This article begins with a consideration of the `pure' unmediated relation between the human body and nature, exemplified, in different ways, by environmental expressivism, and Ingold's subtle analysis of affordance and the taskscape. It is argued that perspectives fail properly to incorporate the role of mundane technology in the mediation of human-nature relations. Drawing upon the work of MichaelSerres, and, in particular, his concept of the parasite, I explore how these mundane technological artefacts - specifically, walking boots (...) - intervene in the circuits of communication between humans and the natural environment. This re-orientation traces how the local relation between bodies and environments is a complex movement between the material and semiotic, the local and the global. In the process, I draw upon four aspects of walking boots: first, there is the role of boots as mechanical technologies that can cause pain, dissolving identity and the relation between humans and nature; second, there is the role of boots as signifying style and identity; third, there is the role of boots as embodiments of procedures of standardization and objectification; and fourth, there is the role of boots as technological means of damage to nature. Finally, in concluding, I tentatively consider some of the political implications of this way of theorizing the relation between bodies and environments. (shrink)
This paper has two broad objectives. First, the paper aims to treat roadkill as a topic of serious social scientific inquiry by addressing it as a cultural artifact through which various identities are played out. Thus, the paper shows how the idea of roadkill-as-food mediates contradictions and ironies in American identities concerned with hunting, technology, and relationships to nature. At a second, more abstract, level, the paper deploys the example of roadkill to suggest a par ticular approach to theorizing broader (...) relationships between humans, nonhuman animals, and technology. This paper draws on recent developments in science and technology studies, in particular, the work of Latour and Serres , to derive a number of prepositional metaphors. The paper puts these forward tentatively as useful tools for exploring and unpicking some of the complex connections and heterogeneous relationalities between humans, animals, and the technology from which roadkill emerges. (shrink)
The paper deals with different spatiotemporal relations within different collectives and the attitudes towards places and the ground arising from them. Drawing resources from Latour, Serres and ethnologists/anthropologists Viveiros de Castro and Descola, it follows up Haudricourt's opposition between direct positive and indirect negative action towards domesticated species and the further consequences that might derive from these different modes of operation. It concludes with an outlook on affinities between the security-mode of power as described by Foucault and the Eastern (...) distribution of agency as described by Haudricourt and Jullien. (shrink)
In this article we explore how two enactments of HIV – the UN’s AIDS Clock and clinical trials for an HIV biomedical prevention technology or pre-exposure prophylaxis – entail particular globalizing and localizing dynamics. Drawing on Latour’s and Whitehead’s concept of proposition, and Serres’ call for a philosophy of prepositions, we use the composite notion of pre/pro-positions to trace the shifting topological status of HIV. For example, we show how PrEP emerges through topological entwinements of globalizing biomedical standardization, localizing (...) protests against PrEP trials and globalizing ethical principles. We go on to examine how our own analysis manifests a parallel topological pattern in which we deploy a globalizing argument about the localizing of the globalizing found in the AIDS Clock and the PrEP trails. Finally, we consider how the movement of ‘topology’ into the social sciences might itself benefit from a topological treatment. (shrink)
These original essays offer new perspectives for science educators, curriculum theorists, and cultural critics on science education, French post-structural thought, and the science debates. Included in this book are chapters on the work of Bruno Latour, Michel Serres, and Jean Baudrillard, plus chapters on postmodern approaches to science education and critiques of modern scientific assumptions in curriculum development.
