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Introduction to science studies: from philosophy via history to sociology

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Title: Introduction to science studies: from philosophy via history to sociology


1
Introduction to science studies from philosophy
via history to sociology
  • Claus Emmeche
  • Center for the Philosophy of Nature and Science
    Studies
  • Faculty of Science
  • University of Copenhagen
  • http//www.nbi.dk/natphil/

2
Introduction to science studies from philosophy
via history to sociology
  • Claus Emmeche
  • Center for the Philosophy of Nature and Science
    Studies
  • Faculty of Science
  • University of Copenhagen
  • http//www.nbi.dk/natphil/

3
Why philosophy of science ?
  • Why study philosophy of science ?
  • Simple answer A human being a thinking animal.
    To think is also to ponder. To ponder is also to
    self-reflect Why do I do what I do? Do I do it
    the right way? Is it good for me and others?
    Could it be better?
  • Why do I do research?
  • Possible answers Its fun. It make me understand
    the world better. I can make a living of it -
    perhaps even a career? I can give something back
    to society. Its worth the efforts for its own
    sake.
  • And what is research, really??
  • is science something special?
  • just a tool to predict or manipulate nature?
  • does it carve nature at its joints?
  • Humankinds only hope for survival?
  • These questions (and suggestions) have all kinds
    of implications, and philosophy - as well as
    history sociology of science - provide
    ressources to approach them

4
A crash course tour in the history of philosophy
of science 1. Plato and...
  • Plato (428-348 BC) and the Pythagorean view of
    nature
  • the real the mathematical harmony present in
    nature
  • Science (i.e. physics, philosophy of nature)
    Knowledge of this harmony insight into the
    fundamental structure of the universe
  • confer Galileo (1564-1642) the book of nature
    stands open to our gaze, yet we have to
    understand its language - mathematics - to be
    able to read it!
  • Pythagoreans Mathematical relations, which fit
    phenomena count as explanations of why things are
    as they are
  • Rival point of view (e.g. Geminus, 1st Cent. BC)
    mathematical hypothesis ? physical theories about
    the structure of the universe. Thus, distinguish
    between
  • to save the appearances by superimposing
    mathematical relations on the phenomena
  • to explain why phenomena are as they are

5
A crash course tour in the history of philosophy
of science 1. ... Ptolemy
  • Ptolemy (c.100-178 AD)
  • More than one model can be constructed to save
    the appearances of planetary motions A
    moving-eccentric model may be equivalent to an
    epicycle-deferent system
  • gt This lead to a tradition saying that the
    astronomer should construct mathematical models
    to save the appearances but should not theorize
    about the real motions of the planets.

A planet orbits point x in a circular path
called the epicycle. The deferent is the circular
path that point x takes around the centre of
motion, C. This is not the same point as the
location of the Earth. The offset is called the
eccentric. Different planets would have different
eccentrics, deferents and epicycles. The
resultant path traced out by a planet could
account for retrograde motion and variations in
brightness.
6
... to make a long history short
  • Philosophy of science before the 19th Century
  • No clear distinction between scientists and
    philosophers of science. Philosophical issues was
    discussed by scientists having different ideals
    of science, e.g.
  • realism (science aims at making true theories
    about the structure of the workd) vs.
    instrumtalism (science aims at making models
    useful to account for observations and making
    precictions)
  • inductivism (knowledge from observations) vs.
    hypothetical-deductive view of science
  • Three compeeting traditions
  • the Platonic-pythagorean (e.g., astronomy)
  • the Aristotelian (e.g., natural history)
  • the Archimedian (e.g., mechanics)

7
Next quick-step Positivism
  • Here is Carnap.
  • He was a positivist.
  • However, positivism means different things!
  • - at least 4 meanings

Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970)
  • Classical positivism (19th Century) Comte
  • Logical positivism/empiricism (20th C.) Carnap
    et al
  • NB this is the mother of philosophy of science
    sensu an institutionalized field of academic
    research!
  • Commonsense positivism or positivism as an ethos
  • Positivism as a pejorative

