Inaugural Northern Theory School Annual Public Lecture
‘Rules, Models, and Paradigms: Before Rules Became Rigid’
Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Rules – in the form of everything from traffic regulations and government directives to etiquette manuals and parliamentary procedures – structure almost every human interaction. Increasing use of computers has intensified a trend that began in the eighteenth century of ever more, ever more rigid rules for ever more domains of public and private life. But the algorithm became the prototypical rule only relatively recently, in the late nineteenth century. The long history of rules prior to that point shows surprising affinities with concepts now considered to be the antithesis of rule-following, such as thinking in terms of models and paradigms. Sources as disparate as the rules of monastic orders to textbooks of commercial arithmetic to cookbooks reveal a hidden history of the premodern rule.
Professor Lorraine Daston is Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in Berlin, and Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Corresponding Member of the British Academy, and Member of both the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the Leopoldina Academy of Sciences. In 2010 she was awarded the Orden Pour le Mérite of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in 2012 the History of Science Society’s Sarton Medal.
She has taught at Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Brandeis, the University of Göttingen, and the University of Chicago and held visiting positions at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the University of Vienna, and Oxford University (Isaiah Berlin Lectures in the History of Ideas).
Her books include Classical Probability in the Enlightenment (Princeton University Press, 1988), Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (Zone, 1998, with Katharine Park), both of which were awarded the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society, Thinking with Animals (Columbia University Press, 2006, with Gregg Mitmann), Things That Talk (Zone, 2007), Objectivity (MIT, 2007, with Peter Galison) and Histories of Scientific Observation (Chicago University Press, 2011).