What's the Fuss about social constructivism

Episteme 1 (1):73-85 (2004)
The topic of this paper is social constructivist doctrines about the nature of scientific knowledge. I don't propose to review all the many accounts that have either claimed this designation or had it ascribed to them. Rather I shall try to consider in a very general way what sense should be made of the underlying idea, and then illustrate some of the central points with two central examples from biology. The first thing to say is that, on the face of it, some doctrine of the social construction of science must self-evidently be true. The notion of science as progressing through the efforts of solitary geniuses may have had some plausibility in the seventeenth century, but it has none today. Science is a massively cooperative, social, enterprise. And surely it is constructed. Scientific knowledge doesn't grow on trees; it is produced through hard work by human agents. Putting these two banal points together we conclude that science is socially constructed
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DOI 10.3366/epi.2004.1.1.73
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