REVIEW (1): "Jeff Kochan’s book offers both an original reading of Martin Heidegger’s early writings on science and a powerful defense of the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) research program. Science as Social Existence weaves together a compelling argument for the thesis that SSK and Heidegger’s existential phenomenology should be thought of as mutually supporting research programs." (Julian Kiverstein, in Isis) ---- REVIEW (2): "I cannot in the space of this review do justice to the richness and range of Kochan's (...) discussion [...]. There is a great deal in this foundational portion of Kochan's discussion that I find tremendously interesting and engaging [...]." (David R. Cerbone, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science) ---- REVIEW (3): "Science as Social Existence will be of interest not only to Heidegger scholars but to anyone engaged in science and technology studies. [...] This is an informative and original book. Kochan should be praised for his clear, pleasant-to-read prose." (Michael Butler, in CHOICE). (shrink)
Author's response to: Raphael Sassower, 'Heidegger and the Sociologists: A Forced Marriage?,' Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7, no. 5 (2018): 30-32. -- Part of a book-review symposium on: Jeff Kochan (2017), Science as Social Existence: Heidegger and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (Cambridge UK: Open Book Publishers).
A persistent puzzle for philosophers of science is the well-documented appeal made by scientists to their aesthetic emotions in the course of scientific research. Emotions are usually viewed as irremediably subjective, and thus of no epistemological interest. Yet, by denying an epistemic role for scientists’ emotional dispositions, philosophers find themselves in the awkward position of ignoring phenomena which scientists themselves often insist are of importance. This paper suggests a possible solution to this puzzle by challenging the wholesale identification of emotion (...) with subjectivity. The proposed method is a naturalistic and externalist one, calling for empirical investigation into the intersubjective processes by which scientists’ emotional dispositions become refined and attuned to specific objects of attention. The proposal is developed through a critical discussion of Michael Polanyi’s theory of scientific passions, as well as plant geneticist Barbara McClintock’s celebrated “feeling for the organism.”. (shrink)
Bruno Latour has had a tremendous impact on the field of science studies. Yet, it is not always easy to say what he stands for. Indeed, Latour has often claimed that his work lacks any overall unity. In this essay, I suggest that at least one concept remains constant throughout Latour’s diverse studies of modern science and technology, namely, mediation. I try to make good this claim by focussing on Latour’s numerous attempts over the years to distance himself from, so (...) as to discredit, the philosopher Martin Heidegger. I argue that Latour’s repeated denunciations of Heidegger amount to a systematic tactic of dissimulation: by suppressing the substance of Heidegger’s critique of modern technoscience, Latour directs attention away from the not insignificant weaknesses in his own theory of mediation. Against the backdrop of an appropriately reconstructed Heidegger, Latour’s self-promotion as a radically progressive non-modern thinker cannot be sustained. (shrink)
Social studies of science have often treated natural field sites as extensions of the laboratory. But this overlooks the unique specificities of field sites. While lab sites are usually private spaces with carefully controlled borders, field sites are more typically public spaces with fluid boundaries and diverse inhabitants. Field scientists must therefore often adapt their work to the demands and interests of local agents. I propose to address the difference between lab and field in sociological terms, as a difference in (...) style. A field style treats epistemic alterity as a resource rather than an obstacle for objective knowledge production. A sociological stylistics of the field should thus explain how objective science can co-exist with radical conceptual difference. I discuss examples from the Canadian North, focussing on collaborations between state wildlife biologists and managers, on the one hand, and local Aboriginal Elders and hunters, on the other. I argue that a sociological stylistics of the field can help us to better understand how radically diverse agents may collaborate across cultures in the successful production of reliable natural knowledge. (shrink)
This paper briefly highlights a small part of the work being done by Indigenous groups in Canada to integrate science into their ways of knowing and living with nature. Special attention is given to a recent attempt by Mi'kmaw educators in Unama'ki (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) to overcome suspicion of science among their youth by establishing an 'Integrative Science' (Toqwa'tu'kl Kjijitaqnn, or 'bringing our knowledges together') degree programme at Cape Breton University. The goal was to combine Indigenous and scientific knowledges (...) in a way that protects and empowers Mi'kmaw rights and lifeways. (shrink)
Bruno Latour claims to have shown that a Kantian model of knowledge, which he describes as seeking to unite a disembodied transcendental subject with an inaccessible thing-in-itself, is dramatically falsified by empirical studies of science in action. Instead, Latour puts central emphasis on scientific practice, and replaces this Kantian model with a model of “circulating reference.” Unfortunately, Latour's alternative schematic leaves out the scientific subject. I repair this oversight through a simple mechanical procedure. By putting a slight spin on Latour's (...) diagrammatic representation of his theory, I discover a new space for a post-Kantian scientific subject, a subject brilliantly described by Ludwik Fleck. The neglected subjectivities and ceaseless practices of science are thus re-united. (shrink)
Joseph Rouse has drawn from Heidegger’s early philosophy to develop what he calls a “practical hermeneutics of science.” With this, he has not only become an important player in the recent trend towards practice-based conceptualisations of science, he has also emerged as the predominant expositor of Heidegger’s philosophy of science. Yet, there are serious shortcomings in both Rouse’s theory of science and his interpretation of Heidegger. In the first instance, Rouse’s practical hermeneutics appears confused on the topic of realism. In (...) the second instance, Rouse suppresses Heidegger’s distinction between existence and essence, and hence fails to grasp the latter’s corollary distinction between scientic research and everyday practice. I argue that, by accepting a correction in his interpretation of Heidegger, Rouse would find the means to resolve the debilitating tensions in his stance towards realism. (shrink)
Final instalment of a book-review symposium on: Jeff Kochan (2017), Science as Social Existence: Heidegger and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (Cambridge UK: Open Book Publishers). -- Author's response to: Paolo Palladino (2018), 'Heidegger Today: On Jeff Kochan’s Science and Social Existence,' Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7(8): 41-46; and Adam Riggio (2018), 'The Very Being of a Conceptual Scheme: Disciplinary and Conceptual Critiques,' Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7(11): 53-59.