8
19th Century Comtes positivism
A. Comte (1798-1857)
  • Comte was one of the big system builders of the
    19th C.
  • his positive philosophy, in Cours de
    Philosophie Positive (6 volumes, 1830-1842)
    witness the emergence of a self-conscious
    scientific (or scientist?) spirit
  • The positive is
  • What is real (non-imagined)
  • no loose speculations, but the real and
    experience-based
  • What is useful
  • skepticism regarding armchair philosophy
  • What is certain (beyond discussion)
  • What is precise
  • distancing the vague and opaque in contemporary
    phylosophy
  • What is edifying
  • Philosophy should helt build up, not break down

9
19th Century Comtes positivism
A. Comte (1798-1857)
  • positive philosophy - the idea of
    enlightenment and belief in progress
  • founder of sociology one of the systems
    builders of the 19th C.
  • a conception of the system of sciences Unity
    and universalism, and a historical tendency
    towards unification of all sciences
  • Comtes progressionist philosophy of history
  • The theological stage - belief in supernatural
    powers
  • Animism
  • Polytheism
  • Monotheisme
  • The metaphysical stage - belief in abstract
    powers
  • Isolated speculation
  • Branches of philosophy
  • Philosophical systems
  • The scientific stage belief in invariant patterns
  • Specific matters of fact
  • Fewer and fewer, more general facts (theories)

10
20th Century Logical positivism
  • A forerunner to logical positivism

Ernst Mach (1838-1916)
The goal which it physical science has set
itself is the simplest and most economical
abstract expression of facts (from the Essay
The economical nature of physical inquiry ).
Mach held that scientific laws are summaries of
experimental events, constructed for the purpose
of human comprehension of complex data. Thus
scientific laws have more to do with the mind
than with reality as it exists apart from the
mind.
11
Logical positivism, the Vienna Circle, 1923 -
1936
Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970)
Otto Neurath (1882-1945)
Moritz Schlick (1882-1936), 1932 Positivism and
Realism
  • Alfred J. Ayer
  • (1910-1989),
  • 1936 Language,
  • Truth, and Logic

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Herbert Feigl (1902-1988)
Carl G. Hempel (1905-1997)
Hans Reichenbach (1891-1953)
12
20th Century Logical positivism
  • The Second International Congress for the Unity
    of Science, København, June 21.-26., 1936

13
Logical positivism - some characteristics
Rationality, positive knowledge
Anti-metaphysical sharp distinction between
Science / Non-science
(analytic and synthetic) knowledge
nonsense ( incl. Hegel and Heidegger in
philosophy and nazism in politics)
Source of knowledge observations logic (cf.
logical empiricism)
14
Logical positivism - some characteristics
  • Language has a logical structure
  • What is meaningful what is verifiable
  • (by implication, metaphysics is considered as
    meaningless)
  • A mirrowing relation between language and reality
    (the Fido-Fido-theory)

15
Logical positivism - some characteristics
Laws, theories
  • Construction of general knowledge through
    induction and deduction the hypothetical-deducti
    ve method

Induction
Deduction
Data, facts, observations
Predictions, explanations
Unified science (methodological monism) ...
Mathematical physics becomes the ideal
science Theory-reduction and logical analysis are
seen as tools for unified science
16
Logical positivism - summary of its
characteristics
  • Analytic/synthetic distinction
  • all math and logic are seen as analytic (makes
    possible to treat mathematical knowledge within
    an empiricist frame)
  • Kant - Geometry - Discovery of Non-Euclidian
    geometries - Einstein - 2 kinds of geometry
    analytic and synthetic!
  • Verificationist theory of meaning
  • The language of Observation and the language of
    Theory are seen as sharply separated
  • the iron bar lights red // Helium atoms have
    each 2 e

