Research Groups

The Migration of Criminal Law Principles from National to International Law

[RG # 127] The Migration of Criminal Law Principles from National to International Law

Organizer:

Miriam Gur-Arye (The Hebrew University)

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International criminal law (ICL) is a unique branch of law, as it addresses the gravest crimes of concern to the international community as a whole through the imposition of criminal responsibility directly upon individuals (rather than upon states). ICL has become more prominent in recent years. New institutions have been created (most notably, the International Criminal Court [ICC]) and a growing number of international norms have penetrated national laws and are now applied more frequently by national courts (e.g., through the universal jurisdiction doctrine). Still, the theoretic basis of international criminal law is weak and its relationship to national criminal law is less than clear.

The aim of the research group is to examine closely the development of criminal law principles and basic notions in order to evaluate the process of migration of criminal law norms from national to international law. Our hope is that the research will provide a better understanding of the potential and shortcomings of international criminal law at the beginning of the 21st century, and serve as the basis for normative and institutional proposal reforms.

 

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Practical and Theoretical Rationality: A Comparative Study

[RG # 128] Practical and Theoretical Rationality: A Comparative Study

Organizer:

Ruth Weintraub (Tel-Aviv University)

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Theoretical and practical rationality are concerned with reasons, and aim to respond to normative questions: "What ought one to believe?" and "What should one do?". Theoretical rationality answers its questions by assessing and weighing reasons for beliefe and the (internal) relations among the beliefs. Arguably, theoretical reason aims at the truth of propositions. Accordingly, reasons for belief are considerations that speak in favour of propositions being worthy of acceptance insofar as one's aim in belief is the truth.

The reasons which practical rationality invokes are considerations that speak in favour of performing particular actions or adopting particular intentions and ends. And the internal relationships it appeals to are thos between means and ends on the one hand, and intentions and actions on the other.

Philosophers have always studied theoretical and practical rationality, and both topics continue to present vexing and philosophically significant questions. Many suggestive comparisons and distinctions between the two can be found in the philosophical literature. However, these insights are usually random and piecemeal; a sustained study of the relationships and differences between the two kinds of rationality is rarely conducted. Our aim is to study the similarities and differences between the two areas in a systematic way, so as to apply insights gleaned from one realm to the other, and gain a better understanding of the relationship between them and of the nature of reason in general.

 

 

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Jewish Physicians In Medieval Christian Europe: Professional Knowledge as a Cultural Change

[RG # 129] Jewish Physicians in Medieval Christian Europe: Professional Knowledge as an Agent for Cultural Change

March 1, 2012 - August 31, 2012

Organizers:

Gad Freudenthal (CNRS Paris, University of Geneva)
Reimund Leicht (The Hebrew University)

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During the Middle Ages, in Christian Europe, the religious and linguistic borders between Jews and the surrounding Christian culture always remained less permeable than those in Muslim countries, and very little knowledge was appropriated from the neighbouring Scholastic Christian culture. in the Midi (the southern area of contemporary France) hardly any philosophical or scientific works were translated from Latin into Hebrew. One could perhaps even go so far as to speak of a "Latino-phobic attitude on the part of medieval Jews of the Midi in general.

However, the field of medicine is an exception to this generalization. As far back as the 12th century, and again in the 14th and the 15th, scores of medical works were translated from Latin into Hebrew. Jewish and Christian doctors frequently cooperated with each other and treated patients together. Our research group is focusing on the macro-phenomenon of the role played by medieval doctors in bringing about a cultural transfer from Latin into Hebrew cultures, or from Christians to Jews.

Doctors hold a singular position within the social system of knowledge, since all members of all religions and cultures have similarly constructed human bodes, and all human beings, regardless of their religious and cultural backgrounds, suffer from similar illnesses and seek to be healed from these illnesses. Patients always attempt to seek out the best possible medical treatment, thus putting the Jewish doctors in constant and direct competition with the environing non-Jewish health system. Therefore, medicine was usually a unified knowledge system in which Jewish doctors were compelled to keep up with the tendencies of medicine in the host societies and "modernize".

