Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Spontaneous Generations is an open access journal created “to provide a platform for interdisciplinary discussion and debate about issues that concern the community of scholars in the history and philosophy of science and related fields.” In each annual online collection it publishes Articles, Opinions, Reviews, and a Focused Discussion section with invited essays written about a common theme. The editors are all based at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, and the international editorial board is a distinguished group of scholars from a variety of fields, including philosophy, social studies in medicine, economic and social history, and the history of science.
The current issue (volume 7, 2013) is dedicated to Economic Aspects of Science, and includes a Focused Discussion with such articles as, “The Economics of Science in Historical and Disciplinary Perspective,” “On Commodification and the Progress of Knowledge in Society: A Defence,” “The Political Economy of Technoscience: An Emerging Research Agenda,” and “Biobank Economics and the “Commercialization Problem.”” There is also the independent article, “Computer Versus Microscope: Visual Activity Fields of Instruments in the Information Age,” as well as three book reviews, of David Tyfield’s The Economics of Science: A Critical Realist Overview, Volumes 1 and 2, Paul Feyerabend’s The Tyranny of Science, and Alexandra Rutherford’s Beyond the Box: B.F. Skinner’s Technology of Behaviour from Laboratory to Life, 1950s-1970s.” The previous volume, number 6 (2012), offers a Focused Discussion about Visual Representation and Science, with 19 articles on a range of subjects involving difficulties and challenges about scientific visual representations. There is also the independent article, “On Adaptive Optics: The Historical Constitution of Architectures for Expert Perception in Astronomy,” two book reviews, and a review of the 6th European Spring School on History of Science and Popularization: International Workshop, May 19-21 2011, Maó, Menorca, Spain. That issue also holds two Opinion pieces; one is the essay, “Flatter than a Pancake: Why Scanning Herbarium Sheets Shouldn't Make Them Disappear,” and the other is the poem, “Holdings,” written for the 2011 Reading Artifacts Summer Institute at the Canada Science and Technology Museum by Bruce Taylor. It will speak volumes to librarians, archivists, museum curators, and fans of Warehouse 13 (like me!).
There’s something valuable for a lot of different readers to be found in this title, and librarians will not only want to recommend this to scholars in the history of science and in philosophy, but should delve into it themselves. It will inform you – and other researchers -- interdisciplinarily and globally.