Category Archives: biomedicine

On a scale from 0 to 10, how much better could your pain be managed? (revisited)

In this audio (11 mins) I consider not only better monitoring of the effect of drugs administered, but also: a) the preparation needed for discharged patients to appreciate what might happen and to avoid setbacks; b) the social support, especially for distraction from an understandable tendency to “catastrophize,” and c) sources that have intrigued and informed me.

Depicting simultaneously similarity, diversity, ancestry, and admixture?

Can any depiction of genetic relationships among humans allow simultaneously for similarity, diversity, ancestry, and admixture (i.e., groups that had split mixing again)? I asked this question while puzzling over the messages conveyed by diagrams from the work of Tishkoff and collaborators on genetic variation among humans in and out of Africa. In this talk I present explorations of alternative depictions of human genetic variation keeping my initial question in mind. By the end I will have prepared the ground for an assertion that the very methodology of generating and depicting human ancestry privileges a racialized view of human diversity.
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Bouncing off a current in philosophy of biology that wants to make claims about causal contributions

This post bounces off a current in philosophy of biology that wants to make claims about specific causal contributions of different factors, especially with respect to genes and heritability.
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The Social Construction of Life: Critical Thinking about Biology in Society

This book aims to expand the boundaries of the influences that readers consider when interpreting the practices and products of the life sciences (“biology”) and their impact on society. The chapter topics include: Interpreting Ideas of Nature; The structure of origin stories; Multiple layers in influencing an audience: The case of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species; Metaphors of coordination and development; What causes a disease?—the consequences of hereditarianism in the case of pellagra; How changeable are IQ test scores?; Social negotiations around genetic screening; Intersecting processes involving genes and environment. Continue reading

50 whys to look for genes: Pros and complications

Working paper from 2015: Taylor, Peter J., “50 whys to look for genes: Pros and complications” (2015). Working Papers on Science in a Changing World. 12.

“Treating the audience as capable of thinking about the complexities that surround the application of genetic knowledge” was the tagline of a series of daily blog posts made over seven weeks in the fall of 2014, posts that included extended quotes from the recently published Nature-Nurture? No (Taylor 2014). This working paper is a compilation of those posts.

Now It Is Impossible ‘Simply To Continue Along Previous Lines’: A Partial Design Sketch of Enactable Social Theorizing

Working Paper:
Abstract: A compilation of 39 notes provides the basis for two shifts: from shaping a better social theory to allowing for social theorizing; and from representing social dynamics to enacting the social theorizing so as to repeatedly define and pursue engagements in the heterogeneous dynamics that intersect in all kinds of society-making. A key move is to bring the multiple strandedness of changing social life into the center by combining, on one hand, the analysis of intersecting processes, which link across scales in the production of any outcome and in their own on-going transformation, and, on the other hand, a participatory group process, the historical scan, to generate a repeatable group-specific praxis.
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His nature, her nurture-or what good are conceptual critiques for tackling practical concerns about the development of gendered individuals?

This [draft] article identifies five conceptually distinct nature-nurture sciences, which address: variation among varieties and locations in an observable trait; variation in trait in relation to measurable factors; differences between group averages; changeability of individual development; and adaptiveness of trait. I articulate the gaps between them and tease out the difficulties in bridging between them.
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Update on “Alternation between complexities of situation studied and the situation of the studier: A series of writing projects”

I provide an update on the ambitious writing plan I formulated during a workshop in October 2016 and posted in February 2017. The “alternation” referred to in the title of the posts concerns the insufficiency of critical accounts of science—its concepts or its practice—without also exploring how people come together to make changes in the lives and work, including work in and about science.
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What to do if we think that researchers have overlooked a significant issue?

Abstract of a manuscript (updated 3 Dec 18). Comments welcome—email me for the full draft.

Participants in debates about developments in science and technology point to issues overlooked or downplayed by scientists—or, if the debate is among scientists themselves, by other scientists. Sometimes included among participants in debates are interpreters of science—sociologists, historians, philosophers, and scholars from other fields of Science and Technology Studies. Taking these scholars as the audience, this article asks what should we do if we identify a significant issue not yet subject to debate?
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Critical Epidemiological Literacy

Taylor, P. J. “Critical Epidemiological Literacy: Understanding Ideas Better When Placed in Relation to Alternatives,” Synthese, in press, DOI: 10.1007/s11229-018-01960-6.
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