Manage episode 378581969 series 3305636
Where does the concept of rules originate from? And how does that history inform the rules we use to organize society today?
Lorraine Daston is the director emerita at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and a professor at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought. Her book, Rules: A Short History of What We Live By, takes a wide-encompassing view of rules throughout history, going all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman times.
Lorraine and Greg discuss thick vs. thin rules, how recipes are some of the oldest forms of rules and the important and complicated role judgment and equity play in the system of rules and laws.
*unSILOed Podcast is produced by University FM.*
Do people perceive paradigms and rules as inconsistent?
30:27: I think paradigms and models suffer from one problem, which is a political problem, which is the suspicion that discretion inevitably means either favoritism or corruption in the political domain. In the domain of knowledge, they suffer from being foggy. Nobody can explain how we think in terms of models and paradigms. We do it all the time. Our life would be impossible if we did not do it. So we know that we can do it, but we can't explain how we do it. And that makes the philosophically minded profoundly uncomfortable.
Why are recipes an important genre in the history of knowledge?
09:41: Recipes are amongst the oldest and most mobile of knowledge genres that we know. If you want a genre that travels across continents, centuries, and classes and breaks down the barriers between men and women, it's recipes.
Thick vs. thin rules
19:23: The thick rules are rules that anticipate a high degree of variability and unforeseen circumstances. So they come upholstered even in their articulation with caveats, examples, and exceptions. They warn you that you're going to have to use your judgment in applying these rules…[20:09] The thin rule, on the other hand, is short, usually short, peremptory, and imperative, and it does not anticipate exceptions. This is a rule which is made for a world which is predictable and uniform.
Judgment straddles into two categories
46:50: The problem is that we divide our world into the objective and the subjective, but judgment straddles those two categories. It's possible to give reasons—good reasons, bad reasons, and arguments—for why one judgment should prevail over another. And if we don't exercise that faculty, like any other faculty, atrophy. And my fear is that because judgment discretion is the faculty that dare not speak its name, we are in danger of becoming judgmentally flabby.
- Nicolas Bourbaki
- Thomas Kuhn
- The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
- Pascal’s Provincial Letters
- Critique of Judgment by Immanuel Kant
- Professional Profile at Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
- Professional Profile at University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought