Depoliticization or Americanization of Japanese Science Studies

Social Epistemology 27 (2):163 - 176 (2013)
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Abstract

In this paper, I will describe the history of Japanese science studies (In the Japanese language, the term ?science studies? [Kagaku-ron] is used to indicate a broad area, which covers the history, philosophy, and social studies of science and technology.) from the beginning of the twentieth century to around the mid-1980s, and will argue how depoliticization took place in its history. Japanese science studies was formed under the conspicuous influence of German philosophy before World War II (hereafter WW II), especially in its neo-Kantian tradition. During the military regime, science studies offered a hiding place for Marxists. However, after the end of the Asian-Pacific War, British influence became stronger in the history and sociology of science in two stages. First, logical positivism arrived, in this case, mainly from the USA under the name of ?analytic philosophy.? Second, the American influence was furthered by the introduction of Kuhn?s theory of paradigm which unexpectedly depoliticized Japanese science studies. This trend seems to have reflected the course of the Cold War. After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, one of the most significant legacies of Cold War Science, we need to review the history of science studies in order to retrieve its ?critical? function. Even though this paper focuses on Japan, comparable reflections should be made worldwide

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