Working Papers

The papers on this page are works in progress, so please do not cite them without permission. I post them here primarily because I am eager for feedback on my thoughts as they develop. They are very much in development. (Titles without links are not yet ready to see the light of day.)

Papers in Progress

“Cognition as Situational Problem Solving: John Dewey Meets Jean Lave”

For John Dewey and Jean Lave, the concept “situation” figures prominently in their theories of cognition. In comparing Lave’s work on situated learning and cognition with John Dewey’s situational theory of thinking and inquiry and his anti-Cartesian theory of mind, I show that there is a fruitful convergence and complementarity between these two major theorists of mind, culture, and activity. Their work shows that “situation” remains an important way of thinking about cognition in ecological and cultural context.

“Dewey’s Situational Theory of Science”

The main goal of this paper is to provide a satisfactory interpretation of John Dewey’s concept of “situation,” which plays a central role in his theory of inquiry and thus his philosophy of science. The secondary goal is to show the consequences of Dewey’s situationism for his theory of science. The paper needs some work, and perhaps to go in a somewhat different direction, focusing more on “situation” as a contested idea in Dewey scholarship.

“The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Feminist Pragmatist Perspective” (w/ Joyce C. Havstad)

We offer a critical analysis of the science and politics of global climate change from a feminist pragmatist perspective, paying special attention to the interaction between science and policy. We find the current state of play in all three areas (science, policy, and their interaction) to be lacking. We attribute mutual responsibility for the current impasse in addressing the climate crisis. What is called for is an alternative framework for thinking about science and policy interaction, which we sketch in general and in application to the increasingly serious problem of global climate change. This may end up being split up into several papers, where we can work through the pieces of the argument a bit more carefully.

“Exploring Implicit Understanding of Engineering Ethics in Students Teams” (w/ Eun Ah Lee, Magda Grohman, Nick Gans, and Marco Tacca)

This study explores engineering students’ understanding of engineering ethics in socially situated activity. An important component of human understanding is implicit understanding, which is difficult to articulate and to study. To explore engineering students’ implicit understanding about ethics in engineering, a group discussion of ethics issues involved in students’ ongoing engineering design project was observed. Eight discussions from four senior design project (SDP) teams were observed and recorded. The video data were analyzed through micro-scale discourse analysis based on cognitive ethnography. The result showed that each team had different implicit understanding of ethics. It also showed that there was a difference for each team between their explicit understanding and implicit understanding of ethical issues. Such a difference was more clearly detected among the ethics issues related to social implication of the design. Explicitly, students in all teams expressed some version of the view that they could not be responsible for the indirect consequence from their design, and instead it is mostly users’ or the third parties’ responsibility. Implicitly, however, there was significant variation between the teams. In one team, students’ responses and language choices revealed an empathetic connection with the users. In another team, students understood potential ethical concerns as threats or attacks and became defensive about their design. These findings show that there are complicated layers of implicit understanding about engineering ethics among SDP teams, and these understandings may influence students while they are working on their engineering project. (This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1338735. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.)

Papers in Purgatory

These papers are not currently in development, but I don’t yet have the heart to throw in the dustbin.

A Centennial Retrospective of John Dewey’s ‘The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy‘”

In 1909, the 50th anniversary of both the publication of Origin of the Species and his own birth, John Dewey published “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy.”  This optimistic essay saw Darwin’s advance not only as one of empirical or theoretical biology, but a logical and conceptual revolution that would shake every corner of philosophy. Dewey tells us less about the influence that Darwin exerted over philosophy over the past 50 years and instead prophesied the influence it would (or should) take in the future.  I will discuss this landmark paper and the key lessons Dewey draws from Darwinism for philosophy, and give a preliminary assessment of how well we’ve done so far.  (Dewey would be largely disappointed.)

 

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