting a true hypothesis (a Type 2 error, or ‘false negative’). When these errors have non-epistemic consequences, non-epistemic values will influence the ‘rule of acceptance’ (the level of evidence or statistical significance required to accept the hypothesis). Full details
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12 November 201815:30

"Creativity as Strategy", Dr Adrian Currie (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. Against most philosophers who are interested in creativity, I think there is good reason to want an account of creativity that doesn’t tie it to agents or individuals. First, the arguments for tying creativity to agenthood are based on unstable, historically contingent intuitions which are a bad basis for analysis. Second, if creativity is importantly linked to knowledge-production, and knowledge-production is best thought of as a population-level phenomena, then we should develop ways of understanding creativity at the population-level. Third, some arguments for human exceptionalism turn on our capacity to be creative, and I suspect our ability to articulate and critique such positions are marred if we cannot get a non-anthropocentric grip on creativity in the first place: decoupling creativity from agenthood is one way of doing this. In light of this, I present an account of creativity which is non-agential and non-purposeful but, I think, both deserves to be named creativity and sheds light on arguments for human exceptionalism. Full details
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19 November 201815:30

"Squandered value? How to overcome the challenges of joining up government data for statistics and research", Ed Humpherson & Catherine Bromley (UK Statistics Authority)

To speak to people involved in linking Government datasets is to enter a world that at times seems so ludicrous as to be Kafkaesque. Stories abound of Departments putting up arcane barriers to sharing their data with other parts of Government; and of researchers waiting so long to get access to data that their funding runs out before they can start work. Full details
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26 November 201815:30

"Fragile cultures and unruly matters: the role of microbial lives in collaborative knowledge practices in synthetic biology", Dr Sally Atkinson & Prof Susan Molyneux-Hodgson (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. In this paper we describe the pluralistic and mutable roles attributed to and enacted by microbes in the process of microbial engineering for bioproduction. Examining the tension between live cultures as bio-objects and bio-actants, we discuss how such roles reveal and shape scientific practice and emerging knowledge in an industry-academic synthetic biology collaboration.. Full details
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10 December 201815:30

POSTPONED "Linnaeus in Lapland: Generating Knowledge in Transit" Dr Staffan Müller-Wille & Prof Elena Isayev (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. This seminar has been postponed until Monday 18th February.. Full details
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14 January 201915:30

"Expressivism about the Attribution of Mental Illness" Dr Sam Wilkinson (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series. There is an on-going debate surrounding different answers to the question “What is mental illness?” My aim in this paper is not to engage directly with this debate, but to see the consequences of adopting a form of expressivism with regards to the attribution of mental illness. In other words, I am (at least initially) retreating from the contested ground about what mental illness might be, to an exploration of what attributing mental illness might do. I argue that calling someone mentally ill expresses (in a sense that I will clarify) certain evaluative attitudes (in a sense that I will clarify). I end by investigating consequences of this view for related issues, including: cultural relativism, the nature of illness more generally, and, returning to the more traditional debate, a potential answer to what mental illness might actually be. Full details
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21 January 201915:30

"The Art of Moving in Biology", Janina Wellmann (Leuphana University of Lüneburg)

Egenis seminar series. Since ancient times, self-propelled movement has been considered the distinguishing characteristic of the living, setting it apart from mere matter. Motion has always been observed, described and visualized: cells “dancing”, “swimming”, or “swarming”, for example, or “twitching”, “floating”, and “curling” have vividly brought to life the hidden world inside our bodies. But what is biological motion? While motion has always been central to studying the living world it appears to have been taken for granted in biological analysis. Full details
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28 January 201915:30

"Receiving an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis for a child: a longitudinal interview study on parents’ experiences" Delphine Jacobs (KU Leuven, Belgium)

Egenis seminar series. In a longitudinal empirical study, I investigate how the autism concept is understood and experienced by parents. Parents who ask for an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnostic assessment for their child are interviewed at three different moments (Saldaña, 2003): before the ASD diagnostic assessment, right after the feedback session, and 12 months later. Full details
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11 February 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Who is Afraid of Mimesis?", Dr Chiara Ambrosio (University College London)

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18 February 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Linnaeus in Lapland: Generating Knowledge in Transit" Dr Staffan Müller-Wille & Prof Elena Isayev (University of Exeter)

We present our plans for a collaborative research project that consists of two intertwined elements: a new English on-line edition and translation of Carl Linnaeus's diary of a journey through Lapland undertaken in 1732, and a re-enactment of that journey. Full details
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25 February 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: “The Greenpeace Research Laboratories and the role of science within a global environmental campaigning organisation”, Dr David Santillo (Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter)

In working towards a more sustainable future across all aspects of society, Greenpeace aims to bear witness to environmental problems and to support work to identify innovative solutions. Campaigning is in part about winning ‘hearts and minds’, but that is only likely to lead to secure change in the right directions if work is underpinned by a strong evidential basis, including in science. The role of the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, which have been based within the University of Exeter and affiliated with the School of Biosciences for more than a quarter of a century, is to provide objective scientific advice and primary analytical research capabilities to Greenpeace’s offices around the world, across a range of disciplines. Full details
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11 March 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Responsible Futures:Industrial Biotechnology and the Challenge of Responsible Innovation", Dr Achim Rosemann (University of Exeter)

The seminar explores one of the key problems of contemporary society: to develop new forms of technology and industrial production that are safe, sustainable and accepted by the public. Industrial biotechnology (IB) is often portrayed as fulfilling this promise. Hailed as part of a new industrial revolution, IB is seen as offering solutions to some of the world’s largest problems: climate change, clean production, food shortages and major global health issues. However, akin to the industrial transformations of the past, IB is also creating new types of challenges, such as risks arising from manufacturing accidents, unintended environmental effects, and disruptive impacts on economic systems and human societies.. Full details
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18 March 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Epigenetic Variables and Postgenomic Influences", Dr Lara Choksey (University of Exeter)

This paper looks at what counts as a variable in human epigenetics, and at how a combinatorial approach in postgenomic research is producing novel accounts of experience, embodiment, and inheritance, while also throwing up problems of interdisciplinary methods. When it comes to epigenetics, the question, “what matters, and how?” passes through a network of distinct disciplinary conventions of identification, assembled - sometimes speculatively - into cause and effect. Moreover, the process of identifying life experiences as biologically significant often follows established narrative conventions of understanding human life within different disciplines – commonly, psychological and sociological approaches – while also urging reconceptualisations of their significance and processes.. Full details
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25 March 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Citizen-Led Science and Participatory Science and Technology Studies" Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin (University of Exeter)

Weakness and vulnerability lie at the centre of what we call Citizen-Led Science. Paradoxically the strength of weak knowledge production is to systematically start our activities and enquiries not with a position authority, or in the know, but in the margins of what we have considered possible, desirable and realistic so far. Citizen-Led Science begins in the what if? Nonetheless, Citizen-Led Science will hardly (if ever) become solely a thought experiment, a foundational principle is that it should be a matter of practice: citizen-led scientists learn by doing. Actioninside and outside laboratory settingshelps to reveal the boundaries, limits and unspoken rules of the status quo and scientific production. Intervention is revelation. Taking inspiration from Karl Marx’s famous 11th thesis, I argue that all interpretations are interventions, but not all interventions are equal. In short disrupting is not necessarily subverting, and subversion does not necessarily lead to justice.. Full details
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15 April 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Developing a cross cultural comparison of child mental health: stories from the field", Dr Ginny Russell, Dr Abby Russell & Daisy Elliott (University of Exeter)

In this seminar we want to examine differing cultural understandings of child mental health gleaned from our recent working visits to Peru, India and Vietnam. We will each give a brief introduction to the history of one region, our host institutions, and the understandings of child mental health that we gleaned, using photos to illustrate. We hope to discuss how to synthesise culturally informed understandings about children’s mental health in a planned trans-national comparison. We will have a particular focus on girls’ mental health and gender inequality. Full details
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20 May 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Assembling the Dinosaur" Lukas Rieppel (Brown University, USA)

Although dinosaur fossils were first found in England, a series of dramatic discoveries during the late 19th century turned North America into a world center for vertebrate paleontology. At the same time, the United States emerged as the world’s largest industrial economy, and creatures like tyrannosaurus, brontosaurus, and triceratops became emblems of American capitalism. Large, fierce, and spectacular, American dinosaurs soon dominated the popular imagination, making front-page headlines and appearing in feature films. Full details
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10 June 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "An empirical challenge for scientific pluralism – Alternatives or Integration?" Sophie Juliane Veigl (University of Vienna, Austria)

Scientific pluralism has become an increasingly popular position in the philosophy of science. One shared notion among scientific pluralists is that some or all natural phenomena require more than one theory, explanation or method to be fully understood. One distinction within pluralist positions is often overlooked. Some pluralists argue that several theories or explanations should be integrated (e.g. Mitchell, 2002). Others rather treat different theories and explanations as alternatives (e.g. Kellert, Longino and Waters, 2006). But does this distinction address the “nature” of the respective phenomena? And, consecutively: Are there genuine cases of “alternative” or “integrative” pluralism? In this talk I challenge this perspective and argue that it is not possible to uphold the distinction of alternatives vs. integration. Full details
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17 June 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Public Health, Biopolitics, Security", Ariane Hanemaayer (Brandon University, Canada)

Biopolitics is a force relation that deploys security mechanisms to regularize general biological processes within a population according to a norm. These mechanisms are institutionalized around those uncertain or random elements within a population of living beings with the objective of optimizing the state of life. This presentation analyzes a case study of the preparation of The Health of a Nation – a strategy for England, a public health policy for the National Health Service in the 1990s. I argue that the power-knowledge of public health and the policies installed to organize and inform the rates of mortality within the NHS have congealed within a dispositif of security.. Full details
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24 June 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "On the Nature and Intelligibility of Medical Knowledge and Practitioners", Prof Dr Hakan Ertin

What kind of knowledge is produced in the realm of medicine? Does the medicine have exact results as mathematics and physics have? Or is medical knowledge not certain? Medical professionals believe that the result of medical knowledge is not always as precise as two and two is four. Why is this so? If so, what kind of results can be deduced from this situation? For instance, does complementary and alternative medicine take advantage of this situation? The complex nature of medical knowledge involves some challenges for scientists outside the medicine researching issues relating to the medical field. This is often encountered while medical (and/or technical) knowledge is being interpreted by social scientists. In fact, German pathologist Rudolf Virchow describes medicine as social science, but medical professionals - usually physicians - cannot even imagine that medicine can be a social science. This perception has become stronger as more and more new technologies enter -even occupy- th. Full details
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30 September 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: “Evolution evolving”, Prof John Dupre (University of Exeter)

My title refers both to changes in the theory of evolution and to changes in the processes of evolution themselves. With regard to the former, I shall discuss the gradual relaxation of the hegemonic grip of so-called neo-Darwinism, as this has had to confront insights into phenomena such as the variety of modes of inheritance and of sources of novelty, the two-way interaction between organism and environment, and the widespread significance of biological plasticity. Full details
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11 October 201915:30

Professor Xiao-Li Meng: AI, Beatles, and Elections - A Nano Tour of Data Science

Professor Xiao-Li Meng is the Whipple V.N. Jones Professor of Statistics at Harvard University and the Editor in Chief of the Harvard Data Science Review. Professor Meng received his BS in mathematics from Fudan University in 1982 and his PhD in statistics from Harvard in 1990. He was on the faculty of the University of Chicago from 1991 to 2001 before returning to Harvard, where he served as the Chair of the Department of Statistics (2004-2012) and the Dean of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2012-2017). Full details
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14 October 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Cultivating Bioscience Image: A New Approach to Understanding the Life Sciences and Life Science Education as Participatory Visualisation Process" David Hay (King's College London)

In this paper I set out to challenge the firmly held assumption that bioscience research is a quest for knowledge and the imperative to change, develop, modify, and manipulate things. In its place I will advance a different thesis, one that situates researchers and their objects in a line of understanding. Without contesting the obvious association that bioscience is for human benefit: healthcare, economy, conservation, and the like, I will also assert that these potential gains are only half the story and that while this goes on, there is another current of research in which human and non-human sensitivities are being cultivated by the practice of research for different – more important – reasons. Full details
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21 October 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: 'The coordinative function of cultural conventions', Prof Marc Slors (Radboud University)

In this talk I want to argue that there is an intimate connection between trivial cultural conventions—such as social etiquette, styles of clothing and architecture and the styling of public space—and the (massive) division of roles and tasks that are characteristic of human societies. Full details
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28 October 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Connecting the plots: 176 years of Long-term Experiment data and samples" Richard Ostler (Rothamsted Research)

The Rothamsted Long-term Experiments (LTEs), started by Lawes and Gilbert between 1843 and 1856 are among the oldest continuing agricultural field experiments in the world. Seven of these early "Classicals" continue today, and more LTEs have been added since, the most recent being the Large Scale Rotation Experiments started in 2015/16.. Full details
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11 November 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Offerings and Interruptions: co-creating with life" Heather Barnett (University of the Arts London)

Heather Barnett is an artist, researcher and educator working with natural phenomena and biological systems. Working with live organisms, imaging technologies and playful pedagogies, her work explores how we observe, influence and relate to the world around us. Full details
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25 November 201915:30

POSTPONED - Egenis seminar series: Prof Leif Isaksen (University of Exeter)

To be re-scheduled. Full details
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9 December 201915:30

EGENIS seminar series: Book Launch "Badgers and Bovine TB: Past, Present and Future", Dr Angela Cassidy (University of Exeter)

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8 - 9 January 20209:30

Turning the Mirror: From Scientific Pluralism to Pluralism in HPS

Turning the Mirror: From Scientific Pluralism to Pluralism in HPS All welcome, but please RSVP here https://philevents.org/event/show/74754 for catering purposes. 8-9 January 2020, Egenis, University of Exeter, UK Panel discussions are 90 minutes, talks are 60 minutes.. Full details
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13 January 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Open Knowledge Institutions: Is there a future for the university in a networked world?" Prof Cameron Neylon (Curtin University)