Ecopolitics is a study of environmental awareness--or non-awareness--in contemporary French theory. Arguing that it is now impossible not to think in an ecological way, Verena Andermatt Conley traces the roots of today's concern for the environment back to the intellectual climate of the late '50s and '60s. Major thinkers of 1968, the author argues, changed the way we think the world; this owes much to an ecological awareness that remains at the heart of issues concerning cultural theory in general. The (...) book points to critiques of ecology in the work of Luc Ferry and Jean Baudrillard before turning to more complicated ecological awareness primarily in French thought. The author considers key texts by influential figures such as MichaelSerres, Paul Virilio, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Michel de Certeau, Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray. (shrink)
Se presentan las tendencias investigativas que emergen en Colombia desde los propósitos u objetivos de las tesis realizadas en las maestrías y doctorados en Educación y pedagogía en la última década. El estudio se realizó desde el enfoque de complementariedad propuesto por Murcia y Jaramillo, articulando las lógicas de MichaelSerres, en términos de mapear los fenómenos sociales, y las miradas interpretativas hermenéuticas para acceder a esos relieves en una perspectiva paisajista, que permitió desentrañar las hondonadas, salientes y (...) grandes llanuras visibles y poco visibles de la investigación en educación y pedagogía en gran parte de la geografía investigativa nacional, en el caso de este articulo, referido a sus pretensiones. La región comprensiva se erige como una de las salientes más prominentes de este paisaje, logrando desplazar, a punto de opacarlas casi en tu totalidad, a regiones otrora de gran relevancia como aquellas cuyos propósitos eran explicativos, diagnósticos, correlacionales o comparativos. (shrink)
How is hope to be found amid the ethical and political dilemmas of modern life? Writer and philosopher Mary Zournazi brought her questions to some of the most thoughtful intellectuals at work today. She discusses "joyful revolt" with Julia Kristeva, the idea of "the rest of the world" with Gayatri Spivak, the "art of living" with Michel Serres, the "carnival of the senses" with Michael Taussig, the relation of hope to passion and to politics with Chantal Mouffe and (...) Ernesto Laclau. A dozen stimulating minds weigh in with their visions of a better social and political order. The result is a collaboration - of writing, of thinking, and of politics - that demonstrates more clearly than any single-authored project could how ideas encountering one another can produce the vision needed for social change. (shrink)
This collection of thirteen essays represents an in-depth, well-focused, creative exploration of Heidegger’s sustained, extensive dialogue with the Presocratics. The list of contributors from abroad and America is impressive: Heidegger, Gadamer, Jean-François Courtaine, Michel Serres, Parvis Emad, Michael Naas, David F. Krell, John Sallis, Dennis J. Schmidt, David C. Jacobs, Charles E. Scott, Walter A. Brogan, and Véronique M. Fóti. These well-researched, thoughtful studies constitute a unified work that amounts to a rediscovery of the early Greeks from the (...) perspective of Heidegger’s fascination with the dawn of occidental thinking. The diversity of approaches of the contributions leads to the discernment of basic insights and to unearthing of unthought dimensions of Heidegger’s understanding of the Presocratics; it clearly shows the need for hermeneutic attentiveness and openness in trying to come to grips with the texts of the early Greek thinkers and with Heidegger’s own project. This book, then, is more than an “anthology”; it is a unified, perceptive, thoughtful festival of interpretations. (shrink)
Dire précisément ce que signifient littéralement certaines expressions est souvent important. La compréhension satisfaisante de nombreuses expressions normatives en effet, qu’elles soient juridiques, morales, religieuses, poétiques ou autres, suppose de comprendre ce qu’elles signifient à la fois littéralement et non littéralement. Malgré des recherches pourtant sérieuses et durables sur la nature du « sens littéral », depuis les anciennes théories religieuses jusqu’aux théories linguistiques et philosophiques contemporaines, une explication généralement satisfaisante des significations supposées littérales des phrases normatives peut s’avérer étonnamment (...) insaisissable. À partir des échanges serrés entre Donald Davidson, Michael Dummett et Ian Hacking, j’aborde un cas de compréhension du littéral dans un discours normatif artistiquement représenté qui est tout aussi difficile à éclaircir. À la différence de Davidson, toutefois, je ne me concentrerai pas sur les aspects qui sont les conditions de vérité des significations littérales supposées des contenus propositionnels de phrases bien assurées et présentées de manière littéraire. J’aimerais plutôt attirer une attention renouvelée sur plusieurs aspects problématiques des significations présumées littérales, spécialement dans des phrases interrogatives présentées sous un jour littéraire lors de conversations normatives lourdes d’un poids éthique.Saying just what some expressions mean literally is often important. For understanding satisfactorily many normative expressions, whether legal moral religious poetic or whatever, requires understanding what these normative expressions mean both literally and non-literally. Despite however serious, protracted investigations of the nature of “the literal sense” from ancient religious theories to contemporary linguistic and philosophical theories, a generally satisfactory account of what the supposed literal meanings of normative sentences might come to remains surprisingly elusive. Taking my cue from Donald Davidson’s closely argued exchanges with Michael Dummett and Ian Hacking, I take up a puzzling instance of understanding the literal in artistically represented normative discourse. Unlike Davidson, however, I will focus not on the truth-conditional aspects of the supposed literal meanings of the propositional contents of literarily represented assertive sentences. Rather, I would like to call renewed attention to several puzzling communicative aspects of supposed literal meanings, especially in literarily represented interrogative sentences in ethically charged normative conversations. (shrink)
