Unhastening Science: Autonomy and Reflexivity in the Social Theory of Knowledge

Unhastening Science: Autonomy and Reflexivity in the Social Theory of Knowledge

Unhastening Science: Autonomy and Reflexivity in the Social Theory of Knowledge

Unhastening Science: Autonomy and Reflexivity in the Social Theory of Knowledge

Synopsis

This book offers a new account of what makes science special among other human pursuits, critically engaging with a variety of approaches, especially constructivist and relativist studies of science and technology. It focuses on the studied "lack of haste" of science, its relative freedom from stress and its socially sanctioned withdrawal from the swift pace of ordinary life. Unhastening Science offers a balanced and thoughtful argument which emphasizes the dangers of cosseting science from the "scourge" of internal competition while at the same time highlighting the need for "distance" between the process of scientific thought and the faster machinery of politics, business, sports, and the media.

Excerpt

Well, we've got time, haven't we, Socrates?

Plato, Theaetetus

Self-interested Science

Twenty-five years of irreverent thinking and thick empirical description have done much to dislodge the long-standing philosophical conviction that science has a special, singularly compelling, and context-spanning rationality that legitimately dominates and adjudicates ordinary, local forms of reasoning (what used to be called ‘common sense’). It is no longer seen as the supreme legislator of all human knowledge, setting standards of truth and logic that automatically bridge disparate social and historical experiences, and defining universal principles of right reasoning and rules of proper method that explain its unique capacity to produce a truthful picture of the world. Increasingly, also, ‘science’ in the singular has come to be seen as bad shorthand for a vast plurality of practices, which are fragmented across many disciplines, niches, paradigms, and approaches. More dramatically, science has come to be viewed as just one culture of rationality among others, ‘just another story ’, one among a plurality of perspectives, information bases, and interpretive communities, none of which can lay claim to a totalizing, overarching, or foundational status. The Shockwaves that were generated by Feyerabend's rhetorical question ‘What is so special about science?’ (1978: 73) have gradually subsided, because the efforts of an entire generation of sceptical students of scientific and technological success have meanwhile been invested in arguing the implied answer: ‘Nothing really’.

This new emphasis upon the ordinariness of a core element of intellectual culture is not an isolated phenomenon but partakes of broader cultural . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.