Author's response to: Pablo Schyfter, 'Inaccurate Ambitions and Missing Methodologies: Thoughts on Jeff Kochan and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge,' Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7, no. 8 (2018): 8-14. -- Part of a book-review symposium on: Jeff Kochan (2017), Science as Social Existence: Heidegger and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (Cambridge UK: Open Book Publishers).
In this essay, I respond to Tim Lewens's proposal that realists and Strong Programme theorists can find common ground in reliabilism. I agree with Lewens, but point to difficulties in his argument. Chief among these is his assumption that reliabilism is incompatible with the Strong Programme's principle of symmetry. I argue that the two are, in fact, compatible, and that Lewens misses this fact because he wrongly supposes that reliabilism entails naturalism. The Strong Programme can fully accommodate a reliabilism which (...) has been freed from its inessential ties to naturalism. Unlike naturalistic epistemologists, the Strong Programme's sociologistic reliabilist insists that all scientific facts are the product of both natural and social causal phenomena. Anticipating objections, I draw on Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations to explain how the sociologistic reliabilist can account for standard intuitions about the objective elements of knowledge. I also explain how the Strong Programme theorist can distinguish between a belief's seeming reliable and its being reliable. (shrink)
In this chapter, I argue that Karl Popper was a communitarian philosopher. This will surprise some readers. Liberals often tout Popper as one of their champions. Indeed, there is no doubt that Popper shared much in common with liberals. However, I will argue that Popper rejected a central, though perhaps not essential, pillar of liberal theory, namely, individualism. This claim may seem to contradict Popper's professed methodological individualism. Yet I argue that Popper was a methodological individualist in name only. In (...) fact, methodological individualism faded from Popper's vocabulary as he moved institutions and situational analysis more firmly to centre-stage. Popper's focus on institutions and situations constitutes what I call his communitarianism. If my interpretation is correct, then theorists in the socio logy of scientific knowledge and communitarian epistemology should reconsider their long-standing distrust of Popper's philosophy. Indeed, they may have much to gain by treating Popper as a friend rather than a foe. (shrink)
This chapter briefly summarises work by four key figures in the phenomenological philosophy of science: Edmund Husserl; Martin Heidegger; Patrick Heelan; and Joseph J. Kockelmans. In addition, some comparison is made with well-known figures in mainstream philosophy of science, and suggestions are given for further readings in the phenomenological philosophy of science.
In this essay, I address a novel criticism recently levelled at the Strong Programme by Nick Tosh and Tim Lewens. Tosh and Lewens paint Strong Programme theorists as trading on a contrastive form of explanation. With this, they throw valuable new light on the explanatory methods employed by the Strong Programme. However, as I shall argue, Tosh and Lewens run into trouble when they accuse Strong Programme theorists of unduly restricting the contrast space in which legitimate historical and sociological explanations (...) of scientific knowledge might be given. Their attack founders as a result of their failure to properly understand the overall methodological concerns of Strong Programme theorists. After introducing readers to the technique of contrastive explanation and correcting the errors in Tosh and Lewens’ interpretation of the Strong Programme, I argue that it is, in fact, Tosh and Lewens’ own commitment to scientific realism which places an unacceptable restriction on the explanatory space open to historians and sociologists of science. The happy ending is that the Strong Programme provides more freedom for analysis than does scientific realism, and that careful attention to the methodological benefits of contrastive explanation can help lighten the burden on historians and sociologists of science as they go about their explanatory business. (shrink)
This article critically reviews an outstanding collection of new essays addressing Edmund Husserl’s Crisis of European Sciences. In Science and the Life-World (Stanford, 2010), David Hyder and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger bring together an impressive range of first-rate philosophers and historians. The collection explicates key concepts in Husserl’s often obscure work, compares Husserl’s phenomenology of science to the parallel tradition of historical epistemology, and provocatively challenges Husserl’s views on science. The explications are uniformly clear and helpful, the comparative work intriguing, and the (...) criticisms interesting but uneven. The article also elaborates on Husserl’s phenomenological method as it relates to the historiography of science, and compares his views on mathematical idealisation to more recent work in the analytical tradition. (shrink)
Hermeneutic studies of science locate a circle at the heart of scientific practice: scientists only gain knowledge of what they, in some sense, already know. This may seem to threaten the rational validity of science, but one can argue that this circle is a virtuous rather than a vicious one. A virtuous circle is one in which research conclusions are already present in the premises, but only in an indeterminate and underdeveloped way. In order to defend the validity of science, (...) the hermeneuticist must describe a method by which a vague and confused initial knowledge of nature gets transformed into a clear and determinate knowledge of nature. I consider three such methods. The first is regressus demonstrativa, favoured by the physicians of Padua during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The second is mathēsis, introduced by Martin Heidegger in his discussion of seventeenth-century science. The third is Denkstil, a key concept in Ludwik Fleck’s history of syphilology. I conclude by listing three desiderata for a hermeneutic science studies: that it be anti-metaphysical, historical, and sociological. --- Reprinted in: Erich Otto Graf, Martin Schmid & Johannes Fehr (eds.), Fleck and the Hermeneutics of Science (Collegium Helveticum Heft 14) (Zürich, 2016), pp. 85-93. (shrink)
Recent empirical and philosophical research challenges the view that reason and emotion necessarily conflict with one another. Philosophers of science have, however, been slow in responding to this research. I argue that they continue to exclude emotion from their models of scientific reasoning because they typically see emotion as belonging to the context of discovery rather than of justification. I suggest, however, that recent work in epistemology challenges the authority usually granted the context distinction, taking a socially inflected reliabilism as (...) my example. Intersubjectively stable emotions may play a reliable role in the formation, which for the reliabilist also means the justification, of scientific beliefs. (shrink)
Colin Howson argues that (1) my sociologistic reliabilism sheds no light on the objectivity of epistemic content, and that (2) sorites does not threaten the reliability of modus ponens . I reply that argument (1) misrepresents my position, and that argument (2) is beside the point.
Bruno Latour has been attempting to transform his sociological account of science into an ambitious theory of democracy. In a key early moment in this project, Latour alleges that Plato’s Gorgias introduces an impossibly ratio-nalistic and deeply anti-democratic philosophy which continues to this day to distort our understandings of science and democracy. Latour reckons that if he can successfully refute the Gorgias , then he will have opened up a space in which to authorize his own theory of democracy. I (...) argue that Latour’s refutation of the Gorgias is a failure. Hence, his political theory is, by his own standards, horribly underdetermined. I present another reading of the Gorgias , and consider the dialogue’s possible relevance for current theories of deliberative democracy. Key Words: Latour • Gorgias • Socrates • rhetoric • elenchus • deliberative democracy. (shrink)
In response to Anderson and Arzyutov’s paper, I argue that ambiguities in the Russian social-scientific concept of “etnos” reveal its place in what I call a “field style” for thinking and doing science. Tolerance for ambiguity is, I suggest, a methodological strength of the field sciences. I support these reflections by also addressing the etnos concept’s origins in the complex history of Ukrainian nationalism.
William Gilbert’s 1600 book, De magnete, greatly influenced early modern natural philosophy. The book describes an impressive array of physical experiments, but it also advances a metaphysical view at odds with the soon to emerge mechanical philosophy. That view was animism. I distinguish two kinds of animism – Aristotelian and Platonic – and argue that Gilbert was an Aristotelian animist. Taking Robert Boyle as an example, I then show that early modern arguments against animism were often effective only against Platonic (...) animism. In fact, unacknowledged traces of Aristotelian animism can be found in Boyle’s mechanical account of nature. This was Gilbert’s legacy. (shrink)
Using an intersectionalist analysis, Hinther recounts efforts by Canada’s Ukrainian minority to build an ethnically distinct leftist movement. Opposed from without by both left-wing internationalists and right-wing nationalists, and hobbled from within by stubborn gender and generational inequalities, the movement finally lost its radical political momentum and so took up its allotted place in Canada’s polite multicultural mosaic. (Published in the series “Studies in Gender and History,” University of Toronto Press, 2018.).
Proponents of practice-based accounts of science often reject theory-based accounts, and seek to explain scientific theory reductively in terms of practice. I consider two examples: Dimitri Ginev and Joseph Rouse. Both draw inspiration from Martin Heidegger’s existential conception of science. And both allege that Heidegger ultimately betrayed his insight that theory can be reduced to practice when he sought to explain modern science in terms of a theory-based “mathematical projection of nature.” I argue that Heidegger believed neither that theory can (...) be reduced to practice nor that the mathematical projection is theory-based. For Heidegger, the mathematical projection is the existential condition of possibility for modern science. The theory and practice of modern science represent two distinct modes of this single existential ground state. (shrink)
Contribution to a book symposium on Steve Fuller's _Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History_ (Routledge, 2015). The title reproduces the title of an essay by Hannah Arendt. Fuller uses the idea of theodicy to promote a creationist philosophy of science, according to which one is justified in breaking eggs in order to produce a divine omelette of technologically orchestrated human transcendence. The review nods to Arendt's essay, and a short story by Ursula LeGuin, in challenging this proposal.