Michel Serres is a major twentieth-century thinker who has made decisive contributions to major debates across disciplines ranging from the history of science to literary studies and philosophy. This is the first monograph to offer a comprehensive assessment of Serres’ thought from his early work on Leibniz to his final publications in 2019. The first three chapters carefully explore Serres’ ‘global intuition’, how he understands and engages with the world, and his characteristic ‘figures of thought’, the repeated (...) intellectual moves that characterize his unique approach. Chapters Four to Six explore in detail Serres’ revolutionary contributions to three key areas: language, objects, and ecology. (shrink)
Because of the difficulty posed by the contrast between the search for truth and truth itself, Michael Polanyi believes that we must alter the foundation of epistemology to include as essential to the very nature of mind, the kind of groping that constitutes the recognition of a problem. This collection of essays, assembled by Marjorie Grene, exemplifies the development of Polanyi's theory of knowledge which was first presented in Science, Faith, and Society and later systematized in Personal Knowledge. Polanyi (...) believes that the dilemma of the modern mind arises from the peculiar relation between the positivist claim for total objectivity in scientific knowledge and the unprecedented moral dynamism characterizing the social and political aspirations of the last century. The first part of Knowing and Being deals with this theme. Part two develops Polanyi's idea that centralization is incompatible with the life of science as well as his views on the role of tradition and authority in science. The essays on tacit knowing in Part Three proceed directly from his preoccupation with the nature of scientific discovery and reveal a pervasive substructure of all intelligent behavior. Polanyi believes that all knowing involves movement from internal clues to external evidence. Therefore, to explain the process of knowing, we must develop a theory of the nature of living things in general, including an account of that aspect of living things we call "mind." Part Four elaborates upon this theme. (shrink)
Michel Serres captures the urgencies of our time; from the digital revolution to the ecological crisis to the future of the university, the crises that code the world today are addressed in an accessible, affirmative and remarkably original analysis in his thought. This volume is the first to engage with the philosophy of Michel Serres, not by writing 'about' it, but by writing 'with' it. This is done by expanding upon the urgent themes that Serres works on; (...) by furthering his materialism, his emphasis on communication and information, his focus on the senses, and the role of mathematics in thought. His famous concepts, such as the parasite, 'amis de viellesse', and the algorithm are applied in 21st century situations. With contributions from an international and interdisciplinary team of authors, these writings tackle the crises of today and affirm the contemporary relevance of Serres' philosophy. (shrink)
Massimiliano Simons provides the first systematic study of Serres' work in the context of late 20th-century French philosophy of science. By proposing new readings of Serres' philosophy, Simons creates a synthesis between his predecessors, Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, and Louis Althusser as well as contemporary Francophone philosophers of science such as Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers. Simons situates Serres' unique contribution through his notion of the quasi-object, a concept, he argues, organizes great parts of Serres' work (...) into a promising philosophy of science as well as a challenge to the narrower field of French epistemology, to which it has often been limited. Simons highlights how the concept encompasses Serres' commitment to positive relations between science and culture and his rejection of pleas to purify the scientific self from imaginative and cultural elements. It helps to situate Serres between the distinct traditions of Bachelard and Latour as well as progressing the innovative aspects of Serres' philosophy for current debates in the philosophy, history, and sociology of science. Showing how Serres' philosophy can serve as a normative approach to science and technology, Michel Serres and French Philosophy of Science takes in themes of materiality, religiosity, modernity and ecology to advance a timely alternative to philosophy of science for contemporary life. (shrink)
At the turn of the 21st century, Susan Leigh Anderson and Michael Anderson conceived and introduced the Machine Ethics research program, that aimed to highlight the requirements under which autonomous artificial intelligence systems could demonstrate ethical behavior guided by moral values, and at the same time to show that these values, as well as ethics in general, can be representable and computable. Today, the interaction between humans and AI entities is already part of our everyday lives; in the near (...) future it is expected to play a key role in scientific research, medical practice, public administration, education and other fields of civic life. In view of this, the debate over the ethical behavior of machines is more crucial than ever and the search for answers, directions and regulations is imperative at an academic, institutional as well as at a technical level. Our discussion with the two inspirers and originators of Machine Ethics highlights the epistemological, metaphysical and ethical questions arising by this project, as well as the realistic and pragmatic demands that dominate artificial intelligence and robotics research programs. Most of all, however, it sheds light upon the contribution of Susan and Michael Anderson regarding the introduction and undertaking of a main objective related to the creation of ethical autonomous agents, that will not be based on the “imperfect” patterns of human behavior, or on preloaded hierarchical laws and human-centric values. (shrink)
