Miriam Gur-Arye (The Hebrew University)
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.
Ruth Weintraub (Tel-Aviv University)
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.
[RG # 129] Jewish Physicians in Medieval Christian Europe: Professional Knowledge as an Agent for Cultural Change
March 1, 2012 - August 31, 2012
Gad Freudenthal (CNRS Paris, University of Geneva)
Reimund Leicht (The Hebrew University)
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.
March 1 - August 31, 2012
Elchanan Ben-Porath (The Hebrew University)
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.
March 1 - May 31, 2012
Matthias Staudacher (Humboldt-University, Berlin)
Romuald Janik (Jagiellonian University)
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.