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tsuomela : agency   7

Objectivity and its discontents
"In my 2008 book, The Collectors of Lost Souls, I told the story of the medical investigation of kuru, a fatal brain disease afflicting the Fore people of New Guinea during the middle of the 20th century. The story involved sorcery accusations, cannibalism, first contact, colonial incursions, scientific rivalry, alleged sexual molestation, and two Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine. There can be little doubt that kuru, because of its peculiarities, has proven exceptionally ‘good to think with’—in infectious diseases research, medical anthropology and the history of science. Here, I attempt a cultural history of valuation in kuru research, hoping thus to make a tentative contribution to a theory of value in modern science. It is important to distinguish this project from functionalist and normative analyses predicated on conceptions of social structure and solidarity. Instead, I want to look at the inter-subjective mobilization and modulation of desire in scientific work, thus focusing on multiple agency, more than structure, in the making or perception of value. Like John Dewey, and his teacher Georg Simmel, I am most interested in how experiences of self-formation generate or reveal value commitments; that is, I am interested in how interaction, or opening ourselves to others, can form and make visible our values and valuables. In this spirit, I want to attend to the commitments to subjects and objects that emerge through cultural contact and exchange in scientific research."
sts  objectivity  postcolonialism  science  history  agency 
august 2013 by tsuomela
Patterns of Refactored Agency
"I’ve found it to be a good general-purpose cognitive tool to try to see the world with agency located in unconventional places. Normally, we like to imagine ourselves as the chief agents in our lives – making choices, taking actions, pursuing our own interests that we have identified for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. It’s no doubt much more healthy to think in that way than the inverse – to view yourself, for example, as nothing but a puppet of external forces. But it is not so good to be trapped in a single fictional model of the universe. To understand large systems we need to go beyond the everyday model of agency and think in new ways."
agency  metaphor  causation  free-will  philosophy  psychology  patterns 
april 2013 by tsuomela
ingentaconnect From Multiculturalism to Multinaturalism: What Rules of Method fo...
"This article reflects on the traditional distinction between scientific laboratories experimenting on theories and phenomena and a political outside where non-experts make do with human values, opinions, and passions. Since today all people are engaged in emerging collective experiments on matters as varied as climate, food, landscape, health, urban design, and technical communication as consumers, militants, and citizens, they can all be considered co-researchers. Co-researching has consequences for our understanding of nature and demands a renewed attention to “multinaturalist” politics. It also questions the division of labor between experts and nonexperts. The article finishes with a call to “dis-invent” modernity so that we “moderns” can finally become ordinary humans again. "
article  research  sts  science  agency  agents 
april 2011 by tsuomela
FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: Why AIG Paid the "Bonuses"
The fundamental issue here what I call asymmetrical agency bias. We as human beings tend to attribute our results to skill when we are performing well, but (bad) luck when we are performing poorly.
bias  bailout  aig  bonus  money  agency  psychology 
march 2009 by tsuomela

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