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March 1998

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Intl Soc for the Hist Phil and Soc St of Biol <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 26 Mar 1998 12:52:57 -0800
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Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 10:58:26 +0000
From: Robert Maxwell Young <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Essay on Malthus & Darwin: then & now

I have placed the following essay on my web site:
http://www.shef.ac.uk/uni/academic/N-Q/psysc/staff/rmyoung/papers/index.html
There are a number of other essays and a couple of books on matters
Darwinian and Malthusian at the site, as well.
Feedback very welcome.

Best, Bob Young

'Malthus on Man - In Animals no Moral Restraint' 59K Thirty years ago I
wrote an article on the common context of biological and social theory,
using Malthus as a key text and exploring how various writers had read
him
and had come up with very different conclusions: William Paley, Thomas
Chalmers, Darwin, Wallace, Spencer, Marx and Engels. This article
generated
a number of commentaries and refutations, primarily seeking to disprove
my
conclusions about the connection between Darwin and Malthus and the role
of
Malthus in the origination of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural
selection. I have stood my ground and have argued that quite a lot hangs
on
the connection. On the occasion of the first invitation I have ever had
to
deliver a paper to a conference of the Wellcome Institute for the
History
of Medicine (an ideologically and personally antagonistic director
having
been forcibly retired), I took the opportinity to reflect on this
controversy, bring in some new evidence and draw philosophical
conclusions
about the role of praxis in human nature, as sanctioned by the first
professional social scientist and the founder of modern evolutionary
theory. I also urge modern Darwinians to emulate these eminent
forbearers
in granting a role for praxis in human nature. The paper was presented
to a
conference on 'Malthus, Medicine and Science' organised by Roy Porter at
the Wellcome Institute, London, on 20 March 1998.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 05:05:17 +0000
From: Steve Fuller <[log in to unmask]>

          SUMMARY OF THE FIRST GLOBAL CYBERCONFERENCE
              ON PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF SCIENCE


The first global cyberconference on Public Understanding of
Science, a two-week affair from 25 February to 11 March, 1998,
has been recently concluded. The proceedings, which consist of
200 responses to 35 opening statements, may be accessed at
http://www.dur.ac.uk/~dss0www1/. Sponsored by the UK's
Economic and Social Research Council's New Opportunities
Programme, the conference was moderated by Professor Steve
Fuller of Durham University, with technical support from
Andrew Stansfield and Counterbalance, a nonprofit organization
based in Seattle, USA. Over the two week period, the
conference web board received nearly 2000 hits from 35
countries on every continent. Although the conference is now
closed, a version of it may be reactivated in the future.
Further information about the nature and content of the
conference may be obtained by contacting
[log in to unmask]


The aim of the conference was to canvass the different
meanings attached to the expression 'public understanding of
science', and the extent to which these meanings represent
convergent, parallel or conflicting agendas.


Some of the discussion focussed on issues relevant to distinct
regions of the world, including the following:

*** The relationship between science and development in Latin
American settings

*** The manipulation of scientific uncertainty in Australian
environmental politics

*** The compatibility of science and religion in Christianity
(especially in the US) and Islam

*** The difficulty of motivating the 'public understanding of
science' as a project in France and East Asia

*** The role of 'public understanding of science' in fostering
racial integration in South Africa

*** Public decision-making on the future of genetic
engineering research in Switzerland


Broader issues that attracted cross-cultural discussion
included:

*** Would 'public understanding of science' be regarded as an
interesting area of research and funding without the belief
that some group or other -- either scientists or non-
scientists -- is suffering from a 'deficit' in their
understanding of something or other? What would a non-deficit-
based 'public understanding of science' look like?

*** Is 'public understanding of science' something that should
be integrated into the education of scientists, the general
public, and/or expert specialists in 'science communication'?
Does it first require mastery of the technical content of some
science? To what extent can it be instilled outside the
classroom?

*** Should the 'public understanding of science' stress the
limits of science so as to enable people to recognize its
various abuses and misues? Or should it stress the power of
science to produce, say, beneficial medical and technological
change?

*** Should one of the principal aims of the 'public
understanding of science' be to increase people's acceptance
of science in their lives or to make people more self-
conscious and critical of science?

*** Does science itself pose certain obstacles to the 'public
understanding of science'? Are these obstacles generic to the
institution of science or specific to particular settings?

*** In what contexts are the public expected to act upon their
understanding of science? Participation in science policy
decisions? More scientifically informed lifestyles? Attendance
at scientific events? Recruitment into the scientific ranks?

*** Are the communicative processes involved in 'public
understanding of science' themselves part of how scientific
knowledge is constituted?

*** Is there a need for a 'public understanding of social
science' akin to one or more conceptions of 'public
understanding of science'?


In the coming months, the above issues will be analyzed in
more detail for purposes of presenting a comprehensive account
of the emergent features of this field. Preliminary findings
will be published toward the end of the year in the journal,
Public Understanding of Science.

END

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