What Everyone Should Know About STS

This book constitutes the best history of post-positivist philosophy and sociology of science we are likely ever to get. To a large extent, the power of the narrative derives from its being restricted to broadly epistemological issues. Thus the title, which mimics the title of a paper by the philosopher of language, Donald Davidson, someone little known among members of the science studies community (Davidson, 1986). The restriction to epistemological issues is surely well justified since among the founding themes of contemporary science studies were ‘the sociology of scientific knowledge’ (SSK) and ‘the manufacture of knowledge’. The opposition to positivist, particularly Popperian, accounts of the nature of scientific knowledge in these early sociological studies was explicit. Of course, as science studies has broadened into science and technology studies (STS) and includes major contributions from many others, including historians and anthropologists of science, many in the broader STS community are now not much concerned with epistemological issues. Nevertheless, this book should be required reading for all graduate students beginning their studies in the history, philosophy, or social study of science, for there is no better account of the debates about the nature of scientific knowledge that have taken place since the 1950s. Part of what makes this a good history is that the author has not been a participant in these past debates. He is neither a philosopher nor sociologist, but an intellectual historian whose previous books include: The Great Debate: ‘Bolshevism’ and the Literary Left in Germany, 1917–1930..
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