: H-J Rheinberger's book Toward a History of Epistemic Things contains a sophisticated account of scientific reference and scientific method worked out in conjunction with a case study of the laboratory synthesis of proteins. This paper offers a detailed critical analysis of Rheinberger's position from the standpoint of the sociology of scientific knowledge. The central thesis is that Rheinberger's account of reference, whether deliberately or unwittingly, assimilates discourse about the natural world to discourse about the social world. The result is (...) an inadequate account of scientific terms, which does not do justice to the independent character of the objects of scientific knowledge. A further feature of Rheinberger's approach is a commitment to an extreme form of methodological pluralism. This is challenged in the paper on the basis of a sociological reading of Carnap's famous identification of a "continuum of inductive methods.". (shrink)
David Bloor's challenging new evaluation of Wittgenstein's account of rules and rule-following brings together the rare combination of philosophical and sociological viewpoints. Wittgenstein enigmatically claimed that the way we follow rules is an "institution" without ever explaining what he meant by this term. Wittgenstein's contribution to the debate has since been subject to sharply opposed interpretations by "collectivist" and "individualist" readings by philosophers; in the light of this controversy, Bloor argues convincingly for a collectivist, sociological understanding of Wittgenstein's later work. (...) Accessible and simply written, this book provides the first consistent sociological reading of Wittgenstein's work for many years. (shrink)
The first edition of this book profoundly challenged and divided students of philosophy, sociology, and the history of science when it was published in 1976. In this second edition, Bloor responds in a substantial new Afterword to the heated debates engendered by his book.
The aim is to explain and defend the slogan that 'objectivity is social'. The sense of external reference of our common sense classifications and our moral and scientific beliefs derives from their having the character of social institutions. This claim provides a fruitful way of interpreting popper's doctrine of the 'third world' of objective knowledge. The implications of the sociological approach are explored with material drawn from the history of science and religion.
Two points of contact are explored between contemporary philosophy of science and Dialectical Materialism. The first point deals with the interaction view of metaphor as an exemplification of the law of the unity of opposites. The contradiction is then noted between the strategy and tactics of much analytical philosophy and the lesson to be learnt from this account of metaphor. The concern to change category habits into category disciplines rules out the process of conceptual change of the interaction view. G. (...) A. Paul's dismissal of Lenin's theory of reflection is then criticized in the light of the interaction view. (shrink)