From the inside it feels as though universities are under threat. Trust in expertise and support from governments seems to be ebbing, at the same time as massive tech giants pose an apparent threat to our core business of disseminating curated knowledge to students and sites of innovation. Yet universities are amongst the oldest surviving institutions in western society, predating the nation state, the corporation, and modern government. They have weathered massive societal change in the past. Are they well placed to do so through the crises of today? And are the tools available to university leaders fit for purpose, or even actively dangerous to the future of our institutions? What could a university be in the 21st century?. Full details
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22 January 202015:00

IDSAI Seminar - Sharing your data story: how to get the most impact from your data and research

Watch the recording of the seminar from Dr Sarah Callaghan, Editor-in-Chief, Patterns.. Full details
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10 February 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Plant Phenome", Dr Ozlem Yilmaz (University of Exeter)

Plant Phenome Project* has started last month. Plant Phenomics has been growing and advancing rapidly in the last decades. Two important facts drive this growth: 1) the need for growing more, and more nutritious crop plants, for the rapidly growing world population, a growth that has been marked by increasing social inequalities; 2) the need for better understanding of plant-environment interaction, thereby improving the ability to produce crops better adapted to uncertainties in future climate. While recent research has focused heavily on genomics, it is increasingly recognised that achieving these vital goals will require matching genomic insights with deeper understanding of phenomes. The main purpose of the Plant Phenome Project is to provide a philosophical analysis of the main concepts in plant science.. Full details
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17 February 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Using open data to define problems: How residents, policymakers, and engineers approach open government data" Dr Caitlin Donahue Wylie (Virginia University)

Making a city’s data publicly available online can serve the democratic ideal of transparency. Advocates argue that open civic data can equip stakeholders to achieve such lofty goals as supervising their government, identifying social problems, making evidence-based arguments for reform and social justice, and designing tailored solutions and research projects. As a result of this variety of uses, open data brings together several stakeholder groups, such as residents, elected officials and government staff, and engineering researchers. How these groups understand, interpret, and apply the same datasets offers a valuable comparison between their values, beliefs about knowledge, and conceptions of public good. Understanding these groups’ different epistemic approaches to data is crucial for identifying factors that influence whether and how users succeed in transforming open data into knowledge. Full details
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24 February 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Dr Gregor Greslehner (University of Bordeaux/CNRS)

May be rescheduled. Full details
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9 March 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Prof Leif Isaksen (University of Exeter)

Hope to be reschedule in the autumn. Full details
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16 March 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Dr Matthias Wienroth (Newcastle University)

Hope to re-schedule in the autumn. Full details
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23 March 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: "Beliefs, Signals, and Groups" Dr Daniel Williams (University of Cambridge)

An increasingly influential hypothesis in political science is that certain forms of group-based misinformation are driven by psychological and social processes in which unfounded beliefs come to function as signals of group identity and loyalty. I clarify, scrutinise, and offer a partial defence of this ‘signalling hypothesis’. Drawing on signalling theory and various characteristics of human psychology and groups, (i) I develop a theoretical framework for understanding why and how beliefs come to perform group-signalling functions and (ii) I explain how this phenomenon can be distinguished from other explanations of group-based misinformation.. Full details
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27 April 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: Prof Carole McCartney (Northumbria University)

We hope to reschedule. Full details
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29 April 202015:00

IDSAI Seminar: Dr. Pier Luigi Buttigieg - The art and science of knowledge representation for Earth and Environmental Science

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4 May 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: Exploring the Easter E.g. – Shifting Baselines and Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological ‘Aliens’, Prof Naomi Sykes (University of Exeter)

Easter is the most important event in the Christian calendar. Despite its global reach and cultural significance, Easter has attracted minimal academic attention since the 1970s. Astonishingly little is known about the festival’s genesis, when it first appeared in Britain, the origins of its component customs – e.g. the gifting of eggs purportedly delivered by the Easter ‘bunny’ – or how they coalesced to form current practices. Equally obscure are the timing and circumstance by which animals that have come to be associated with the festival – notably the brown hare and the rabbit but also the chicken – arrived in Britain. As a result, Easter is a high-profile natural and cultural history puzzle. This talk, timed to coincide with the festival, will bring together the results of an AHRC-funded project on the subject.. Full details
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18 May 202015:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar series: Prof Alison Wylie (University of British Columbia)

May be rescheduled. Full details
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8 June 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series: Dr Marta Halina (University of Cambridge)

We hope to reschedule. Full details
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19 June 202015:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar series / book launch: Prof Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter)

To be rescheduled. Full details
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3 July 202015:30

Book Launch: Data Journeys in the Sciences

This Joint event between the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and Egenis, features the official launch of the Springer Open Access volume Data Journeys in the Sciences, edited by Sabina Leonelli and Niccolo Tempini and appearing in July 2020. The volume is a key output of the ERC project DATA_SCIENCE (led by Sabina Leonelli from 2014 to 2019, see www.datastudies.eu) and brings together leading thinkers in the history, philosophy and social studies of science to reflect on the challenges and conditions for mobilizing and (re)using research data. Full details
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30 July 202011:00

"Do Not Feed the Animals?"

Signs stating ‘Do not feed the animals’ are ubiquitous in zoos, national parks and urban spaces. They stress that uncontrolled feeding by people can affect animal health, alter wild animal behaviour and create public hygiene and nuisance issues. However, humans appear to have a deep-seated proclivity to feed animals. Many ancient cults fed animals, some modern religions require it, and feeding is often actively encouraged as a tourist attraction. Millions of people feed wildlife in gardens and in 2018, the pet-food industry was worth £2.7 billion in the UK alone. Full details
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5 October 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Processual Empiricism the COVID-19 Era: Rethinking the research process to avoid dangerous forms of reification" Prof John Dupre and Prof Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter)

Whether we live in a world of autonomous things, or a world of interconnected processes in constant flux, is an ancient philosophical debate. Modern biology provides decisive reasons for embracing the latter view. How do we understand the practices and outputs of science in such a dynamic, ever-changing world - and particularly in emergency situation such as the current pandemic, where scientific knowledge is regarded as bedrock for decisive social interventions?. Full details
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9 October 202014:00

"COVID Societies: What is the place of the social sciences and humanities in pandemic times?"

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world. As the temporal horizon of the pandemic moves into years, and perhaps decades, however, it becomes clear that there are more than medical and scientific questions at stake, both in the pandemic and in our response to it. Learning to live with COVID also means identifying, understanding and tackling the social, cultural, political, ethical and environmental shifts emerging from the pandemic. This means, in turn, that research from experts in the social sciences and humanities will increasingly move towards the forefront of how we respond to the pandemic – sometimes in collaboration with clinical and scientific research, but sometimes under its own steam too. In this online roundtable, we draw together social science and humanities expertise from Exeter University to situate COVID-19 as a crisis that is posing major questions to research in these disciplines.. Full details
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19 October 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Social practices, contested values. Forensic genetics innovations for policing" "Dr Matthias Wienroth (University of Northumbria)

This paper contributes to studies of values and valuation within debates about social practices of responsible innovation. It proposes to understand innovation as social practice, and values in innovation as temporary settlements of considerations around validity, operability, and social compatibility of socio-technical innovation. As such, the paper adopts a practice-based approach to values in new technologies and their respective emerging governance and practice arrangements around Reliability, Utility and LEgitimacy (RULE). These three principles combine scientific with operational and social aspects of innovation as centre points around which deliberative engagement can be facilitated between different societal perspectives, offering the opportunity to develop greater awareness of diverse and at times competing understandings of values.. Full details
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26 October 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Spaces In Between: What geographic data can and cannot tell us about the past" Prof Leif Isaksen (University of Exeter)

The appeal of geographic data to those studying the past seems self-apparent. Few sources of evidence provide such immediate and compelling means of conveying broader context and identifying correlatory relationships between ostensibly separate phenomena. But without disputing its importance as an essential component of historical inquiry, this seminar will seek to problematise the use of spatial data using two case studies.. Full details
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9 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Intercultural dialogue and learning across difference in traditional fishing communities using the partial overlaps methodology" Charbel El-hani (University Federal da Bahia)

I will describe the partial overlaps methodology as an approach to deal with ontological, epistemological, ethical and political issues related to knowledge integration, by taking a via media between overly optimistic and pessimistic views on the possibility of integrating different knowledge systems. A central topic will be how learning may take place through partial overlaps, both when there is overlap between knowledge systems and when they diverge from each other. I will illustrate both the partial overlaps methodology and some mutual learning process from fieldwork in artisanal fishing traditional communities from Northeast Brazil. Full details
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16 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "A Candyman in Letchworth: Making Human Environments Liveable", Prof Des Fitzgerald (University of Exeter)

It is commonplace now to say that mental life is partly a product of the environment – to say that a person’s mental health is rooted in the external circumstances of their life, and not (only) in the internal workings of their body. There is however an emergent wrinkle in this form of thought, which is not new, but has nonetheless gained prominence in recent years: for both cultural and scientific practitioners, the environment, as it relates to mind, has come to signify not simply a generalisable set of social and cultural circumstances, but rather a person’s immediate physical environment; which is to say, the materials composing the building they are in, the arrangement of the urban scene they are passing through, or the set of small plants and shrubs with which they desperately populate their living and working spaces.. Full details
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23 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Cognitive Science Goes Green: The Quest for Plant Intelligence", Prof Paco Calvo (University of Murcia)

Cognitive science provides the means to make headway in the quest for plant intelligence. Contrary to common belief, plants are not merely acted upon; they rather take action autonomously according to their own needs. Plants are intelligent insofar as they behave adaptively, flexibly, anticipatorily, and in a goal-directed manner. Plausibly, to do so, self-propelled mobility is needed—although, unlike animal locomotion, plant movement takes the form of growth and development. With that being said, being rooted, plants need to be much more distributed and decentralized than animals. Unfortunately, the default understanding of the relation between mobility and cognition is by resorting to an information-processing paradigm.. Full details
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30 November 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "An ethnography of metagenomics: Preliminary Results and Next Steps" Dr Roberta Raffaeta (Alma Mater University of Bologna)

This presentation will be a critical discussion of my last book ‘Antropologia dei microbi. Come la metagenomica sta riconfigurando l’umano e la salute’ CISU, 2020. The book illustrates how the ecosystemic understandings of health and of biology introduced by microbiome research is perceived and enacted by metagenomics researchers. The main argument is that metagenomics working practices develop across the tension between theory and practice, holism and reductionism, and the molecular and the ecosystemic view. Full details
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7 December 202015:30

EGENIS seminar: "Signalling, Solidarity, and Strategic Delusions", Dr Daniel Williams (University of Cambridge)

Some widely held beliefs seem absurd. They appear so radically at odds with the available evidence that it is difficult to understand how anyone could genuinely hold them. Unlike clinical delusions, however, they do not appear to be produced by a dysfunctional psychology. Such beliefs therefore generate a puzzle: How – and why – do functional psychological mechanisms give rise to absurd beliefs? Drawing on signalling theory and research in the psychological and social sciences, I clarify, defend, and explore the hypothesis that such beliefs are a strategic response to the signalling incentives generated by coalitions.. Full details
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14 December 202015:30

EGENIS seminar series: "Emotions online: What are they, and what can they do for us?" Dr Anna Bortolan (Swansea University)

The seminar explores from a philosophical perspective the nature and role of emotions experienced in the context of social media use. First, I will argue that a narrative theory of emotion is better positioned than competing approaches to account for the key features of affective experiences on the internet. I will claim that these experiences are best understood as socially shaped processes, suggesting that such an account enables us to make sense of some of the characteristics of emotions undergone on social media (e.g. their intensity and contagiousness). I will then move to outline how such an account can shed light on the way in which online interactions may have transformative effects on one’s self-experience and self-understanding.. Full details
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8 February 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Politics of Scientific Pluralism in Global Perspective" Dr David Ludwig (Wageningen University & Research)

Epistemic and ontological diversity have become core topics in debates about global challenges from deforestation to food security to public health. Responding to these challenges does not only require scientific expertise but the knowledge of diverse stakeholders who are commonly marginalized in academic knowledge production. The aim of this talk is to bring concerns about global knowledge diversity in dialogue with philosophical debates about scientific pluralism.. Full details
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15 February 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: Book Launch: 'The Rise of Autism: Risk and Resistance in the Age of Diagnosis' Dr Ginny Russell (University of Exeter)

The book is about how the use of diagnosis has increased over the last 30 years in the UK and is a key output from our Exploring Diagnosis project. An initial overview will describe how it was written as a counterpoint to work with the neurodiversity movement, and present some data from the latest surveys that demonstrate the dramatically increased diagnosis of autism in Europe and US since the 1990s. The book offers a critical understanding of autism statistics, and why there are competing interpretations of the same data. It provides both commentary on, and contribution to, the neurodiversity movement. After a talk to introduce the contents of the book, discussants will give their own unique take on the rising use of autism diagnosis and the phenomenon of diagnostic creep. Full details
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22 February 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Data through time: Figuring out the narrative self in longitudinal research" Prof Jane Elliott (University of Exeter)

This paper will explore the ways in which individuals can be obscured and revealed through the practices of longitudinal social research. In particular it will juxtapose qualitative and quantitative data from the 1958 British Birth Cohort study (which has followed thousands of individuals from their birth in 1958 through childhood and adult life) in order to consider the ways in which different approaches to research can reinforce or disrupt narrative conceptions of the self. It will also discuss the opportunities and challenges for longitudinal research provided by new practices of self-tracking e.g. using apps and wearable devices made possible following the digital revolution. Full details
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8 March 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "AI Extenders and the Ethics of Mental Health" Dr Karina Vold (University of Toronto)

The extended mind thesis maintains that the functional contributions of tools and artefacts can become so essential for our cognition that they can be constitutive parts of our minds. In other words, our tools can be on a par with our brains: our minds and cognitive processes can literally ‘extend’ into the tools. Several extended mind theorists have argued that this ‘extended’ view of the mind offers unique insights into how we understand, assess, and treat certain cognitive conditions. In this chapter we suggest that using AI extenders, i.e., tightly coupled cognitive extenders that are imbued with machine learning and other ‘artificially intelligent’ tools, presents both new ethical challenges and opportunities for mental health. We focus on several mental health conditions that can develop differently by the use of AI extenders for people with cognitive disorders and then discuss some of the related opportunities and challenges. Full details
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15 March 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Hard Knock Life: Concussion, Dementia and Sport" Dr Greg Hollin (University of Leeds)

