Two kinds of sociology of science:
|denies or ignores the fact that science, unlike banking or fashion, is engaged in inquiry||does not deny this|
|no distinction between warrant [= justification] and acceptance||distinction between warrant and acceptance|
|purely sociological account||not purely sociological (acknowledges the relevance of evidential considerations)|
|examples: Bloor, Latour & Woolgar, Harding, etc.||examples: Polanyi, Campbell, Rauch, etc.|
|intoxicated (by misunderstandings of the thesis that science is social)||sober|
two projects: (1) what constitutes good evidence; (2) what constitutes good procedure. Social factors play an important role in each.
"The right kind of sociology of science can help us understand what features of its internal organization and of its external environment encourage, and what discourage, successful science" (262)
keep authority and criticism in balance; "combine division of labor with overlapping competencies," studies of peer review, etc.
"Misunderstandings of the thesis that science is social"
In a sense a response to the kind of point Haack is making. L & W realize that people like Haack think that their approach is fundamentally misguided because it pays attention only to sociological factors and ignores the fact that science is actually trying to discover the truth about a reality which is not itself socially constructed. L&W think this is all wrong; according to them the subject matter of science is just as much socially constructed as anything else. But this leaves them with a puzzle: why do people think that science is discovering the nature of reality? This chapter is largely an attempt to offer a sociological explanation of why people have the (mistaken, according to L&W) view that science tries to discover the truth about an independently existing reality.
You might think that the intoxicated sociological approach has left out "logic" and "reasoning," but according to Latour and Woolgar they haven't really:
"We focus on the routine exchanges and gestures which pass between scientists and on the way in which such minutiae are seen to give rise to "logical" arguments, the implementation of "proofs," and the operation of so-called 'thought processes'" (151).
"Our objective . . . is to show . . . that a belief in the logical and straightforward character of science itself arises in the course of these practices of interpretation"
are there arguments here? sort of; here are a few:
1. talk about facts is mushed together with social negotiations, decisions about what to do, etc. Therefore the supposed facts are really social products. (?) e.g. 159, 163
2. The reasoning used by scientists isn't deduction. Therefore it isn't logical. (166, 173)
3. L& W claim that the supposed correspondence between objects and statements "stems from the splitting and inversion of a statement within the laboratory context". At first scientists are simply working with statements. Then "splitting" takes place: scientists think there are two things, objects and statements about them. "It is as if the original statement had projected a virtual image of itself which exists outside the statement" (176). Then we get "inversion": the supposed object comes to seem more important than, and prior to, the statements (177). They offer three sources of support for this view:
Last update: November 5, 2008
Curtis Brown | Philosophy of Science | Philosophy Department | Trinity University