This chapter explores how science and technology studies (STS) have evolved over the past generation. It surveys the contrasting perspectives of philosophers, sociologists, scholars of the humanities, wider publics, and scientists themselves. It describes contrasting views about the practice and purpose for studying the history of science. -/- ISBN 978-1-85168-681-0.
The incredible achievements of modern scientific theories lead most of us to embrace scientific realism: the view that our best theories offer us at least roughly accurate descriptions of otherwise inaccessible parts of the world like genes, atoms, and the big bang. In Exceeding Our Grasp, Stanford argues that careful attention to the history of scientific investigation invites a challenge to this view that is not well represented in contemporary debates about the nature of the scientific enterprise. The historical (...) record of scientific inquiry, Stanford suggests, is characterized by what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives. Past scientists have routinely failed even to conceive of alternatives to their own theories and lines of theoretical investigation, alternatives that were both well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and sufficiently serious as to be ultimately accepted by later scientific communities. Stanford supports this claim with a detailed investigation of the mid-to-late 19th century theories of inheritance and generation proposed in turn by Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, and August Weismann. He goes on to argue that this historical pattern strongly suggests that there are equally well-confirmed and scientifically serious alternatives to our own best theories that remain currently unconceived. Moreover, this challenge is more serious than those rooted in either the so-called pessimistic induction or the underdetermination of theories by evidence, in part because existing realist responses to these latter challenges offer no relief from the problem of unconceived alternatives itself. Stanford concludes by investigating what positive account of the spectacularly successful edifice of modern theoretical science remains open to us if we accept that our best scientific theories are powerful conceptual tools for accomplishing our practical goals, but abandon the view that the descriptions of the world around us that they offer are therefore even probably or approximately true. (shrink)
This book highlights not only aspects of the career of Everett Mendelsohn, one of the premier historians of biology of our age, but also a wide range of topics that are now grouped under the general heading of science studies. This broad collection includes articles on the relations between science and the military, science as narrative, natural history and conservation, Marxism and science, the Human Genome Project, and the relation of philosophy to the study of (...) embryonic development in the 18th century. This book is essential not only for those who admire Professor Mendelsohn's work but also for those who want a slice of the current field of science studies. Audience: The main readership of this volume consists of historians of science, technology, and medicine, and sociologists of science. The book will also appeal to philosophers of science and biologists. Those interested in Middle Eastern studies will find the discussion of Professor Mendelsohn's political work in this area, as well as the article dealing with his activism in general, of considerable interest. (shrink)
The term Human Sciences is primarily a French usage, but it refers back to a much deeper tradition in the literature claiming that works of the spirit and human experience cannot be reduced to the realm of causal science, and require different methods. Following Kant, much of this discussion has focused on the problem of the conceptual formation of human experience. Methodologically, discussion has shifted back and forth between an emphasis on concepts, on experience, and external facts. Foucault and (...) Bourdieu extended the critical possibilities of the notion of misrecognition to ally the human sciences with critique. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy of science has led to improvements in the practices and products of scientific knowledge-making, and in this way it exemplifies socially relevant philosophy of science. It has also yielded important insights and original research questions for philosophy. Feminist scholarship on science thus presents a worthy thought-model for considering how we might build a more socially relevant philosophy of science—the question posed by the editors of this special issue. In this analysis of the history, (...) contributions, and challenges faced by feminist philosophy of science, I argue that engaged case study work and interdisciplinarity have been central to the success of feminist philosophy of science in producing socially relevant scholarship, and that its future lies in the continued development of robust and dynamic philosophical frameworks for modeling social values in science. Feminist philosophers of science, however, have often encountered marginalization and persistent misunderstandings, challenges that must be addressed within the institutional and intellectual culture of American philosophy. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy is sometimes said to have particularly close connections to logic and to science, and no particularly interesting or close relation to its own history. It is argued here that although the connections to logic and science have been important in the development of analytic philosophy, these connections do not come close to characterizing the nature of analytic philosophy, either as a body of doctrines or as a philosophical method. We will do better to understand analytic (...) philosophy—and its relationship to continental philosophy—if we see it as a historically constructed collection of texts, which define its key problems and concerns. It is true, however, that analytic philosophy has paid little attention to the history of the subject. This is both its strength—since it allows for a distinctive kind of creativity—and its weakness—since ignoring history can encourage a philosophical variety of “normal science.”. (shrink)
Politics and Modernity provides a critical review of the key interface of contemporary political theory and social theory about the questions of modernity and postmodernity. Review essays offer a broad-ranging assessment of the issues at stake in current debates. Among the works reviewed are those of William Connolly, Anthony Giddens, J[um]urgen Habermas, Alasdair MacIntyre, Richard Rorty, Charles Taylor and Roy Bhaskar. As well as reviewing the contemporary literature, the contributors assess the historical roots of current problems in the works of (...) Nietzsche and Max Weber. (shrink)
Science lies at the intersection of ideas and society, at the heart of the modern human experience. The study of past science should therefore be central to our humanistic attempt to know ourselves. Nevertheless, past science is not studied as an integral whole, but from two very different and divergent perspectives: the intellectual history of science, which focuses on the development of ideas and arguments, and the social history of science, which focuses on (...) the development of science as a social undertaking within its broader contexts. There is almost universal agreement that this bifurcation of the field is lamentable, and nearly universal disagreement about where, exactly, the problem lies. In order to identify the difficulty, this paper examines the institutional histories and disciplinary philosophies that have constituted the study of past science. I argue that sciencehistory, eventually allied itself with either History or Philosophy in order to find institutional support, thereby suffering the artificial imposition of the disciplinary prejudices of its allied fields, which lead science historians to adopt either the intellectual or the social perspective. Sciencehistory must reconcile its distinctions on its own terms, as an integrated unity with its own disciplinary bounds, and apart from History and Philosophy. As a catalyst for rapprochement, the historical and philosophical examination also yields a mapping of the field of sciencehistory that can be used to locate the problematic divisions in present scholarship and to draw new disciplinary bounds. (shrink)
The historical record of scientific inquiry, Stanford suggests, is characterized by what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives. Past scientists have routinely failed even to conceive of alternatives to their own theories and lines of theoretical investigation, alternatives that were both well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and sufficiently serious as to be ultimately accepted by later scientific communities. Stanford supports this claim with a detailed investigation of the mid-to-late 19th century theories of inheritance and generation proposed (...) in turn by Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, and August Weismann. He goes on to argue that this historical pattern strongly suggests that there are equally well-confirmed and scientifically serious alternatives to our own best theories that remain currently unconceived. Moreover, this challenge is more serious than those rooted in either the so-called pessimistic induction or the underdetermination of theories by evidence, in part because existing realist responses to these latter challenges offer no relief from the problem of unconceived alternatives itself.Stanford concludes by investigating what positive account of the spectacularly successful edifice of modern theoretical science remains open to us if we accept that our best scientific theories are powerful conceptual tools for accomplishing our practical goals, but abandon the view that the descriptions of the world around us that they offer are therefore even probably or approximately true."Stanford has genuinely advanced the philosophical discussion about scientific realism with his careful articulation of the problem of unconceived alternatives."-- The Review of Metaphysics "Stanford's book deserves to be widely read. Its central argument is clearly stated, its conclusion is radical, it engages in a productive fashion with detailed case studies, and it lays down several substantial challenges to scientific realism. Lastly, it is consistently thought-provoking."-Science. (shrink)
This paper presents folk impressions of the University of Manchester’s difficulties in becoming a great university, but by means of a fiction imitating a distinguished writer from the Indian subcontinent. The impressions concern past efforts and the difficulties they faced.
Philosophy of science emerged as a distinctive part of philosophy in the twentieth century. Its defining moment was the meeting (and the clash) of two courses of events: the breakdown of the Kantian philosophical tradition and the crisis in the sciences and mathematics in the beginning of the century. But what we now call philosophy of science has a rich intellectual history that goes back to the ancient Greeks. It is intimately connected with the efforts made by (...) many thinkers to come to terms with the distinctive kind of knowledge (episteme; scientia) that science offers. Though science proper was distinguished from natural philosophy only in the nineteenth century, the philosophy of natural philosophy has had almost the very same agenda that current philosophy of science has. (shrink)
Modern religions are confronted by three crises: the scientific evolution, the historical revolution, and the pluralistic revolution. The development of each of these diverse revolutions in Western intellectual history has posed serious challenges to traditional conceptions of religious authority. This paper seeks to briefly elucidate the nature of each of these revolutions and their significance for religious traditions. While the specific challenges posed are separate, the revolutions share common traits. Additionally, it is not enough for a religious tradition to (...) deal with only one of the crises; to proceed into the next stage of religious reflection, it must deal with them all. (shrink)
Philosopherd have long stressed a distinction between theory justification and theory discovery based on a belief that justification and discovery are essentially different processes. What makes these two processes essentially different, it was assumed, is that the process of justification is guided by criteria which are expressable as rules, while the processes involved in discovery are not rule-guided. Moreover and perhaps more importantly, it was assumed that tha rules for justification are discoverable a priori by rationalistic logical analysis but an (...) account of discovery, whatever it turns out to be like, will be describable only a posteriori. (shrink)
Feminist explorations of fitness and health are concerned with the ways in which fitness serves as a component of women’s health and well-being. Feminists considering the rhetoric of fitness and health interrogate assumptions about what constitutes “fitness” and “health” and examine the ramifications of these assumptions in socialization, privilege, and power. Although there are limited academic explorations of them, many feminist accounts of these issues find a home with Health at Every Size, a campaign that promotes the idea that an (...) appropriate, healthy weight cannot be determined for an individual by a number on a scale or in a chart. Instead, HAES proponents maintain that labels such as... (shrink)
This innovative book examines the fundamental continuities in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's writing during the revolutionary period of 1794 through 1834 to demonstrate his importance as a political philosopher and to recover romanticism as both ...
