Darwin-L Message Log 39: 36–69 — November 1996
Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.
This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during November 1996. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.
The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”
----------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 39: 36-69 -- NOVEMBER 1996 ----------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L A Network Discussion Group on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences Darwin-L@raven.cc.ukans.edu is an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Darwin-L was established in September 1993 to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among academic professionals in these fields. Darwin-L is not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin but instead addresses the entire range of historical sciences from an interdisciplinary perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical anthropology, historical geography, and related "palaetiological" fields. This log contains public messages posted to Darwin-L during November 1996. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and some administrative messages and personal messages posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster. The master copy of this log is maintained on the Darwin-L Web Server at http://rjohara.uncg.edu. For instructions on how to retrieve copies of this and other log files, and for additional information about Darwin-L and the historical sciences, connect to the Darwin-L Web Server or send the e-mail message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org. Darwin-L is administered by Robert J. O'Hara (email@example.com), Center for Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A., and it is supported by the Center for Critical Inquiry, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the Department of History and the Academic Computing Center, University of Kansas. _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:36>From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Nov 15 13:22:55 1996 Subject: New journal, call for papers Date: Fri, 15 Nov 96 12:25:16 -0700 From: Sherman Wilcox <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION An International Multidisciplinary Journal John Benjamins Publishers, Amsterdam A new journal, entitled EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION (EOC), is to be published by John Benjamins Publishers, Amsterdam, under the general editorship of Sherman Wilcox, Department of Linguistics, University of New Mexico. EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION will be published twice a year in 1997, to become quarterly, and will contain articles, review articles, book reviews, short notes, and discussions. Volume 1, 1997, ca. 300 pp. EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION is a broadly-conceived journal covering not only the origins of human language but also the evolutionary continuum of communication in general. The journal therefore accommodates studies on various species as well as comparative, theoretical, and experimental studies. This multidisciplinary approach will integrate research from a variety of disciplines, such as: linguistics; evolutionary biology; artificial life; primatology; ethology; neuroscience; cognitive science; biological, developmental, and comparative psychology; social and biological anthropology; philosophy; archaelogy; and palaeontology. EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION will provide a forum in which scholars from these rapidly expanding fields of evolution and communication can share their research within a multidisciplinary, international perspective. EDITORIAL BOARD: The editorial board includes two Associate Editors: Barbara J. King (Dept. of Anthropology, College of William and Mary), and Luc Steels (Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Free University Brussels). Scholars wishing to write book reviews should contact David Armstrong (EOC Book Review Editor), Gallaudet University, Office of Budget & Auditing, 800 Florida Ave. NE, Washington DC 20002. In addition, the editorial board consists of: Bennett G. Galef, Jr. (Department of Psychology, McMaster University) Kathleen Gibson (Department of Basic Sciences, University of Texas, Houston) John Haiman (Linguistics Program, Macalester College) Christine M. Johnson (Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego) Michael J. Ryan (Department of Zoology, University of Texas, Austin) Chris Sinha (Department of Psychology, University of Aarhus) Eors Szathmary (Collegium Budapest) Michael Tomasello (Department of Psychology, Emory University) Aladdin Yaqub (Department of Philosophy, University of New Mexico) Anne C. Zeller (Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo) EDITORIAL POLICY: EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION encourages international and interdisciplinary contributions, is open to a broad variety of theoretical views, and will give preference to work which integrates data with conceptual and methodological concerns. Manuscripts should be submitted in 4 copies to Sherman Wilcox, Department of Linguistics, University of New Mexico, 87131. Tel. 505-277-6353/Fax 505-277-6355. Email: email@example.com. SUBSCRIPTIONS: For information about subscribing to EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION, contact John Benjamins Publishing Company, P.O. Box 75577, 1070 AN Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel +31.20.6762325/Fax +31.20.6739773. Email: Anke.Delooper@benjamins.nl CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION is now seeking articles, including articles for the premier issue of the 1997 volume. EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION World Wide Web home page: http://www.unm.edu/~wilcox/EOC _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:37>From Eugene.Leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de Fri Nov 15 13:47:32 1996 Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 20:44:33 +0100 (MET) From: Eugene Leitl <Eugene.Leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 707 On Fri, 15 Nov 1996 firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: > Your point is well taken, economics is perhaps no more able to predict > the behavior of a single entity in the system, any more than quantum > physics can predict the precise location and velocity of a particle. (btw, QM does not know particles, just the Holy & Mysterious Schroedinger wavefunction) Ergodic systems are fundamentally unpredictable. Ergodicity is defined as certain state-space behavior (smearing of contiguous region all over the space in course of system evolution) of a system. A class of problems, e.g. meteorologic, economic, or ecosystem predictions are (transiently or permanently) ergodic, hence inherently unpredictable. Take ecosystems, for example. A major contribution to the fitness function is the impact of members of the same and other species. Hence the Hamiltonian fluctuates wildly over time (Red Queen phenomenon; what was fit yesterday, is worse than worthless today. The conjectured major reason for the invention of sex). Trajectories are divergent, amplifying initial errors cumulatively (the proverbial butterfly effect). If we'd replay the Earth biological evolution, we'd wind up with something utterly different. At least that's the current ALife dogma. ciao, 'gene P.S. Just jumped the wagon, and lacking any etiquette whatsoever _____________________________________________________________________________ mailto: email@example.com | transhumanism >H, cryonics, mailto: Eugene.Leitl@uni-muenchen.de | nanotechnology, etc. etc. mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org | "deus ex machina, v.0.0.alpha" icbmto: N 48 10'07'' E 011 33'53'' | http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~ui22204 _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:38>From email@example.com Fri Nov 15 14:08:43 1996 Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 15:08:14 -0500 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: economics and QM Eugene Leitl wrote: > (btw, QM does not know particles, just the Holy & Mysterious Schr"odinger > wavefunction) > > Ergodic systems are fundamentally unpredictable. Ergodicity is defined as > certain state-space behavior (smearing of contiguous region all over the > space in course of system evolution) of a system. A class of problems, e.g. > meteorologic, economic, or ecosystem predictions are (transiently or > permanently) ergodic, hence inherently unpredictable. > > Take ecosystems, for example. A major contribution to the fitness > function is the impact of members of the same and other species. Hence > the Hamiltonian fluctuates wildly over time (Red Queen phenomenon; what was > fit yesterday, is worse than worthless today. The conjectured major reason > for the invention of sex). Trajectories are divergent, amplifying initial > errors cumulatively (the proverbial butterfly effect). If we'd replay > the Earth biological evolution, we'd wind up with something utterly > different. At least that's the current ALife dogma. > > ciao, > 'gene > > P.S. Just jumped the wagon, and lacking any etiquette whatsoever Glad you jumped in. I'm only using the state of physics here as an analogy. What you say about chaos theory may be true, however there is a line between the theoretical and the practical, and this discussion began over any the question of any applicable models which may be coming out of the the bionomics approach to economics. There is a lot of math out there besides calculus, after all. I'm not suggesting that fractal transforms are going to be able to predict whether I blow my savings on Christmas presents. (Change the coefficients and I might just hold up a gas station instead!) However, the economic models we have in place are going to be seen as somewhat primitive one day. Tracy's comments aside about the main value of economic science being to explain phenomena, I still maintain the ultimate goal is control over the economy. The foundation of our science is predictability. If someone just wants explanations, I call that religion. Devorah Slavin firstname.lastname@example.org -- Devorah Slavin email@example.com I FORWARD ALL SPAM TO THE IRS @ www.ustreas.gov/mail/bpd.html and call National Fraud info Center at 1-800-876-7060 ------------------- "If you put a little pyramid on top does it make something post-modern?" _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:39>From GRANSOM@ucrac1.ucr.edu Mon Nov 18 11:30:29 1996 Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996 9:30:19 -0800 (PST) From: GREG RANSOM <GRANSOM@ucrac1.ucr.edu> To: DARWIN-L@RAVEN.CC.UKANS.EDU Subject: Leibowitz and Margolis seminar on path dependence The economists Stan Leibowitz and Steve Margolis are conducting a fascinating seminar on the Economic History e-mail list at: eh.res.