17
  • the language of Theory
  • the language of Observation

18
Logical positivism - summary of its
characteristics
  • Analytic/synthetic distinction
  • all math and logic are seen as analytic (makes
    possible to treat mathematical knowledge within
    an empiricist frame)
  • Kant - Geometry - Discovery of Non-Euclidian
    geometries - Einstein - 2 kinds of geometry
    analytic and synthetic!
  • Verificationist theory of meaning
  • The language of Observation and the language of
    Theory are seen as sharply separated
  • the iron bar lights red // Helium atoms have
    each 2 e
  • Logic as a main tool for philosophy
  • Deductive logic as a guaranty of truth, - but
    what about inductive logic !? It became
    important to develop an inductive logic. Carnap
    did a great work, but ultimately failed.
  • Context of Discovery (opdagelsessammenhængen) vs.
    Context of Justification (begrundelsessammenhængen
    )
  • Philosophy takes care of C.o.Just. while History
    and Psychology studies the C.o.Disc.
  • (implied) a teleological picture of the
    scientific method (as intrinsicly goal-directed
    towards objective knowledge) with an asymmetry
    between expanations of good and bad science.
    Only bad science, pseudoscience, etc., needs
    external historical or psychological
    explanations.

19
Logical positivism - summary of its
characteristics
  • Science should be value-free
  • Emphasis on facts and the objectivity of
    science.
  • Objectivity conceived as methods to secure a
    mirror-like relation between theories and
    observations
  • Methodological reductionism theory-reduction
  • Ontological reductionism physicalism (i.e., the
    belief that the world is ultimately of a physical
    nature) or eventually phenomenalism (as in Mach
    sense impressions are the ultimate stuff of all
    knowledge)

20
Further senses of positivism - as a pejorative
/ skældsord
  • In some contexts, positivist is used as
    expressing criticism or disapproval
  • Do you think that the social sciences should
    only contribute knowledge to form a basis for a
    piecemal social engineering as Popper would have
    it?! - thats plein positivism!
  • Sociology reduced to quantitative statistics!
    What a positivistic idea !
  • Remember the Positivismusstreit in German
    social science in 1950s and 1960s What kind of
    social science should there be, should it be
    critical or merely descriptive, marxist or
    positivist ?
  • This controversy keeps reappearing.
  • E.g., the controversy over the right of
    scientists and scholars to have special measures
    of quality in research in the natural, the human
    and the social sciences.

21
Further senses of positivism - as an ethos
  • What is an ethos?
  • the ethos of science (R. Merton)
  • A practically-moral way to take a stance or act,
    an attitude, a set of social norms and values
  • May be expressed at special occasions, in
    salutary speeches etc. but more often an ethos
    is expressed in actions and not in words.
  • (not a consistent philosophical position)
  • (not an ideology in the sense of false
    consciousness or a political agenda)
  • An ideology in the sense of a non-scientific
    practical everyday stance

22
The positivist ethos of science
  • Science is the highest form of cultural human
    activity.
  • Science aims at positive, certain knowledge, by
    means of the scientific method (hypothetical-deduc
    tive, theory-testing, falsification, etc.).
  • Science is (or should be) autonomous only guided
    by curiosity and the inner developmental logic of
    each speciality.
  • Knowledge is justified, true (or very probable)
    beliefs. Truth is an epistemic, not an ontologic
    (about being) or axiologic (about values)
    concept.
  • Knowledge is neutral regarding use or misuse.
    There is no ethically wrong or irresponsible
    knowledge only knowledge used wrongly in
    specific situations.
  • There is (or should be) a sharp division between
    science and non-science like politics, religion,
    etc.
  • Use/misuse is a political question. If a
    researcher asserts anything about this, it is in
    his/her role not as a researcher but as a
    citizen, a lay person, a politician.
  • Natural science is only committed to search for
    true knowledge, not good knowledge. Science
    forms the basis for technology that can be
    applied to acceptable or intolerable purposes,
    but the ethics and politics involved in this is
    foreign to science.

