Gender and Boyle's Law of Gases

Gender and Boyle's Law of Gases

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Boyle's Law of Gases is a very important scientific law worked out by Robert Boyle in the mid-1600s. His experiments are still considered examples of good scientific work and have recently been studied along with their historical and intellectual context by philosophers, historians, and sociologists. Now there is controversy over whether Boyle's work was based only on the experimental evidence or was influenced by the politics and religious controversies of the time, including especially class and gender politics. Potter argues that even good science is sometimes influenced by gender and class politics, and she shows that the work leading to the Gas Law, while certainly based on the experimental evidence, was also based on class and gendered considerations. At issue were two descriptions of nature, each supporting radically different visions of class and gender arrangements. Many hylozooists--those who held that all matter is animated--advocated heretical religious ideas and revolutionary politics threatening social stability in seventeenth-century England. Robert Boyle objected to hylozooism on political as well as experimental grounds and argued instead for a mechanistic view of nature compatible with the political status quo. Boyle's Law rested on mechanistic principles, but Potter shows us an alternative law based on hylozooic principles.One of his earliest epistolary essays attacks the upper-class and court practice of sending babies away to wet-nurses. ... thus, aquot;The Duty of a Mothera#39;s Being a Nurse Defendedaquot; includes a lengthy tirade against aquot;Coriscaaquot; for aquot;being a nurse byanbsp;...

Title:Gender and Boyle's Law of Gases
Author:Elizabeth Potter
Publisher:Indiana University Press - 2001


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