Tag Archives: Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science Part C

Essay Review: “Putting the Present in the History of Autism”

Now in press at Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences is “Putting the Present in the History of Autism” by Sam Fellowes. In this essay review, Fellowes evaluates the history of autism as presented in two recent books, Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes and John Donvan & Karen Zucker’s In A Different Key.  As Fellowes writes in his introduction,

Recent media reviews of these books have been generally positive and although I highlight the positive elements, my primary focus is on some of the significant problems in these books. Both books have made some historical errors but they seem more problematic in Silberman’s case. Donvan & Zucker largely stick to describing a series of events whereas Silberman weaves specific events into a wider narrative, one which treats the modern classification of autism as correct scientific fact. The only evidence present in Neurotribes for this approach is implicit in Silberman’s history: the classification of autism employed historically used to be deeply flawed so therefore our modern notion is good. I will highlight problematic historical assertions both books make but largely focus upon showing how those errors undermine Silberman’s narrative. This critique gives more credibility to the alternative conceptions of autism he largely dismisses.

The full essay review can be found (behind a paywall) here.

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Free Access to “Psychical Research in the History of Science and Medicine”

Until Sunday December 7, 2014 access to “Psychical Research in the History of Science and Medicine,” a Special Section of the December issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences is free using the links provided in this post. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow  below.

“Psychical research in the history and philosophy of science. An introduction and review,” by A. Sommer. The abstract reads,

As a prelude to articles published in this special issue, I sketch changing historiographical conventions regarding the ‘occult’ in recent history of science and medicine scholarship. Next, a review of standard claims regarding psychical research and parapsychology in philosophical discussions of the demarcation problem reveals that these have tended to disregard basic primary sources and instead rely heavily on problematic popular accounts, simplistic notions of scientific practice, and outdated teleological historiographies of progress. I conclude by suggesting that rigorous and sensitively contextualized case studies of past elite heterodox scientists may be potentially useful to enrich historical and philosophical scholarship by highlighting epistemologies that have fallen through the crude meshes of triumphalist and postmodernist historiographical generalizations alike.

“Haunted thoughts of the careful experimentalist: Psychical research and the troubles of experimental physics,” by R. Noakes. The abstract reads, Continue reading Free Access to “Psychical Research in the History of Science and Medicine”

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Interview: Special Issue on “Crisis” in Psychology

AHP is please to present an interview with Annette Mülberger (left) and Thomas Sturm (right), editors of a fantastic forthcoming special issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences on the long history of crisis declarations in psychology. The issue is the culmination of a larger research project on crisis debates in psychology. Although the issue itself has not yet been released, the articles comprising it can now be accessed online in their entirety. Read on to discover how the issue came to be, which crisis declarations are addressed in the issue, why such declarations matter, and much more!

Titles, authors, and abstracts to the issue’s articles follow below the interview.

AHP: Can you tell Advances in the History of Psychology’s readers, briefly, about the topic of this special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences?

Annette: The topic is the manifold crisis declarations and discussions psychology has seen – and partly suffered – since the late nineteenth century. It’s a topic that has not been studied very systematically by either philosophers or historians of the field. Instead, some psychologists have dealt with it, pursuing reflections on the methodological or theoretical or practical problems of psychology.

AHP: How did the issue come to be?

Thomas: The topic was originally Annette’s idea. I needed about three seconds to accept the project because of its potential for integrating historical and philosophical investigations, something I think is necessary. Not always, but often. The topic also presented an occasion for me to work on the Viennese psychologist and philosopher Karl Bühler and his student Karl Popper, a relation I had found interesting. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences is a great journal for such a topic. The editors accepted our proposal quickly.

AHP: Who are the contributors to the issue?

Thomas: An international group of historians and philosophers of psychology, of course. Next to ourselves, these are Christian Allesch, John Carson, Cathy Faye, Uljana Feest, Horst Gundlach, Gary Hatfield, and Ludmila Hyman. We looked deliberately for people who had, in their previous work, shown sensitivity to both disciplines. Needless to say, some contributions put a little more weight on the historical than the philosophical dimensions, or the other way around. We had to push each other to give sufficient weight to both aspects, and that was instructive for all of us – and even fun.

AHP: What instances of crisis declarations in psychology do the articles in the special issue address?

Annette: The contributions begin with the first explicitly so-called declaration of a crisis in psychology by the nowadays mostly unknown Swiss philosopher-psychologist named Rudolf Willy, stemming from 1897 and followed by a whole book in 1899. Continue reading Interview: Special Issue on “Crisis” in Psychology

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