23
The positivist ethos of science
  • The exaxt wording of the ethos in the slide above
    is mine (C.E.), but it is seen in many contexts.
    Here is the so-called CUDOS version, due to a
    founder of the sociology of science, Robert K.
    Merton
  • According to Merton, the ethos of science can be
    expressed in the norms
  • Communism (knowledge is a common good)
  • Universality (science is for all disregarding
    social, political, religious etc. background)
  • Disinterestedness (objectivity)
  • Organized Skepticism (the system of critical
    testing and evaluation)

24
The positivist ethos of science - in crisis ?
Scientism?! Ethnochauvinism?
  • Science is the highest form of cultural human
    activity.
  • Science aims at positive, certain knowledge, by
    means of the scientific method (hypothetical-deduc
    tive, theory-testing, falsification, etc.).
  • Science is (or should be) autonomous only guided
    by curiosity and the inner developmental logic of
    each speciality.
  • Knowledge is justified, true (or very probable)
    beliefs. Truth is an epistemic, not an ontologic
    (about being) or axiologic (about values)
    concept.
  • Knowledge is neutral regarding use or misuse.
    There is no ethically wrong or irresponsible
    knowledge only knowledge used wrongly in
    specific situations.
  • There is (or should be) a sharp division between
    science and non-science like politics, religion,
    etc.
  • Use/misuse is a political question. If a
    researcher asserts anything about this, it is in
    his/her role not as a researcher but as a
    citizen, a lay person, a politician.
  • Natural science is only committed to search for
    true knowledge, not good knowledge. Science
    forms the basis for technology that can be
    applied to acceptable or intolerable purposes,
    but the ethics and politics involved in this is
    foreign to science.

demand of just one method is wildly restrictive
emphasis on certainty is a dead end, and leads
philosophically to skepticism
like art pour lart - a naive view of science.
Should society pay indefinitely ?! A social
contract (or payback) is needed !
a naive conception of how science in fact develops
25
The positivist ethos of science - in crisis ?
Knowledge cannot fully be accounted for like
that. Values and knowledge cannot be separated
Can science justify itself ?
  • Science is the highest form of cultural human
    activity.
  • Science aims at positive, certain knowledge, by
    means of the scientific method (hypothetical-deduc
    tive, theory-testing, falsification, etc.).
  • Science is (or should be) autonomous only guided
    by curiosity and the inner developmental logic of
    each speciality.
  • Knowledge is justified, true (or very probable)
    beliefs. Truth is an epistemic, not an ontologic
    (about being) or axiologic (about values)
    concept.
  • Knowledge is neutral regarding use or misuse.
    There is no ethically wrong or irresponsible
    knowledge only knowledge used wrongly in
    specific situations.
  • There is (or should be) a sharp division between
    science and non-science like politics, religion,
    etc.
  • Use/misuse is a political question. If a
    researcher asserts anything about this, it is in
    his/her role not as a researcher but as a
    citizen, a lay person, a politician.
  • Natural science is only committed to search for
    true knowledge, not good knowledge. Science
    forms the basis for technology that can be
    applied to acceptable or intolerable purposes,
    but the ethics and politics involved in this is
    foreign to science.

Should this free the scientist of special
responsibility?
you cannot always separate use of knowledge from
achievement of knowledge
26
The positivist ethos of science - in crisis ?
Can the scientist always distinguish between his
role as a scientist and his active interests in
funding, patents, or his role as a politically
engaged citizen ?
There are many forms of expertise - not only
scientists are experts!
Science is often political althouth it pretends
to appear neutral
  • Science is the highest form of cultural human
    activity.
  • Science aims at positive, certain knowledge, by
    means of the scientific method (hypothetical-deduc
    tive, theory-testing, falsification, etc.).
  • Science is (or should be) autonomous only guided
    by curiosity and the inner developmental logic of
    each speciality.
  • Knowledge is justified, true (or very probable)
    beliefs. Truth is an epistemic, not an ontologic
    (about being) or axiologic (about values)
    concept.
  • Knowledge is neutral regarding use or misuse.
    There is no ethically wrong or irresponsible
    knowledge only knowledge used wrongly in
    specific situations.
  • There is (or should be) a sharp division between
    science and non-science like politics, religion,
    etc.
  • Use/misuse is a political question. If a
    researcher asserts anything about this, it is in
    his/her role not as a researcher but as a
    citizen, a lay person, a politician.
  • Natural science is only committed to search for
    true knowledge, not good knowledge. Science
    forms the basis for technology that can be
    applied to acceptable or intolerable purposes,
    but the ethics and politics involved in this is
    foreign to science.