@cs.muohio.edu which may me of interest to some on Darwin-L. The following forwarded message is one of the more interesting of recent posts. The archive for these conversations can be found at: http://cs.muohio.edu/ -- greg ransom Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996 11:36:21 -0500 From: Douglas.Puffert@econhist.vwl.uni-muenchen.de Subject: EH.R: Path-dependence, railway gauge, and inefficiency To: firstname.lastname@example.org ================= EH.RES POSTING ================ As I more or less promised a few days ago, here are some reflections on path-dependence in the context of railway track gauge (the distance between the rails) and the sense in which the process of allocation sometimes produced inefficient results. Again, this is based on my dissertation research, which I am now turning into a book manuscript and some articles. I would greatly welcome feedback to sharpen or correct my analysis. (In this context, of course, I would particularly welcome "positive feedback" that yields "increasing returns" to all.) The standard gauge of most of the world's railways, 4' 8.5" (1435 mm.), was taken from the primitive mining railways of northern England (Northumberland), essentially because a steam engine / locomotive engineer from the mines became the builder of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1830, which became the single most important technical model for subsequent railway development. The engineer, George Stephenson, and his protoges introduced the gauge to several parts of Britain and the Continent, and other Continental and North American railways also followed his example. (In America, however, several engineers adopted the similar but rounder measures of 4'9", 4'10", and 5'0", leading in the latter two cases to some later difficulties.) Beginning in the mid-1830s, locomotive and railway engineers introduced a variety of broader gauges for technical reasons related either to temporary features of locomotive technology or to spurious arguments concerning stability, speed, and other factors. Beginning in the 1860s, locomotive and railway engineers introduced a variety of narrower gauges both due to real technical reasons (chiefly the ability of narrow-gauge railways to make sharper curves, follow the contours of rugged landscape, and reduce the costs of bridges, tunnels, cuttings, and embankments) and, again, due to spurious technical arguments. Railway promoters and engineers felt free to introduce new gauges to countries or continental land-masses for two reasons: (1) Most early railways were introduced to serve particular local (or at best national) needs, and the costs of later incompatibility or conversion of gauge were not recognized. (2) In cases where the costs of incompatibility were recognized, it was still sometimes expected that the newly introduced gauges would offer advantages in operating cost and performance greater than the costs of incompatibility. In several cases, promoters expected their broad- or narrow-gauge lines to outcompete established Stephenson- gauge railways. In no case did they succeed. I argue that the extent of uniformity or diversity of gauge in particular countries and continents depended on the "random" draws of engineers (or other agents) who chose the gauges of the first railways in different parts of the larger regions. Australia suffers from diversity of gauge today largely because of a stubborn Irish engineer and a stubborn English engineer who each wanted to adopt the gauge of their homelands (that's a bit of an oversimplification, but essentially correct). In retrospect, it seems that the widespread influence of George Stephenson assured less diversity in Continental Europe than might have been the case. Liebowitz and Margolis raise some good arguments against using a "stochastic arrival process" to model early competition among products or techniques subject to network externalities. They note, for example, that this approach implicitly assumes lack of certain forms of foresight. Nevertheless, I believe that I have shown the relevance of this modeling approach in the case of railway gauge--precisely because agents did not realize what national and continental railway networks would one day become (and also because they overvalued the importance of adopting particular gauges). I do not, therefore, argue that markets "failed" in a meaningful sense of the term or that prudent government intervention could have yielded a better outcome. I do argue for two forms of path-dependence: (1) At the local level, new lines nearly always adopted the gauge of established nearby lines. Thus, the initial railway line in a region nearly always set the pattern for what followed. Furthermore, the sequence of events mattered. In the southern U.S., the early network spread out from the early 5'0"-gauge line in South Carolina, not from the 4'8.5"-gauge lines of Virginia and North Carolina. Thus the broader gauge became the regional standard (also in much of the latter two states). (2) At the larger level, what happened in one place affected what happened elsewhere, primarily through the mobility of engineers and the diffusion of engineering traditions. At the largest level, it's hard NOT to see the selection of Stephenson's gauge as a path-dependent or "contingent" matter. (By the way, I think Liebowitz and Margolis misunderstand Stephen Jay Gould's use of the term "contingent." It's a very old philosophical concept referring to things that just happen to be the case, in contrast to things that are "necessary"-- or in our terms, the result of a systematic optimization process with a unique equilibrium.) Before Stephenson, the gauge of 4'6" was used on a system of pre-modern public railways in Scotland and was recommended by a popular engineering text. In consequence, it was provisionally adopted by promoters of both the first two American railways. Furthermore, for a time the proposed contractor for the Liverpool and Manchester railway was an engineering firm that proposed to use a gauge of 5'6". It appears to be very much a "historical accident" that Stephenson and the gauge were chosen for the railway and thus set the pattern for most of the world. In case anyone cares, I've talked to some modern railway engineers who say that a somewhat broader gauge would be better, but that it really doesn't matter much. I gather that some South African railways engineers, who have expanded the performance envelope of the 3'6" gauge, are ready to argue for a narrower optimum. Some examples of "revealed preference: Recent railways in new regions (isolated mining areas of Australia and Africa) have adopted 4'8.5", arguably due to the market for equipment. Japan departed from its 3'6" gauge for the Shinkansen (high-speed) line, 4'8.5". (But Japan is also now developing a narrow-gauge Shinkansen that ties into its broader network.) Early diversity of gauge within many regions (the U.S. and Britain, for example), has been resolved. In some cases, the mechanism was essentially the "bandwagon" described in some of the network externalities literature: agents that stand to gain most from converting do so first, which in turn increases the incentives for others to convert, and eventually decentralized agents have a common standard. In other cases, however, diversity was resolved through entrepreneurial activities that internalized network externalities--the mechanism that Liebowitz and Margolis expect to find. The Pennsylvania Railroad bought up lines in both New Jersey and Ohio and converted them from the local to the emerging national standard. The Illinois Central bought the Mobile and Ohio, converting the latter to the northern standard gauge and changing the incentives faced by the remaining southern railways, who then made a coordinated decision to convert together. I certainly couldn't name a case where the inability to internalize externalities is preventing efficiency-improving resolution of diversity. I take it for granted that the 5'0" Russian system (including lands formerly in the Russian and Soviet Empires) is too big to be worth converting. The 5'6" Spanish railways were turned down in their request for public funds (estimated at several billion dollars) to convert to the European standard, but they are reducing the cost of potential future conversion by installing cross ties with fittings for the narrower gauge whenever ties have to be replaced. India, with two gauges, is resolving its diversity on a case-by-case basis, with a view to providing common-gauge links on commercially important routes. Australia, with three gauges, is proceeding in a somewhat similar way. It's clear that diversity of gauge, including the diversity that was eventually resolved, has had very large costs that would have been avoided had various regional histories proceeded along different potential paths. (Likewise, some potential paths would have had still higher costs.) Estimating these costs raises the sorts of complicated issues that arise in counterfactual analysis, and I have not found time to pursue either lower- or upper-bound estimates. If anyone is interested, I might suggest looking at the Australian case (both past and present), in part because some past government advisory panels and current transportation engineers there appear to have done some of the necessary calculations. Douglas Puffert University of Munich ============ FOOTER TO EH.RES POSTING =========== For information, send the message "info EH.RES" to email@example.com. _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:40>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Nov 18 04:03:48 1996 From: Danny Fagandini <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 707 Date: Sat, 16 Nov 1996 23:09:44 GMT email@example.com wrote: > any more than quantum physics can predict the precise location and > velocity of a particle. careful. The precision is formidable, though only if the prediction is limited to one of those two properties (BTW momentum rather than velocity). danny firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:41>From AMACHADO@psythird.psych.indiana.edu Fri Nov 15 19:04:10 1996 From: "Armando Machado" <AMACHADO@psythird.psych.indiana.edu> Organization: Indiana University Psych Department To: email@example.com Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 11:19:44 CST Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 707 >Devorah Slavin wrote: With all respect, your assertion reminds me very much of the medieval "scientific" approach known as "saving the appearances," a psychological slight of hand that enabled a medieval astronomer, for example, to explain phenomena without refuting biblical "truths". The most familiar example is the use of imagined "epicycles," theoretical extra rotations of planets, to explain the retrograde motion of mars. This would "save the appearences", (that is, explain the phenomena), without proving anything, and without disproving the bible. Not surprisingly with these tools, Medieval astronomy could do nor more than observe phenomena and propose systems to explain them. Despite centuries of fine tuning, these models failed to have much use for predicting astronomical events. When Copernicus et al proposed a simple--and predictive--heliocentric universe, it was taken up in due time by all reasonable people. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Although somewhat incidental to your main argument, with which I agree, I believe that your reference to epicycles and medieval astronomical theories is potentially misleading. Epicycles and other geometric devices were invented by ancient astronomers to account for observed celestial phenomena. What is amazing about the geocentric theories that used these devices is how accurate they really were. A contemporary astronomer once remarked that he did not know why anyone (Copernicus and others) would even want to develop better theories given that the ones around were amazingly accurate (taking into account the precision of the measuring instruments of the time)! Some people suspect that Copernicus was motivated more by aesthetical and religious reasons than by the "lack of predictive power" of Ptolomy's account. I believe that the problem of ancient astronomical theories is not that they tried to save the face, but that they never derived their geometric devices (epicycles, equants, deferens, etc.) from more fundamental physical principles. To speak somewhat abusively, the geometric constructions were axioms, not theorems. Later, with Newton, the geometric constructions (e.g., elliptic planetary orbits) became theorems derived from more primitive laws. If my memory does not betray me, Copernicus himself did not get rid immediately of the epicycle idea, and many mistical beliefs still contaminated Keples's third law (the harmony and music of the spheres). But who is the "blame" Ptolomy or even the medieval astronomers for not grounding their hypothetical constructs on the laws of physics? What physics? Most of the physics knowledge of the time was simply wrong. The situation is not unlike that of the early part of this century when knowledge in genetics was accumulating faster than knowledge of developmental processes. In the face of evidence not predicted by extant knowledge (e.g., sex-linked transmission), geneticists postulated many new hereditary factors, just to save appearances we might say. Like epicycles (or should we say flies?), hereditary factors multipled so quickly that Morgan had to confess his great distress -- no wonder we can "explain" so much, he said, for all we have done is to postulate hypothetical factors to explain some facts and then use these factors to explain the facts from which they were derived. Unfortunately, and unlike in many other places, history proved Morgan wrong. Prediction is certainly critical to science, but so is parsimony and, yes, aesthetics, the harmony of the entire edifice. Armando Machado _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:42>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Nov 19 22:10:22 1996 Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 23:10:15 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: ASC survey of systematics collections (fwd from TAXACOM) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro --begin forwarded message-------------- Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 14:36:21 -0500 From: Elaine Hoagland <elaine@ASCOLL.ORG> Subject: TRED ASC Surveys of Research Systematics Collections and Individual Taxonomic Researchers: Your Participation is Needed! The Association of Systematics Collections has developed a Survey of Research Systematics Collections and Information, the results of which will be made available to users of systematics resources over the world wide web. We hope that your Collection will participate in the survey, so that information about your Collection and its resources can reach colleagues worldwide. Participation in the database will give your institution higher visibility with government agencies and the public, and may lead to new opportunities. It will help ASC document needs and develop policy options for support of collections by governments and the private sector. This on-line database is a modern approach to providing the same kind of data ASC has collected in the past. In fact, responses to this survey will eventually become part of a longitudinal series of data.. You may respond =to the survey by contacting ASC for a form, filling it out and mailing or faxing it back. Or PREFERABLY, you may go to ASC's web site (http://www.ascoll.org/SURVEY/), download the survey, fill it out, and send it to ASC. Each administratively-separate collection is to complete the survey and return it to ASC.. Although ASC's initial distribution of the survey has focused on North American institutions, ASC is willing to include information from institutions outside the region. The collections resources database is one of two that are sponsored by the Biological Resources Division of the USGS (formerly the National Biological Service) in cooperation with a group of 6 US federal agencies and the Smithsonian-NMNH, which compose the Interagency Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Many federal agencies and other resource management organizations have a strong need for taxonomic information or services that are scientifically credible and readily accessible. The Research Collections and Information Database (RCID) will provide an entry point for these many users. The first database, the Taxonomic Resources and Expertise Directory (TRED), has also been distributed, and the responses are now being entered into the database. TRED is designed to contain information about individual systematists and taxonomists (and their databases) needed by those seeking taxonomic expertise. It will be available for searching on the Internet. If you have not provided data for the TRED, it is not too late. Please call up the ASC web site for information and a copy of the survey. Send the completed Research Systematics Collections survey and TRED forms to: The Association of Systematics Collections Fax: (202) 835-7334 1725 K St. NW Suite 601 Phone: (202) 835-9050 Washington, DC 20006-1401 Email: email@example.com --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:43>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Nov 19 22:11:29 1996 Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 23:11:21 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: CFP: Economic History To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro --begin forwarded message-------------- THE INTERDISCIPLINARY CONVERSATION OF ECONOMIC HISTORY Fifty-Seventh Annual Economic History Association Meeting CALL FOR PAPERS The 1997 Annual Meeting of the Economic History Association will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Brunswick, New Jersey, September 12-14, 1997. The theme of the program is "The Interdisciplinary Conversation of Economic History." Members of the program committee are: Elyce Rotella (Chair), Naomi Lamoreaux and Anne McCants. The committee especially encourages proposals for papers and sessions that show an openness to talking and listening across disciplinary borders. To propose a paper, send three copies of a 3-5 page abstract and a 150 word abstract suitable for publication in the Journal of Economic History to Elyce Rotella by January 15, 1997. The committee welcomes proposals for entire sessions as well as for individual papers. Session proposals should include abstracts for each paper in the session. The committee reserves the right to assign papers to sessions and to accept some papers from a proposed session if the entire session is not accepted. For full consideration, proposals must be received by January 15, 1997. Submissions must include the full name, mailing address, departmental affiliation, telephone number(s), fax number, and E-mail address of each author. Notices of acceptance will be sent to the individual paper givers by March 14, 1997. Deadline for completed papers to be sent to discussants is August 22, 1997. Those interested in being considered for the 1997 E.H.A. program are welcome to enter into conversations (E-mail encouraged) with any of the members of the Program Committee: Elyce Rotella (Chair) Economics Department - 105 Wylie Hall Indiana University Bloomington, IN 47405 (812)855-7858 (812)855-3736 fax ROTELLA@INDIANA.EDU Naomi Lamoreaux Anne McCants History Department - UCLA History Department - MIT (310)825-0225 (617)258-6669 LAMOREAUX@ECON.UCLA.EDU AMCCANTS@MIT.EDU --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:44>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Nov 19 23:49:29 1996 Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 00:49:21 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: CFP: Recoveries from Mass Extinctions To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro --begin forwarded message-------------- Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996 13:54:58 +0100 