“In an age in which the inexhaustible power of scientific technology makes all things possible, it remains to be seen where we will draw the line, where we will be able to say, here are possibilities that wisdom suggest we avoid.”
First published to great acclaim in 1986, Langdon Winner’s groundbreaking exploration of the political, social, and philosophical implications of technology is timelier than ever. He demonstrates that choices about the kinds of technical systems we build and use are actually choices about who we want to be and what kind of world we want to create—technical decisions are political decisions, and they involve profound choices about power, liberty, order, and justice. A seminal text in the history and philosophy of science, this new edition includes a new chapter, preface, and postscript by the author.
When Maps Become the World
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther University of Chicago Press, 2020 Library of Congress GA102.3.W56 2020 | Dewey Decimal 526.01
Map making and, ultimately, map thinking is ubiquitous across literature, cosmology, mathematics, psychology, and genetics. We partition, summarize, organize, and clarify our world via spatialized representations. Our maps and, more generally, our representations seduce and persuade; they build and destroy. They are the ultimate record of empires and of our evolving comprehension of our world.
This book is about the promises and perils of map thinking. Maps are purpose-driven abstractions, discarding detail to highlight only particular features of a territory. By preserving certain features at the expense of others, they can be used to reinforce a privileged position.
When Maps Become the World shows us how the scientific theories, models, and concepts we use to intervene in the world function as maps, and explores the consequences of this, both good and bad. We increasingly understand the world around us in terms of models, to the extent that we often take the models for reality. Winther explains how in time, our historical representations in science, in cartography, and in our stories about ourselves replace individual memories and become dominant social narratives—they become reality, and they can remake the world.
When Physics Became King
Iwan Rhys Morus University of Chicago Press, 2005 Library of Congress QC9.E89M67 2005 | Dewey Decimal 530.094
As recently as two hundred years ago, physics as we know it today did not exist. Born in the early nineteenth century during the second scientific revolution, physics struggled at first to achieve legitimacy in the scientific community and culture at large. In fact, the term "physicist" did not appear in English until the 1830s.
When Physics Became King traces the emergence of this revolutionary science, demonstrating how a discipline that barely existed in 1800 came to be regarded a century later as the ultimate key to unlocking nature's secrets. A cultural history designed to provide a big-picture view, the book ably ties advances in the field to the efforts of physicists who worked to win social acceptance for their research.
Beginning his tale with the rise of physics from natural philosophy, Iwan Morus chronicles the emergence of mathematical physics in France and its later export to England and Germany. He then elucidates the links between physics and industrialism, the technology of statistical mechanics, and the establishment of astronomical laboratories and precision measurement tools. His tale ends on the eve of the First World War, when physics had firmly established itself in both science and society.
Scholars of both history and physics will enjoy this fascinating and studied look at the emergence of a major scientific discipline.
Why Free Will Is Real
Christian List Harvard University Press, 2019 Library of Congress BJ1461.L55 2019 | Dewey Decimal 123.5
Many scientists and scientifically-minded philosophers are skeptical that free will exists. In clear, scientifically rigorous terms, Christian List explains that free will is like other real phenomena that emerge from physical laws but are autonomous from them—like an ecosystem or the economy—and are indispensable for explaining our world.