History, Philosophy and Science Teaching argues that science teaching and science teacher education can be improved if teachers know something of the history and philosophy of science and if these topics are included in the science curriculum. The history and philosophy of science have important roles in many of the theoretical issues that science educators need to address: the goals of science education; what constitutes an appropriate science curriculum (...) for all students; how science should be taught in traditional cultures; what integrated science is; how scientific literacy can be promoted; and the conflict which can occur between science curriculum and deep-seated religious or cultural values and knowledge. In part, answers to these questions hinge on views about the nature of science, views that are best informed by historical and philosophical study. Outlining the history of liberal, or contextual, approaches to the teaching of science, Michael Matthews elaborates contemporary curriculum developments that explicitly address questions about the nature and the history of science. He provides examples of classroom teaching and develops useful arguments on constructivism, multicultural science education and teacher education. The book will appeal to school and university science teachers, educators of science teachers, and historians and philosophers of science. (shrink)
Does science successfully uncover the deep structure of the natural world? Or are the depths forever beyond our epistemic grasp? Since the decline of logical positivism and logical empiricism, scientific realism has become the consensus view: of course our scientific theories apprehend the deep structure of the world. What else could explain the remarkable success of science? This is the explanationist defense of scientific realism, the “ultimate argument.” Kyle Stanford starts here and, using the history of theorizing (...) about biological inheritance as his case study, constructs a convincing argument against the realist consensus in his thought provoking book, Exceeding Our Grasp.1 Here I will review the core of Stanford’s new argument for instrumentalism (§ 1) and discuss his considered view of theoretical science (§ 2). (shrink)
Agent-based modeling has become a common and well-established tool in the social sciences and certain of the humanities. Here, we aim to provide an overview of the different modeling approaches in current use. Our discussion unfolds in two parts: we first classify different aspects of the model-building process and identify a number of characteristics shared by most agent-based models in the humanities and social sciences; then we map relevant differences between the various modeling approaches. We classify these into different dimensions (...) including the type of target systems addressed, the intended modeling goals, and the models’ degree of abstraction. Along the way, we provide reference to related debates in contemporary philosophy of science. (shrink)
In recent years, two challenges stand out against scientific realism: the argument from the underdetermination of theories by evidence (UTE) and the pessimistic induction argument (PI). In his book, Kyle Stanford accepts the gravity of these challenges, but argues that the most serious and powerful challenge to scientific realism has been neglected. The problem of unconceived alternatives (PUA), as he calls it, is introduced in chapter one and refined in chapter two. In short, PUA holds that throughout history scientists (...) have failed to conceive alternative theories roughly equally well-confirmed to the theories of the day by the available evidence and, crucially, that such alternatives eventually were conceived and adopted by some section of the scientific community. PUA is a version of UTE, but, unlike its kin, enjoys substantial historical support. It leads to a sort of pessimistic induction that Stanford brands ‘the new induction’ (NI), according to which we should be doubtful about the truth claims of current theories since the historical record suggests that unconceived alternatives are typically lurking in the shadows. His proposal contains two important shifts of focus: First, there is a shift from artificially produced rival theories - of the kind typically talked about in the underdetermination debate - to actual rivals. Second, instead of focusing on empirically equivalent rivals, he urges a shift to rivals that are more or less equally well-confirmed to existing theories by the available evidence at a given point in time. Prima facie, PUA sounds like a welcome addition to the anti-realist arsenal, drawing on historical evidence to support the induction that current theories probably face genuine alternatives waiting to be conceived. (shrink)
In this article author considers the problem of epistemology of historical knowledge. Author doesn't accept the neo-kantianism theory. He makes an attempt to differ the two forms of unitarization of scientific knowledge — theoretization and the principle of holism and, hence, the two forms of the theoretical consideration of history. The author insists that the Marxists approach seems to be the most relevant from this point of view. Thus, he defends the thesis that the idealistic concepts are much vulnerable (...) comparing with the materialistic approaches. (shrink)