Barbara Herrnstein Smith

Barbara Herrnstein Smith is the author of Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion.

Dolls, Demons and DNA: Bruno Latour

Barbara Herrnstein Smith, 8 March 2012

Do scientific facts and entities such as microbes, neurons or the structure of DNA exist prior to their discovery, or are they the product of scientific activity? The answer – ‘prior, of course’ – would have seemed obvious a generation ago to most scientists, philosophers and other generally sensible people. That a different answer is possible, even preferable, owes...

Thomas Nagel, in his review of my book Natural Reflections, mistakenly infers that I do not ‘believe in’ a ‘reality that exists largely independent of our convictions’ (LRB, 19 August). The major ontological implication of my view of cognition, however, is not that there is no independent reality but, rather, that the specific features of what we interact with as what we come to name ‘reality’...

It’s like getting married: Academic v. Industrial Science

Barbara Herrnstein Smith, 12 February 2009

The practices of science, it appears, are increasingly industrial in location, corporate in organisation, and product and profit-minded in motivation. In the eyes of various commentators, these trends represent an obviously undesirable state of affairs: inhospitable to the genuine scientific vocation, dispiriting for the scientists involved and seriously at odds with the sustaining norms of...

Those who offer scientific explanations of the pervasiveness of religion in human life are usually not religious themselves, and their explanations are not intended to be compatible with the...

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