What we consider to be science today May be
considered ideology tomorrow or in 50 years
27
The positivist ethos of science - in crisis ?
A dangerous illusion to think you can free
science of ethical involvement and responsability
  • Science is the highest form of cultural human
    activity.
  • Science aims at positive, certain knowledge, by
    means of the scientific method (hypothetical-deduc
    tive, theory-testing, falsification, etc.).
  • Science is (or should be) autonomous only guided
    by curiosity and the inner developmental logic of
    each speciality.
  • Knowledge is justified, true (or very probable)
    beliefs. Truth is an epistemic, not an ontologic
    (about being) or axiologic (about values)
    concept.
  • Knowledge is neutral regarding use or misuse.
    There is no ethically wrong or irresponsible
    knowledge only knowledge used wrongly in
    specific situations.
  • There is (or should be) a sharp division between
    science and non-science like politics, religion,
    etc.
  • Use/misuse is a political question. If a
    researcher asserts anything about this, it is in
    his/her role not as a researcher but as a
    citizen, a lay person, a politician.
  • Natural science is only committed to search for
    true knowledge, not good knowledge. Science
    forms the basis for technology that can be
    applied to acceptable or intolerable purposes,
    but the ethics and politics involved in this is
    foreign to science.

Today, science and technology are tightly
interwoven activities (technoscience)
28
And now on to history
  • Cf. the title of presentation Introduction to
    science studies from philosophy via history to
    sociology
  • Positivism focus on science as a product
    (context of justification of knowledge)
  • Kuhn, briefly
  • focus on science as a micro-social historical
    process
  • View of theories as conceptual structures
    embedded in historically situated social
    framework (paradigms)
  • Questioning the continuity and cumulative nature
    of knowledge (revolutions)
  • Context of discovery and context of justification
    is not so neatly separated The paradigm frames
    beforehand how to ask questions and how to
    interpret a discovery - thus, he sets out to
    understand the context of normal-science practice
    on a deeper level.

29
HPS History and Philosophy of Science
Kuhns scheme of scientific development
  • Contrast to positivism and Popper
  • The development of science is not trivially
    cumulative, but discontinous
  • Anomalies (not falsification) is a part of
    normal science
  • Scientific development is a question of not only
    theory, but also social factors and values.
    Science is not foreign to values. Even data are
    theory-ladden and thus connected to the wider
    conceptual scheme that a paradigm constitutes.
  • No definitional demarcation criterium Science
    as a concept is a cluster of family likenesses
    (as concepts like game).

Pre-paradigmatic science Normal Science (puzzle
solving) Crisis (if some anomalies
         become too serious) Revolution New
Normal Science etc.
30
HPS History and Philosophy of Science
  • Characteristics of Kuhn as a founder of the HPS
    tradition
  • Kuhn is an internalist the social as a set of
    factors influencing science is mainly of an
    intellectual character and mainly manifest within
    the development of a paradigm, and especially in
    between paradigms
  • Kuhn is an externalist regarding the phases of
    crisis extraordinary science between two rival
    paradigms Here, social factors external to
    science may play a role in the process of
    science.
  • Kuhn a relativist? Yes, but not an irrationalist
    The process of theory-choise is not irrational,
    yet it is not following any special algorithm or
    predefined set of methodological norms
    independent of any paradigm
  • Kuhns critique of positivism He contested some
    elements of the positivist ethos of science ...
    (e.g., Science aims at positive, certain
    knowledge, by means of the scientific method
    (hypothetical-deductive, theory-testing,
    falsification), but was more critical to
    positivism as a philosophy than as an ethos (or
    that ethos implications for science policy).

