Franz Neumann on the importance of history to freedom
Freedom, argues Franz Neumann, requires several kinds of knowledge (historical, for example), not simply the absence of state (or private) coercion — though that too is a necessary and critical element. April 2012
Stephen Turner describes “The Social Study of Science before Kuhn”
Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions — in many ways established the modern field of science studies. Stephen Turner provides a brief, socioligist’s version of the lead-up to Kuhn’s seminal book. Here’s a quick summary of his key points: Bacon and Comte Turner begins with Francis Bacon’s “The New Atlantis” (1627). Although Bacon’s work was more political […] September 2011
First remarks on G. Edward White’s The American Judicial Tradition
I’m reading G. Edward White’s The American Judicial Tradition: Profiles of Leading American Judges as part of my general background reading on American legal history. Lawrence Friedman may argue that “[t]here really isn’t a canon for legal history,” but I think White’s book at least comes close.
Further reflections on the nature of scientific evidence
For two weeks this July, I participated in a conference/summer session in Vienna (VISU) on the nature of scientific evidence. The program brought together students and lecturers from a number of disciplines.
Legal reasoning by analogy
My VISU presentation on reasoning in analogy in Warren and Brandeis’ famous 1890 law review article on privacy.
Initial reflections on the nature of scientific evidence
For the last week I’ve been a part of the Vienna Institute Summer University (VISU) at the University of Vienna, at a two-week conference on “The Nature of Scientific Evidence.” The program brings together graduate students from a variety of disciplines from around the world to discuss science-related topics.
Thinking about theories of historiography
Recently, I’ve been struck by the sense that what seems to drive history as a profession is not specifically the investigation of new archives, new materials, new places, or new times, but rather simply the larger desire to always pursue what is new qua new.
Causation, faith, and intelligent design
There is a philosophical thesis (attributed jointly to Pierre Duhem and Willard Quine) that, when simplified, explains how a given set of facts can produce more than one apparently true conclusion: essentially, different background assumptions lead to different conclusions. A related concept is known as underdetermination: that a given set of evidence can be explained by more than one–potentially conflicting–theory.
Truth vs. relativism in science
In Science and Social Inequality by Sandra Harding, I found a discussion of claims to “absolute truth” in science (and the fear of relativism) particularly interesting.