The first decades of the twenty-first century have seen a ‘concussion crisis’ in sport. While there has been increased, and considerable, concern about the acute health risks associated with brain injury, much of the crisis has oriented around ‘Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy’, or CTE, a form of dementia associated with repetitive head injuries such as those experienced as part of sporting activity. Within this context, there has been widespread criticism levelled at innumerable Sports Governance Organizations with accusations that responses to the crisis have been both too slow and too circumscribed. Nonetheless, concussion governance has been embedded in numerous sports in the form of, for example, new or altered rules, increased medical provision, diagnostic technologies, compulsory coaching courses, return to play protocols, and legislative change.. Full details
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22 March 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: Exploring the Easter E.g. - Shifting Baselines and Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological "Aliens" Prof Naomi Sykes (University of Exeter)

Very little of what we see around us in Britain today can be classed as 'native'. When the sea cut off the island from the rest of the continent (c. 8,000 years ago) the flora, fauna and human population were very different. Over millennia, Britain's ecology and culture have been transformed. Change has been the only constant, with population movements being responsible for the island's unique bio-cultural heritage. Full details
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26 April 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Regulating the Circulation of Knowledge across US Borders: A transnational approach" Prof John Krige (Georgia Institute of Technology)

This talk will explore the contours of a gray zone of knowledge that is neither classified, nor can circulate freely, and then trace the historical arc of one major instrument – export controls – as mobilized by the U.S. national security state to regulate its movement across national borders. To illustrate the range of regulatory instruments devised, I will then briefly describe how the meaning of fundamental research in biomedicine was recently fashioned by the NIH to bring it within the purview of the national security state. To conclude, I will discuss the interest of a transnational approach to knowledge circulation as a method that can help us to overcome the more or less total absence of any engagement with this gray zone in the scholarly literature. Full details
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17 May 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Making up publics: configuring expertise, knowledge and ignorance in environmental research", Prof Judith Green (University of Exeter)

This paper takes an example from a field where scientific knowledge is emergent and uncertain - the health impacts of artificial light at night – to explore how knowledge and ignorance are mobilised to create publics. Artificial light at night has become a matter of political, environmental and public health concern, as urban administrations across the world seek to reduce carbon emissions and costs by using emergent LED and smart technologies to manage street lighting. In doing so, these administrations interact with civil society and academic groups concerned by the impacts of light pollution on the ecosystem and human experiences of the night sky. However, urban light at night is not just a technological accomplishment and light pollution risk: providing it is intricately tied to the histories of city governance, and the making of modern spaces of security and safety. Full details
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26 May 202115:00

Joint IDSAI / Egenis Seminar - "From blind optimism to complete rejection: Lessons from the UK’s exams algorithm experience"

Join us for this seminar with Ed Humpherson, Head of the UK’s Office for Statistics Regulation. The seminar is hosted by the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences. Full details
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7 June 202110:00

EGENIS seminar: "Ferrets Here and There: Global Development of Experimental Practices for Influenza Modelling", Prof Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide)

Since at least the 1930s, ferrets have been recognized as extremely well-suited models for studying the pathogenicity and transmissibility of both human and avian influenza viruses. Ferrets are attractive mammalian models due to their relatively small size and other physiological features including the similarity of their lungs to humans, but particularly because they evidence numerous clinical features associated with human disease, especially influenza. Ferrets are highly susceptible to the influenza virus, and have become indispensable for elucidating virus-host interactions following influenza virus infection. However, unlike many other more traditional model organisms such as mice, ferrets are not standardized and often are sourced from diverse types of locales.. Full details
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4 October 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "From pluripotent stem cells to human embryos", Dr Ge Guo (University of Exeter)

Our life starts from a fertilized egg that develops into a distinctive multicellular structure called blastocyst. The blastocyst comprises three founding tissues, the epiblast, trophectoderm and hypoblast. Epiblast is the origin of the embryo proper and the source of pluripotent embryonic stem cells. Trophectoderm and hypoblast give rise to extra-embryonic tissues, the placenta and yolk sac, that support embryo development in the uterus. We have established human naïve embryonic stem cells. They are called “naïve” because they represent an earlier developmental stage than conventional human embryonic stem cells. Classic developmental biology studies in animal models suggested that epiblast and embryonic stem cells cannot regenerate trophectoderm. Full details
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11 October 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: Tracking a Concept through a Medical Humanities Perspective: The Strange Case of the “Parthenos” , Dr Eftihia Mihelakis (Brandon University)

Working with concepts in the field of medical humanities means recognizing that discourses, be they cultural or medical, have an indubitable role to play in how we think, imagine, speak or remain silent about different domains of inquiry and how these thought processes erupt, devolve or mutate over time. In this talk, I will trace the emergence of the Ancient Greek concept of “parthenos” as it pertains to illness as well as lack or excessive knowledge by documenting its transformations in humoral medicine, medical jurisprudence, legal texts, and will conclude on sketching out future directions for this research. Full details
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25 October 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Quality judgment in data production processes: two case studies on economic and health data", Dr Quentin Dufour (Mines ParisTech)

Despite the rules and measurement conventions that structure quantification processes in statistical institutes, producing data always involve a moral dimension, that of quality judgment. By those terms, I refer to a set of techniques, knowledge and know-how, that helps a community of practice to define and evaluate what a correct data is in specific contexts. Quality judgments involve thoughts about the right ways to produce data, and the characteristics of the result to be achieved. At the crossroads of Science Studies and the sociology of quantification, this presentation tackles the problem of quality judgment following two data production processes.. Full details
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8 November 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Out of control: creating reliable data in the laboratory", Dr Stephan Guttinger (University of Exeter)

The idea of experimental control is often associated with positive notions such as reliability, certainty, and reproducibility; control is seen as part of what makes the laboratory-based sciences powerful and trustworthy. It is part of the reason why scientists can create reliable data. However, like in society, control can also have a negative effect: exert too much of it and you stifle freedom, creativity, and exploration. This is a problem for science. As Hans-Jörg Rheinberger has highlighted, experimental systems cannot become too rigid and standardized because science depends on a certain openness to unfold its full potential; uncertainty and fuzziness are at the heart of the experimental process.. Full details
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22 November 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "Demonstrations, Definitions and Newton’s Experimental Philosophy", Dr Kirsten Walsh (University of Exeter)

Newton’s Opticks Book 1 opens with a set of definitions and axioms, so one might expect to find the theorems contained therein to be proved from said definitions and axioms via deductively valid rules of inference. But they’re not. Instead, Newton employs ‘proof by experiment’: each theorem is proved via a series of experiments, which are represented by geometrical diagrams and accompanying text. Newton’s axioms and definitions do not feature explicitly in these proofs—they are not even mentioned in the discussions. I address two questions in relation to this case. First, how does ‘proof by experiment’ function as a proof? Second, what roles do axioms and definitions play in the trajectory from experiment to proven theorem? I argue that this case is revelatory of Newton’s understanding of experimental philosophy and the probative force of his (in)famous experimentum crucis.. Full details
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29 November 202115:30

EGENIS seminar: "A Spinosaurus Tail Tale: Underdetermination, Capacities & Historical Knowledge", Dr Adrian Currie (University of Exeter)

Most discussion of paleontology’s credentials focus on ‘epistemic scarcity’: paleontological data is rare, degraded, incomplete and hard to manage. In virtue of this, paleontological hypotheses are often underdetermined, that is, we lack sufficient evidence to discriminate between competing hypotheses. However, this discussion assumes that paleontological knowledge is focused on understanding life’s actual history: token events and processes. I’ll push against this interpretation via an examination of secondarily aquatic vertebrates, that is, once-terrestrial critters who have returned to the sea, in particular the enigmatic, enormous theropod Spinosaurus.. Full details
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24 January 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "A New Tuskegee? Unethical Human Experimentation and Western Neocolonialism in the Mass Circumcision of African Men", Dr Brian Earp (University of Oxford)

Campaigns to circumcise millions of boys and men to reduce HIV transmission are being conducted throughout eastern and southern Africa, recommended by the World Health Organization and implemented by the United States government and Western NGOs. In the United States, proposals to mass-circumcise African and African American men are long standing, and have historically relied on racist beliefs and stereotypes. The present campaigns were started in haste, without adequate contextual research, and the manner in which they have been carried out implies troubling assumptions about culture, health, and sexuality in Africa, as well as a failure to properly consider the economic determinants of HIV prevalence.. Full details
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31 January 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Environmental health and the protection of P. oceanica; developing an intersectional approach for more-than-human categorization", Dr Jose Canada (University of Exeter)

In this presentation, I discuss work in progress that follows the scientific, social and political dynamics of destruction and protection of Posidonia Oceanica, a recently protected seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean that plays a key role in the landscapes of Mallorca (the biggest of the Balearic Islands) and its ecologies.. Full details
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21 February 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "The International Space Station as a Platform for Plant Biology: Institutionalising a Research Community", Dr Paola Castaño (University of Exeter)

The International Space Station (ISS) is commonly defined as a laboratory in Low Earth Orbit for hundreds of experiments across disciplines. What kind of social object is a space station? What kind of platform for scientific research is the ISS? How might one study that research? And what are the conceptual implications of this study? In my previous work, I have examined those questions using NASA experiments in plant biology, biomedicine, and particle astrophysics as my units of analysis. For this presentation, part of work in progress, I shift my focus to the process of institutionalisation of research communities around the ISS. Specifically, I concentrate on space plant biologists and the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences Research in Space (2023-2032) that is currently underway (2020-2022) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in the United States. Full details
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28 February 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Madness, dictatorship and utopia. The case of the "protected community" inside the El Peral Psychiatric Asylum, 1983-1999", Dr Cristian Montenegro (University of Exeter)

In this presentation, Cristian will talk about two projects. First, his ongoing project about psychiatric deinstitutionalization in Chile. And then the project that he aims to develop while working at the Wellcome Centre and SPA. Here are the titles and abstracts for both parts of the talk. Full details
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14 March 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Risk of Biological Race Realism", Dr Celso Neto (University of Exeter)

Biological race realism (hereafter BRR) is the view that humans form biologically distinct groups. Non-racist versions of BRR have emerged recently based on sophisticated and reputable work in science and philosophy (Hardimon 2003; 2017; Spencer 2012; 2014; 2019a). In this chapter, I examine Quayshawn Spencer’s new version of BRR and argue that it fails to consider how social, political, and moral values influence the metaphysics of race. To do so, I rely on the “science and values” literature and the notions of inductive, epistemic, and ethical risk (Douglas 2000; Douglas 2009; Brown 2015; Biddle and Kukla 2017; Elliot and Richards 2017). Once one realizes the complex relationship between these types of risks and BRR, Spencer’s sophisticated metaphysical arguments become less appealing than one might think. Furthermore, broad questions arise concerning how socially responsible metaphysics should be done.. Full details
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21 March 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "An Impossible Science? The quest for biomedical measurement and clinical management in pain medicine", Dr Ariane Hanemaayer (Brandon University)

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there existed another pandemic known as the opioid crisis. Over the last 30 years the Global North saw a rise in addiction to opiates and opioid related deaths, many of which began as medically prescribed therapeutics to manage both acute and chronic pain (e.g., oxycontin). Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom had all declared national crises related to opiate addiction by 2019. Even now, well into the pandemic, research has continued to demonstrate a worsening of the crisis as a result of public health restrictions.. Full details
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12 September 202215:30

Seminar: Linking health and social data for research: the CIDACS experience in Brazil

The Centre for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health (CIDACS, Fiocruz) was established in December 2016 in Salvador (Bahia-Brazil). Its main purpose is to conduct interdisciplinary research on populational health, generating scientific knowledge and providing evidence to support public policymaking. The core data come from integrating Brazilian national health and social datasets into two main resources - the 100 Million Brazilian Cohort and the CIDACS birth cohort. CIDACS has been developing and consolidating its data management and governance practices and experimenting with novel methodological approaches for data linkage (Cidacs-RL) and data analysis (quasi-experimental designs).. Full details
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10 October 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Disunity of Science and Unity of the World", Prof John Dupré (University of Exeter)

This talk reflects on the relations between the philosophy of science and metaphysics. I have tried to show for many years that these are essential to one another, though with respect to a view of metaphysics that remains a minority one, that metaphysics must be grounded in empirical science, a so-called “naturalistic” metaphysics. I begin by sketching the view of disunity of science articulated in my 1993 book, The Disorder of Things. I then trace the evolution of my ideas about the implications of this thesis to metaphysics, leading to the advocacy of the processual metaphysics that I have been defending more recently. The adoption of processual metaphysics enables a proper reconciliation between a disunified science and the intuitively compelling thesis that there is only one world. Finally, illustrating my view that metaphysics and science are mutually informing, I illustrate some scientific consequences of this processual metaphysics.. Full details
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17 October 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Data Integration without Unification", Beckett Sterner (Arizona State University)

How should billions of species observations worldwide be made reusable? Data unification according to a universal hierarchy of domains has been a popular ideal for biodiversity science, but it relies on heuristic assumptions that are known to fail systematically in practice. We propose a new regulative ideal for how scientists can coordinate their knowledge-making without unification to achieve better results when pluralistic conditions apply. We focus on data pooling as a crucial form of integrative research in science that supports data reuse. We define data pooling as a process that combines data from multiple sources into one harmonized body of information, provide infrastructure for managing and accessing the combined data, and governs it as a shared resource for a community of users and stakeholders beyond a single research project or lab.. Full details
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31 October 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "AI in Medicine: Finding equilibrium in global data capture", Prof Robin Pierce (University of Exeter)

