This work discusses whether Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was revolutionary. Steve Fuller argues that Kuhn held a profoundly conservative view of science and how one ought to study its history.
1. The Place of Intellectual Life: The University -- The University as an Institutional Solution to the Problem of Knowledge -- The Alienability of Knowledge in Our So-called Knowledge Society -- The Knowledge Society as Capitalism of the Third Order -- Will the University Survive the Era of Knowledge Management? -- Postmodernism as an Anti-university Movement -- Regaining the University's Critical Edge by Historicizing the Curriculum -- Affirmative Action as a Strategy for Redressing the Balance Between Research and Teaching -- (...) Academics Rediscover Their Soul: The Rebirth of Academic Freedom' -- 2. The Stuff of Intellectual Life: Philosophy -- Epistemology as 'Always Already' Social Epistemology -- From Social Epistemology to the Sociology of Philosophy: The Codification of Professional Prejudices? -- Interlude: Seeds of an Alternative Sociology of Philosophy -- Prolegomena to a Critical Sociology of Twentieth-century Anglophone Philosophy -- Analytic Philosophy's Ambivalence Toward the Empirical Sciences -- Professionalism as Differentiating American and British Philosophy -- Conclusion: Anglophone Philosophy as a Victim of Its Own Success -- 3. The People of Intellectual Life: Intellectuals -- Can Intellectuals Survive if the Academy Is a No-fool Zone? -- How Intellectuals Became an Endangered Species in Our Times: The Trail of Psychologism -- A Genealogy of Anti-intellectualism: From Invisible Hand to Social Contagion -- Re-defining the Intellectual as an Agent of Distributive Justice -- The Critique of Intellectuals in a Time of Pragmatist Captivity -- Pierre Bourdieu: The Academic Sociologist as Public Intellectual -- 4. The Improvisational Nature of Intellectual Life -- Academics Caught Between Plagiarism and Bullshit -- Bullshit: A Disease Whose Cure Is Always Worse -- The Scientific Method as a Search for the (Piled) Higher (and Deeper) Bullshit -- Conclusion: How to Improvize on the World-historic Stage -- Summary of the Argument. (shrink)
Examining the origin and development of my views of social epistemology, I contrast my position with the position held by analytic social epistemologists. Analytic social epistemology (ASE) has failed to make significant progress owing, in part, to a minimal understanding of actual knowledge practices, a minimised role for philosophers in ongoing inquiry, and a focus on maintaining the status quo of epistemology as a field. As a way forward, I propose questions and future areas of inquiry for a post-ASE to (...) address. (shrink)
As the field of Science and Technology Studies has become more established, it has increasingly hidden its philosophical roots. While the trend is typical of disciplines striving for maturity, Steve Fuller, a leading figure in the field, argues that STS has much to lose if it abandons philosophy. In his characteristically provocative style, he offers the first sustained treatment of the philosophical foundations of STS and suggests fruitful avenues for further research. With stimulating discussions of the Science Wars, the Intelligent (...) Design Theory controversy, and theorists such as Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour, _Philosophy of Science and Technology_ _Studies_ is required reading for students and scholars in STS and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
"The Knowledge Book" is a unique interdisciplinary reference work for students and researchers concerned with the nature of knowledge. It is the first work of its kind to be organized on the assumption that whatever else knowledge might be, it is intrinsically social. The book consists of 42 alphabetically arranged entries on key concepts at the intersection of philosophy and sociology - what used to be called "sociology of knowledge" but is now increasingly called "social epistemology". The entries include concepts (...) common to disciplines that in recent years have devoted more of their attention to knowledge: cultural studies, communication studies, information science, education, policy studies and business studies. Special attention is given to concepts from the emerging field of science and technology studies. Each entry presents a short, self-contained essay providing an overview of a concept and concludes with suggestions for further reading. All the entries are fully cross-referenced, allowing readers to both make connections and follow their own interests. (shrink)
