"Please, don't let me be misunderstood": The role of argumentation in a sociology of academic misunderstandings
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Social Epistemology 21 (4):369 – 389 (2007)
Academic debates are so frequent and omnipresent in most disciplines, particularly the social sciences and humanities, it seems obvious that disagreements are bound to occur. The aim of this paper is to show that whereas the agent who perceives his/her contribution as being misunderstood locates the origin of the communication problem on the side of the receiver who "misinterprets" the text, the emitter is in fact also contributing to the possibility of this misunderstanding through the very manner in which his/her text is written. In other words, I propose a symmetric approach to understanding misunderstandings: taking simultaneously into account the position of the reader in the scientific field and the structure of the texts of the writers. The paper thus proposes to complement the sociological analysis of controversies in a scientific field with the close reading of texts, a practice usually found in studies of argumentation, in order to explain the occurrence of misunderstandings. The debate surrounding the charge of "relativism" among sociologists of scientific knowledge provides us with a case study to analyse in detail the argumentative context of misunderstanding.
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References found in this work BETA
Bruno Latour (1987). Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Harvard University Press.
H. M. Collins (1985/1992). Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice. University of Chicago Press.
Andrew Pickering (1995). The Mangle of Practice Time, Agency, and Science. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Pierre Bourdieu (2004). Science of Science and Reflexivity. University of Chicago Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Colleen Derkatch (2008). Method as Argument: Boundary Work in Evidence-Based Medicine. Social Epistemology 22 (4):371 – 388.
Yves Gingras (2009). Response to Collins About 'One Point' That is Absent From My Review of His Book. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):112-.
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