The SPT panel at the Philosophy of Science Association meeting was a terrific success. The panel theme of “Technology, Bias, and Technological Knowledge” featured:

  • MaryCatherine McDonald (Old Dominion University) speaking on “PTSD, Imaging and Phenomenology.” She critiqued fMRI imaging studies about PTSD, arguing that, in the absence of a phenomenological lens, we lean on these technologies in a way that reduces complex human experience to simple scientific explanation;
  • George Michael Glawson (University of South Carolina) speaking on “The Construction of Cleanliness.” He discussed how our current construction of cleanliness presents problems for health and wellness because cleanliness is not reducible to a biological notion like germ-avoidance;
  • Robert Rosenberger (Georgia Tech) speaking on “A Feminist Standpoint Critique of Anti-Homeless Design,” presented a case study about a set of benches in Trump Tower. The study unearthed the laws and agreements that work in this space that is both private and public, and prompted us all to reflect on how systematic biases close off consideration of how power structures are assembled and situated around something as seemingly innocuous as a bench;
  • Ashley Shew (Virginia Tech) speaking on “The Latest Quantification of Normals,” examined the social pressure to stand and walk and reflected on new health programs that enroll fitbits and other tech that end up serving a discriminatory function.
We had a great turnout for the panel, especially considering that our panel took place in the first conference session at 9am on a Thursday morning. We fielded a wide range of questions for discussion that touched on the assumption of homogeneity in design, notions of health and wellness, and the ways in which categories and trust in science shape how we make and use technologies. Particularly notable about this series of papers for the SPT at PSA panel: we were all grappling with how people designed technologies using established norms that had serious impacts on how people live and limit how people approach problems (and, indeed, what counts as a problem in the first place). It was wonderful to get together to exchange on this topic. Other SPT members were in the audience, and the conference, which was held in conjunction with HSS and SLSA, brought together scholars on a wide range of topics. We were very glad to represent SPT in this context!

– Ashley Shew, Executive Board Member of SPT

Thank you to Dr. Ashley Shew for this update and the following photos!

Michael Glawson presents on "The Construction of Cleanliness"

Michael Glawson presents on “The Construction of Cleanliness”

Robert Rosenberger presents on "A Feminist Standpoint Critique of Anti-Homeless Design"

Robert Rosenberger presents on “A Feminist Standpoint Critique of Anti-Homeless Design”

Robert Rosenberger kindly took me to get a new bolt to replace one that fell of my prosthetic leg. This was not part of the panel, but just another way in which one can appreciate their colleagues.

Robert Rosenberger kindly took me to get a new bolt to replace one that fell of my prosthetic leg. This was not part of the panel, but just another way in which one can appreciate their colleagues.

Clockwise starting at 12: Michael Glawson (USC), Matt Duncan (Clemson), Ashley Shew (Virginia Tech), and Robert Roseberger (Georgia Tech) grab a bite near the conference venue.

Clockwise starting at 12: Michael Glawson (USC), Matt Duncan (Clemson), Ashley Shew (Virginia Tech), and Robert Roseberger (Georgia Tech) grab a bite near the conference venue.