From: Petr Cejchan <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: cfp: RECOVERIES '97 Please forward this message to your colleagues or other persons of interest! FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT - CALL FOR PARTICIPATION - CALL FOR PAPERS %%%%%%%%%%%%%% RECOVERIES '97 %%%%%%%%%%%%%% The final meeting of the UNESCO IGCP Project 335 "Biotic Recoveries from Mass Exctinctions" September 12-14, 1997 Prague, Czech Republic ________________________________________________ PLEASE, POINT YOUR WWW BROWSER TO: http://www.gli.cas.cz/conf/recovery/recovery.htm ________________________________________________ About the project In the history of the Earth (including the recent), numerous events of ecosystem collapses occurred that were followed by recoveries and origination of new ecosystems. This significant transformation could be realised in numerous ways. The project aims to be a platform for the study of survival and recovery of the biosphere, and restructuring of global environments, following mass extinctions. The project outlines are: (1) to study patterns of extinction/survivorship of organisms during the mass extinction events; (2) to analyse the evolutionary and ecological strategies that allowed clades and communities to survive and initiate subsequent biotic recoveries; (3) to study the structure of the deep-crisis ecosystem; (4) to elucidate the recovery initiation mechanisms; (5) to find the time, space and functional patterns of the recovery; (6) to refine the data and tools for this discipline; (7) to develop general models by means of comparison of individual global crises in Earth's history; (8) to apply these (predictive) models to better understanding the modern environmental and biodiversity crises. This international project is headed by Douglas H. Erwin, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and Erle G. Kauffman, University of Colorado, Boulder. Over sixty countries are involved in the project. Audience The meeting should bring together palaeobiologists, palaeontologists, biologists, ecologists, systems theorists, and other persons that are interested in the topic. Organisers The conference is held under the auspices of the Geological Institute, Academy of Sciences, and is organised by: Petr Cejchan & Jindrich Hladil Geological Institute, Academy of Sciences Rozvojova 135 CZ 165 02 Praha 6 Lysolaje Czech Republic Venue The conference will be held at the new IKEM Conference Building, Videnska 800, Prague 4, Czech Republic, two bus-stops away from the Metro line C station "Kacerov", ca. 20 minutes off the city centre. --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:45>From YTL@vms.huji.ac.il Wed Nov 20 01:19:52 1996 Date: Wed, 20 Nov 96 9:15 +0200 From: <YTL@vms.huji.ac.il> To: email@example.com Subject: Images of Copernicus I am very grateful to Deborah Slavin and others for providing me with some very rich material for a study that I am preparing, tentatively entitled *Images of Copernicus in Late Twentieth Century Anti-Religious Polemics*. The disparity, to use an overly mild term, between the image of Copernicus and the Copernican achievement that one finds in these postings, and the sobre appraisal of Copernicus on the part of historians of astronomy is flabbergasting. I'll just made a few points: It was Plato who is reported to have instructed the astronomers of his day to *save the appearances*; the epicycles are not rotations of the planets, but geometrical devices used to account for their observed motions; and epicycles have nothing to do with the bible. Epicycles are not mentioned in the bible, nor in the Qor'an; and anyway, why should Plato, Ptolemy, Apollonius, *et al* want to save the bible. Copernicus's system was more complicated, not less so than that of Ptolemy; moreover, his system uses so-called superepicycles, though Ptolemy's does not; etc., etc. There is a very extensive literature on all of this and I won't take up more space rehearsing these well-known facts. I'll just make two quick observations: (1)Copernicus has been appropriated by some groups of people to serve as an image of the heroic fighter against religion, without any consideration for the biography and writings of the historical Copernicus. (2)The polemics that one encounters these days are unfortunate in that they show a tendency to transform science from a dispassionate inquiry which simply isn't interested in what religion (or the bible) does or doesn't say on a given issue (which is how things ought to be IMHO), into an enterprise which defines itself as the antithesis of religion, with all the implications (dogmatization, entrenchment, intolerance, etc. etc.). Tzvi Langermann Microfilm Institute, National Library Jerusalem _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:46>From junger@pdj2-ra.F-REMOTE.CWRU.Edu Wed Nov 20 08:09:12 1996 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: economics and QM Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 09:06:09 -0500 From: "Peter D. Junger" <junger@pdj2-ra.F-REMOTE.CWRU.Edu> email@example.com writes: : I : still maintain the ultimate goal is control over the economy. The : foundation of our science is predictability. If someone just wants : explanations, I call that religion. And if someone wants control over a chaotic system, I call that magic. -- Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com URL: http://samsara.law.cwru.edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:47>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Nov 20 14:57:59 1996 Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 18:49:34 -0300 To: email@example.com From: Charbel Nino El-Hani <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: DARWIN-L digest 709 Devorah Slavin wrote: >Glad you jumped in. I'm only using the state of physics here as an >analogy. What you say about chaos theory may be true, however there is >a line between the theoretical and the practical, and this discussion >began over any the question of any applicable models which may be coming >out of the the bionomics approach to economics. There is a lot of math >out there besides calculus, after all. I'm not suggesting that fractal >transforms are going to be able to predict whether I blow my savings on >Christmas presents. (Change the coefficients and I might just hold up a >gas station instead!) However, the economic models we have in place are >going to be seen as somewhat primitive one day. Tracy's comments aside >about the main value of economic science being to explain phenomena, I >still maintain the ultimate goal is control over the economy. The >foundation of our science is predictability. If someone just wants >explanations, I call that religion. When one considers the ability to predict as the only, or at least the main goal of scientific enterprise, I feel like we are drifting into a Baconian view of science: knowledge is justified as a tool for controlling nature, and nothing more. One objection raised against such a view is that the only consequence is not that power will have to be based on knowing, but also that knowing can be justified only by power. Nevertheless, I agree that practical efficacy is one of the criteria we can use to appraise the success of a theoretical model, but the range of phenomena it can explain can also lead to another possible criterion (Darwin, for instance, used a similar line of argument to justify the hypothesis of natural selection).. I would not say that someone is committed to religion if he or she sees explanation as a goal of scientific activity. A scientific theory is a tool not only for predicting a priori the outcomes of causes, but also for explaining effects a posteriori. Indeed, all prediction is ultimately based on some explanation. On the other side, one could say, following this line of reasoning, that chaos theory will debunk science, if unpredictability is one of its chief implications. And this is not the case, certainly. Charbel Nino El-Hani Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. e-mail:email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:48>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Nov 20 15:02:16 1996 Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 18:56:15 -0300 To: email@example.com From: Charbel Nino El-Hani <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: DARWIN-L digest 709 Armando Machado wrote: >Although somewhat incidental to your main argument, with which I >agree, I believe that your reference to epicycles and medieval >astronomical theories is potentially misleading. Epicycles and other >geometric devices were invented by ancient astronomers to account for >observed celestial phenomena. What is amazing about the geocentric theories >that used >these devices is how accurate they really were. A contemporary astronomer >once remarked that he did not know why anyone (Copernicus and others) >would even want to develop better theories given that the ones >around were amazingly accurate (taking into account the precision of >the measuring instruments of the time)! Some people suspect that Copernicus >was motivated more by aesthetical and religious reasons than by the >"lack of predictive power" of Ptolomy's account. This is basically correct. I would also like to point out that the transition from Ptolomaic astronomy to Copernican astronomy wwas not that easy. Galileo, in his defense of Copernicus' theory, had to change the basic assumptions of Aristotelian Physics to advance arguments for Copernican theoretical system. It was necessary a whole new physics to ground Copernican astronomy. This can be seen in Feyerabend's Against Method. >I believe that the problem of ancient astronomical theories is not >that they tried to save the face, but that they never derived their >geometric devices (epicycles, equants, deferens, etc.) from more >fundamental physical principles. To speak somewhat abusively, the >geometric constructions were axioms, not theorems. Later, with >Newton, the geometric constructions (e.g., elliptic planetary >orbits) became theorems derived from more primitive laws. If my >memory does not betray me, Copernicus himself did not get rid >immediately of the epicycle idea, and many mistical beliefs still >contaminated Keples's third law (the harmony and music of the >spheres). This is also right. The Copernican heliocentric system had the same amount of epycicles needed in the Ptolomaic system. >But who is the "blame" Ptolomy or even the medieval >astronomers for not grounding their hypothetical constructs on the >laws of physics? What physics? Most of the physics knowledge of the >time was simply wrong. This is in agreement with the need for a new physics to ground Copernican astronomy. >Prediction is certainly critical to science, but so is parsimony and, >yes, aesthetics, the harmony of the entire edifice. Charbel Nino El-Hani Institute of Biology, Federal Universityof Bahia, Brazil. e-mail: email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:49>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu Nov 21 00:30:36 1996 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 01:30:29 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: November 21 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro NOVEMBER 21 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1881: AMI BOUE dies at Voslau, Austria. Born in Hamburg in 1794, Boue had declined to enter his family's shipping business and had instead emigrated to Scotland at the age of twenty. He studied geology, botany, and medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and eventually returned to the Continent where he participated in the founding of the Societe Geologique de France in 1830. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to email@example.com or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:50>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Fri Nov 22 16:37:51 1996 Date: Fri, 22 Nov 1996 17:37:44 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: November 22 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro NOVEMBER 22 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1787: RASMUS KRISTIAN RASK is born at Braendekilde, Denmark. Following two years of study in Iceland, Rask will publish _Undersogelse om det gamle Nordiske eller Islandske Sprogs Oprindelse_ (_Investigation on the Origin of the Old Norse or Icelandic Language_, 1818), which will demonstrate the relationship of the Scandinavian languages to Latin and Greek. He will later bring the Celtic languages into the Indo-European family, and will recognize that Basque and Finno-Ugaric are independent of this group. Rask will master more than 25 languages by the time of his death in 1832, and he will be remembered as one of the founders of comparative Indo-European linguistics. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to email@example.com or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:51>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sun Nov 24 15:33:03 1996 Date: Sun, 24 Nov 1996 16:32:37 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Economics, prediction, narration, adaptation To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro I'm pleased to see the discussion of economics here in the last few days. It is a topic we have touched upon once or twice but never spent a great deal of time on. I'm sorry that I've been so occupied with other duties that I haven't been able to join in the discussion as much as I usually like to. (And to interject a small list-ownerly editorial note: I encourage people to do their best to edit and cleanly format messages, especially if they are replying to a previously posted message. Many subscribers get Darwin-L in digest format, and the digests are much easier to browse when all messages are as compactly rendered as possible.) A brief comment on explanation and prediction first. There are certainly large domains of inquiry (scientific and otherwise) where prediction is not the object. In fact, Darwin-L itself is devoted to precisely those domain of inquiry: fields concerned with reconstructing the past rather than predicting the future. I have no doubt that many economists are employed for the purpose of predicting the future directions of economic variables, but there are also economists who are historically oriented, and who study, say, the monetary practices of ancient Rome or the price of gold in the nineteenth century, sometimes by statistical means (cliometricians) and sometimes through more qualitative historical methods. Greg Ransom posted a nice bibliography on the role of narrative explanation in economics here some time ago, and it is available in the Files section of the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) appended to my general bibliography on narrative in the historical sciences. One particularly thought-provoking introduction to the issue of prediction versus explanation is Stephen Toulmin's book _Foresight and Understanding_ (1961) -- I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. It is clear that there are a number of similarities (both sociological and substantive) between economics and evolutionary biology. I wonder, though, if anyone has made a point-by-point comparison as we made here on a number of occasions between historical linguistics and evolutionary biology. Let me venture a small beginning; by keeping it small at the start we might be able to make progress while avoiding generalizations that are too facile. One of the principal phenomena of evolution is the adapation of organisms to their environments. Is there a specific phenomenon in economics that corresponds to evolutionary adaptation? One thing that might is the tendency, in a free market, for the cost of production to come to approximate the cost of sale of any product. Is this an appropriate comparison? If it isn't, what would the economic equivalent (assuming there is one) of evolutionary adaptation be? Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (email@example.com) | Cornelia Strong College, 100 Foust Building | http://rjohara.uncg.edu University of North Carolina at Greensboro | http://strong.uncg.edu Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. | _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:52>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Nov 21 07:37:50 1996 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 08:37:28 -0500 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 710 >Wed, 20 Nov, Peter D. Junger wrote: > email@example.com writes: > > : I still maintain the ultimate goal is control over the economy. The > : foundation of our science is predictability. If someone just wants > : explanations, I call that religion. > > And if someone wants control over a chaotic system, I call that magic. > > -- > Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH > Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org Indeed, I am sure you might. With respect, I will point out that medicine too, was once considered magic, the nature of the universe, a matter of religion, germs ridiculous, evolution heresy, and the bulk of science part of the unknowable plan of God. Many people spend their lives working out how to best control systems which are inherently chaotic. People who seed clouds, plan traffic flow, "regulate" the economy--and even people who try to anticipate the long term effects of changes in the legal system, Peter, all must confront chaos, and predict and control it to the best of our puny ability. Devorah Slavin email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:53>From BIOL-WAJ@nich-nsunet.nich.edu Thu Nov 21 07:41:35 1996 To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com From: "Bill Johnson" <BIOL-WAJ@nich-nsunet.nich.edu> Organization: Nicholls State University Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 7:44:53 CST Subject: Re: economics and QM Peter Junger wrote: >>: I still maintain the ultimate goal is control over the economy. The >>: foundation of our science is predictability. If someone just wants >>: explanations, I call that religion. >>And if someone wants control over a chaotic system, I call that magic. What useful predictions can be made about the future case of some phenomenon if there is no understanding (brought about by explanation) of that phenomenon to begin with? Religion substitutes 'Pie in the Sky' for explanation. Bill Johnson Nicholls State University Thibodaux, LA 70301 firstname.lastname@example.org -Science is practical philosophy, seeking to explain reality as we know it!- _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:54>From email@example.com Thu Nov 21 08:33:59 1996 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 09:33:35 -0500 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 710 > Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 18:49:34 -0300 > From: Charbel Nino El-Hani <firstname.lastname@example.org> > >When one considers the ability to predict as the only, or at least the >main goal of scientific enterprise, I feel like we are drifting into a >Baconian view of science: knowledge is justified as a tool for >controlling nature, and nothing more. >---regretful snipping--- >Nevertheless, I agree that practical efficacy is one of the criteria we >can use to appraise the success of a theoretical model, but the range >of phenomena it can explain can also lead to another possible criterion ---little snip--- Agreed. Explanation, (may we say "forming a hypothesis"?) is a key step in the scientific process. >I would not say that someone is committed to religion if he or she sees >explanation as a goal of scientific activity. Neither would I. Commitment to a religion is another thing. I used the term religion as a symbol for what is not science (shall we not start a thread on this, everyone?)