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Conferencia ICTA
Christopher Hamlin "The 'Philosophy' of Water"

Lunes, 8 de marzo a las 12:30 hrs. en la Sala de Graus de l'Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria (ETSE)
cehic 02/03/2010

Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria (ETSE)

According to Professor Hamlin, this would be “something broader on environmental history” but it would link historical cases to contemporary and ongoing problems in a way which would lend itself to a comparative analysis. It would draw mainly from problems that arise in legal contexts, but move to reconceive in terms of general philosophical problems.

The chief argument of this paper is that much recent writing on improving the provision of water to human beings, especially that following the UNO’s articulation of water as a human right earlier in this decade, is insufficiently grounded in the physical and chemical characteristics of water. This paper complements my own earlier work, which focused on the multiple meanings of water, as well as the work of Jamie Linton on the implications of the hydrologic cycle model as the ruling concept in thinking about water*. My approach is eclectic:  it builds on water history, epidemiology, and physical geography, as well as on phenomenology and social ethics. I conclude by exploring the concept of water as gift as an alternative to water as right or water as commodity.

* Christopher Hamlin, `Waters’ or `Water’?. Master narratives in water history and their implications for contemporary water policy. Water Policy. 2000, 2 (4-5): 313-325; Jamie Linton, Is the Hydrologic Cycle Sustainable? A Historical. Geographical Critique of a Modern Concept,  Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 98(3) 2008, 630-649.


Professor Christopher Hamlin [] is trained as an historian of science. He is author of A Science of Impurity (1990), dealing with the history of concepts of water quality, and Public Health and Social Justice in the Age of Chadwick (1998), dealing with the emergence of modern public health. He is currently at work on a book examining the history of ideas about particular natural processes, ranging from population stability to decomposition. Hamlin teaches courses on science and technology studies, the history of medicine, the history of technology, and environmental history.

B.A.            Antioch College  Earth Sciences 1974
M.A., Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison  History of Science 1977, 1982

Department of History, Program in Science, Technology, and Values, and Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame
Professor, Department of History, 1998-
Honorary Professor, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 2003-

Publications: six books and 40 articles in books and refereed journals

What Becomes of Pollution?  Adversary Science and the Controversy on the Self-Purification of Rivers in Britain, 1850-1900, (New York: Garland, 1987)

A Science of Impurity: Water Analysis in Nineteenth Century Britain (Bristol England: Adam Hilger, Ltd./Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990)

(with Philip T. Shepard), Deep Disagreement in U.S. Agriculture:  Making Sense of Policy Conflict (Boulder, CO:  Westview Press, 1993)

Public Health and Social Justice in the Age of Chadwick: Britain 1800-1854  (Cambridge University Press, 1998)

(edited book, with David Lodge) Beyond Lynn White: Religion and the Ecology of Flux ( University of Notre Dame Press, 2005 )
Cholera: the Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Selected and recent articles

"Providence and Putrefaction:  Victorian Sanitarians and the Natural Theology of Health and Disease" Victorian Studies 28 (1985): 381-411.

"Scientific Method and Expert Witnessing:  Victorian perspectives on a Modern Problem," Social Studies in Science 16 (1986):  485-513

"Muddling in Bumbledom:  Local Governments and Large Sanitary Improvements, the Cases of Four British Towns, 1855-1855," Victorian Studies 32 (1988): 55-83

"Predisposing Causes and Public Health in the Early Nineteenth Century Public Health Movement," Social History of Medicine, 5 (1992):  43-70.

"Edwin Chadwick and the Engineers, 1842-1854:  Systems and Anti-Systems in the Pipe-and-Brick Sewers War," Technology and Culture, 33 (1992):  680-709

"Reflexivity in Technology Studies: Toward a Technology of Technology (and Science)?," Social Studies in Science, 22 (1992):  511-44

"Environmental Sensibility in Edinburgh, 1839-1840:  The 'Fetid Irrigation' Controversy"  J of Urban History 20 (1994): 311-39

“`Waters’ or `Water’? – Master Narratives in Water History and their Implications for Contemporary Water Policy,”  Water Policy 2 (2000): 313-25

 “Public Sphere to Public Health: the Transformation of `Nuisance’,” in Medicine, Health, and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1600-2000 ed. Steve Sturdy (London: Routledge, 2002), 190-204.

 “The Rise and Fall of the City as Chemical System and of the Chemist as Urban Environmental Professional, 1780-1880" Journal of Urban History 30 (2007): 702-28.

“William Pulteney Alison, The Scottish Philosophy, and the Making of a Political Medicine,”  Journal of the History of Medicine 61(2006): 144-86

“A Virtue-Free Science for Public Policy,” essay review,  Minerva 43 (2005): 397-418

“The History of Methods in Social Epidemiology to 1965,” in J. Michael Oakes, ed., Methods in Social Epidemiology (Jossey Bass, 2005), 21-45.

(With David Lodge,) “Beyond Lynn White: Religion, the Contexts of Ecology, and the Flux of Nature,” Introduction, in Lodge and Hamlin, eds., Religion and the New Ecology  (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), 1-25

(With David Lodge,) “Ecology and Religion for a Post Natural World,” conclusion, in Lodge and Hamlin, eds., Religion and the New Ecology  (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), 279-309.

 “Good and Intimate Filth” in Filth and Culture, Ryan Johnson and William Cohen eds. ( University of Minnesota Press,  2005), 3-29..

“Sanitary Policing and the Local State, 1873-74: A Statistical Study of  English and Welsh Towns”  Social History of Medicine Social History of Medicine 18 (2005): 39-61

“THIRD WAVE SCIENCE STUDIES:  Toward a History and Philosophy of Expertise?,” in Martin Carrier, Don Howard, and Janet Kourany eds., The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice: Science and Values Revisited  (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 160-185)

“STS:  Where the Marxist Critique of Capitalist Science goes to Die?,” Science as Culture 16: 4 (2007): 467 – 474.

“The history and development of public health in developed countries,” Oxford Textbook of Public Health, 5th ed., Roger Detels et al. eds., forthcoming.

 “Cholera Forcing and the Myth of the Good Epidemic,” American Journal of Public Health 99, No. 11 (2009): 1946-1954 .

Situació de l'Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria (ETSE)