The study of the history of "Medicine and the Jews" as part of the development of Jewish culture in its Christian European environment is much more than the study of the appropriation of professional and scientific knowledge by one specific socio-religious group. It is rather a comprehensive enquiry into the catalytic role Jewish physicians played in the processes of change which Jewish cultures underwent in southern Europe during the Middle Ages.

 

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Bounded Rationality

[RG # 130] Bounded Rationality: Beyond the Classical Paradigm 

March 1 - August 31, 2012

Organizer:

Elchanan Ben-Porath (The Hebrew University)

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The classical model in economic theory assumes that the economic agent is fully rational. In particular, it is assumed that the agent is aware of the set of actions that is available to him and has a correct model of the environment in which he is operating. In particular, he understands the relationship between his actions and outcomes. Any calculation or consideration that is relevant to achieve this complete understanding of the environment can be done without mistake, with no delay, and without cost. In addition, the agent has a complete and consistent preference over the set of possible outcomes and chooses the action that leads to the best outcome with respect to his preference.

This model is clearly unrealistic. A human agent is often unaware of actions, contingencies, and considerations that are relevant for the decision problem that he is facing. He often finds it difficult to form a preference (for example, to determine his trade-off between price and quality, or the trade-off between current pleasure and future welfare), and there are specific limits on his ability to process information (specifically, attention, memory, and thinking are bounded and costly). Economists have of course realized that people are subject to these limitations; however, until they were exposed to the research in cognitive psychology they did not have a concrete sense of the systematic deviations of human decision making from the rational model.

The research agenda of our group consists of two main components:

(1) Studying models of decision making that depart from the standard model and in particular take into account cognitive limitations and non-standard preferences.

(2) Studying the implications of bounded rationality in multi-person interactions, in particular, games and market economics.

 

 

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Integrability and Gauge/String Duality

[RG # 131] Integrability and Gauge/String Duality

March 1 - May 31, 2012

Organizers:
Matthias Staudacher (Humboldt-University, Berlin)
Romuald Janik (Jagiellonian University)

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The focus of the group is on a currently intensively-studied model in theoretical physics, which has been termed by some the "hydrogen atom of the 21st century". The basic idea and goal was to construct a mathematically exact solution of an, admittedly idealized, quantum field theory of the general type as occurs in the description of the forces between our universe's elementary particles, with the notable exception of the gravitational force.

Yang-Mills gauge theory is named for its inventors, Chen Ning Yang and Robert Mills. The word gauge refers to the fact that at the heart of these theories lies a certain built-in redundancy in its mathematical description very hard to eliminate, while apparently necessary in order to properly record and understand the rules of the game. The idealized system at the focus of our group is called N=4 super Yang-Mills gauge theory. It stipulates that in addition to our standard continuous ("bosonic") spacetime dimensions, certain hidden discrete ("fermionic") dimensions exist. The number N=4 refers to the fact that this model has four such curious symmetries.

The N=4 gauge model is the most beautiful and simplest Yang-Mills theory one can come up with, even though it certainly does not directly appear in nature. It is also a deeply mysterious model, and it has become clear in recent years that it possesses further hidden symmetries as well as seemingly contradictory, alternative descriptions, which promise to allow for a complete solution of the model, at least for certain quantities and in certain limits. This is precisely what we are setting out to achieve with our program at the IIAS.

 

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Molecular Electronics

[RG # 132] Molecular Electronics

June 1 - August 30, 2012

Organizer:
Amnon Aharony (Ben-Gurion University)

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Molecular electronics, one of the major fields in nanoscience, studies electronic devices based on single molecules, and on molecular networks connected to other electronic components. Its potential applications include sensors, displays, smart materials, molecular motors, logic and memory devices, molecular scale transistors and energy transduction devices. Besides being the next step in device miniaturization, molecules are able to bind to one another, recognize each other, assemble into larger structures, and exhibit dynamical stereochemistry. In addition to its technological potential, molecular electronics has raised many new fundamental questions, e.g. concerning the interactions of molecular systems with their environment and their functioning far from equilibrium.  Also, fluctuations and noise constitute an important part of the physics of such microscopic systems. At the moment there already exist several ingenious experimental realizations of transport through molecular bridges. There also exist a variety of different theoretical tools (both in chemistry and in physics) to attack the above important issues.

This group will bring together physicists and chemists, experimentalists and theoreticians, senior and young scientists, aiming to understand existing experiments, to propose new experiments (possibly combining various experimental tools) and new technological devices, using combinations of  various theoretical and experimental methods.

 

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Animals and Human Society in the Sinitic World

Animals and Human Society

Animals and Human Society in the Sinitic World

March 1, 2021 – July 31, 2021

Organizers:

Gideon Shelach Lavi (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Nir Avieli (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

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Research Group Assistant: Azri Amram

The proposed research group will fill a gap in the global history of the human interaction with non-human animals. It will examine the diverse roles that animals – real and metaphorical – have played in Chinese history, society, and culture. Bringing together scholars working in the diverse disciplines of archeology, history, anthropology, art, religious and literary studies, the group will provide a comprehensive picture of the representations, roles and attitudes towards animals in Sinitic world (including not only China proper but other regions that were in contact with it and adopted elements of the Chinese culture). Extending from prehistoric times animals, through dietary practices and sacrifice, to the representation of pets in Chinese literature and art, the research group will make multiple contributions to Chinese studies. At the same time, it will provide a crucial and hitherto neglected perspective on the human interaction with the environment. In recent decades the humanities and social sciences have become increasingly aware of the significance of the interactions between human and non-human animals.

Anthropologists have termed the growing interest in human-animal relationship the "animal turn," the "trans-species turn" or the "post-human turn." This new perspective is transforming our understanding not only of animals’ effects on the development of human society and culture, but also of the rigid hierarchy where humans are on top and the rest of the natural world is subordinate to them.

The "animal turn" has largely passed China by. We still lack detailed studies not only of the literary and artistic representation of animals but also of the roles they have played in practice during the temporally long, and throughout the geographically vast, Chinese universe. Moreover, no integrative research have been carried on the complex networks of human-animal interactions, including the influences of those interactions on the shaping of human society and culture in the Sinitic world. The proposed interdisciplinary research group will fill this scholarly lacuna.

Anthropologists and historians alike have noted that the self-definition of humans is inseparable from their conception of non-human animals. Similarly, human attitudes towards beasts all too often tell us how they perceive fellow humans. In this respect, it is important to compare the Sinitic worldview to the Western one. Unlike the monotheistic faiths that have humans fashioned in god's image, the Chinese philosophical tradition holds that humans and beasts differ in degree, rather than essence, of spirituality. Imported from India, the Buddhist theory of transmigration contributed to the Chinese tendency of minimizing the existential divide between human and non-human animals. Does this theological affinity between people and their beasts of burden have any bearing on the latter's fate in human hands? Dose it create specific types of human-animal interactions that are Sinitic and different from Western types? The research team intends to investigate these questions, which answers are likely to be complex.

 

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Triangulating Towards Socrates: The Socratic Circle and Its Aftermath

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Triangulating Towards Socrates: The Socratic Circle and Its Aftermath

October 12, 2020 - February 11, 2021

Organizers:

Gabriel Danzig (Bar-Ilan University)
James Redfield (University of Chicago) 

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Research Group Assistant: Shlomit Kulik

The fourth century BCE saw a flourishing of philosophical speculation centered around the figure of Socrates. More than a hundred different Socratic compositions were produced between 394 and the middle of the fourth century. This unprecedented flourishing of philosophical literature in this period created not merely a new literary genre, but a new cultural phenomenon that eclipsed the previous intellectual traditions, both naturalistic and sophistic. It would influence the major philosophic traditions of the ancient world, not only the Platonic and Aristotelian schools, but also the Stoic, Skeptical and Cyrenaic schools; and it has had a huge influence on the modern world, including on the curricula of today's leading universities. This project aims to recover the unique features of the Socratic revolution by exploring the diversity of opinions within and around the Socratic circle. Our hypothesis is that the impact of Plato and Aristotle has effectively blocked out alternative views of the nature of virtue and the human good and reduced our appreciation of what is unique in Plato and Aristotle. In particular, we expect to challenge the Aristotelian conception of the virtues as fixed traits of character acquired through repetition and practiced with pleasure. This account of the virtues, which has become almost self-evident to scholars in all fields, does not fit well with the descriptions of virtues found in the full Socratic corpus. Xenophon, for example, believes that virtues are inherently unstable, require constant supervision and effort, and are not necessarily practiced with pleasure. This view requires the re-examination of the concept that virtues are ends in the themselves, so familiar from Platonic and Aristotelian thinking. We also find a much wider range of virtue terminology in the full Socratic corpus. Aristotle seems to restrict the virtues by schematizing them in relation to distinct emotions and behavioral challenges. By examining the other Socratic writers, we hope to be able to reconstruct an alternative account that can stand up to philosophical challenge.

In order to recover and test alternative views, we will make use of a variety of methods. Where complete literary texts remain (as in the case of Xenophon and the Platonic pseudepigrapha) we will attempt to reconstruct the author's views of the substantial issues connected with the virtues and the human good by standard literary and philosophical analysis. Work on this has been started by members of the group and others. In cases where we only have fragmentary remains we will focus on comparative semantic analysis of ethical and political terms and concepts, following principles of the history of concepts (Begriffsgeschichte) which pays careful attention to the historical and philological roots of philosophical concepts. While not a replacement for philosophical interpretation, this approach provides a necessary starting place and corrective to purely philosophical research. It will be supplemented by philosophical analysis and defense.

 

 

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Cultural Brokerage in Pre-modern Islam

cultural brokerage

Cultural Brokerage in Pre-modern Islam

September 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021

Organizers:

Uriel Simonsohn (University of Haifa)
Luke Yarbrough (UCLA)

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Research Group Assistant: Alon Ben Yehuda

Islamic civilization is a term used to describe a set of shared cultural, confessional, and social ideas, institutions, practices, and conventions, all positively related in some manner to Islamic revelation and the notional community of Muslims.  It took shape over many centuries following the formation of Muhammad’s community in the seventh century and, to an extent, is still undergoing change. Recent studies on different aspects of Islamic civilization have challenged the notion of a linear formation ex nihilo and advocated instead that we think in terms of processes by which diverse cultural phenomena took on an Islamic coloring. Thus, in contrast to an image of an emerging Islamic civilization that sprang up in a particular location and time, a revised interpretation offers a dynamic by which Islamic civilization was informed by cultural polycentricism and pluralism, and which multiple groups and traditions took part in molding. Islamic civilization, therefore, did not originate, but began when diverse cultural traditions entered into dialogue with Islamic history; it took on variegated interpretations in diverse social settings and has remained multifaceted to this day.

This revised outlook, however, does not rule out moments of exchange, borrowing, influence, or hybridity, but rather broadens the scope of inquiry by suggesting alternative forms of cultural motion. It is in the course of these processes that a variety of individuals played decisive roles as the human vectors through which cultural commodities of different sorts were gradually integrated within (and disseminated from) Islamic civilization. Such individuals acted as cultural brokers, a term derived from anthropological and historical literature, where it refers to individuals who serve as mediators between what are often (though not always) distinct social and cultural groups. They served as conduits of cultural transmission by transferring, mediating, embodying, and exchanging various social and cultural capitals,e.g., spiritual authority, erudition, kinship ties, legal capacities, and more. Yet their roles, intriguing in themselves, also highlight the complex nature of the societies they inhabited and the subtlety of intergroup relations. The proposed research group seeks to address the role of cultural brokers in premodern Islam; in particular, to identify the different types of brokers (courtiers, converts, communal leaders, women, missionaries, merchants, holy individuals, etc.); the circumstances which facilitated their activities (intellectual encounters, translation requirements, bureaucratic services, technological exigencies, trade and travel, enslavement, etc.); and the cultural outcomes or products of those activities (the availability of information and its types, literary enterprises, poetic styles, technology, urban planning, architecture, etc.). 

