Lorraine Daston

Lorraine Daston is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is the coauthor (with Katharine Park) of Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 and (with Peter Galison) Objectivity and the editor of Things that Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science, all three published by Zone Books.

  • Against Nature

    Against Nature

    Lorraine Daston

    A pithy work of philosophical anthropology that explores why humans find moral orders in natural orders.

    Why have human beings, in many different cultures and epochs, looked to nature as a source of norms for human behavior? From ancient India and ancient Greece, medieval France and Enlightenment America, up to the latest controversies over gay marriage and cloning, natural orders have been enlisted to illustrate and buttress moral orders. Revolutionaries and reactionaries alike have appealed to nature to shore up their causes. No amount of philosophical argument or political critique deters the persistent and pervasive temptation to conflate the “is” of natural orders with the “ought” of moral orders.

    In this short, pithy work of philosophical anthropology, Lorraine Daston asks why we continually seek moral orders in natural orders, despite so much good counsel to the contrary. She outlines three specific forms of natural order in the Western philosophical tradition—specific natures, local natures, and universal natural laws—and describes how each of these three natural orders has been used to define and oppose a distinctive form of the unnatural. She argues that each of these forms of the unnatural triggers equally distinctive emotions: horror, terror, and wonder.

    Daston proposes that human reason practiced in human bodies should command the attention of philosophers, who have traditionally yearned for a transcendent reason, valid for all species, all epochs, even all planets.

    • Paperback $13.95
  • The Probabilistic Revolution, Volume 1

    The Probabilistic Revolution, Volume 1

    Ideas in History

    Lorenz Krüger, Lorraine Daston, and Michael Heidelberger

    Probability ideas are the success story common to the growth of the modern natural and social sciences. Chance, indeterminism, and statistical inference have radically and globally transformed the sciences in a "probabilistic revolution." This monumental work traces the rise, the transformation, and the diffusion of probabilistic and statistical thinking in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is less concerned with specific technical discoveries than with locating the probability revolution historically within a larger framework of ideas. There is no comparable study that treats the rise of probability and statistics in such scope and depth.

    The contributors - scientists, historians and philosophers from eight countries - make it possible for readers trained in many disciplines to see why the probabilistic revolution has been so complete and so successful, and how the rejection of uniform causality by quantum physics, the stochastic nature of evolutionary biology, the indeterminisms of human psychology, and the random processes of many economic activities are all manifestations of an underlying unifying concept.

    Volume 1 opens with provocative essays on scientific revolutions in general and the probabilistic revolution in particular by Thomas S. Kuhn, I. Bernard Cohen, and Ian Hacking. Other authors discuss the evolution of philosophical ideas about probability and their articulation and elaboration in the mathematics of the nineteenth century and describe the first applications of techniques of statistical inference during that century: Topics include the uses and abuses of official statistics by the bureaucrats of France, England, and Prussia; the use - or neglect - of statistics by nascent sociologists, demographers, and insurance actuaries; and the emergence of statistical methodologies in fields ranging from social reform to agricultural production. The emphasis in volume 2 is on the more recent scientific advances of the probabilistic approach in various natural and social sciences, from "random walks" in the stock market to random drift in natural selection, and from indeterminate events at the atomic level to unpredictable actions at the human level.

    • Hardcover
    • Paperback $50.00
  • The Probabilistic Revolution, Volumes 1 and 2

    Lorenz Krüger, Lorraine Daston, and Michael Heidelberger

    This monumental work traces the rise, the transformation, and the diffusion of probabilistic and statistical thinking in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors - scientists, historians, and philosophers of science from eight countries make it possible for readers trained in many disciplines to see why the probabilistic revolution has been so complete and so successful.

    • Hardcover $80.00
    • Paperback $34.50

Contributor

  • Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited

    Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited

    Catelijne Coopmans, Janet Vertesi, Michael E. Lynch, and Steve Woolgar

    A fresh approach to visualization practices in the sciences that considers novel forms of imaging technology and draws on recent theoretical perspectives on representation.

    Representation in Scientific Practice, published by the MIT Press in 1990, helped coalesce a long-standing interest in scientific visualization among historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science and remains a touchstone for current investigations in science and technology studies. This volume revisits the topic, taking into account both the changing conceptual landscape of STS and the emergence of new imaging technologies in scientific practice. It offers cutting-edge research on a broad array of fields that study information as well as short reflections on the evolution of the field by leading scholars, including some of the contributors to the 1990 volume.

    The essays consider the ways in which viewing experiences are crafted in the digital era; the embodied nature of work with digital technologies; the constitutive role of materials and technologies—from chalkboards to brain scans—in the production of new scientific knowledge; the metaphors and images mobilized by communities of practice; and the status and significance of scientific imagery in professional and popular culture.

    Contributors Morana Alač, Michael Barany, Anne Beaulieu, Annamaria Carusi, Catelijne Coopmans, Lorraine Daston, Sarah de Rijcke, Joseph Dumit, Emma Frow, Yann Giraud, Aud Sissel Hoel, Martin Kemp, Bruno Latour, John Law, Michael Lynch, Donald MacKenzie, Cyrus Mody, Natasha Myers, Rachel Prentice, Arie Rip, Martin Ruivenkamp, Lucy Suchman, Janet Vertesi, Steve Woolgar

    • Paperback $40.00