David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 89 (1):135 - 162 (1991)
This paper gives a critical evaluation of the philosophical presuppositions and implications of two current schools in the sociology of knowledge: the Strong Programme of Bloor and Barnes; and the Constructivism of Latour and Knorr-Cetina. Bloor's arguments for his externalist symmetry thesis (i.e., scientific beliefs must always be explained by social factors) are found to be incoherent or inconclusive. At best, they suggest a Weak Programme of the sociology of science: when theoretical preferences in a scientific community, SC, are first internally explained by appealing to the evidence, e, and the standards or values, V, accepted in SC, then a sociologist may sometimes step in to explain why e and V were accepted in SC. Latour's story about the social construction of facts in scientific laboratories is found to be misleading or incredible. The idea that scientific reality is an artifact turns out to have some interesting affinities with classical pragmatism, instrumentalism, phenomenology, and internal realism. However, the constructivist account of theoretical entities in terms of negotiation and social consensus is less plausible than the alternative realist story which explains consensus by the preexistence of mind-independent real entities. The author concludes that critical scientific realism, developed with the concept of truthlikeness, is compatible with the thesis that scientific beliefs or knowledge claims may be relative to various types of cognitive and practical interests. However, the realist denies, with good reasons, the stronger type of relativism which takes reality and truth to be relative to persons, groups, or social interests.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Barry Barnes (1981). On the Conventional Character of Knowledge and Cognition. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 11 (3):303-333.
David Bloor (1991). Knowledge and Social Imagery. University of Chicago Press.
David Bloor (1983). Wittgenstein: A Social Theory of Knowledge. Columbia University Press.
Nancy Cartwright (1983). How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford University Press.
Harry M. Collins (1981). Stages in the Empirical Programme of Relativism. Social Studies of Science 11:3-10.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Uskali Mäki (2005). Reglobalizing Realism by Going Local, or (How) Should Our Formulations of Scientific Realism Be Informed About the Sciences? Erkenntnis 63 (2):231 - 251.
Dan Mcarthur (2006). The Anti-Philosophical Stance, the Realism Question and Scientific Practice. Foundations of Science 11 (4):369-397.
Tim Lewens (2005). Realism and the Strong Program. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (3):559-577.
Henk Van Den Belt (2003). How to Engage with Experimental Practices? Moderate Versus Radical Constructivism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 34 (2):201 - 219.
Paul Faulkner (2004). Relativism and Our Warrant for Scientific Theories. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (3):259 – 269.
Mohamed Elsamahi (1994). Could Theoretical Entities Save Realism? In David & Richard Hull & Burian (ed.), PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association. 173 - 180.
Henk van den Belt (2003). How to Engage with Experimental Practices? Moderate Versus Radical Constructivism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 34 (2):201-219.
Barbara Tuchańska (1990). Can Relativism Be Reconciled with Realism and Causalism? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (3):285-294.
Kareem Khalifa (2010). Social Constructivism and the Aims of Science. Social Epistemology 24 (1):45 – 61.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads72 ( #28,439 of 1,696,225 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #177,960 of 1,696,225 )
How can I increase my downloads?