The range of applications of AI in medicine has grown considerably in recent years. The increase in computational capacity has allowed for an array of technologies that can uncover a vast number of correlations that could improve health outcomes or yield scientific knowledge. Increased understanding of the impacts of the social determinants of health, environmental, and other (non-) biological factors on health outcomes would seem to support the drive to amass, aggregate, and integrate different types of data. Yet, even in global data capture, what is absent may be the greater challenge for data governance, possibly affecting explainability, accuracy and, ultimately, health outcomes. Data governance aims to govern data but may have little to say about “absent” data. Using examples of data-intensive technologies, e.g., Deep and Frequent Phenotyping, this paper explores the terrain of finding equilibrium as a regulatory challenge for health research. Full details
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7 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "How to Incorporate Non-Epistemic Values in a Theory of Classification", Marc Ereshefsky (University of Calgary)

Non-epistemic values play important roles in scientific classificatory practice, such that philosophical accounts of kinds and classification should be able to accommodate them. However, available accounts fail to do so. I aim to fill this lacuna by showing how non-epistemic values feature in scientific classification, and how they can be incorporated into a philosophical theory of classification and kinds. To achieve this, I present a novel account of kinds and classification (the Grounded Functionality Account), discuss examples from biological classification where non-epistemic values play decisive roles, and show how this account accommodates the role of non-epistemic values. Full details
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14 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "MSM face barriers? The politics of biomedical non-use in English discourse", Mr Adam Christianson (Wellcome Doctoral Candidate, Goldsmiths, University of London)

What is accomplished by the claim “patients face barriers”? Though the term implies an excluded patient, I argue barriers play an important role in constructing the users and non-users of an evidence-based interventions. This paper examines ‘barriers’ as a strategy in the problematization of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) non-use in England between 2015 and its commissioning in 2020.. Full details
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21 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Give me a phenomenon to observe, and an intervention precise enough, and I can find the mechanism", Caterina Schürch (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)

In 1928, chemist Fritz Laquer framed the Archimedes-postulate of hormone research: „Give me a test object! — and one can hopefully begin the chemical processing of a hormone.“ This talk looks at the study of plant growth hormones and other cases from the 1920s and 1930s in which researchers attempted to elucidate the chemical processes taking place in living organisms. Taking Laquer’s metaphor one step further, I argue: In order to elucidate biochemical processes, researchers not only needed precise intervention techniques (levers), but also regular biological phenomena (places to stand on). The analysis highlights the essential role of research organisms and their behaviour in the experimental life sciences. Moreover, we better understand why the chemists and biologists cooperated as equals: Both disciplinary groups had resources and skills that the other needed to achieve their epistemic goals. Full details
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28 November 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Climate Trauma and the Virtue of Cooperation", Rachel Elliott (Visiting researcher, University of Exeter)

Climate change is expected to increase the incidence of trauma and mental illness through several different mechanisms. Trauma can in part be understood as a modulation in subjective temporality, which could be described as a limit on the openness of what Husserl calls protention, a phenomenon otherwise described by Winnicott in Fear of Breakdown as a search in the future for what happened in the past. Without a robustly open protentional temporal structure, we become less able to react to indeterminate stimuli in new ways. The raised incidence of trauma associated with the environmental crisis combined with the future-altering nature of traumatic consciousness creates an array of problems for the possibility of marshalling a collective response to climate change. In this talk, I would like to focus on the impact of trauma on virtue ethical approaches to the climate change crisis.. Full details
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2 December 202215:00

BOOK Launch: Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Data Challenges for Agricultural Research and Development

This event celebrates the launch of the new volume Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Data Challenges for Agricultural Research and Development, edited by Hugh F. Williamson and Sabina Leonelli (Springer, 2022). All are welcome. Full details
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12 December 202215:30

EGENIS seminar: "Algorithmic fairness and decision thresholds", Kate Vredenburgh (LSE)

Procedurally fair decision-making in the fair machine learning literature is primarily understood in terms of a requirement of equal treatment, or treating like cases alike. In the fair machine learning literature, equal treatment is understood as requiring at least the following two conditions: (1) the same threshold is applied regardless of one’s social identity or arbitrary characteristics, and (2) some form of parity in error rates, regardless of one’s social identity or arbitrary characteristics. Criticisms of the fair machine learning literature mainly focus on (2) (e.g., Eva 2022). In this talk, I focus on (1), or the application of the same threshold. I argue that thresholds violate a plausible further notion of fairness, that of respecting claims in proportion to their strength (Broome 1991). This account of fairness pushes us towards the greater use of (weighted) lotteries for algorithmic decision-making.. Full details
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23 January 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: Extraordinary moments of coronavirus crisis and Brexit seen through the lens of a new interactive art exhibition, Prof Katharine Tyler (University of Exeter) & Helen Snell (artist in residence, Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation

In this talk Snell and Tyler will introduce and reflect on their experiences, from the standpoint of their differing disciplinary perspectives, of producing an interactive on-line art exhibition designed by Snell entitled ‘Red Amber, Green Britain’ (https://www.redambergreenbritain.com/). Red, Amber, Green Britain is an online exhibition of work produced by Helen Snell during her tenure as artist in residence at the University of Exeter from September 2020 to March 2022, as part of the project ‘Inequality, Identity and the Media in Brexit-Covid 19 Britain’ led by Katharine Tyler. This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response initiative to COVID-19. Full details
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30 January 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Pain and suffering: Racialized immigrant women’s compliance and defiance to psychiatric discourses and treatments in Canada", Dr Shahina Parvin (Brandon University)

This presentation engages in an intersectional interrogation of psychiatric discourses, categorization, and treatments. I present findings from interviews with 13 racialized immigrant women in rural Canada with diverse cultural and geopolitical backgrounds reflect on psychiatric discourses. After describing how their pain was categorized and treated by mental health professionals, I analyse how the women either fully complied with the medicalisation and psychiatrisation processes associated with their diagnoses, or chose to strategically comply with or refuse mental health discourses.. Full details
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6 February 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Climate, Fertility and Heredity in Airs Waters Places ", Prof Rebecca Flemming (University of Exeter)

The Hippocratic treatise Airs Waters Places is perhaps the founding text of environmental medicine. The author explains how living bodies, in health and disease, are all crucially shaped by climate, topography and water sources. Its ideas and advice proved influential across millennia, in the ancient Mediterranean, the medieval Islamicate and Christian worlds, and into the Early Modern Period, as neo-Hippocratism followed new colonial pathways. The focus of the text on questions of fertility and childbearing has been generally overlooked, however, and its models of generation and heredity have been rather hastily subsumed into more modern formulations such as ‘pangenesis’ and the ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics’. Full details
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13 February 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Managing Medical Authority: How Doctors Compete for Status and Create Knowledge", Daniel Menchik (University of Arizona)

Despite our interest in determining our health decisions, physicians have great control over our bodies, minds, and lives. How do doctors manage this privileged authority? This talk, based on my recent book, draws on over six years’ worth of ethnographic data to answer this question, incorporating factors internal and external to medicine. I argue that doctors manage their authority in the context of competing for status among doctors who share with them an interest in developing new knowledge. Specifically, the terms for status among doctors will be closely tied to the expectations of these peers regarding how knowledge is produced, and public expectations for the practice of medicine. Physicians compete with peers for status by making a case for the quality of the knowledge they have developed and would like to have orient practices profession-wide.. Full details
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20 February 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Stylistic Pluralism and Its Discontents", Dr Matteo Vagelli (Ca' Foscari University of Venice/Harvard University)

Post-positivist philosophy of science, as it developed in the second half of the twentieth century, is characterized by a “pluralist turn”, partially building on previous “historical” and “practice” turns. Contrary to the prevalently monist approach espoused by mainstream philosophy of science during the first half of the twentieth century, the pluralist turn is normally taken to emphasize the disunity of the sciences, in terms of both methods and results. However, pluralism has developed in different directions, giving place to different ontological, epistemological, and methodological positions that are at times in tension with one another.. Full details
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6 March 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Are continuity claims a challenge to medical classification?", Prof Lara Keuck (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science) and Dr Ariane Hanemaayer (Brandon University)

The boundaries of many disease categories are contested: when does Covid end? What should count in the Autism Spectrum? When does Alzheimer’s Disease begin? In our collaborative research we combine historical, philosophical and sociological perspectives to examine the role of continuity claims—such as that of a continuity between states of health and disease—in these debates. Continuity is often depicted as the opposite of categorical thinking, and therefore as a challenge to the validity of medical classification. However, we want to argue that the relationship between continuity claims and disease categories is more heterogenous and complex; up to the point that continuity claims can stabilize existing structures and, indeed, save contested categories. Full details
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13 March 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: “Social Practices as Biological Niche Construction”, Prof Joseph Rouse (Wesleyan University)

This talk introduces central themes from a forthcoming book that seeks to overcome the conceptual bifurcations between human animality and sociocultural persons that are built into our academic disciplines and intellectual life. This re-conception draws on recent developments in evolutionary biology--- ecological-developmental biology, niche construction, and work on early hominin evolution. It also reworks the social theory of practices as the basic makeup of human social life into a “naturecultural” conception of the evolution of practice-differentiated human developmental environments. Full details
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30 March 202318:00

Can I Trust Science?

From anti-vaxxers to climate deniers, not everyone trusts science. Join us for a special live event with a panel of international experts to look at why there is mistrust and positive antidotes to deal with it. We’ll be exploring the Open Science movement, which is sweeping the globe promoting practices to make science more transparent and less biased. One method is sharing data – that increases trust through openness and accelerates the quality of research. There are hurdles to sharing data: who owns it, how it’s arranged, and the motivation of scientists when their careers are driven by publishing results. But are there limitations, a tyranny of openness? Sharing data without acknowledgement or payment may lead to exploitation of those who produced it. We’ll examine the ethics of data and share positive solutions to make science more responsible, so we can all trust it.. Full details
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31 March 202316:30

Is Open Science Good for Research?

This public debate brings together world-leading scholars working at the intersection of Open Science, Science and Technology Studies and the philosophy of science, to discuss the value, opportunities and challenges involved in making research more open. The Open Science movement has been tremendously successful, spurring a global shift in research policies, evaluation procedures and publication channels. At first sight, this seems to be a very good thing: a necessary development in the face of research and publication practices that have grown more and more restrictive, inaccessible and (arguably) unreliable over the last few decades. At the same time, the specific ways in which science is being made open – ranging from Open Access publishing agreements to Open Data mandates by funders and research institutions – are proving controversial and, in some cases, downright damaging to at least some forms of research.. Full details
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28 April 20239:30

Ocean Waves, Ocean Science, Ocean Media - Stefan Helmreich

How do oceanographers apprehend ocean waves? This presentation draws on anthropological work I undertook among wave scientists in the United States to argue that what oceanographers take ocean waves to be has been strongly imprinted by the techniques, technologies, and media — maritime, photographic, filmic, information theoretic — through which waves have come to be known.. Full details
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15 May 202315:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar: Prof Jennifer Gabrys (University of Cambridge)

This seminar has been postponed until Autumn 2023. Full details
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17 May 202314:00

Using socially-aware word embeddings to infer variation in the meaning of political terms over time with Hubert AU, DPhil student at University of Oxford

Semantic change occurs organically as languages and current events evolve. For example, “Leave” and “Remain” were understood differently before and after the Brexit campaign and vote. Full details
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22 May 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Invention of Biodiversity as a Conceptual Tool for Science Communication", Stefan Bargheer (Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies)

Few scientific concepts have the same amount of public resonance as the notion of biodiversity. The talk traces the creation of this relatively new concept and its impact on scientific research. I show based on archival documents that the neologism was coined in the mid-1980s by conservation biologists connected to the U.S. National Committee of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program in order to buffer the adverse economic impacts of an announced withdrawal of the United States from UNESCO.. Full details
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24 May 202312:30

IDSAI Seminar: Creating data assets and collaborative partnerships for artificial and computational intelligence: the opportunities in the healthcare domain with Umesh Kadam, Professor of General Practice and General Health, Medical School

To maximise the potential of human-centred artificial and computational intelligence methods in the healthcare domain, requires an understanding of the increasing data assets; their quality and structure, their potential applications and how they will evolve in a changing landscape. Full details
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5 June 202315:30

POSTPONED. EGENIS seminar: Dr Susannah Crockford (University of Exeter)

This seminar has been postponed until Autumn 2023. Full details
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7 June 202314:00

IDSAI Seminar: 'A Capability Approach to AI Ethics' with Emanuele Ratti (Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol)

In partnership with Egenis, we are delighted to welcome Emanuele. In the past few years, the rapid dissemination of AI tools has radically changed the way public and private institutions relate to users and citizens. Full details
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8 June 202314:00

IDSAI Seminar: 'Developing a resilient Data Science profession: observations from the UK’s national skills landscape' with Matthew Forshaw, Senior Advisor for Skills at the Turing

Abstract: In this talk, Dr Forshaw will explore the recent developments in the national data skills landscape, and advances in professionalisation of the data science occupation through certification and accreditation. This talk will draw upon labour market analysis studies in collaboration with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and outline emerging policy directions. This interactive session will explore the roles of industry and academia in delivering the data skills training required to equip the current and future workforce with skills required to confidently address current and future data challenges. Full details
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12 June 202315:30

Egenis Book launch: Mind as Metaphor, by Adam Toon—with a response by Professor Daniel D. Hutto (University of Wollongong)

This event will celebrate the publication of Adam Toon’s new book, Mind as Metaphor: A Defence of Mental Fictionalism (Oxford University Press, 2023). Full details
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16 June 202315:00

Egenis: First discussion session on American Metabolism with author Hannah Landecker (UCLA)

We are delighted to host Professor Hannah Landecker, a top STS scholar and world-leading expert on the social and historical study of metabolism and sciences thereof. In these two interactive sessions, Professor Landecker will be discussing with us chapters from her forthcoming book American Metabolism.. Full details
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19 June 202311:00

Egenis: Second discussion session on American Metabolism with Hannah Landecker (UCLA)

We are delighted to host Professor Hannah Landecker, a top STS scholar and world-leading expert on the social and historical study of metabolism and sciences thereof. In these two interactive sessions, Professor Landecker will be discussing with us chapters from her forthcoming book American Metabolism. Full details
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19 June 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Cloud Coyotes in Los Angeles", Prof Christopher Kelty (University of California, Los Angeles)

