Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Science

By André Kukla | Go to book overview

Preface

Is reality constructed by our own activity? Do we collectively invent the world rather than discover it? Those who are prone to answer these questions in the affirmative go by the generic name of social constructivists. The constructivist thesis is amenable to a great variety of interpretations, ranging from the banal to the literally earth-shattering. One might suspect, on general grounds, that the newsworthiness of each version would turn out to be inversely proportional to the strength of the case that can be mounted in its favour. I aim to find out whether this is so. In this book, I will try to distinguish various points of view that go by the name of constructivism, and to assess the import and merit of each. I’ll be particularly interested in the thesis that scientific facts are constructed. But I’ll also deal with several other related constructivisms. The most adventurous of these is the thesis that everything is constructed.

The literature of (scientific) constructivism has been generated both by sociologists, who tend to be enthusiastic supporters, and by philosophers of science, who tend to be incredulous critics. I will discuss both literatures. I won’t, however, spend much time going over or criticizing the details of the constructivists’ analyses of specific scientific facts. For the most part, I’ll take the empirical pronouncements of sociologists at face value. My question is whether these data can be made to sustain the metaphysical, epistemological, and (to a far lesser extent) ethical conclusions that have been drawn from them.

The issue of constructivism seems to raise philosophical passions to a high pitch. Some become livid at the very mention of the c-word; others are unbridled enthusiasts for the extremely counter-intuitive conclusions of half-baked analyses. In the end, these a priori predilections turn on whether one is endowed with a conservative or a radical intellectual temperament. There are two types of professional thinkers: normal scientists and paradigm-busters. The former derive their job satisfaction from sustaining and refining an established tradition; the latter are professional trouble-makers whose objective is to shake up the status quo. The former insist that the case for a radically new idea be extremely compelling before it earns the right to be taken seriously. The latter are willing to tolerate a greater risk of

-ix-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Science
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Defining Constructivism 1
  • 2 - Constructivism and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge 7
  • 3 - The Varieties of Dependence 19
  • 4 - The Varieties of Constitutive Constructivisms 24
  • 5 - The Empirical Case for Constructivism 32
  • 6 - The a Priori Case for Constructivism 44
  • 7 - Three Brief and Inadequate Objections to Constructivism 46
  • 8 - The Problem of Misrepresentation 51
  • 9 - Constructive Empiricism and Social Constructivism 59
  • 10 - The Infinite Regress of Constructions 68
  • 11 - The Duhemian Asymmetry 80
  • 12 - The Problem of the Two Societies 91
  • 13 - Constructivism and Time 105
  • 14 - Constructivism and Logic 119
  • 15 - Relativism 125
  • 16 - Semantic Constructivism 136
  • 17 - Irrationalism 149
  • 18 - Conclusions 160
  • References 164
  • Index 168
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 170

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.