A second look at David Bloor's: Knowledge and social imagery

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 24 (3):336-361 (1994)
Abstract
The recent republication of David Bloor's Knowledge and Social Imagery in a second edition provides an occasion to reappraise the celebrated work which launched the so-called Strong Programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge. This work embodies the general outlook and foundational principles in a way that is still characteristic of its descendents. Above all, the recent republication of Bloor's original book is evidence of the continuing interest and importance of the work, but it also provides the clearest evidence of the shortcomings of the enterprise. The arguments presented in the bulk of the book have received relatively little attention by comparison with the principal tenets enunciated in the first few pages. Accordingly, a detailed examination is made of these original arguments which were so influential in establishing the sociology of scientific knowledge. A close analysis reveals their seemingly unnoticed vacuity, as well as a vast discrepancy between the radical tenets of the Strong Programme and the theses that are actually defended in the body of Bloor's text. In this sense, this article serves to complement and reinforce Mario Bunge's recent masterful survey of the field, which he describes as "a grotesque cartoon of scientific research.".
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