Science, truth and history, part II. metaphysical Bolt-holds for the sociology of scientific knowlege?

Historians of science have frequently sought to exclude modern scientific knowledge from their narratives. Part I of this paper, published in the previous issue, cautioned against seeing more than a literary preference at work here. In particular, it was argued—contra advocates of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge —that a commitment to epistemological relativism should not be seen as having straightforward historiographical consequences. Part II considers further SSK-inspired attempts to entangle the currently fashionable historiography with particular positions in the philosophy of science. None, I argue, is promising. David Bloor’s proposed alliance with scientific realism relies upon a mistaken view of contrastive explanation; Andrew Pickering’s appeal to instrumentalism is persuasive for particle physics but much less so for science as a whole; and Bruno Latour’s home-grown metaphysics is so bizarre that its compatibility with SSK is, if anything, a further blow to the latter’s plausibility.Keywords: Historiography; Sociology of scientific knowledge; Contrastive explanation; Realism; Instrumentalism; Bruno Latou
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References found in this work BETA
D. Bloor (1999). Anti-Latour. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 30 (1):81-112.
Bruno Latour (1990). Postmodern? No, Simply Amodern! Steps Towards an Anthropology of Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 21 (1):145-171.
Tim Lewens (2005). Realism and the Strong Program. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (3):559-577.
N. Tosh (2002). Possession, Exorcism and Psychoanalysis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 33 (4):583-596.

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