Marston Article Published

Great Hera! My article “Love Slaves and Wonder Women: Radical Feminism and Social Reform in the Psychology of William Moulton Marston” was published in the latest issue of the new, open-access journal Feminist Philosophy Quarterly. Thanks to the libraries at University of Western Ontario, the article is freely available to all comers (as all products of publicly-funded scholarship ought to be).

This paper has been a labor of love for about 8 years, when I encountered Molly Rhodes’ article on Marston and Wonder Woman (“Wonder Woman and Her Disciplinary Powers: The Queer Intersection of Scientific Authority and Mass Culture,” published in Reid & Traweek’s Doing Science + Culture) while sitting in on Roddey Reid’s course on cultural studies of science in the UCSD Lit department (it is an unfortunate thing that more philosophers of science don’t engage with cultural studies of science — see Rouse).

I did a lot of the basic research in 2009-2011, and have spent a lot of time refining my interpretation and my argument. In a way, I wish I had published it before the explosion of work around 2014-2015 on Marston (most notably Jill Lepore’s book). But if I had, (a) I wouldn’t have been able to publish it in this wonderful journal, and (b) for all her book’s flaws, I wouldn’t have been able to benefit from Lepore’s incredibly rich archival research. In many ways the paper would not have been as good in 2011 or 2013 as it is today.

I do my thank yous in the acknowledgements section of the paper, but I want to reiterate my thanks to Sabrina Starnaman, who helped me refine this work over the years, and who brought me into Reid’s class in the first place. I think she even came up with the title for the paper! And also, thanks to the many audiences who listened to this talk over the years as I worked these ideas out.

Just Published online: “John Dewey’s Pragmatist Alternative to the Belief-Acceptance Dichotomy”

I’m very pleased that you can now find “John Dewey’s Pragmatist Alternative to the Belief-Acceptance Dichotomy” in the online “Articles in press” section at Studies in History and Philosophy of Science A. It’s part of a special issue by Kevin Elliott and Dan McKaughan on Cognitive Attitudes and Values in Science, based on a great workshop organized by Kevin and Don Howard in 2013. You can also find a copy on my page.

I’m glad this is in print, because in many ways it is something of a sequel to my “Values in Science beyond Underdetermination and Inductive Risk” paper in Philosophy of Science, in that (1) identifies an additional common tactic for opponents of the value-ladenness of science, the wedge strategy, and (2) it pushes further in the direction of offering a positive alternative to accounts of values in science that avoids the two problems I identified in the earlier paper (the problem of wishful thinking and the lexical priority of evidence over values).

“But wait!” I bet you’re thinking. This is a long paper full of Dewey exegesis, not a first-order argument in philosophy of science like your “Values in Science…” paper. (In this way, it’s also a sequel to my HOPOS paper, “John Dewey’s Logic of Science.”) Well, this is the particular vice of my philosophical thinking—at some point in my thinking on a topic, I tend to spiral through Dewey interpretation, at least for a while. Next comes a paper with less Dewey and more argument (hopefully).

Many thanks to Kevin, Dan, Don, and everyone who provided feedback on the paper!

“Critical Appreciation” of Giere on DCog posted

I wrote a short paper for the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (SERRC), the digital wing of the journal Social Epistemology. “Critical Appreciations” are a new format they’ve adopted recently, where scholars are invited to contribute short critical essays on classic Social Epistemology articles.

SERRC is not a peer-reviewed journal, but it is something more than a mere blog as well. My paper is “A Critical Appreciation of Ronald N. Giere’s ‘Distributed Cognition without Distributed Knowing’.” You can even cite it thusly:

Brown, Matthew J. “A Critical Appreciation of Ronald N. Giere’s ‘Distributed Cognition without Distributed Knowing’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 6 (2015): 45-51.

First Publication for 2015

A quick update: a couple of weeks back, my first article for 2015 came out in the journal Metaphilosophy. In “The Functional Complexity of Scientific Evidence,” I present a model of evidence based on a pragmatist and contextualist model of inquiry. This paper presents some key ideas at the center of my work in a new way, so I am glad to have it out there.

Interestingly, the same issue of Metaphilosophy contains an article by Geoff Pynn, “Pragmatic Contextualism,” though it is a contribution to analytic epistemology, and a couple of book reviews about pragmatist aesthetics and pragmatist philosophy of nature.

Exciting new work on Climate Change with Joyce Havstad

Lately, besides my work on engineering ethics, I have been focusing on issues of science, values, and politics in global climate change. I started working on this topic a couple of years ago when Shane Ralson invited me to write a paper for his volume on pragmatism and international relations. I have been very lucky to have a collaborator on the project now, the wonderful and talented Joyce C. Havstad, currently the philosopher-in-residence (!!) at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

The short version of our approach is that there is a major disconnect between science and policy in this area, an inevitable result of the inadequacy of our models of science-based policy and science-policy interaction. On the science side, this disconnect manifests in the erroneous belief that science can be simultaneously policy-relevant and policy- or value-neutral. On the policy side, this manifests as a failure to see that climate policy must be pursued as an evidence-driven, tentative, hypothesis-testing, problem-solving practice. More broadly, the failure lies in models which treat science and policy as wholly heterogenous processes. To resolve the disconnect problem, we propose a new model that treats science and policy as partners in interdisciplinary inquiry and call for tighter integration of science and policy.

We’ve had the opportunity to present aspects of this research on several occasions this year. First, at the SRPoiSE / Communities of Integration conference in May, we argued against the IPCC’s presentation of its work as value- and policy-neutral. Then, at the FEMMSS/CSWIP conference on “Science, Technology, and Gender”, we presented our critique of existing models of science-based policy and offered a preliminary sketch of our new model. In November, we will be presenting at the Philosophy of Science Association, and the disconnect problem itself will be at the center of our focus. Hope to see you there!

(N.B. This news item prepared without feedback from Joyce. So while she deserves a lot of the credit for this awesome project, any errors and infelicities in this quick summary are surely my fault.)

New Articles Just Out

Good news! Several papers that have been forthcoming are now officially out:

These are all behind some form of paywall, but you can find them on my publications page as well.