--no scientific rigor, ability to predict results, no tests which can be repeated by peers, no qualities of method associated with empirical science, (which is not without flaws I will say up front). In my post I related religious explanations to economics--can either be science, if improved predictability is not part of the progress of knowledge in the field? >A scientific theory is a tool not only for predicting a priori the >outcomes of causes, but also for explaining effects --snip-- >chaos theory will debunk science, if unpredictability is one of its >chief implications. And this is not the case, certainly. Your comments are most insightful. A fatalistic attitude about chaos theory as refuting the very knowabiltiy of systems is of limited interest and use to scientists, (as defined as empiricists). There is an interesting, (and endless) thread being cross-posted to some of the science and history newsgroups about what is a science (and can the study of history be a science). Anyone interested in this topic in a general way is invited to email me for the addresses. > Armando Machado wrote: > >Although somewhat incidental to your main argument, with which I > >agree, I believe that your reference to epicycles and medieval > >astronomical theories is potentially misleading. Epicycles and other > >geometric devices were invented by ancient astronomers to account > >for observed celestial phenomena. What is amazing about the geocentric > >theories that used these devices is how accurate they really were. ---snip-- > >Some people suspect that Copernicus was motivated more by aesthetical > >and religious reasons than by the "lack of predictive power" of > >Ptolomy's account. Agreed, with reservations. Please see my other article in reference to Latrin council's problem with this "accuracy". Copernicus sat on this council 10 years or so before writing his key work, so he may have had religious motivation for wanting more predictability--there must have been great anxiety for the devout if they could not be sure of the calender, and were thereby unable to confidently follow observence of church holidays. Radical neither in his politics or his philosophy, Copernicus=92s work is heavily Ptolomeic and conserves themes such as the reverence for the circle and a spherical heavens. Epicycles come into play in his astrology as the time-honored and decidedly unrevolutionary way to resolve astrological discrepancies. (I have written more in this vein in my other posting.) If his work broke with a traditional view of the universe by placing the sun at the center, his theories could be rationalized because the Copernican view increased the harmony and simplicity of the universe. And of course, his hypotheses could be seen as simply another scheme to "save the appearances", as I have said, and a scheme with practical application: Reinhardt uses Copernican devices to finally reform the calendar, (without believing a word of it was "real" one assumes). In my other posting, there is also a citation there that provides a good explaination of epicycles and the problems refining them. Copernicus may indeed have had religious or at least traditional motivations and views. Some historians have suggested that took the idea of a sun centered universe from classical Pythagorian cults, rather than any radical views of his own. ---big snip, so sorry--- >It was necessary a whole new physics to ground Copernican astronomy. >This can be seen in Feyerabend's Against Method. Completely true, and thanks for providing a referance. Richard Westfall (see citation in my other post) makes a similar assertion. > >I believe that the problem of ancient astronomical theories is not > >that they tried to save the face, but that they never derived their > >geometric devices (epicycles, equants, deferens, etc.) from more > >fundamental physical principles. To speak somewhat abusively, the > >geometric constructions were axioms, not theorems. I can't agree with you more. This is exactly why I felt that this kind of science was analogous to modern economic science, which also is limited in empirically established principals. This is the main point of my previous article. If anyone would care to respond to this point I would be most interested in exploring the problem of economic science further. ---snip--- > > But who is the "blame" Ptolomy or even the medieval > >astronomers for not grounding their hypothetical constructs on the > >laws of physics? What physics? Most of the physics knowledge of the > >time was simply wrong. So true, so true. I wonder what of our science and mathmatics will be found to have mislead us three centuries from now, and what new tools will we have for understanding and controlling chaotic systems. Perhaps we will not even see them as chaotic, but as being withen another paradigm. Or perhaps we will see ("simple" chaotic theory as suspended within a more subtle system, much as "simple" Newtonian physics co-exists with the physics of Einstein and Schroeder (also, see my post in response to Mr. Junger's comments on chaos and magic). ---snip-- Thank you for your coherent and interesting post. Devorah Slavin email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:55>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Nov 21 11:17:08 1996 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 12:21:52 +0500 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen Noe) Subject: Re: Images of Copernicus >(2)The polemics that one encounters these days are unfortunate >in that they show a tendency to transform >science from a dispassionate inquiry which simply isn't interested in what >religion (or the bible) does or doesn't say on a given issue (which is how >things ought to be IMHO), into an enterprise which defines itself as the >antithesis of religion, with all the implications (dogmatization, >entrenchment, intolerance, etc. etc.). Yes indeed. I continually experience this in discussions of Darwinian evolution. Unfortunately, the assertion that there are legitimate areas of scientific inquiry, legitimate areas of religious inquiry, and that the two do not necessarily overlap, gets me condemned by all sides. (At least my evangelical promise to pray for my conversion! ;^) ) _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:56>From email@example.com Thu Nov 21 12:47:22 1996 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 11:47:32 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (T. B. Harms) Subject: the ultimate goal is control?? Devorah Slavin wrote: >... However, the economic models we have in place are >going to be seen as somewhat primitive one day. Tracy's comments aside >about the main value of economic science being to explain phenomena, I >still maintain the ultimate goal is control over the economy. The >foundation of our science is predictability. If someone just wants >explanations, I call that religion. The ultimate standard for science is effective conformance with the subject-matter of science, often just called 'correspondence with reality.' That may or may not provide predictability -- depending on the reality in question. I wrote a bit on that previously. What I'm more interested in responding to this time is the assertion that "the ultimate goal [for economic science] is control over the economy." This is exactly what I had worried about: the sort of prediction which is expected runs directly contrary to the realities of economics. However, this also gives me an opportunity to show how the frame of mind known as bionomics (which was the origin of this discussion) can help correct the error: It makes no better sense to expect the goal of economists to be control over an economy than to expect ecologists to strive for control over an ecosystem. The two disciplines are closely parallel in this regard. Translate this into predictions if you like, but the basic insight dispenses with the claim at hand. There are further problems which can easily be detected with the notion of controlling the economy. From the perspective of cybernetics and psychology it appears to be a misapplication of the notion of control. And from the perspective of political philosophy, it is a call for totalitarianism. All in all, the presumption seems most problematic. Tracy Bruce Harms firstname.lastname@example.org Boulder, Colorado caveat lector! _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:57>From email@example.com Thu Nov 21 15:51:47 1996 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 18:30:10 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Andrew Brown <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Images of Copernicus At 09:15 20/11/96 +0200, Tzvi Langermann wrote: > I'll just make two quick observations: >(1)Copernicus has been appropriated by some groups of people to serve as an >image of the heroic fighter against religion, without any consideration for >the biography and writings of the historical Copernicus. Just a small point. Wasn't the historical Copernicus ordained? I think he was a Canon of some cathedral? Andrew Brown Religious Affairs Correspondent The Independent, London Tel: +44-171-293-2682 _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:58>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Nov 24 21:45:07 1996 Date: Sun, 24 Nov 1996 19:44:58 -0800 (PST) From: Stephen Straker <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Images of Copernicus > Just a small point. Wasn't the historical Copernicus ordained? I think he > was a Canon of some cathedral? No, never ordained. A Canon is an administrator of a Cathedral District's temporal affairs; at least in Cops' case this was true. He never conducted a mass. He certainly studied theology and law as well as obtaining an MD. Stephen Straker email@example.com Arts One // History (604) 822-6863 University of British Columbia / FAX: (604) 822-4520 Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z1 _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:59>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Nov 25 08:18:28 1996 Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 09:23:14 +0500 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen Noe) Subject: Re: Images of Copernicus Stephen Straker wrote: >> Just a small point. Wasn't the historical Copernicus ordained? I think he >> was a Canon of some cathedral? > >No, never ordained. Minor correction. In the Catholic Church, Roman and Eastern rites, and Orthodox Church, one is ordained through a series of steps, lector- subdeacon-deacon-priest. He may not have been ordained a _priest_, but he certainly was an ordained member of the Church heirarchy. My memory of Church History (pre-VaticanII, we still discussed the Protestant Rebellion!) says that Nikolas Kopernic was commissioned by the Church to determine a better method to calculate the date of Easter. The Old Testament methods (originally for setting Passover) had become ineffective, even with the overlay of Ptolemaic astronomy. _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:60>From Eliana@attach.edu.ar Mon Nov 25 10:13:19 1996 From: Eliana Montuori <Eliana@attach.edu.ar> To: email@example.com Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 