We thus propose to assemble a group of leading specialists in Classical Islamic history whose scholarly concerns are related to the social and/or cultural aspects of cultural brokerage. Our intention is that this collaborative endeavor will allow for a fruitful investigation into the circumstances that facilitated multidirectional cultural brokerage around the edges of Islamic societies, the type of cultural commodities that were brokered, modes of reception and impact of brokerage, and the correlation between historical phenomena and the activities of cultural brokers.

 

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Behavioral Ethics Meets Corporate Governance: Paradigm Shift?

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Behavioral Ethics Meets Corporate Governance: Paradigm Shift?

September 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021

Organizer:

Adi Libson (Bar-Ilan University)

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Research Group Assistant: Barak Or

 

Over the last few years, there has been a growing academic interest in the field of behavioral ethics: people’s ethical biases in decision making. This scholarship has focused on the behavioral mechanisms that explain why ordinary unethicality is so common among people who view themselves as law-abiding individuals.

A recently published book by Professor Yuval Feldman (2008) systematically explored the far-reaching implications of this literature to the legal field: Instead of assuming that its primary target are "bad people" which the law must deter from maximizing their own self-interest, the law should aim to address "good people." These changes require a better understanding of the mechanisms which cause good people to do wrong. Better understanding will also lead to better ways of addressing this problem, by designing the situation in ways which would reduce people’s unethicality, such as verifying they have fewer justifications to behave unethically or ensuring they have a clear view of who are they harming.

The proposed research is aimed at examining the interaction of the behavioral ethics literature with the legal field which provides the most fertile ground for its acceptance: corporate law and governance. The corporate context serves as a 'perfect storm' combining and exacerbating several aspects emphasized in the behavioral ethics literature that lead individuals to act wrongly, such as doing things for the benefit of others, diffusion of responsibility, remoteness of the victim and contagiousness.

Furthermore, addressing the issue of conflict-of-interests and agency problems is central to the field of corporate law. As such, the understanding that a central way for curbing conflicts-of-interest is by increasing the saliency of the conflict-of-interest in the eyes of the agent may have far-reaching implications in the realm of corporate law and completely alter the arsenal of its tools. In many instances, such an analysis may reach opposite conclusions to that of the conventional law and economics framework on the effectiveness of certain instruments in curbing conflict-of-interest problems. Are independent directors an effective tool for monitoring conflicts-of-interests? How significant should be the role of fiduciary duties in dealing with the agency problem? What effects does the group dynamics of boards have on the monitoring of conflict-of-interests? Two types of implications of behavioral ethics on corporate governance will be examined: structural implications and procedural implications.

The central goal of the group is to facilitate a reciprocal engagement: examining the possible contribution of behavioral ethics to the corporate governance literature and the contribution of corporate governance to the organizational psychology literature. Behavioral ethics has many potential implications for corporate governance and can yield various feasible policy applications. Legal corporate scholars can also contribute to behavioral ethics scholars, by providing real-world contexts and suggesting additional experiments which can validate experimental findings in the field of behavioral ethics. This is an important contribution to the behavioral ethics literature, which faces a serious challenge concerning the extent of its external validity.

 

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Research Groups: Convergence and Divergence in Pentateuchal Theory: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Israel, North America, and Europe

[RG # 134] Convergence and Divergence in Pentateuchal Theory: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Israel, North America, and Europe

Sept. 1, 2012 - July 1, 2013

Organizer:

Bernard M. Levinson (University of Minnesota)
Konrad Schmid (University of Zurich)
Baruch Schwartz (The Hebrew University)

 

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The Pentateuch lies at the heart of western Humanities, and the question of the formation of the Pentateuch represents one of the foundational topics in the discipline of academic bibilical studies. Despite its importance to the discipline, recent scholarship on this question has become increasingly divided on fundamental questions like dating, the existence of literary sources, and the role of authors or editors in shaping the final document. In effect, three separate academic cultures have emerged, those of Israel, Europe and North America, each promoting its own model, and without sufficient intellectual exchange between scholars in the various communities regarding their own assumptions. Our research group was created to address this problem, to bring about greater dialogue among leading proponents of the different scholarly models, and to move towards a shared discourse.