Coyotes (Canis latrans) exist throughout North America and increasingly thrive in dense urban spaces; they also cause controversies when they eat small pets or seem to pose a threat. Based on fieldwork in Los Angeles, and an archive of over 400 conversations collected from the online application Nextdoor (2015-2019), we theorize the emergence of what we call the cloud coyote. Full details
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23 June 202315:15

Egenis book launch: Drawing Processes of Life, Molecules, Cells , Organisms. Gemma Anderson and John Dupre (University of Exeter)

Drawing Processes of Life is the product of biologists, philosophers, and artists working together to formulate new ways of representing our new approach to life. It is a mutualistic symbiosis, where identities are transformed, information and nutritive substances shared, and where new organisms emerge.. Full details
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14 September 202310:30

EnigmaAI: Unveiling the Intelligence behind Optimisation & Machine Learning

In joint partnership with IDSAI and GSI, we are pleased to invite you to join us at EnigmaAI, a captivating workshop delving into the cutting-edge applications of AI in the realm of science. Full details
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18 September 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Radioisotopes, electrophoresis, and the Third World: a global look into biomedicine", Prof Edna Suárez-Diaz (Universidad Autónoma de México)

African, Asian, and Latin American scientists have contributed heavily to the biomedical understanding of bodies and diseases that transformed health interventions in the second half of the 20th century. As researchers in newly created national institutions, or as officials at international agencies such as the IAEA and the WHO, they built and sustained scientific networks that took over a host of “neglected diseases”, most of them still classified under the label of tropical medicine. Radioisotopes, electrophoresis, immunoassays, and many other biomedical technologies of the 1950s-1970s can be used as historical tracers of biomedical research within these transregional networks, revealing the crossing of political and ideological frontiers in the context of development programs during the early Cold War.. Full details
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2 October 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "The New N=1 Problem", Dr Carlos Mariscal (University of Navada, Reno)

We have a single example of life: that which originated on Earth. The N=1 Problem refers to the difficulty of inferring general properties for life based on this single sample. This problem is predicated on the assumption that life is a natural kind with essential properties to be discovered. Full details
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16 October 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Lambs to the scanner: high-throughput phenotyping in post-Brexit British livestock farming", Dr Hugh Williamson (University of Exeter)

High-throughput phenotyping, the use of digital sensing and imaging technologies to collect large volumes of data about organisms’ traits for biological research and breeding, is now well established in the science and cultivation of arable crops but has been slower to take root in the livestock research and breeding sector.. Full details
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19 October 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: The ‘First Line of Evidence’: Case Reports in Emergency Situations. Prof Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide)

Despite having a somewhat dubious reputation as a form of anecdotal evidence, case reports remain exceedingly popular forms of communication and publication in medicine. They are ill-understood even within biomedical research communities, often described as not counting as real evidence or even as equivalent to anecdotes. This paper begins by introducing the case report and its typical uses in the context of research in contemporary medicine, and exploring their status as a form of evidence particularly in our era dominated it is by ‘evidence-based medicine’ (EBM). I then flip the usual approach on its head: instead of criticizing how cases fall short of these ideals, I investigate a recent example where cases were extremely important, in order to show what cases are good for, and what it means to use them ‘well,’ including what epistemic resources need to be in place. Full details
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30 October 202315:30

CANCELLED. EGENIS seminar: "What Makes an Experiment Beautiful? ", Dr Milena Ivanova (University of Cambridge)

Due to unforeseen circumstances this seminar is cancelled. We hope to reschedule in term 2. Full details
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13 November 202315:30

EGENNIS seminar: "Interdisciplinarity, co-production and responsible innovation: from tick box to critical friendship", Dr Eleanor Hadley Kershaw (University of Exeter)

‘Interdisciplinarity’, ‘co-production’ and ‘responsible innovation’ are increasingly invoked by funders, policymakers and academics as modes of scientific governance and practice that open up research to include a more diverse range of actors, concerns, expertise and knowledges. These approaches are promoted as key to developing ‘solutions’ to grand challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainability transitions. They promise to surpass the limitations of more established forms of knowledge making and innovation governance, ensuring that research and emerging technologies achieve their full social, economic and environmental potential.. Full details
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20 November 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "Forests as Technologies", Prof Jennifer Gabrys (University of Cambridge)

There are no shortage of technologies and systems that would diagnose and fix the problem of planetary collapse. On one level, technologies have been instrumental to the formation of forests as spaces of conservation, production, and extraction. Their variable development as plantations and state territories, resources and commodities, as well as Indigenous sites for wildfire management and agroforestry, shows how designations of technologies and forests have been differently configured. Similarly, the framing of trees and forests as carbon-capture and “negative emission” technologies is a common thread within environmental development projects, where the aspiration to create climate-repairing technologies reconstitutes trees and forests as technological operators and operations.. Full details
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22 November 202312:30

Mapping sub-ice geomorphology and constraining Greenland Ice Sheet history using machine learning by Dr Guy Paxman, Durham University

Loss of ice from Greenland is one of the largest contributors to anthropogenic global sea level rise. To help inform global policy decisions, an overarching objective of the glaciological community is to develop numerical models of ice-sheet behaviour that are capable of robustly projecting the future evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Full details
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27 November 202315:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Role of Automated Review within the Paradigm of Inclusive Science", Dr Vlasta Sikimić (University of Tübingen)

The peer review of scientific grant applications is time-consuming and costly. Furthermore, the objectivity of the reviewers as well as their ability to predict the success of the projects is often criticized. AI could speed up the grant review process and it is in some cases relatively reliable. Still, automated grant review might not be equally successful across different disciplines or for detecting outliers. Moreover, we are aware that algorithms that are trained on biased data can reproduce or even increase the initial unfairness. This is particularly dangerous when it comes to the inclusion of underprivileged groups in science. In this context, the question arises: How to ensure cognitive diversity and global epistemic inclusion when using an automated review in science? Some of the potential solutions to this tension are equity measures and a mixed approach to scientific review combining algorithmic assessment with the standard peer review method. Full details
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4 December 202315:30

EGENIS book launch/seminar: "A History of Genomics Across Species, Communities and Projects’", Dr Miguel García-Sancho (University of Edinburgh) & Dr James Lowe (University of Exeter)

This event celebrates the launch of 'A History of Genomics Across Species, Communities and Projects', by Miguel García-Sancho and James Lowe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). Full details
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7 December 202315:30

IDSAI ECRN Christmas Lightning Talks!!

Following the recent success of our first IDSAI ECRN Lightning Talks, we would like to do it all again!!. Full details
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8 January 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: POSTPONED "Mopping up the mainstream: on the turfing of clinical genomics", Prof Adam Hedgecoe (Cardiff University)

We hpoe to reschedule this seminar. Full details
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15 January 202415:30

Egenis/IDSAI seminar: “Data Science and Statistics for the Public Good? A Discussion with the Office for Statistics Regulation”, Edward Humpherson and Prof Sabina Leonelli

This session provides an opportunity to discuss what the ‘public good’ may or should mean for the development of data science, AI and other digital innovations within the UK. The session will start with brief talks and a dialogue between Edward Humpherson, Director of the Office for Statistics Regulation of the UK, and Sabina Leonelli, Director of Egenis and expert in the governance of data systems. The bulk of the session will be devoted to debate with participants. Everyone in Exeter working on these issues is warmly invited to attend this discussion. Full details
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19 January 202414:30

Towards applications of reinforcement learning in continuous environments with Professor Adam Sobey

As part of our IDSAI Seminar Series for 2023/2024, we are looking forward to welcoming Professor Alan Sobey, Programme Director, Data Centric Engineering at the Alan Turing Institute. Full details
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22 January 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Knowing Citizen Science. Social epistemologies (and epistemic practices) in a national Citizen Science competition in Germany", Dr Julie Sascia Mewes (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin)

As the acceptance of Citizen Science grows, so does the demand for more reflexivity in the field with regard to its epistemologies, which calls for increased collaboration between Citizen Science and the social sciences and humanities, especially STS (Mahr et al., 2018). Full details
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24 January 202412:30

IDSAI Research Seminar with Dr Livio Fenga, Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter Business School

Seminar Title: Can terrorist attacks be predicted? A Quantitative Analysis and Proposal of a Hybrid Machine Learning – Statistical Model for Short-Term Forecasting of Future Attacks. Evidence from the UK, USA, and Italy. Full details
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29 January 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Testosterone Epistemologies: In search of epistemic systems through knowledge practices" Dr Sophie Juliane Veigl (University of Vienna)

Testosterone is a quite charismatic molecule, used in many contexts for a variety of its effects, ranging from anti-aging and Alzheimer's research to muscle growth and virilisation. Many of these contexts lie outside of institutionalized science and medicine and are often use-based.. Full details
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5 February 202415:30

CANCELLED - EGENIS seminar: "Post-ASF Chinese Corporate Pig Farms: Pathogenic Risk, Microbiome and Toxicity of Labour Health " Dr Kin Wing (Ray) Chan (University of Exeter)

cancelled. Hope to reschedule next academic year. Full details
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7 February 202412:30

IDSAI Research Seminar with Professor Dr Markus Strohmaier, Chair of Data Science in the Economic & Social Sciences, University of Mannheim

We are delighted to welcome Professor Dr Markus Strohmaier. Full details
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12 February 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "The Facts Speak for Themselves: Climate Science as Contested Knowledge" Dr Susannah Crockford (University of Exeter)

In his Parliamentary testimony in response to the ‘Climategate’ scandal, Professor Phil Jones said: “The facts speak for themselves”. Jones was referring to the accuracy of his and other climate scientists’ measurements of increasing average global temperatures and other indicators of anthropogenic climate change. For Jones, the measurements scientifically validated the existential threat of climate change and were available to anyone who used the same instruments and methods.. Full details
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19 February 202415:30

EGENIS/GSI seminar: "Un/doing Time in the Anthropocene", Fiona Schrading (Art Academy Düsseldorf)

The Anthropocene is a time marked by irreversibilities – of an irreversible accelerated climate change and its fatal consequences, of mass extinctions, of whole regions becoming desolate and uninhabitable, of processes of change of the entire Earth system: we are in a situation of a palpable and relentlessly repeated 'no going back'. Full details
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21 February 202414:00

IDSAI Research Seminar: 'Using large language models to help people find agreement' with Professor Chris Summerfield, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Oxford

IDSAI Research Seminar. Full details
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26 February 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Open to Whom? And for What?: Emerging issues in open movements, digital heritage collections and the life sciences", Dr Andrea Wallace (University of Exeter

Globally, more than 1,600 cultural institutions and organisations have published digitised public domain collections and data under open licenses and public domain tools as part of the growing movement called open GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). More than 95 million digital assets are now available for unfettered reuse. What have we learned about the potentials of digitsed collections and digitisation more generally? And what new trends or challenges are evident in global open GLAM activity?. Full details
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4 March 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Policymaking in a Catastrophe: A Precautionary Approach?" with Dr Lucie White (Utrecht University)

The precautionary principle is often put forward as potentially useful guide to avoiding catastrophe under conditions of uncertainty. But finding an adequate formulation of the principle runs into a problem when needed precautionary measures also have potentially catastrophic consequences – the imperative to avoid catastrophe appears to recommend both for and against the measures. Drawing from the early pandemic, we suggest a way around this “problem of paralysis”: We should recognize and incorporate an asymmetry between our options, based on whether there is a possibility of intervening later to prevent the worst outcome. Full details
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7 March 202414:30

IDSAI Seminar with Dr Alden Conner: 'Creating sustainable research tools with real-world applications - lessons from the Alan Turing Institute’s Environment and Sustainability Grand Challenge'

IDSAI Seminar. Full details
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11 March 202415:30

Egenis/IDSAI seminar: "Machine Learning in science: Dimension of understanding", Dr Emily Sullivan (Eindhoven University of Technology)

More and more sciences are turning to machine learning (ML) technologies to solve long-standing problems or make new discoveries—ranging from medical science to fundamental physics. At the same time, the exact same modelling technologies are used across society ranging from determining what news we see on social media to fraud detection and criminal risk assessment. The ever-growing fingerprint ML modeling has on the production of scientific and social knowledge comes with opportunity and also pressing challenges.. Full details
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13 March 202412:30

Centre for Computational Social Science (C2S2)/IDSAI - Joint Seminar

An exploration of the incelopshere and how incels fit into the current self-initiated terrorists (SITs) landscape with Dr Lewys Brace. Full details
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13 March 202414:00

IDSAI Research Seminar: 'Studying emotions at individual and collective levels' with Professor David Garcia

IDSAI Research Seminar. Full details
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18 March 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Plants as instruments of knowledge in early modern natural philosophy", Dr Oana Matei (Vasile Goldis Western University of Arad)

This session will discuss the development of an early modern “science of vegetation,” which emerged from the aggregation of a range of empirical and experimental practices of early modern naturalists. Full details
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25 March 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Are biopsychological theories addiction biased, prejudicial and harmful to drug users? Yes", Dr Lee Hogarth (University of Exeter)

Psychologists have a long history of exaggerating biogenic theories of unusual behaviour which are prejudicial and harmful to socially marginalised groups. This concern exists in relation to addiction theory, specifically, whether the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA), with its emphasis on biological determinants and medical solutions, promotes stigma towards drug users and degrades their confidence in personal recovery.. Full details
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2 April 202415:00

The First Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group Seminar with Professor Dr Lilian-Cristine Hübner

Our first Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group seminar (hybrid meeting), presented by Professor Dr Lilian Cristine Hübner. We have a small space in IDSAI, Room M1, Innovation Centre Phase 1 Building for online delivery if you would like to join us in person. Full details
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12 April 202414:00

Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group Seminar with Dr Marten van Schijndel

We welcome you to our next seminar by the Neurocognition, Language and Visual Processing Group. We will have Dr Marten van Schijndel for a talk. Talk details will be announced soon. Room M1a, Innovation Phase 1 Building has been booked for online delivery if you would like to join us. Full details
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17 April 202414:00

IDSAI Research Seminar: 'SQL and Large Language Models: A Marriage Made in Heaven?' with Professor Paolo Papotti

IDSAI Research Seminar. Full details
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24 April 202412:30

IDSAI/Business School Research Seminar: 'Collaboration and Conflict in Human-Human and Human-Machine Teams' with Professor Taha Yasseri

IDSAI/Business School Seminar. Full details
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25 April 202414:00

Joint IDSAI/GSI Early Career Lightning Talks

We are excited to welcome you to the first ECR collaborative lightning talks event with IDSAI and GSI. Please sign up to either come along or talk on your research, recent publication, new areas for collaboration or anything else related to being an ECR. Each talk will be allocated 3-5 minutes!! There will be pizza!!:. Full details
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29 April 202413:30

SCI Project Showcase Series: Does Increasing Public Spending in Health Improve Health?

