Tag Archives: history

Making sense of genotype-phenotype distinctions, version 4

The predominant current-day meaning of genotype is the DNA passed to the organism by its parents at the organism’s conception. The phenotype is the physical and behavioral characteristics of the organism, for example, size and shape, metabolic activities, and patterns of movement. To examine the relationship between the genotype and the phenotype is to be drawn into investigations that include: Continue reading

Nature and nativism

A telling passage from near the end of Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk.  She shares an appreciation for non-human nature with two people she meets, but rejects the social implications they read into it, yet has is unable to speak back at the time.  Here, in a book published six years later, she is able to convey what needed to be said. Continue reading

Nature vs Nurture versus Nature and Nurture: A sketch of the history of the study of heredity, development, and variation

Why nature versus nurture? Surely it must be nature and nurture—we all know that traits develop over time through the interaction of the organism with genetic or hereditary and environmental or social influences. Indeed, the modern science of epigenetics, building on ever-increasing information about DNA sequences and how genes function, now shows us how chemicals from outside the cell can modify the activity of genes for the rest of an organism’s life and sometimes even into subsequent generations. Moreover, since the late 1800s—well before advances in molecular biology—developmental biologists have been studying the mechanisms through which a single cell divides into multiple cell types and gets arranged into tissues, organs, and the organism’s overall form (Gilbert 2013). The nature versus nurture in this book [Taylor 2014] is not, however, a matter of development of traits over time. A sketch of the history and current state of the study of heredity, development, and variation is needed to set the scene.

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Foundations of philosophical thought (not)

A set of episodes or angles on how I might teach “Foundations of Philosophical Thought,” relayed as a 54-minute video given that I won’t have time to write up the thoughts I had during a walk this morning: http://youtu.be/G5MnPXZSi0E

(Comments welcome, including pointing out all the articulate writers [philosophers included] who have dealt with issues I raise and those I overlook or brush past.)

Making visible a collage of radical scientists and critics

“Making visible a collage of radical scientists and critics”
presented at “Science for the People: The 1970s and Today,” http://science-for-the-people.org/

Practice run of talk: http://youtu.be/6LPm_BlV5iY

Visual aids

Rapid intertwined history of Science and Technology Studies in relation to Science for the People: http://youtu.be/KD_jtpmarfE

Timeline from 2-minute survey: http://bit.ly/sftptime and as spreadsheet


  • Akera, A. (2006). Calculating a Natural World: Scientists, Engineers, and Computers During the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Arditti, R. (1999). Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plazo de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Haraway, D. J. (1980). “Monkey Business: Monkeys and Monopoly Capital.” Radical Science Journal 10: 107-114.
  • Harvey, D. (1995). “Militant particularism and global ambition: The conceptual politics of place, space, and environment in the work of Raymond Williams.” Social Text 42: 69-98.
  • Hobsbawm, E. (2011). How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Moore, K. (2006). “Powered By the People: Scientific Authority in Participatory Science”. Pp. 299-323 in The New Political Sociology of Science: Organizations, Networks, and Institutions. S. Frickel and K. Moore (Eds.) Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Moore, K., D. L. Kleinman, et al. (2011). “Science and neoliberal globalization: a political sociological approach.” Theory & Society 40: 505–532.
  • Taylor, P. J. (1986). “Dialectical Biology as Political Practice. An essay review of R. Levins & R. Lewontin The Dialectical Biologist.” Radical Science 20: 81-111 (also L. Levidow, ed., Science as Politics, London: Free Association Books).
  • Taylor, P. J. (2010). “Biology as Politics: The Direct and Indirect Effects of Lewontin and Levins (An essay review of Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health).” Science as Culture 19(2): 241-253.
  • Werskey, G. (1988 (1978)). The Visible College: A Collective Biography of British Scientists and Socialists of the 1930s. London: Free Association Books.
  • Werskey, G. (2007). “The Marxist Critique of Capitalist Science: A History in Three Movements?” Science as Culture 16(4): 397-462.
  • Williams, R. (1985). Loyalties. London: Chatto & Windus.
  • Worden, L. (2012). “Counterculture, cyberculture, and the Third Culture: Reinventing civilization, then and now”. Pp. in West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California. I. Boal, J. Stone and M. Watts (Eds.) Oakland: PM Press
  • Young, R. M. (1987). “Darwin and the genre of biography”. Pp. 203-224 in One Culture. G. Levine


Peter J. Taylorpeter.taylor@umb.edu
Graduate track in Science in a Changing World
University of Massachusetts, Boston
http://sicw.wikispaces.com = portal to various internet-mediated or -documented initiatives

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Intertwined histories of Science and Technology Studies and Science for the People?

This narrated slideshow gives an unscripted account, drawn from my imperfect memory, of various steps in the development of Science & Technology Studies in relation to the spirit of Science for the People:  http://youtu.be/KD_jtpmarfE

Critical comments and questions welcome.


(P.S. This is not the talk I have developed for the upcoming conference, http://science-for-the-people.org/, but my talk will provide a link to this slide show or an update.)

John Berger on peasants and history (from 1979)

For John Berger, in Pig Earth (New York: Pantheon, 1979), peasant culture is a ‘culture of survival” and bourgeois culture is a “culture of progress”:

p. 203

“Modern history begins-at different moments in different places-with the principle of progress as both the aim and the motor of history.. Cultures of progress envisage future expansion. They are forward-looking because the future offers ever larger hopes… A culture of survival envisages the future as a sequence of repeated acts for survival. Each act pushes a thread through the eye of a needle and the thread is tradition. No overall increase is envisaged.”

p. 212

“If one looks at the likely future course of world history, envisaging either the further extension and consolidation of corporate capitalism in all its brutalism, or a prolonged, uneven struggle waged against it, a struggle whose victory is not certain, the peasant experience of survival may well be better adapted to this long and harsh perspective than the continually reformed, disappointed, impatient progressive hope of an ultimate victory.”