Social construction revisited: Epistemology and scientific practice

Philosophy of Science 77 (1):92-116 (2010)
Abstract
Philosophy of scientific practice aims to critically evaluate as well as describe scientific inquiry. Epistemic norms are required for such evaluation. Social constructivism is widely thought to oppose this critical project. I argue, however, that one variety of social constructivism, focused on epistemic justification, can be a basis for critical epistemology of scientific practice, while normative accounts that reject this variety of social constructivism (SCj) cannot. Abstract, idealized epistemic norms cannot ground effective critique of our practices. I propose a new approach, placing SCj within a general framework of social action theory. This framework can be used to explicate epistemic norms implicit in our scientific practices. *Received July 2009; revised July 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: MS 14, P.O. Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251‐1892; e‐mail: mbf2@rice.edu.
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