This project seeks to estimate the causal impacts of public health spending on individual health outcomes in Brazil. It studies a major health reform in Brazil in which municipalities were mandated to spend 15% of their revenue on health. Collecting microdata covering 5,507 Brazilian municipalities over 12 years, this project finds that the large increases in spending resulted in increased availability of hospitals and health professionals, greater individual access to primary care, and improvements in certain health outcomes such as infant mortality, with less evidence suggesting improvements in adult mortality.. Full details
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29 April 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "Tactical reporting, actionability and uncertainty in the genomic clinic ", Prof Adam Hedgecoe (Cardiff University)

Drawing on ethnographic observations in over 290 clinical team meetings and covering a range of conditions from inherited heart disease, cancer, developmental delays and dysmorphia, this paper seeks to explore professional decision making around clinical genomic sequencing. With a specific focus on decisions about a particular kind of ambiguous result – called Variants of Uncertain Significance (VUS) – this paper examines the role of the perceived ‘actionability’ of specific genomic results. The key insight centres on the way in which clinicians’ beliefs about how parents will react to a result feed back into decisions about the status of such ambiguous results, builds on previous STS work around actionability from Nicole Nelson, Alberto Cambrosio and Stefan Timmermans. Full details
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2 May 202416:00

SCI Project Showcase Series: Gene Drive Mosquitoes

Gene drive mosquitoes is a short documentary film that is beautifully shot in Uganda and explores Ugandan stakeholders’ hopes for gene drive mosquitoes – a radical new tool that offers a way to eliminate the mosquitoes that cause malaria. Uganda could be one of the first countries in the world to release this type of technology and malaria is the main cause of death in Uganda, so the stakes are high. The film builds on social science research at the University of Exeter and Makerere University in Uganda and shows the complexity of governing this technology. Following the film, Chris Opesen (Makerere University, Uganda) and Sarah Hartley (Exeter) will answer questions and facilitate discussion. Chris will also be available to talk about other global health topics he is working on. Funding to bring Chris to Exeter is from the Exeter’s Sub-Saharan Africa Partnership Development Fund. Film producers: Sarah Hartley and Tom Law (@tomlawsays). Full details
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13 May 202415:30

CANCELLED - EGENIS seminar: "Themes from Inference and Representation" Prof Mauricio Suarez (Complutense University of Madrid)

I review some of the main themes in the book I just published for University of Chicago Press, entitled Inference and Representation: A Study in Modeling Science. I focus in particular on the emergence of the modeling attitude in 19th century science and the claimed use of models in practice, with special emphasis on theoretical models in physics and evolutionary biology. I extract some of the consequences of taking an inferential deflationary approach to modeling and discuss some implications for the realism-antirealism debate. Full details
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20 May 202415:30

EGENIS seminar: "When Infant Mortality Was Born: Dutch Preventive Child Health Care without the State, 1890-1930", Martijn van der Meer & Noortje Jacobs (Erasmus MC)

This talk investigates the emergence of Dutch preventive child health care in the first decades of the twentieth century. It shows that the rise of collective action on this terrain followed from the recognition of “infant mortality” as a public problem—a late nineteenth-century configuration that went hand in hand with the professionalization of paediatrics.. Full details
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24 May 202415:00

Modelling Climate Change: An Overview of the Crisis and Reconstruction Plans in Southern Brazil

We are hosting a rapid response online panel on Friday 24 May 2024 at 15:00 (BST) about the recent and devastating floods in South Brazil and the role of science in modelling, predicting and responding to extreme climate events, and how it can inform and support response and replanning efforts.. Full details
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12 - 13 December 201314:00

The Value of Open Science

This workshop brings together biologists, social scientists and philosophers to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the recent RCUK policy on Open Access. We will discuss the impact of Open Access mandates on scientific practice and the ways in which they foster research and innovation, particularly in the fields of systems and synthetic biology.. Full details
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16 December 201314:00

Nightshades: You say potato, I say patata

Part of the HASS-funded project Symbiology Lab: The Arts of Living Together the workshop is the first in a series of events to address questions of form, design, and creativity in the applied biosciences, and to contribute to new ways of thinking about and engaging with the interface between culture and nature in the postgenomic age. Full details
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6 March 201410:00

Workshop - Epigenetics: Assessing the evidence & its implications (organiser - Dr Ginny Russell)

This workshop will briefly review the various understandings of epigenetics and review the designs used to assess epigenetic evidence, and whether the claims made about this new field are reasonable.We are also interested in asking questions about the social and philosophical implications of Epigenetics and this workshop is designed to be a platform to discuss what these might be. Full details
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10 April 2014

Workshop - Topologies of Immunity (organiser - Prof Gail Davies)

This workshop will seek to understand the spaces and places associated with alternative ways of thinking about immunology. We seek to bring together, scientific, social theoretical, artistic and wider public experiments with understandings of immunological relations to encourage on-going and inventive exchange about these new species, sites and spaces of immunology. The workshop follows a seminar by Warwick Anderson in Building One. For further details and programme please see attachment. Full details
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10 - 11 April 201413:00

Quo Vadis Namomedicine? Organiser: Prof Michael Schillmeier

The aim of this two day workshop is to bring together leading nanomedicine researchers and scholars from the Science and Technology Studies to reflect and discuss the past, present and future of nanomedicine. Full details
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23 June 201411:00

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

Recent developments in molecular biology imply that classic distinctions between nature and nurture or biology and culture are not applicable to the human ecological niche. Research in epigenetics shows that the effects of culture on nature go all the way down to the gene and up to the stratosphere, and the effects of biology on culture are similarly inextricable. Living systems almost invariably involve the interaction of many kinds of organisms with a diversity of technologies. The anthropocenethe age of human cultures and technologies interacting with natural environmentschanges rapidly, and to understand and manage its functioning requires perspectives from each domain. We propose the study of Symbiology, the post-organismic study of relation. The kinds of relations we study include mutualism, parasitism, domination, recognition, separation, solubility, symmetric mutuality (relations among equals in power or status), asymmetric mutuality (relations among unequals such as parents/offspring, teacher/pupil, human/nonhuman animals), reciprocity, alienation, isolation, autonomy, and so forth, and these relations are discernible throughout nature and all cultures. Full details
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20 - 21 November 20149:00

"Process Philosophy of Biology" - Prof John Dupre and Dr Dan Nicholson

This is the first workshop for the EU grant project PROBIO organised by Professor John Dupre.. Full details
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28 - 29 November 2014

"Concerning Relations: Sociologies of Conduct, Care and Affect" - Prof Michael Schillmeier

This interdisciplinary symposium, funded by Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (FSHI) and Exeter University, aims to interrogate the implications of shifting the focus of health care away from delivery towards care as an ongoing everyday accomplishment. This symposium examines spaces of collisions, elisions or alignments of social worlds, within which the affective dimension of social life in healthcare may be fruitfully examined. Drawing upon relational concerns as a distinct and distinctive mode of sociological inquiry, the symposium seeks to develop an understanding of care and its consequences that help us get beyond the economics of care as a commodified and managed form of engagement with the other.. Full details
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15 - 16 December 20149:00

"DARK DATA: ABSENCES, INTERVENTIONS AND DIGITAL WORLDS" - Organised by Sabina Leonelli, Gail Davies, Brian Rappert, Kaushik Sunder Rajan and Neal White

Programme attached. Full details
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17 - 19 December 201412:30

"What is Data-Intensive Science?" - Dr Sabina Leonelli

This workshop is the first event in the project DATA_SCIENCE (www.datastudies.eu ). It brings together the key participants in the project, with the aim to start long-term discussions around what constitutes data-intensive science, compare the ways in which different scholars and fields conceptualise and enact data practices, and agree on the set-up, methods and themes to be pursued by the project team and collaborators over the next four years. Speakers will be presenting the specific sciences that they are researching, the methods that they use and the themes that they are interested in exploring in the future. The workshop is meant to provide an informal occasion for discussion, and will therefore not showcase full papers except from the keynote lecture provided by Professor Luciano Floridi, which will target the intersections between philosophy of science and philosophy of information in ways that will stimulate data-related discussions.. Full details
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16 February 201513:30

"Understanding in Scientific Practice: Reasoning, Cognition, Mechanisms" organised by Prof Sabina Leonelli & Dr Adam Toon (University of Exeter)

The workshop is funded by the European Research Council, through the project DATA_SCIENCE. No advance registration needed. For information, contact the workshop organisers: Sabina Leonelli (s.leonelli@exeter.ac.uk) and Adam Toon (a.toon@exeter.ac.uk).. Full details
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19 - 20 November 2015

'Symbiotic Processes' workshop, organised Prof John Dupre and Dr Stephan Guttinger

This workshop is part of the ERC-funded project, “A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology (ProBio)” led by Prof. John Dupré. The project explores the advantages, problems, and implications of a fully processual understanding of living systems. The near omnipresence of symbiosis has been one of the main motivations for the project. The dependence of most life cycles on profound inter-connections with other symbiotic life cycles has been recognised by many philosophers and biologists as problematizing standard assumptions about the nature and boundaries of the organism. This poses ontological questions that, we believe, are much more tractable for a process ontology that is not committed to unambiguous boundaries between entities. This workshop will bring together scientists with various interests in symbiosis and philosophers concerned with biological ontology with a view to an in depth exploration of these basic issues.. Full details
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22 January 201611:00

Global Access to Open Software: Fostering Uptake - Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter) GYA & Data Studies, Exeter)

This workshop showcases results of a recent survey conducted by the GYA Working Group “Global Access to Research Software” in collaboration with the GYA Working Group “Open Science” and the INASP Institute in Oxford, which explored the conditions for access to and use of Open Software in middle and low income countries. The survey targeted specifically researchers in Bangladesh, Nigeria and Ghana. Within the workshop, results will be presented and discussed, and participants will have the opportunity to inform the writing of a report and a publication emerging from this research. These results will also be used by the Global Young Academy to inform current science policies concerned with Open Science. For more information, see http://globalyoungacademy.net/activities/open-science/.. Full details
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21 - 22 April 201612:00

"Integrating Large Data into Plant Science: From Big Data to Discovery"

This workshop brings together prominent biologists, data scientists, database leads, publishers, representatives of learned societies and funders to discuss ways of harnessing and integrating large plant data to foster discovery. Over the last decade, data infrastructures such as cloud, grids and repositories have garnered attention and funding as crucial tools to facilitate the re-use of existing datasets. This is a complex task, and within plant science a variety of strategies have been developed to collect, combine and mine research data for new purposes. This workshop aims to review these strategies, identify examples of best practices and successful re-use both within and beyond plant science, and discuss both technical and institutional conditions for effective data mining.. Full details
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26 April 201614:00

'Scientific Models:Imagination and Practice'

Half day workshop. For more information, please contact Adam Toon (a.toon@exeter.ac.uk). No registration required. Full details
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16 - 17 May 201613:00

"Pace Science:Data, Acceleration, Duration"

The handling and management of time is a crucial aspect of research environments and of expectations around the processes and outputs of scientific research, including how scientific evidence is marshalled in trials and policy-making. And yet discussions of the garnering of evidence and data sharing tend to forgo the temporal aspect in favour of static requirements and time-independent guidance on best practice. This workshop highlights and critically examines assumptions and implications of focusing on research as a historical process, whose various stages inhabit different temporal expectations from researchers, funders, governments, regulatory agencies, and relevant publics. In particular, we focus on situations where the temporality associated with research environments—for a variety of reasons ranging from material infrastructures to interpretations of value and efficiency— varies substantially, to the point of making research carried out under different temporal regimes practically incommensurable (e.g. data collection in the qualitative social sciences versus genomics; management of evidence in publicly funded versus commercial research; data sharing in developed and developing countries). Through this we will be able to understanding the demands and limitations raised by the increasing uses of controlled trials and other forms of evidencing across diverse settings.. Full details
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2 - 3 June 20169:00

Biological Identity

Recent debates in metaphysics on personal identity and material constitution have seen a rise of theories which appeal to a biological understanding of identity. So-called animalists claim that the puzzles of standard psychological theories of personal identity can be avoided by the insight that we are essentially animals or organisms rather than persons and that the necessary and sufficient conditions of our identity over time therefore are purely biological in character. Moreover, it has been argued (most famously by Peter van Inwagen) that if there are any composite objects at all in the world, then these are those studied by biology. According to this view, there are no inanimate things like stones or cars, strictly speaking, as these turn out to be just collections of particles; but there are living organisms, due to a special unity making them each one rather than many. It is time to investigate whether, and if so how, the concept of biological identity can indeed serve the functions metaphysicians attribute to it. For that purpose, the conference will aim to confront the metaphysical motives for proposing biological conceptions of identity, diachronic as well as synchronic, with the scientifically informed research on biological identity which has been carried out within the philosophy of biology but which so far has been little noticed by the metaphysics community. The conference seeks to connect these two hitherto largely separate debates so as to put future metaphysical allusions to biological identity on more solid grounds and, at the same time, to raise awareness for the metaphysical implications of the empirically founded models of biological identity developed in philosophy of biology. Full details
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8 - 9 December 201610:00

CBMNet ‘Social and Political Challenges for the Bioeconomy’ Organiser: Susan Molyneux-Hodgson

This event will address the challenges facing the bioeconomy related to rapid scientific, technological and social change. It will bring together UK industrial biotechnology leaders and academics to discuss grand challenges and then hopes to forge new collaborations between delegates, who will go on to apply for funding to begin to solve these problems. Full details
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11 - 13 January 201712:30

