Interests, folk psychology and the sociology of scientific knowledge

Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):265 – 279 (2004)
This paper provides a conceptual analysis of the notion of interests as it is used in the social studies of science. After describing the theoretical background behind the Strong Program's adoption of the concept of interest, the paper outlines a reconstruction of the everyday notion of interest and argues that this same notion is used also by the sociologists of scientific knowledge. However, there are a couple of important differences between the everyday use of this notion and the way in which it used by the sociologists. The sociologists do not use the term in evaluative context and they do not regard interests as purely non-epistemic factors. Finally, it is argued that most of the usual critiques of interest explanations, by both philosophers and fellow sociologists, are misguided.
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