Michel Serres's relation to ecocriticism is complex. On the one hand, he is a pioneer in the area, anticipating the current fashion for ecological thought by over a decade. On the other hand, 'ecology' and 'eco-criticism' are singularly infelicitous terms to describe Serres's thinking if they are taken to indicate that attention should be paid to particular 'environmental' concerns. For Serres, such local, circumscribed ideas as 'ecology' or 'eco-philosophy' are one of the causes of our ecological crisis, (...) and no progress can be made while such narrow concerns govern our thinking. This chapter intervenes in the ongoing discussion about the relation of Serres to ecology by drawing on some of Serres's more recent texts on pollution and dwelling, and this fresh material leads us to modulate existing treatments of Serres and ecology. I insist on the inextricability of two senses of ecology in Serres's approach: a broader meaning that refers to the interconnectedness and inextricability of all entities (natural and cultural, material and ideal), and a narrower sense that evokes classically 'environmental' concerns. Serres's recent work leads us to challenge some of the vectors and assumptions of the debate by radicalising the continuity between 'natural' and 'cultural' phenomena, questioning some of the commonplaces that structure almost all ecological thinking, and arguing that the entire paradigm of ecology as 'conservation' and 'protection' is bankrupt and self-undermining. After outlining the shape of Serres's 'general ecology' and its opposition to ecology as conservation, this chapter asks what sorts of practices and values a Serresian general ecology can engender when it considers birdsong, advertising, industrial pollution and money to be manifestations of the same drive for appropriation through pollution. A response is given in terms of three key Serresian motifs: the world as fetish, parasitic symbiosis, and global cosmocracy. (shrink)
In various areas of Anglo-American law, legal liability turns on causation. In torts and contracts, we are each liable only for those harms we have caused by the actions that breach our legal duties. Such doctrines explicitly make causation an element of liability. In criminal law, sometimes the causal element for liability is equally explicit, as when a statute makes punishable any act that has “ caused … abuse to the child….” More often, the causal element in criminal liability is (...) more implicit, as when criminal statutes prohibit killings, maimings, rapings, burnings, etc. Such causally complex action verbs are correctly applied only to defendants who have caused death, caused disfigurement, caused penetration, caused fire damage, etc. (shrink)
In the Trolley Case, as devised by Philippa Foot and modified by Judith Jarvis Thomson, a runaway trolley is headed down a main track and will hit and kill five unless you divert it onto a side track, where it will hit and kill one.
In this book Michael McKenna advances a new theory of moral responsibility, one that builds upon the work of P. F. Strawson. As McKenna demonstrates, moral responsibility can be explained on analogy with a conversation. The relation between a morally responsible agent and those who hold her morally responsible is similar to the relation between a speaker and her audience. A responsible agent's actions are bearers of meaning--agent meaning--just as a speaker's utterances are bearers of speaker meaning. Agent meaning (...) is a function of the moral quality of the will with which the agent acts. Those who hold an agent morally responsible for what she does do so by responding to her as if in a conversation. By responding with certain morally reactive attitudes, such as resentment or indignation, they thereby communicate their regard for the meaning taken to be revealed in that agent's actions. It is then open for the agent held responsible to respond to those holding her responsible by offering an apology, a justification, an excuse, or some other response, thereby extending the evolving conversational exchange.The conversational theory of moral responsibility that McKenna develops here accepts two features of Strawson's theory: that moral responsibility is essentially interpersonal--so that being responsible must be understood by reference to the nature of holding responsible--and that the moral emotions are central to holding responsible. While upholding these two aspects of Strawson's theory, McKenna's theory rejects a further Strawsonian thesis, which is that holding morally responsible is more fundamental or basic than being morally responsible. On the conversational theory, the conditions for holding responsible are dependent on the nature of the agent who is responsible. So holding responsible cannot be more basic than being responsible. Nevertheless, the nature of the agent who is morally responsible is to be understood in terms of sensitivity to those who would make moral demands of her, thereby holding her responsible. Being responsible is therefore also dependent on holding responsible. Thus, neither being nor holding morally responsible is more basic than the other. They are mutually dependent. (shrink)
Approaches to explanation -- Causal and explanatory relevance -- The kairetic account of /D making -- The kairetic account of explanation -- Extending the kairetic account -- Event explanation and causal claims -- Regularity explanation -- Abstraction in regularity explanation -- Approaches to probabilistic explanation -- Kairetic explanation of frequencies -- Kairetic explanation of single outcomes -- Looking outward -- Looking inward.