"Data Journeys in Biomedicine: Data Use, Research Translation and the Management of Infrastructures"

This workshop aims to trace the variety and mutual interlinking of contemporary data practices in biomedicine, through the discussion of the epistemological, ontological, methodological and societal implications of the development and adoption of complex digital data infrastructures and their methods and techniques.. Full details
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9 - 10 March 20179:00

"Organisms: Living Systems and Processes" workshop

Organisms are living systems. What does this mean? One answer given by systems biology is that organisms are self-organising dynamical systems that demarcate themselves from their environment by interacting with this environment on different levels. Non-reductionist top-down approaches in systems biology stress that organisms, as living systems, exhibit biological autonomy; they are integrated entities able to maintain themselves by actively adapting, whether by bodily reorganisation or by performing bodily movements, to changes in the environment rather than being the passive victims of such changes.. Full details
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10 May 2017

POSTPONED - BSA Regional Postgraduate Event: Medical Interpreting under a Sociological Lens

This event will be rescheduled to either late 2017 or early 2018, to be advised. Full details
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25 May 2017

'Process Epistemology' (A workshop with Bill Bechtel)

The argument for process epistemologies in studies of the life sciences has arguably been growing for a number of years now. At Egenis there are two ERC-funded projects, ‘A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology’ and ‘The Epistemology of Data-Intensive Science’, which are dealing with particular aspects of this topic. In this workshop we will take stock of this development and explore different areas linked to this issue through some of the research being conducted as part of these two projects. Full details
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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
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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
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22 May 20199:30

Inner Speech, Self-talk and Mental Health

For several decades the phenomenon of inner speech has been seen as relevant to understanding psychiatric conditions; most notably, voice hearing and thought insertion. But inner speech itself is far from being fully understood. Full details
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20 - 21 June 2019

"Science and Values" Integrated History and Philosophy of Science Workshop

Questions of value have always played a role in the history and philosophy of science. Philosophical questions surrounding scientific realism, for instance, often turn on the epistemic value or otherwise of virtues such as ‘simplicity’. While historians have long recognised this, philosophers have recently begun to acknowledge a wide range of values - the political, moral and aesethetic - in understanding scientific practices. This opens up a variety of new questions, both historical and philosophical, regarding the relationship between scientific practice and its historical development on the one hand, and the role of values—understood broadly. Consideration of the role of values in research provokes a host of historical and philosophical questions, typically well suited to an integrated HPS approach. This meeting of the iHPS will focus on such questions. Full details
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15 - 16 July 20198:30

"Animal Research Unbound" Conference

Much social scientific, philosophical and historical work on animal research has followed the enclosures around research communities and the relatively closed nature of animal research to highlight the construction of boundaries around animal research. This includes the ethical boundary work used to justify the use of animals in research, the human-animal and species boundaries constructed through research practices, the regulatory boundaries shaping responsibilities for animal use and care, through the spatial and material infrastructures that separate the animal house and laboratory. Even work tracing the accelerating mobilities and movements of research using animals often starts from consideration of how these might overcome boundaries between previously closed species and spaces of animal research. Full details
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12 September 201914:00

Politics of Wonder: Difference and Dignity in Nature and Society

Half Day Workshop Hosted by the Dept of Politics' Centre for Political Thought & Egenis' Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, featuring a range of guest speakers including Prof. Jeremy Bendik-Keymer (Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA), Prof. Amy Linch (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Dr. Urszula Lisowska (University of Wrocław, Poland), Prof. Christopher Gill (University of Exeter, UK), Dr. Jack Griffiths (University of Exeter, UK). Full details
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16 December 20199:30

"AI between Plant and Agricultural Science: Green Paths towards Environmental Intelligence"

The workshop seeks to bring together experts in the plant and agricultural sciences who are working with computational methods of analyses, the integration of diverse datasets spanning biological and environmental data, and the management of plant data infrastructures, in order to discuss what possibilities might be offered for the field by the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s National Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and the Environmental Intelligence initiative based at the University of Exeter. The Environmental Intelligence initiative seeks to develop new ways to understand complex interactions between climate, ecosystems, and human social and economic systems through the application of data science tools. Full details
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29 January 20219:00

Philosophy of Coordination

As a follow-up to the workshop held in Nijmegen in Nov 2018, Egenis, The Centre for the study of Life Sciences at University of Exeter and the Philosophy of Mind and Language group at Radboud University Nijmegen are organising a small online workshop on the Philosophy of Coordination on Friday January 29th 2021. Full details
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5 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Introduction & Session 1: Experiences from The Trenches

How is data managed in practice? To start the workshop, this session will discuss case studies of plant data use and linkage in the context of particular research projects and breeding programs, drawn from contemporary experience as well as historical research. Consideration of these cases will ground the thematic discussion of the following sessions, and provide an opportunity to reflect on the practical dimensions of the various challenges of data linkage and their solutions. This session will also begin with a general introduction to the online workshop goals and format by the organisers. Full details
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12 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Session 2: Technical Challenges of Data Linkage

Making plant data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) has been the subject of much effort. Extensive semantic tools are now available, including the multiple, intersecting ontologies that comprise the Planteome project, as are metadata standards such as the Minimum Information About a Plant Phenotyping Experiment (MIAPPE). Such tools nevertheless require collective work to develop and maintain. Beyond ensuring data themselves are FAIR, actively linking and circulating data poses further challenges. These include finding ways to link biologically, experimentally or geographically related yet heterogeneous datasets consistently, and to make data usable in practice to potential users with divergent aims and resources, not only reusable in theory. This session will address the technical challenges of data linkage, including the development of standards and infrastructures; epistemic issues; and the organizational requirements of this work.. Full details
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19 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Session 3: Governance Challenges of Data Linkage

New flows and intersections of big data from -omics research in plant science, including field-based phenomics as well as genomics, to various types of socioeconomic and environmental data, pose distinct challenges for governance. Data access and ownership for the common good and/or scientific advancement remain areas of considerable contestation, especially given the distinctive intellectual property landscape of plant science, which is marked by the predominance of transnational corporations on the one hand and regimes of national sovereignty on the other. Moreover, longstanding challenges of implementing Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) schemes in regard to biological materials are renewed by the increasing availability of digital data, while the integration of biological with socioeconomic data raises new questions of privacy. This session will address these and other governmental issues raised by plant data linkage, from open science policy through legal and political regulation. Full details
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26 March 202114:00

Towards Responsible Plant Data Linkage: Global Challenges for Food Security and Governance - Session 4 & Conclusion: Social challenges of data linkage

The social implications of plant and agricultural biotechnologies have been the focus of much debate in recent decades. Data production, sharing and linkage raise new issues concerning the inclusion of diverse stakeholders and ensuring that data works for them, practically and equitably. Building plural knowledges into plant data infrastructures, through the inclusion of practical and traditional knowledge from farmers and breeders, the recognition of diverse (e.g. gendered, but also professional) expertise and the implementation of multilingual systems, will be an important facet in establishing the relevance of those infrastructures to a wide range of stakeholders. Ensuring that global circulations of plant data are fair as well as FAIR, moreover, requires sustained attention to the distribution of scientific and computing resources that facilitate access to and effective use of data resources. Throughout all of this, ensuring that key subjects of food security and end-users of data. Full details
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5 - 7 May 2021

Philosophy of Plant Biology Workshop

Plants are very interesting organisms. They implement unique internal processes and modes of interaction with their environments. Needless to say, as the primary harvesters of solar energy they are vital parts of ecosystems. Serious attention to plants provides novel and interesting perspectives on many topics in philosophy of biology, including individuality, organisation, cognition, and disease. For example, the growth of plants requires us to stretch the concept of organism. If vegetative spread, for example via suckers from roots, is counted as mere growth, a forest can be considered a single organism, as is the case with ‘Pando’, a Populus tremuloides forest in Utah. And although there seems to be no centre of the coordination in a plant body as in animals, there is usually a highly-tuned coordination of the body parts that has led some theorists to attribute cognitive capacities to plants.. Full details
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6 - 8 July 2022

BSPS Annual Conference 2022

The BSPS 2022 Annual Conference will take place on 06–08 July at the University of Exeter. At this stage, the BSPS Committee are planning on BSPS 2022 being an in-person event. That said, there will be provision for speakers to present remotely if they wish. The Committee will continue to monitor the situation and necessary steps will be taken to ensure the safety of attendees. Full details
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15 March 202312:00

CANCELLED: Workshop: Perspectives on Scientific Practice

CANCELLED. We often think of science in a rather abstract, disembodied manner—as a collection of theories, for instance, or as a special method for gaining knowledge of the world. And yet science is also a human practice, carried out in a particular material and social context. This workshop will explore new ways of understanding scientific practice and consider their implications for the nature of scientific knowledge.. Full details
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28 March 20239:00

Workshop: Community Engagement as Scientific Practice

With this workshop, three philosophers of science who have experimented with various forms of engaged philosophy across different continents come together to reflect on their experiences and discuss the role of community engagement (and particularly minority and underrepresented communities) in the development, evaluation and use of scientific knowledge, as well as within philosophy and science studies. All who are interested in the role that philosophy, history and social studies of science can play across different societies – and especially in cases where relevant voices and contributions tend to be overlooked due to inequity, discrimination and unfair privilege – are warmly welcome to join this conversation. Full details
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30 - 31 March 20239:30

Workshop "Whither Open Science?"

OS movement is transforming research, with OS policies adopted around the globe and widespread agreement on implementing key OS principles like openness, transparency and reproducibility. However, the philosophy of science underpinning the OS movement has not been clearly articulated. Moreover, there are significant epistemic risks in implementing OS across widely different research settings, such as the marginalisation of contributions from low-resourced environments. This raises questions about the relation between open and good science. Full details
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26 - 28 April 202311:30

Human Centric Artificial/Computational Intelligence and Applications

In collaboration with partners at University of Oxford and the University of Birmingham, the workshop is designed to bring key sciences and AI experts from both academia and industry to sharing up to date research and innovation developments themed on HCAI/CI and also help identify the key challenges in stakeholders. Full details
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27 - 28 April 202310:30

International Workshop - Values at sea: Science Studies meets Marine Biology

Across many disciplines, attention is increasingly focused on the sea. This is no surprise: it is a site of immense value, supporting and shaping the global biosphere, and is under considerable threat. Whilst ocean ecosystems are pushed to the brink, scholars now often talk of the blue humanities and oceanic turns, of blue economics and accelerations, and of ocean decades. These trends necessitate a similar refocusing towards the sea in the history, philosophy, and social studies of science, fields that are well placed to help understand and contextualise some of the changes occurring to marine systems. To facilitate the emergence of social studies of marine life, as well as the integration of such scholarship with biological and ecological research, this two-day seminar will bring together people engaged in and focused on interactions between scientists and the sea.. Full details
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8 - 9 June 202312:00

Workshop - Past Material, Past Minds: Philosophy, Cognition & Archaeology

This workshop addresses methodological, theoretical and philosophical issues across cognitive archaeology and paleoanthropology. How are inferences drawn from material items to cognitive and social capacities? And from fossil and other specimens to demographic, behavioural and phylogenetic dynamics? What can knowing past minds tell us about the nature of cognition? How should cultural innovation and evolutionary novelties in the paleontological and archaeological records be treated? How should we understand the ontology of artefacts and specimens, and how does this relate to archaeological and paleoanthropological practice?. Full details
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26 - 27 June 20239:00

Workshop: Reconciling New Mechanism and Processualism

Mechanism and processualism are two comparatively new philosophies of science. Both can claim especially good uptake among biologists, and philosophers of biology and medicine. However, since their introduction, they have been in conflict with one another. Taken separately, they have different ontological underpinnings, provide different descriptions of target phenomena, and even entail different things about what biological science is and how scientific discoveries are made. We think it is time to aim for some reconciliation.. Full details
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14 July 202311:00

Science in Public Early Career Workshop

The Science in Public Research Network is an unfunded network for any and all people in the UK interested in science in the public sphere, in the very broadest sense. Science in Public (SiP) was founded by postgraduate students in 2006, holding annual conferences which became a central point of contact for UK based research communities considering ‘science in public’ across many disciplines, alongside professionals working in the area. Full details
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6 October 20239:30

Hacktoberfest Hackathon Event in Exeter!