 

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Research Groups:Neo-Aramaic Dialectology

[RG # 135] Neo-Aramaic Dialectology: Jews, Christians, and Mandeans 

Sept. 1, 2012 - July 1, 2013

Organizer:

Steven Fassberg (The Hebrew University)
Simon Hopkins (The Hebrew University)
Hezy Mutzafy (Tel Aviv University)

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Aramaic is an endangered language, more precisely, a group of languages, that is on the verge of extinction. First attested in inscriptions from Upper Mesopotamia, northern Syria, and northern Israel at the beginning of the first millenium B.C.E., Aramaic has been spoken uninterruptedly up to the present. A century ago Kurdistan (Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish) and Iranian Azerbaijan were home to Jewish and Christian speakers of Aramaic, who had lived in these regions for over two millennia. 

Aramaic is still spoken today in three villages near Damascus (Ma'lula, Bax'a, and Jubb'adin) by Christians as well as Muslims (who converted over the past centuries from Christianity). Persecution and massacres have severely shrunk the already small native Aramaic-speaking population, and the surviving speakers have fled their original habitat and settled elsewhere, where their speech has been heavily influenced and gradually supplanted by other languages. Today, as a result, competent native speakers of most dialects are both scarce and elderly, and few of them live in a community where Aramaic is still used freely. Within a generation or so, almost all dialects of vernacular Aramaic will disappear.

This unfortunate state of affairs requires immediate action, and the goals of the research group are:

(1) To refine further the existing classifications of Neo-Aramaic dialects
(2) To exchange already collected but hitherto unpublished data in an effort to elucidate grammatical, lexical, and etymological problems
(3) To reconstruct in greater detail the historical depth of the Neo-Aramaic dialects
(4) To record additional unstudied dialects of Jewish Neo-Aramaic speakers in Israel

 

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Research Groups: Patterns and Processes in Organizational Networks

[RG # 133] Patterns and Processes in Organizational Networks

September 1, 2012- February 1, 2013

Organizers:

Yuval Kalish (Tel Aviv University)
Amalya Oliver (The Hebrew University)

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Organizational networks are collaborative systems between organizations that are structured to achieve certain goals. The principle rationale behind organizational networks is that no single organization can achieve its stated outcome by itself due to resource constraints. The resources that are gained from the networks are funding, capabilities, knowledge and learning, legitimacy, consulting and more. While organizations need to collaborate, there are additional factors that hinder these collaborations. These include competition, knowledge protection, free riding, opportunism, inertia, lack of trust and fragility. All these elements are embedded in the process of collaborations and are not well developed in the literature.

Organizational network research is based on sociological and strategy system theories coupled with advanced statistical and algebraic methods on the one hand, and qualitative case studies and egocentric approaches on the other. This area, while witnessing significant growth over the past several years, was mainly characterized by cross-sectional approaches (one-time measurements). The group will focus on areas that are, as yes, not well developed in the general network research fild, and specifically within the overall organizational network domain, i.e. naming patterns of organizational network processes. We have identified three main directions in organizational research - learning networks, temporary network systems and development of networks. Examples of complexities and tensions associated with processes within networks are those that exist between collaboration and competition, innovation and inertia, stability and fragility.

 

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Research Groups: The Influential Child: The Role of Children's Psychobiology and Socialization in Development

[RG # 136] The Influential Child: The Role of Children's Psychobiology and Socialization in Development

March 1, 2013- August 1, 2013

Organizers:

Maayan Davidov (The Hebrew University)
Ariel Knafo (The Hebrew University)

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The research group is comprised of developmental psychologists who have decided to explore a unique perspective within the field of child development: the influential role of children. This perspective is unusual, because the bulk of the research on children's development focuses on how the environment affects the child, not the other way around; our group has set out to examine the opposite direction of influence. This is an extraordinary, unprecendented opportunity for a team of developmental researchers to focus in depth on how children affect their social environment and actively influence their own development.

 

 

 

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