Monday, January 25, 2010

Lecture by Hans Pols: "Notes from Batavia, the European's Graveyard"

SCFS Researcher in History and Philosophy of Medicine, Hans Pols, will be giving a lecture on "Notes from Batavia, the European's Graveyard: the Debate on Acclimatisation in the Dutch East Indies, 1820-1860," this Saturday, 30 Jan, at 2pm, to the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine.

Large Conference Room (4.2)
Level 4, Kerry Packer Education Centre
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Johns Hopkins Drive

Soon after the conquest of Batavia in 1619, the city was nicknamed the “graveyard of Europeans” because of the unusually high mortality rate of soldiers and merchants there. Consequently, the Dutch East Indies company (VOC) maintained as few soldiers and officials there as possible. After the demise of the VOC in 1799, Batavia developed into a city of sorts—and the issue whether the Indies were suitable for European habitation came to dominate medical and civil discussions. Willem Bosch, the founder of the Batavia medical school in 1851 and chief of the Indies Civil Health Service, had calculated that European civilians who moved to the Indies sacrificed 60% of their life expectancy, while for soldiers it was a staggering 80%. A number of local physicians protested against these views by arguing that Europeans could maintain their health by following a set of sensible rules. They believed that special attention should be given to individuals who had arrived recently, because they would be unusually vulnerable to disease during the period of acclimatisation.
In this paper I will analyse the often acerbic discussions between the advocates of these different perspectives, which was conducted in the first volumes of the first magazine that appeared in the Indies. Participants in this debate were the aforementioned Willem Bosch; the German explorer Franz Junghuhn, who charted volcanos and produced the first map of Java; the irascible German physician Carl Waitz, who later advocated the water-cure as a panacea; Cornelis Swaving, a physician known for his impenetrable prose; and Pieter Bleeker, a physician who later became famous as an ichthyologist.

The Darwin Show

A link to an article in the London Review of Books on 2009, the year of Darwin's anniversary, "history's biggest birthday party."
(Via Charles Wolfe.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New article

SCFS Honorary associate Zach Weber, who is about to take up a position at the University of Melbourne, has recently published an article: "Transfinite Numbers in Paraconsistent Set Theory," in Review of Symbolic Logic.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

PhD position at Tilburg

The Department of Philosophy and the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (a partner of the SCFS) has recently advertised a PhD position. The advertisement reads:

The Department of Philosophy and the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS) invite applications for a three-year full-time PhD position, commencing September 1, 2010. The successful candidate is expected to work on a topic from the philosophy of science (including general philosophy of science, formal philosophy of science, philosophy of economics, and philosophy of psychology) and complete a PhD thesis within three years. The salary for a full-time employment agreement increases from 2.042 Euro gross a month in the first year to 2.492 Euro gross a month in the last year. The position is open to candidates with a master’s degree or equivalent in philosophy and an interest in working in a very active international and interdisciplinary research environment. Candidates are invited to submit a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae, a research proposal of 1000 to 2000 words, certificates, a transcript of courses taken (including grades), and two letters of recommendation. Please send your application package to PhD Position Search Committee, c/o P & O, Department of Philosophy, Tilburg University, Warandelaan 2, P.O. 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands, or email to <> . The deadline for applications is April 15, 2010. Please mention the vacancy number 500.10.01 in your letter. Informal enquiries may be directed to Professor Stephan Hartmann (email: S.Hartmann “at” <> ).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Propositions and Same-Saying Workshop

Macquarie University, Sydney

Monday 18 January, 2010


David Chalmers (ANU), Susanna Schellenberg (ANU), Jonathan Schaffer (ANU), Laura Schroeter (Melbourne), Dave Ripley (Institut Nicod, Paris), Lionel Shapiro (USyd / UConn), Tama Coutts (Melbourne).

There's titles and a preliminary timetable here. More information will be added to the website nearer the date.

Propositions play a foundational role in many areas of philosophy, but what are they? Is there a single class of things that serve as the objects of belief, the bearers of truth, and the meanings of utterances? How do our utterances express propositions? Under what conditions do two speakers say the same thing, and what (if anything) does this tell us about the nature of propositions?

This workshop, consisting of 7 talks by some of Australia's best philosophers, will address these questions and more. It will cover topics in philosophy of language, perception, and metaphysics.

Registration is free but places are limited, so please email Mark Jago (mark.jago at if you'd like to attend. Coffee, biscuits and cake will be provided. A picnic lunch is available at a small fee (to cover costs) for those who RSVP.

Organized by Rachael Briggs (Centre for Time, University of Sydney), Albert Atkin (Macquarie) and Mark Jago (Macquarie).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Oxygen of publicity

Catching up on journals after Xmas reveals that some associates of the SCFS have been afforded the oxygen of publicity.

Idan Ben Barak's book The Invisible Kingdom (Australian edition Small Wonders) is recommended in the December 11th issue of Science (p.1485).

Karola Stotz and I were captured by the paparazzi at a human nature workshop and the picture appeared in the December 17th edition of Nature (p.841). But we are only part of the entourage - the caption says 'John Dupre and his team'. The Nature article is an interesting discussion of the results of UKs 21 million pound investment in 'genomics in society' research, including an extended discussion of the value of philosophy in that context.