This essay introduces a Focus section on “Neurohistory and History of Science” by distinguishing images of the brain as governor and as transducer: the former treat the brain as the executive control center of the body, the latter as an interface between the organism and reality at large. Most of the consternation expressed in the symposium about the advent of neurohistory derives from the brain-as-governor conception, which is rooted in a “biologistic” understanding of humanity that in recent years has become (...) bound up in various nefarious “neoliberal” political and economic agendas. However, given the sophisticated attitude that neurohistory’s leading champion, Daniel Smail, displays toward evolutionary theory’s potential impact on historical practice, he is perhaps better understood as part of the brain-as-transducer tradition. This tradition, largely suppressed in current representations of neuroscience, has a strong theological provenance, ultimately concerned with our becoming attuned to the divine frequency, not least by extending the powers of the human nervous system through technology. This essay sympathetically explores the implications of this perspective for historical practice. (shrink)
In this challenging and provocative book, Steve Fuller contends that our continuing faith in science in the face of its actual history is best understood as the secular residue of a religiously inspired belief in divine providence. Our faith in science is the promise of a life as it shall be, as science will make it one day. Just as men once put their faith in God's activity in the world, so we now travel to a land promised by science. (...) In "Science", Fuller suggests that the two destinations might be the same one. Fuller sympathetically explores what it might mean to live scientifically. Can science give a sense of completeness to one's life? Can it account for the entirety of what it is to be human? And what does our continuing belief in scientific progress say about us as a species? In answering these questions, Fuller ranges widely over the history of science and religion - from Aristotle and the atomists to Dawkins and the neo-Darwinists - and takes a close look at what science is, how its purpose has changed over the years, and what role religion and in more recent years atheism have played in its progression. Science, argues Fuller, is now undergoing its own version of secularization. We are ceasing to trust science in its institutional forms, formulated by an anointed class of science priests, and instead we are witnessing the emergence of what Fuller calls Protscience' - all sorts of people, from the New Age movement to anti-evolutionists, claiming scientific authority as their own. Fuller shows that these groups are no more anti-scientific than Protestant sects were atheistic. Fearless and thought-provoking, Science questions some of our most fundamental beliefs about the nature and role of science, and is a distinct and important contribution to debates about evolution, intelligent design, atheism, humanism, the notion of scientific progress, and the public understanding of science. (shrink)
This volume explores Science & Technology Studies (STS) and its role in redrawing disciplinary boundaries. For scholars/grad students in rhetoric of science, science studies, philosophy & comm, English, sociology & knowledge mgmt.
Philosophy may relate to interdisciplinarity in two distinct ways On the one hand, philosophy may play an auxiliary role in the process of interdisciplinarity, typically through conceptual analysis, in the understanding that the disciplines themselves are the main epistemic players. This version of the relationship I characterise as ‘normal’ because it captures the more common pattern of the relationship, which in turn reflects an acceptance of the division of organized inquiry into disciplines. On the other hand, philosophy may be itself (...) the site for the production of interdisciplinary knowledge, understood as a kind of second-order understanding of reality that transcends the sort of knowledge that the disciplines provide, left to their own devices. This is my own position, which I dub ‘deviant’ and to which most of this article is devoted. I begin by relating the two types of interdisciplinarity to the organization of inquiry, especially their respective attitudes to the history of science. Underlying the two types are contrasting notions of what constitutes the ‘efficient’ pursuit of knowledge. This difference is further explored in terms of the organization of the university. The normal/deviant distinction was already marked in the institution’s medieval origins in terms of the difference between Doctors and Masters, respectively, an artefact of which remains in the postgraduate/undergraduate degree distinction. In the context of the history of the university, the prospects for deviant interdisciplinarity were greatest from the early sixteenth to the early nineteenth century—the period called ‘early modern’ in the philosophy curriculum. Towards the end of that period, due to Kant and the generation of idealists who followed him, philosophy was briefly the privileged site for deviant interdisciplinarity. After Hegel’s death, the mantle of deviant interdisciplinarity increasingly passed to some version of ‘biology’. I explore the ‘Natur-’ and ‘Geisteswissenschaft’ versions of that post-philosophical vision, which continue to co-exist within today’s biological science. I then briefly examine the chequered reputation of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, someone who exemplified the promise and perils of deviant interdisciplinarity over the past 200 years. I conclude with an Epilogue that considers contemporary efforts to engage philosophy in interdisciplinary work, invoking William James as an exemplar. (shrink)
Counterfactual reasoning is broadly implicated in causal claims made by historians. However, this point is more generally recognized and accepted by economic historians than historians of science. A good site for examining alternative appeals to counterfactuals is to consider "what if" the Scientific Revolution had not occurred in seventeenth-century Europe. Two alternative interpretations are analyzed: that the revolution would eventually have happened somewhere else or that the revolution would not have happened at all. Broadly speaking, these two interpretations correspond to (...) the respective attitudes of philosophers and historians to the development of science. However, a case is presented for synthesizing the two interpretations into a normative historiography of science that would allow past and present concerns to interrogate each other. This exercise in counterfactual reasoning can be imagined in the spirit of a time traveler who aims to persuade, rather than simply understand, the natives he or she encounters. (shrink)
"Social epistemology" refers here to the work of analytic epistemologists and philosophers of science interested in providing an empirically adequate account of organized knowledge systems, with special emphasis on scientific inquiry. I critically survey the last ten years of this research. Unlike the pragmatist and Continental schools of philosophy, for which knowledge is "always already" social, progress in analytic social epistemology has been plagued by an oversharp distinction between individual and collective cognition; and a failure to query the ends of (...) science in addition to its means. Consequently, most analytic social epistemologists operate with a relatively weak sense of "normativity," one modelled more on taken-for-granted logical principles than legislated policy correctives. (shrink)
Research in Science and Technology Studies (STS) tends to presume that intellectual and political radicalism go hand in hand. One would therefore expect that the most intellectually radical movement in the field relates critically to its social conditions. However, this is not the case, as demonstrated by the trajectory of the Parisian School of STS spearheaded by Michel Callon and Bruno Latour. Their position, "actor-network theory," turns out to be little more than a strategic adaptation to the democratization of expertise (...) and the decline of the strong nation-state in France over the past 25 years. This article provides a prehistory of this client-driven, contract-based research culture in U.S. sociology of the 1960s, followed by specific features of French philosophical and political culture that have bred the distinctive tenets of actor-network theory. Insofar as actor-network theory has become the main paradigm for contemporary STS research, it reflects a field that dodges normative commitments in order to maintain a user-friendly presence. (shrink)
Although The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most influential books of this century, its author, Thomas Kuhn, is notorious for disavowing most of the consequences wrought by his text. Insofar as these consequences have appeared "radical" or "antipositivist," this article argues that they are very misleading, and that Kuhn's complaints are therefore well placed. Indeed, Kuhn unwittingly succeeded where Daniel Bell's The End of Ideology tried and failed, namely, to alleviate the anxieties of alienated academics and defensive (...) policy-makers by teaching them that they could all profit from solving their own paradigmatic puzzles. The influence of tructure is traced from the philosophy of science into the social sciences and science policy. Special attention is paid to the import of the General Education in Science curriculum at Harvard, in which Kuhn taught for most of the period prior to writing tructure. Harvard President James Conant had designed this curriculum in order to keep "pure science" in the good favor of the American public, in whose eyes it suffered after the use of the atomic bomb. While Conant was keen to stress the distinctiveness of science from other social practices, Kuhn's model seemed to provide a blueprint for reconstituting any practice as a science. This enabled potentially antiscientific academics to become scientists themselves, thereby neutralizing any radical challenges to the ends of scientific inquiry. The article concludes by reconstructing some of the inchoate possibilities for radical critique that Kuhn's success preempted, and by making some suggestions for how they may be recovered in the present academic environment. (shrink)
Thomas Kuhn's _Structure of Scientific Revolutions_ has sold over a million copies in more than twenty languages and has remained one of the ten most cited academic works for the past half century. In contrast, Karl Popper's seminal book _The Logic of Scientific Discovery_ has lapsed into relative obscurity. Although the two men debated the nature of science only once, the legacy of this encounter has dominated intellectual and public discussions on the topic ever since. Almost universally recognized as the (...) modern watershed in the philosophy of science, Kuhn's relativistic vision of shifting paradigms -- which asserted that science was just another human activity, like art or philosophy, only more specialized -- triumphed over Popper's more positivistic belief in science's revolutionary potential to falsify society's dogmas. But has this victory been beneficial for science? Steve Fuller argues that not only has Kuhn's dominance had an adverse impact on the field but both thinkers have been radically misinterpreted in the process. This debate raises a vital question: Can science remain an independent, progressive force in society, or is it destined to continue as the technical wing of the military-industrial complex? Drawing on original research -- including the Kuhn archives at MIT -- Fuller offers a clear account of "Kuhn vs. Popper" and what it will mean for the future of scientific inquiry. (shrink)
Because of its novel application of social psychological theories and methods, this book will be useful as a primary text or a secondary text in courses on science studies in psychology, sociology, or philosophy departments.
I should like to offer my greatest thanks to Paul Griffiths for providing the opportunity for this exchange, and to commentators Gillian Brown, Steven Fuller, Stefan Linquist, and Erika Milam for their generous and thought-provoking comments. I shall do my best in this space to respond to some of their concerns.
The ‘critique of intellectuals’ refers to a genre of normative discourse that holds intellectuals accountable for the consequences of their ideas. A curious feature of the contemporary, especially American, variant of this genre is its focus on intellectuals who were aligned with such world-historic losers as Hitler and Stalin. Why are Cold War US intellectuals not held to a similar standard of scrutiny, even though they turn out to have been aligned with the world-historic winners? In addressing this general question, (...) some self-serving tendencies of intellectual history are observed, in particular the asymmetry between the ease with which intellectuals are credited with the good consequences of their ideas and the difficulty with which they are blamed for the bad consequences. This asymmetry is particularly noted in Richard Rorty, whose pragmatism treats past ideas as a legacy intended for the (American) reader’s benefit. As a corrective, I advocate, in Paul Ricoeur’s terms, a ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ that treats intellectual life as fraught with danger, as our adoption of ideas always amounts to passing judgement over those who have borne them in the past. (shrink)
Philip Tetlock underestimates the import of his own Expert Political Judgment. It is much more than a critical scientific evaluation of the accuracy and consistency of political pundits. It also offers a blueprint for challenging expertise more generally-in the name of scientific advancement. “Thinking the unthinkable”-a strategy Tetlock employs when he gets experts to consider counterfactual scenarios that are far from their epistemic comfort zones-has had explosive consequences historically for both knowledge and morality by extending our sense of what is (...) possible. Thinking the unthinkable might also put into question contemporary assumptions about the legitimacy of science. (shrink)
I believe that tenured historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science—when presented with the opportunity—have a professional obligation to get involved in public controversies over what should count as science. I stress ‘tenured’ because the involved academics need to be materially protected from the consequences of their involvement, given the amount of misrepresentation and abuse that is likely to follow, whatever position they take. Indeed, the institution of academic tenure justifies itself most clearly in such heat-seeking situations, where one may appear (...) to offer a reasoned defense for views that many consider indefensible. To be sure, the opportunities for involvement will vary in kind and number, but I believe that we are obliged to embrace them. In the specific case of ‘demarcation’ questions of what counts as science, the people who possess the sort of general and comparative knowledge most relevant for adducing this matter are historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science—not professional scientists unschooled in these areas.. (shrink)
Richard Rorty's recent death has unleashed a strikingly mixed judgment of his philosophical legacy, ranging from claims to originality to charges of charlatanry. What is clear, however, is Rorty's role in articulating a distinctive American voice in the history of philosophy. He achieved this not only through his own wide-ranging contributions but also by repositioning the pragmatists, especially William James and John Dewey, in the philosophical mainstream. Rorty did for the United States what Hegel and Heidegger had done for Germany—to (...) portray his nation as philosophy's final resting place. He was helped by postwar German philosophers like Jürgen Habermas who were happy to defer to their American conquerors. Rorty's philosophical method can be understood as a sublimation of America's world-historic self-understanding: a place suspicious of foreigners unless they are willing to blend into the "melting pot." In retrospect, the breadth and confidence of Rorty's writing will come to symbolize the moment when the United States, for better or worse, came to be the world's dominant philosophical power. Key Words: Rorty pragmatism logical positivism analytic philosophy. (shrink)
In the twentieth century, philosophy came to be dominated by the English-speaking world, first Britain and then the United States. Accompanying this development was an unprecedented professionalization and specialization of the discipline, the consequences of which are surveyed and evaluated in this article. The most general result has been a decline in philosophy's normative mission, which roughly corresponds to the increasing pursuit of philosophy in isolation from public life and especially other forms of inquiry, including ultimately its own history. This (...) is how the author explains the increasing tendency, over the past quarter-century, for philosophy to embrace the role of "underlaborer" for the special sciences. Indicative of this attitude is the long-term popularity of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which argues that fields reach maturity when they forget their past and focus on highly specialized problems. In conclusion, the author recalls the history of philosophy that, following Kuhn's advice, has caused us to forget, namely, the fate of Neo-Kantianism in the early twentieth century. Key Words: analytic philosophy normative positivism pragmatism professionalism underlaborer. (shrink)
An assessment of Joel Isaac’s recent, well-researched attempt to provide a context for the emergence of Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. That context consisted in the open space for cross-disciplinary projects between the natural and social sciences that existed at Harvard during the presidency of James Bryant Conant, from the early 1930s to the early 1950s. Isaac’s work at the Harvard archives adds interesting detail to a story whose general contours are already known. In particular, he reinforces the view (...) that the guiding intellectual presence of what Isaac dubs Harvard’s “interstitial academy” was the biochemist Lawrence Henderson, someone who was enamored of Vilfredo Pareto’s version of scientism and was materially supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s interest in increasing worker productivity. Isaac fails to consider the normative implications of Henderson’s vision, which influenced Talcott Parsons even more deeply than Kuhn. Isaac’s book is read in light of this concern, which reveals a profound sense of what is required of the sort of future elite policy maker that Harvard hoped to train: namely, a systems-based orientation that is at the same time tolerant of considerable intrasystemic incommensurability. The epistemological and ethical aspects of this prescription are analyzed. (shrink)
This paper lays the groundwork for normative-yet-naturalistic social epistemology. I start by presenting two scenarios for the history of epistemology since Kant, one in which social epistemology is the natural outcome and the other in which it represents a not entirely satisfactory break with classical theories of knowledge. Next I argue that the current trend toward naturalizing epistemology threatens to destroy the distinctiveness of the sociological approach by presuming that it complements standard psychological and historical approaches. I then try to (...) reassert, in Comtean fashion, the epistemologist's credentials in regulating knowledge production. Finally, I consider how social epistemology may have something exciting and relevant to say about contemporary debates in the theory of knowledge. (shrink)
The classical conception of academic freedom associated with Wilhelm von Humboldt and the rise of the modern university has a quite specific cultural foundation that centres on the controversial mental faculty of 'judgement'. This article traces the roots of 'judgement' back to the Protestant Reformation, through its heyday as the signature feature of German idealism, and to its gradual loss of salience as both a philosophical and a psychological concept. This trajectory has been accompanied by a general shrinking in the (...) scope of academic freedom from the promulgation of world-views to the offering of expert opinion. (shrink)