Freud justified his extensive theorizing about dreams by the observation that they were “the royal road” to something much more general: namely, our unconscious mental life. The current preoccupation with the theory of excuse in criminal law scholarship can be given a similar justification, for the excuses are the royal road to theories of responsibility generally. The thought is that if we understand why we excuse in certain situations but not others, we will have also gained a much more general (...) insight into the nature of responsibility itself. Nowhere has this thought been more evident than in the century-old focus of criminal law theoreticians on the excuse of insanity, a focus that could not be justified by the importance of the excuse itself. In this paper I wish to isolate two theories of excuse, each of which instantiates its own distinctive theory of responsibility. One is what I shall call the choice theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because at the moment of such action's performance, one did not have sufficient capacity or opportunity to make the choice to do otherwise. Such a choice theory of excuse instantiates a more general theory of responsibility, according to which we are responsible for wrongs we freely choose to do, and not responsible for wrongs we lacked the freedom to avoid doing. The second I shall call the character theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because such action is not determined by those enduring attributes of ourselves we call our characters. (shrink)
From the background noise, nothing follows. Or sometimes. But that’s another story. From the five volumes of his Hermès series and through to The Natural Contract in 1990, Michel Serres has rooted the origins of human language firmly in the rhythms and calls of the natural world.1 To date, the Anglophone reception of this complex and varied oeuvre has been slender to the point of emaciation, but one area where he has received some small fraction of the attention he (...) deserves is in his elaboration of a theory of semiotic meaning in dialogue with information theory and fluid dynamics.2 Since 2001, however, Serres has been expanding his account of biosemiotics3 with four key texts (2001, 2005.. (shrink)
Influential philosopher Michel Serres’s foundational work uses fable to explore how human relations are identical to that of the parasite to the host body. Among Serres’s arguments is that by being pests, minor groups can become major players in public dialogue—creating diversity and complexity vital to human life and thought. Michel Serres is professor in history of science at the Sorbonne, professor of Romance languages at Stanford University, and author of several books, including _Genesis._ Lawrence R. Schehr (...) is professor of French at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English at Rice University. His books include _Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal _. (shrink)
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or rejecting (...) specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
Michael Ryan (d. 1840) remains one of the most mysterious figures in the history of medical ethics, despite the fact that he was the only British physician during the middle years of the 19th century to write about ethics in a systematic way. Michael Ryan’s Writings on Medical Ethics offers both an annotated reprint of his key ethical writings, and an extensive introductory essay that fills in many previously unknown details of Ryan’s life, analyzes the significance of his (...) ethical works, and places him within the historical trajectory of the field of medical ethics. (shrink)
While Michel Serres’ work has become relatively well-known among social theoreticians in recent years, his explicit thematization of the foundations of human collectives has gained surprisingly little attention. This article claims that Serres’ approach to the theme of foundations can be clarified by scrutinizing the way in which he poses and answers the following three questions: How are we together? What and whom do we exclude from our togetherness and how? Who are we today? Instead of starting with (...) a ready-made order, be it in the form of individuals or society, Serres pushes social research to take up the challenge of examining the point at which order is about to emerge out of noise and chaos, but where the outcome of the process remains uncertain. Especially relevant to the discussion are Serres’ books Rome, Statues and Geometry, all three of which bear the subtitle Book of Foundations. (shrink)
This book defends a form of ethical intuitionism, according to which (i) there are objective moral truths; (ii) we know some of these truths through a kind of immediate, intellectual awareness, or "intuition"; and (iii) our knowledge of moral truths gives us reasons for action independent of our desires. The author rebuts all the major objections to this theory and shows that the alternative theories about the nature of ethics all face grave difficulties.