Monthly Archives: April 2016

Episode 6: What Are Rights, Really?

Is health care a right, as Bernie Sanders claims?

This episode explores what this kind of assertion of right implies, how “rights talk” has come to dominate this sort of political discourse, the ways in which such rights have historically been won, and why they continue to be contested.

Our guests today are all scholars of legal history, whose writing, taken together, explores the changing ways — that is, the structures and the means by which — Americans have made claims upon one another, asserted their belonging in communities ranging from the local to the national, and argued over the meaning, applicability, and proper enforcement of legal rights.

Felice Batlan teaches at the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.  Her book, Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid 1863-1945, published by Cambridge University Press, has recently won the prestigious 2016 Willard Hurst Prize.

Batlan_Felice_portrait          womenjustice

Sophia Lee teaches at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Her book is entitled The Workplace Constitution from the New Deal to the New Right, and is available now from Cambridge University Press.

Sophia      Workplace

Karen Tani teaches at the University of California-Berkeley Law School.  Her book, States of Dependency: Welfare, Rights, and American Governance, has just been released by Cambridge University Press.

ktani      States


Episode 5: Science and Medicine, Pt. 2

Our guiding question in Episode 1 was: How scientific is the practice of medicine?  In this deeper dive of a follow-up effort, we’re pursuing a different and more radical question: Just how scientific is the practice of science?

Natasha Myers, author of Rendering Life Molecular, from Duke University Press, discusses her study of protein crystallographers at work, and particularly the ways in which their bodies and their emotions — not simply their rational minds — are involved in their scientific knowledge of their subject matter.

Natasha           myers_cover_rev_to_nm1

Jessica Riskin, author of The Restless Clock, with the University of Chicago Press, takes us through the history, the theoretical arguments, and the defining problems of modern life science since Descartes, with a particular eye toward the way that the competitions between models of how to understand living things — are they passively mechanical matter? Suffused with an inner force? Fundamentally immaterial in nature? — actually played out.  Spoiler:  Triumphant models weren’t necessarily victorious because of being closer to something like the truth.

RiskininChina      Restlessclock