12:40:54 -0300 Subject: A list on Bowlby Organization: Attachment Research Center Dear all, The Attachment Research Center, where I work, wants to sponsor a list on John Bowlby's life and works, exclusively. I would like to know if any of you would be interested in this project. My private e-mail is Eliana@attach.edu.ar All the best Eliana Montuori, MD Attachment Research Center Fax: +54-1 812 5432 http://www.caen.it/psicologia/spa_emjc.htm _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:61>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Nov 25 05:27:40 1996 Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 06:27:19 -0500 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 712 My thanks to O'Hara and Harms for bringing the discussion back around to economics. Regarding that subject, I certainly agree that there are many lines of inquiry which are both interesting and useful without experimental results that are repeatable. However, those lines of inquiry may not fall into the catagory of what we think of as empirical science. For example, my current research project involves historical epidemiology. Examining the historical evidence, I will draw some conclusions about what happened in the past and its relevence. Another historian may look at the same evidence and draw a different conclusion. Both of us will highlight issues in history, epidemiology and human attitudes past and present. This however is history, not science. No matter how many times we examine the data, we may never reach a point of "proof". Regarding ecology, ecologists may gather data rather than run tests in a lab, it is true. However, as scientists, I would venture to guess that this data will be used in support of a theory, like "movement of turtle populations in Florida is causing red snake population reduction." It will require repeated measurements by this scientist and others to establish a connection. There may be great disagreement. Some may say the snakes are affected by something else. However, if a scientist can confine the turtles to the area and snake populations go up, then a link is established more clearly. Causality of course must also be tested. It may not be possible to confine these turtles. Perhaps they are moving because the quality of their environment is being reduced by a new shopping mall. It may not be possible to run the tests on these particular turtles. However, the possiblity of running the test on other turtles exists. By contrast, IN GENERAL, (and I emphasis the existence of exceptions to this), in general, those of us working with historical data cannot go back in time, check the measurements and run tests. There can be no scientific method. Therefore, I can say that while ecology as a whole involves some very complicated systems, it is a science, producing testable theories with the goal of UNDERSTANDING (I agree). This understanding will add to our understanding of ecology and be APPLIED, perhaps by suggesting changes in the next shopping mall, or ways to protect snakes. But even if it is not applied, the test can be run by another scientist to determine if it holds up. This is science. This brings us back to the original discussion. Economics also works with complicated systems. An economist may come up with a theory. Now can it be tested? (A) can the test be repeated to see if it holds up? (B). If yes, then the tests are providing predictive value: When such-and-such is true, and we test it in this manner, then the result will be x. Now my question was, can the Bionomics approach add anything to the ability of economists to come up with theories that can withstand testing--can it improve predictablity. This seems to bother some people who want to deny that ecomonics has prediction as its goal. Fine I say, but then it can hardly be called hard science--It would simply be a set of paradigms for examining the past. Another approach to history. Devorah Slavin email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:62>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Nov 25 13:11:45 1996 Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 14:10:25 -0500 (EST) From: William Montgomery <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: economics and QM There has been much talk of "control over the economy" as a proper goal for economics. Control by whom? In whose interest? This is beginning to sound ominous. Bill Montgomery WMontgom@nasc.mass.edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:63>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Nov 26 12:58:01 1996 Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 13:57:45 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Meeting: Representations of Time in the 18th Centiry (fwd) To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro --begin forwarded message-------------- Date: Sat, 23 Nov 1996 10:10:16 +0100 From: Thierry Belleguic <thierry@BOSSHOG.ARTS.UWO.CA> CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR XVIIITH CENTURY STUDIES THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO, (16-19 OCTOBER 1997) "REPRESENTATIONS OF TIME IN THE XVIIITH CENTURY" CALL FOR SESSIONS (Call for papers will be issued in January 97) Possible orientations: 1) Epistemology of Time in the 18th Century How does science in the XVIIIth century approach the question of time? What instruments are at its disposal, what theories exist? To what extent and according to what modalities do epistemological theories in the XVIIIth century propose a reflection on time? What place is given to the notion of time in the "new cosmologies" in the new science of geology, and in the emerging reflexion on biological classification? 2) Representations of Time The goal is not to infer a mechanical relationship between epistemology and aesthetics, but rather to consider both of these in terms of a co-occurrence or of a reciprocal influence. In other words, how is time conceived of and represented within specific semiotic systems such as painting, sculpture, music, architecture and, of course, literature? What does it mean to think about and to represent time in painting and in sculpture? What is the significance of the poetics of the ruin, of Neo-classicism, in terms of an aesthetics of temporality? What topoi of time (its passage, suspension, beginning, end) are expressed in poetry and literature? How does the novel conceptualize its actantial and narrative progress? To what extent are the diverse musical theories which confront each other in the XVIIIth century a symptom of diverging conceptions of time? 3) Conceptions of History Part one: the emergence of history as a social science. The history of ideas situates the emergence of history as a social science during the XVIIIth century. What conceptions of time and its passage appear in the wake of the new science of history? Part two: "fin de siecle". To what extent is the "fin de siecle" a privileged moment for reflecting on time? What political, philosophical, aesthetic, literary (etc) movements are born and what are the conclusions to be drawn about the understanding of time which informs them? Part three: history and the XVIIIth century. A reflection on time in the XVIIIth century also implies a study of its periodization. In this sense, the XVIIIth century in France, marked by the French Revolution, is very different from the XVIIIth century in England or Germany. This examination will lead to a consideration of the way in which the XIXth and XXth centuries represent the XVIIIth century (epistemological and ideological presuppositions, etc). An examination of our own presuppositions as "specialists" of the XVIIIth century will be most pertinent to this reflection, and a roundtable considering contemporary XVIIIth century studies would be most appropriate. 4) Varia Any other topic related to the problem of time and its representation in the XVIIIth century. Please note that the above suggestions are simply an invitation to consider the problem of time in its diversity: geographic (England, Spain, Italy France, etc); periodic (beginning, end of the century, and their relationship to temporality), etc. Comparative studies and syntheses are welcome. 5) Open sessions In accordance with the tradition of the society, papers not dealing directly with the theme of the colloquium will be welcomed and included in the program. THE WORKSHOP PROPOSALS ARE TO BE SENT BEFORE DECEMBER 31 TO: Thierry Belleguic, SCEDS/CSECS '97 Conference, University of Western Ontario, Department of French, London, Ontario, N6A 3K7. Email address:firstname.lastname@example.org Tel.: 519-661-2163 ext (5721) Fax.: 519-661-3470 Conference Web Site: http://www.uwo.ca/french/csecs97.html Thierry Belleguic Til: bureau: 519- 661-2111 (5721) Assistant Professor secritariat: 519-661-2163 Dipartement d'Etudes frangaises Tilicopieur: 519-661-3470 University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Canada N6A 3K7 --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:64>From email@example.com Wed Nov 27 12:30:19 1996 Date: Wed, 27 Nov 96 10:54:08 PST From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ghiselin, Michael) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 713 Economics as a Natural Science The goal of economics, like that of every other science, is the understanding of the natural world. The aspect of the natural world that it seeks to understand is anything that has to do with resources. Control of the economy is of no more interest to economists than control of birds is of interest to ornithologists. And no less. Like biology, economics is both a nomothetic science and an historical one. Michael T. Ghiselin Center for the History and Philosophy of Science California Academy of Sciences Golden Gate Park San Francisco, CA 94118 _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:65>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu Nov 28 00:31:00 1996 Date: Thu, 28 Nov 1996 01:30:57 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: November 28 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro NOVEMBER 28 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1876: KARL ERNST VON BAER dies at Dorpat (now Tartu), Estonia. Though he will be best remembered for his work on embryology conducted while a professor at the University of Konigsberg, von Baer ranged widely through natural history and related fields. Moving from Konigsberg to St. Petersburg in 1834, he held various offices in the Russian Academy of Sciences, and contributed to the founding of the Russian Geographical Society and the Russian Entomological Society. In addition to his many publications in comparative anatomy and embryology, von Baer wrote extensively on anthropological, ethnographic, and even archeological subjects, such as the manufacture of bronze and the itinerary of Odysseus. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to email@example.com or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:66>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Nov 28 08:18:37 1996 Date: Thu, 28 Nov 1996 08:09:18 -0500 To: email@example.com (Darwin List) From: "Jeremy C. Ahouse" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: reconstructing Q DarwinL, The Dec 1996 issue of the Atlantic monthly has an informative cover story on the project to reconstruct the Q document. Q is a hypothetical 1st century Greek text that served as the literary source for the Christian gospels. Q is short for 'Quelle', German for 'source.' "There must be something there, so we're projecting back from the texts we have, trying and trying to get some kind of understanding of what it was." - James Robinson Q Project co-editor The article mentions several methods used for recovering/reconstructing the text, by looking at shared passages in later texts. This sounds similar to a cladistic problem of polarizing traits to infer ancestral character states. Though here there is no obvious outgroup and cladistic methodology usually starts with the polarized traits and then recovers the nested connections. I hope that one of the Darwin-list members who is more familiar with the Q project (which will produce a 1 volume translation of the reconstructed Q, designed for the English speaking public, a 1 volume Greek text for scholars, and about 60(!) 300 pg volumes describing the detailed reconstruction over the next 15 years) can tell us more about the reconstructive methodology. - Jeremy Jeremy C. Ahouse Biology Department Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 ph: (617) 736-4954 fax: (617) 736-2405 email: email@example.com web: http://www.rose.brandeis.edu/users/simister/pages/Ahouse _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:67>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Nov 28 00:46:13 1996 Date: Thu, 28 Nov 1996 00:47:10 -0600 (CST) From: "Lopez Beltran, Carlos" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 713 On Wed, 27 Nov 1996 email@example.com wrote: > Economics as a Natural Science > > Control of the economy is of no > more interest to economists than control of birds is of > interest to ornithologists. And no less. Like biology, > economics is both a nomothetic science and an historical > one. These lapidary statements are neither "nomothetic" nor "historical". They are overwhelmingly couterinductive. Living in a country where economists have been set loose to make unchecked decisions over the economy can leave no doubt about the level of self-deception about the status (and applicability) of their knowledge in which economists (and I mean real, PhD-carrying, academics) live. Other scientists are usually much more careful about the steps, and complexity implied in the application of their models and representations to real-life situations. Why not recognize the hybrid status of Economy, between witchcraft and maths, and the centrality (obsession) with control (money, money...)it was born with? CLB _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:68>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu Nov 28 23:32:10 1996 Date: Fri, 29 Nov 1996 00:32:06 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Conference on logical reasoning (fwd) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro --begin forwarded message-------------- Date: Thu, 28 Nov 1996 20:23:22 -0600 From: "Lopez Beltran, Carlos" <email@example.com> To: "'DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu'" <DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu> International Meeting Logic and Mathematical Reasoning Mexico City, September 30th - October 2nd, 1997 Organized by Departamento de Matematicas de la Univ. Nac. Autonoma de Mexico (Mexico) Departamento de Filosofia de la Univ. Autonoma Metropolitana (Mexico) Centre Francois Viete dHistoire et de Philosophie des Sciences, Univ. de Nantes (France) Department of Mathematical Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia (USA) Scientific Committee Carlos Alvarez (UNAM), Jean Dhombres (C. F. Viete), Marco Panza (C. F. Vi=E8te), Daniele C. Struppa (G. Mason Univ.), Guillermo Zambrana (UAM) Our meeting will be dealing with the following general question: What makes of a reasoning a mathematical reasoning? This question might be formulated in one of the two following ways: 1) As a normative question. It would be then necessary to provide an answer, stating how a reasoning should be in order to be classified as mathematical. 2) As a historical question. The answer should then be given by stating the particular attributes of mathematical reasoning as they occur in history. A closer look at these two approaches seems to show that neither one is completely satisfactory. The first is based on the assumption that mathematical reasoning should satisfy certain conditions that finally appear as completely arbitrary. The second one requires that we should trust history as being able to provide by itself the object of our reflection. It is our belief that the two approaches should work together: the object of the epistemological research on the nature of mathematical reasoning comes out along with this same research through the possibility of finding an intrinsic characteristic which is common to all ways of reasoning displayed in texts and books considered as mathematical. This is why we think that no philosophy of mathematics is possible if it is conceived independently of the history of mathematics, and, in the same vein, no history is possible without philosophy. Therefore, the problem we address is how to recognize an intrinsic characteristic which is common to those ways of reasoning occurring in mathematical literature. It seems to us that this characteristic can be expressed as a logical structure, even if the term logic used here has to be embedded into a broader sense and refered not only to meaning it has in formal modern logic. Above all, our concern is not history of logic, nor history of the formalization of mathematical reasoning. Rather we want to study the forms of certain arguments, inferences, or discourse recognized as mathematical and investigate their differences or similarities. Participation in this meeting is open to every scholar who wishes to give a 40 minutes talk. Please send a one page abstract before April 30, 1997, with the included Registration Form. The acceptance of the manuscript will be decided by the scientific committee within a month after reception of the abstract. =09 The abstract and the registration form should be sent to one of the following addresses: - Carlos Alvarez, Departamento de Matematicas, Fac. Ciencias, UNAM. Mexico D.F., c.p. 04510 M=E9xico; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org - Marco Panza, Centre F. Viete, Univ. Nantes, Fac. des Sciences, 2 rue de la Houssiniere, 44072 Nantes 03, France; e-mail email@example.com It is possible to send a one sheet abstract, together with the following information: Name, Institution, Adress (including electronic adress) to the conference adress: firstname.lastname@example.org It is also possible to connect to the meeting home page at: http://hardy.fciencias.unam.mx:80/logical and submit the abstract and the registration form by using the relative links Admission fee is fixed at $50.00 U.S. ($15.00 US for students). This fee should be paid in Mexico City just before the conference. The meeting will take place in Mexico City. Participants may lodge in one of the several hotels in the city with prices ranging between $30.00 and $70.00 US A list of hotels close to the meeting center will be sent with the acceptance of the talk. The organizing committee will be in charge of reservations. It is possible to eat in Mexico City at a good restaurant, prices range between $15.00-25.00 US At the present moment, confirmed speakers for plenary lectures are: Jean Dhombres (Universite de Nantes) Solomon Feferman (Stanford University) Michel Otte (University of Bielefeld) Hourya Sinaceur (CNRS Paris) Jean Michel Salanskis (Universite de Lille) Daniele Struppa (Georg Mason University) --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <39:69>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Fri Nov 29 00:36:36 1996 Date: Fri, 29 Nov 1996 01:36:30 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: November 29 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro NOVEMBER 29 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1627: JOHN RAY is born at Black Notley, Essex, England. He will attend Trinity College, Cambridge, and will become one of the leading naturalists and antiquarians of his generation. Ray's earliest works will be in botany, and his catalog of Cambridge plants, _Catalogus Plantarum Circa Cantabrigiam Nascentium_ (1660), will set a standard for local floras. He will be best remembered for his influential volume on natural theology, _The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation_ (1691), but Ray will span the entire range of historical inquiry from the creation of the world in _Miscellaneous Discourses Concerning the Dissolution and Changes of the World Wherein the Primitive Chaos and Creation, the General Deluge, Fountains, Formed Stones, Sea-Shells Found in the Earth, Subterraneous Trees, Mountains, Earthquakes, Vulcanoes, the Universal Conflagration and Further State, are Largely Discussed and Examined_ (1692), to the history and geography of the English language in _A Collection of English Words Not Generally Used, With Their Significations and Original, in Two Alphabetical Catalogues, the One of Such as are Proper to the Northern, the Other to the Southern Counties_ (second edition, 1691). Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 39: 36-69 -- November 1996 End
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