Much of the technological infrastructure we use relies on open source projects built and maintained by passionate people who make their work open and accessible – very often during their free time. For example, the whole Python programming language is an open-source project hosted on GitHub! Hacktoberfest is a yearly celebration of open source code taking place every October! It is all about giving back to open source projects while sharpening programming skills! We would like to invite you to become a part of this celebration!. Full details
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20 October 20238:30

Workshop: Interdisciplinary perspectives on Cultures of Changes around Non-Animal Methods (NAMS) in the Biomedical Sciences

NAMs (non-animal methods or new approach methodologies) are rapidly becoming preferred approaches in a variety of domains that traditionally utilized in vivo non-human animal research. Alternatives to animal methods include approaches such as cell cultures, stem cell constructs, organoids, computer simulations, and others. This workshop seeks to bring together interdisciplinary scholars, practitioners, and policymakers involved in animal research and its alternatives to consider the interdisciplinary questions emerging as cultures of scientific research and responsibility shift and intersect in new ways during transitions to NAMs.. Full details
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6 - 7 November 20239:00

Joint workshop “Philosophy of AI and Digital Infrastructures”

How can failures of algorithmic decision-making be repaired? How does the automation of information affect democratic culture? How does AI affect or change Open Science? These are just some of the questions that will be addressed in this 1 ½-day workshop, which brings together the ‘Ethics in IT’ (EIT) group of Prof. Judith Simon at the University of Hamburg and researchers affiliated with the Egenis Centre at the University of Exeter. Using the broad range of disciplines and expertise represented at the workshop, we will explore the challenges and opportunities that recent developments in AI and digital infrastructures raise. Full details
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10 November 202311:00

Environmental Data Science and AI

This event will give an overview of environmental projects where data science and AI has been used and provide an opportunity for networking for future collaborations. Full details
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19 March 202413:00

Workshop: “Mind and science in the early modern world”

The early modern period (1500-1800) saw remarkable and widespread changes in our conception of the mind and its role in scientific inquiry. Natural philosophers negotiated new concepts and new methods of proof, which transformed our understanding of the place of human beings in the natural world and their capacity to penetrate its secrets.. Full details
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17 - 19 April 20249:15

Understanding Life in a Changing Planet: 20+2 Years of Egenis, the Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences

Marking the 20th anniversary of Egenis, this three-day event will feature an exciting line-up of distinguished international guest speakers, alumni, and current members of Egenis. Speakers will explore some of the key ideas developed at Egenis and their wider impact, as well as looking ahead to the main opportunities and challenges for the interdisciplinary studies of the life sciences in our changing planet. The event will also honour the achievements of Professor John Dupré, co-founder of Egenis and one of the world’s leading philosophers of biology. Full details
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13 - 14 May 20249:00

Embodiment, Experience, Enculturation: A joint Philosophy conference between the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the University of Exeter

What is it to be embodied and enculturated? How do human bodies interact, experience each other, and “experience with” each other? How do we interact with technologies, and how are contemporary technologies transforming experience? How do embodied experiences change over time? How should scientists study embodiment, and what role do embodiment and action have in scientific understanding?. Full details
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22 - 23 May 20249:00

IDSAI - Artificial Intelligence for Geological Modelling and Mapping

Rapid developments in AI and data science are unlocking new opportunities for how we go about modelling and mapping the Earth. This timely conference will bring together international experts in geoscientific applications of statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to share perspectives and discuss how we can maximise the benefit of these technologies in the future of geological modelling and mapping. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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20 May 201315:30

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

Egenis seminar with Dr Javier Lezaun. Full details
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23 May 201313:00

Structural Realism in Biology: A (Sympathetic) Critique

Speaker: Sahotra Sarkar (University of Texas at Austin). Full details
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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
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18 October 201319:00

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

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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
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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
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12 - 13 December 201314:00

The Value of Open Science

This workshop brings together biologists, social scientists and philosophers to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the recent RCUK policy on Open Access. We will discuss the impact of Open Access mandates on scientific practice and the ways in which they foster research and innovation, particularly in the fields of systems and synthetic biology.. Full details
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16 December 201314:00

Nightshades: You say potato, I say patata

Part of the HASS-funded project Symbiology Lab: The Arts of Living Together the workshop is the first in a series of events to address questions of form, design, and creativity in the applied biosciences, and to contribute to new ways of thinking about and engaging with the interface between culture and nature in the postgenomic age. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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6 March 201410:00

Workshop - Epigenetics: Assessing the evidence & its implications (organiser - Dr Ginny Russell)

This workshop will briefly review the various understandings of epigenetics and review the designs used to assess epigenetic evidence, and whether the claims made about this new field are reasonable.We are also interested in asking questions about the social and philosophical implications of Epigenetics and this workshop is designed to be a platform to discuss what these might be. Full details
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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
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10 April 2014

Workshop - Topologies of Immunity (organiser - Prof Gail Davies)

This workshop will seek to understand the spaces and places associated with alternative ways of thinking about immunology. We seek to bring together, scientific, social theoretical, artistic and wider public experiments with understandings of immunological relations to encourage on-going and inventive exchange about these new species, sites and spaces of immunology. The workshop follows a seminar by Warwick Anderson in Building One. For further details and programme please see attachment. Full details
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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
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10 - 11 April 201413:00

Quo Vadis Namomedicine? Organiser: Prof Michael Schillmeier

The aim of this two day workshop is to bring together leading nanomedicine researchers and scholars from the Science and Technology Studies to reflect and discuss the past, present and future of nanomedicine. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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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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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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16 June 2014

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

CANCELLED.. Full details
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23 June 201411:00

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

Recent developments in molecular biology imply that classic distinctions between nature and nurture or biology and culture are not applicable to the human ecological niche. Research in epigenetics shows that the effects of culture on nature go all the way down to the gene and up to the stratosphere, and the effects of biology on culture are similarly inextricable. Living systems almost invariably involve the interaction of many kinds of organisms with a diversity of technologies. The anthropocenethe age of human cultures and technologies interacting with natural environmentschanges rapidly, and to understand and manage its functioning requires perspectives from each domain. We propose the study of Symbiology, the post-organismic study of relation. The kinds of relations we study include mutualism, parasitism, domination, recognition, separation, solubility, symmetric mutuality (relations among equals in power or status), asymmetric mutuality (relations among unequals such as parents/offspring, teacher/pupil, human/nonhuman animals), reciprocity, alienation, isolation, autonomy, and so forth, and these relations are discernible throughout nature and all cultures. Full details
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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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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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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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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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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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20 - 21 November 20149:00

"Process Philosophy of Biology" - Prof John Dupre and Dr Dan Nicholson

This is the first workshop for the EU grant project PROBIO organised by Professor John Dupre.. 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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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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28 - 29 November 2014

"Concerning Relations: Sociologies of Conduct, Care and Affect" - Prof Michael Schillmeier

This interdisciplinary symposium, funded by Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (FSHI) and Exeter University, aims to interrogate the implications of shifting the focus of health care away from delivery towards care as an ongoing everyday accomplishment. This symposium examines spaces of collisions, elisions or alignments of social worlds, within which the affective dimension of social life in healthcare may be fruitfully examined. Drawing upon relational concerns as a distinct and distinctive mode of sociological inquiry, the symposium seeks to develop an understanding of care and its consequences that help us get beyond the economics of care as a commodified and managed form of engagement with the other.. 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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15 - 16 December 20149:00

"DARK DATA: ABSENCES, INTERVENTIONS AND DIGITAL WORLDS" - Organised by Sabina Leonelli, Gail Davies, Brian Rappert, Kaushik Sunder Rajan and Neal White

Programme attached. Full details
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17 - 19 December 201412:30

"What is Data-Intensive Science?" - Dr Sabina Leonelli

This workshop is the first event in the project DATA_SCIENCE (www.datastudies.eu ). It brings together the key participants in the project, with the aim to start long-term discussions around what constitutes data-intensive science, compare the ways in which different scholars and fields conceptualise and enact data practices, and agree on the set-up, methods and themes to be pursued by the project team and collaborators over the next four years. Speakers will be presenting the specific sciences that they are researching, the methods that they use and the themes that they are interested in exploring in the future. The workshop is meant to provide an informal occasion for discussion, and will therefore not showcase full papers except from the keynote lecture provided by Professor Luciano Floridi, which will target the intersections between philosophy of science and philosophy of information in ways that will stimulate data-related discussions.. Full details
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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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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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11 February 2015

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

Postponed until Wednesday 25th March 2015. Full details
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16 February 201513:30

"Understanding in Scientific Practice: Reasoning, Cognition, Mechanisms" organised by Prof Sabina Leonelli & Dr Adam Toon (University of Exeter)

The workshop is funded by the European Research Council, through the project DATA_SCIENCE. No advance registration needed. For information, contact the workshop organisers: Sabina Leonelli (s.leonelli@exeter.ac.uk) and Adam Toon (a.toon@exeter.ac.uk).. 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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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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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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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 (J.A.Dupre@exeter.ac.uk), copying Chee Wong (S.C.Wong@exeter.ac.uk), as space will be limited.. 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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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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25 March 2015

CANCELLED - Dr Ann Kelly (University of Exeter)

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29 April 201515:00

POSTPONED " - Dr Daniele Carrieri (University of Exeter)

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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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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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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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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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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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10 June 201515:00

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

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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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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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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
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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
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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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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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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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19 - 20 November 2015

'Symbiotic Processes' workshop, organised Prof John Dupre and Dr Stephan Guttinger

This workshop is part of the ERC-funded project, “A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology (ProBio)” led by Prof. John Dupré. The project explores the advantages, problems, and implications of a fully processual understanding of living systems. The near omnipresence of symbiosis has been one of the main motivations for the project. The dependence of most life cycles on profound inter-connections with other symbiotic life cycles has been recognised by many philosophers and biologists as problematizing standard assumptions about the nature and boundaries of the organism. This poses ontological questions that, we believe, are much more tractable for a process ontology that is not committed to unambiguous boundaries between entities. This workshop will bring together scientists with various interests in symbiosis and philosophers concerned with biological ontology with a view to an in depth exploration of these basic issues.. 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
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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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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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22 January 201611:00

Global Access to Open Software: Fostering Uptake - Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter) GYA & Data Studies, Exeter)

This workshop showcases results of a recent survey conducted by the GYA Working Group “Global Access to Research Software” in collaboration with the GYA Working Group “Open Science” and the INASP Institute in Oxford, which explored the conditions for access to and use of Open Software in middle and low income countries. The survey targeted specifically researchers in Bangladesh, Nigeria and Ghana. Within the workshop, results will be presented and discussed, and participants will have the opportunity to inform the writing of a report and a publication emerging from this research. These results will also be used by the Global Young Academy to inform current science policies concerned with Open Science. For more information, see http://globalyoungacademy.net/activities/open-science/.. Full details
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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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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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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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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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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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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 - 22 April 201612:00

"Integrating Large Data into Plant Science: From Big Data to Discovery"

This workshop brings together prominent biologists, data scientists, database leads, publishers, representatives of learned societies and funders to discuss ways of harnessing and integrating large plant data to foster discovery. Over the last decade, data infrastructures such as cloud, grids and repositories have garnered attention and funding as crucial tools to facilitate the re-use of existing datasets. This is a complex task, and within plant science a variety of strategies have been developed to collect, combine and mine research data for new purposes. This workshop aims to review these strategies, identify examples of best practices and successful re-use both within and beyond plant science, and discuss both technical and institutional conditions for effective data mining.. 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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26 April 201614:00

'Scientific Models:Imagination and Practice'

Half day workshop. For more information, please contact Adam Toon (a.toon@exeter.ac.uk). No registration required. Full details
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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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16 - 17 May 201613:00

"Pace Science:Data, Acceleration, Duration"

The handling and management of time is a crucial aspect of research environments and of expectations around the processes and outputs of scientific research, including how scientific evidence is marshalled in trials and policy-making. And yet discussions of the garnering of evidence and data sharing tend to forgo the temporal aspect in favour of static requirements and time-independent guidance on best practice. This workshop highlights and critically examines assumptions and implications of focusing on research as a historical process, whose various stages inhabit different temporal expectations from researchers, funders, governments, regulatory agencies, and relevant publics. In particular, we focus on situations where the temporality associated with research environments—for a variety of reasons ranging from material infrastructures to interpretations of value and efficiency— varies substantially, to the point of making research carried out under different temporal regimes practically incommensurable (e.g. data collection in the qualitative social sciences versus genomics; management of evidence in publicly funded versus commercial research; data sharing in developed and developing countries). Through this we will be able to understanding the demands and limitations raised by the increasing uses of controlled trials and other forms of evidencing across diverse settings.. 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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2 - 3 June 20169:00

Biological Identity

Recent debates in metaphysics on personal identity and material constitution have seen a rise of theories which appeal to a biological understanding of identity. So-called animalists claim that the puzzles of standard psychological theories of personal identity can be avoided by the insight that we are essentially animals or organisms rather than persons and that the necessary and sufficient conditions of our identity over time therefore are purely biological in character. Moreover, it has been argued (most famously by Peter van Inwagen) that if there are any composite objects at all in the world, then these are those studied by biology. According to this view, there are no inanimate things like stones or cars, strictly speaking, as these turn out to be just collections of particles; but there are living organisms, due to a special unity making them each one rather than many. It is time to investigate whether, and if so how, the concept of biological identity can indeed serve the functions metaphysicians attribute to it. For that purpose, the conference will aim to confront the metaphysical motives for proposing biological conceptions of identity, diachronic as well as synchronic, with the scientifically informed research on biological identity which has been carried out within the philosophy of biology but which so far has been little noticed by the metaphysics community. The conference seeks to connect these two hitherto largely separate debates so as to put future metaphysical allusions to biological identity on more solid grounds and, at the same time, to raise awareness for the metaphysical implications of the empirically founded models of biological identity developed in philosophy of biology. Full details
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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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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
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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
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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
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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
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8 - 9 December 201610:00

CBMNet ‘Social and Political Challenges for the Bioeconomy’ Organiser: Susan Molyneux-Hodgson

This event will address the challenges facing the bioeconomy related to rapid scientific, technological and social change. It will bring together UK industrial biotechnology leaders and academics to discuss grand challenges and then hopes to forge new collaborations between delegates, who will go on to apply for funding to begin to solve these problems. Full details
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11 - 13 January 201712:30

"Data Journeys in Biomedicine: Data Use, Research Translation and the Management of Infrastructures"

This workshop aims to trace the variety and mutual interlinking of contemporary data practices in biomedicine, through the discussion of the epistemological, ontological, methodological and societal implications of the development and adoption of complex digital data infrastructures and their methods and techniques.. Full details
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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
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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
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27 February 201715:30

CANCELLED - Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent)

To be resecheduled. Full details
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9 - 10 March 20179:00

"Organisms: Living Systems and Processes" workshop

Organisms are living systems. What does this mean? One answer given by systems biology is that organisms are self-organising dynamical systems that demarcate themselves from their environment by interacting with this environment on different levels. Non-reductionist top-down approaches in systems biology stress that organisms, as living systems, exhibit biological autonomy; they are integrated entities able to maintain themselves by actively adapting, whether by bodily reorganisation or by performing bodily movements, to changes in the environment rather than being the passive victims of such changes.. Full details
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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
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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
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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
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10 May 2017

POSTPONED - BSA Regional Postgraduate Event: Medical Interpreting under a Sociological Lens

This event will be rescheduled to either late 2017 or early 2018, to be advised. Full details
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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
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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
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25 May 2017

'Process Epistemology' (A workshop with Bill Bechtel)

The argument for process epistemologies in studies of the life sciences has arguably been growing for a number of years now. At Egenis there are two ERC-funded projects, ‘A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology’ and ‘The Epistemology of Data-Intensive Science’, which are dealing with particular aspects of this topic. In this workshop we will take stock of this development and explore different areas linked to this issue through some of the research being conducted as part of these two projects. Full details
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12 June 201715:30

POSTPONED.