31
HPS History and Philosophy of Science
  • What is the HPS tradition ?
  • Study science in context
  • Science is a human activity, and not a purely
    logical or theoretical process
  • To know about scientific change, one must look at
    how science was actually conducted. Philosophy is
    not enough. History of science provides important
    sources for analysing philosophical issues like
    confirmation, justification, theory choise,
    discoveries, controversies, etc.
  • Thus, Kuhns impact is the turn or transformation
    of classical (logicist) philosophy of science
    into an integrated study of the history and
    philosophy of scientific development the HPS
    tradition.

history of science without philosophy of science
is blind, and philosophy of science without
history of science is empty Norwood Russell
Hanson
32
HPS History and Philosophy of Science
  • Kuhns legacy is contested
  • Kuhn the revolutionary A relativist himself,
    questioning the objectivity of science and the
    inevitable nature of scientific progress. His own
    theory seemed like a revolution in (positivist)
    philosophy of science.
  • Kuhn the conservative He distanced himself from
    the more philosophically-radical
    interpretations of his work, and can be seen as a
    conservative regarding the implications for
    science policy Society should not interfere with
    the everyday workings of science, and a certain
    amount of indoctrination in the normal-science
    (ph.d. student) education of scientists seems
    necessary.

Whats next? In the Wikipedia entry for
History_and_philosophy_of_science you find that
More recently the sociology of science and
technology studies have become popular topics and
a few HPS departments have become Science Studies
departments, e.g., the School of History and
Philosophy of Science at the University of New
South Wales was known as the School of Science
and Technology Studies (STS) from the mid-1980s
until 2001. For this reason it can be argued that
the fields are identical and that the difference
is only one of emphasis. While it may seem that
STS is a broader concept, leaving room for other
approaches to science such as sociology of
science, HPS departments are not usually as
exclusive as a literal interpretation of the name
might imply.
33
STS Science and Technology Studies
Barry Barnes Davis Bloor
  • SSK, Sociology of Scientific Knowledge
  • Barry Barnes Davis Bloor (Edingburgh school) A
    Strong Programme for a SSK you must give
    sociological explanations for erroneous as well
    as true beliefs - they should be treated
    symmetrically.
  • Harry Collins (Bath school) The sociology of
    scientific experiments and of forms of expertise
  • General sociology of knowledge (Berger
    Luckmann)
  • STS, Science and Technology Studies
  • the study of how social, political, and cultural
    values affect scientific research and
    technological innovation, and how these in turn
    affect society, politics, and culture
  • an interest in viewing science and technology as
    socially embedded enterprises.
  • an interest in studying relationships between
    technoscientific innovations and society, from
    new perspectives (e.g., and anthropology, but
    also literature, art history, cultural studies,
    gender studies, history of consciousness,
    medicine, law and computer science).
  • Concern over the direction and the risks of
    science and technology.

SSK Practitioners include Gaston Bachelard, David
Bloor, Paul Feyerabend, Elihu M. Gerson, Thomas
Kuhn, Susan Leigh Star, Anselm Strauss, Lucy
Suchman, Harry Collins, and others.
34
STS Science and Technology Studies
Thus, STS includes studies of the pathway from
research to technology
  • STS, Science and Technology Studies
  • the study of how social, political, and cultural
    values affect scientific research and
    technological innovation, and how these in turn
    affect society, politics, and culture
  • an interest in viewing science and technology as
    socially embedded enterprises.
  • an interest in studying relationships between
    technoscientific innovations and society, from
    new perspectives (e.g., and anthropology, but
    also literature, art history, cultural studies,
    gender studies, history of consciousness,
    medicine, law and computer science).
  • Concern over the direction and the risks of
    science and technology.

and the accompanying instrumentalization of
science, and the risks and uncertainties involved.
35
Questions for discussion
  • 1 Why is it problematic (or wrong) to claim that
    natural science is an exemple of positivist
    science ?
  • 2 Discuss what became of the idea that all
    sciences had certain (unifying) characteristics
    in common - is it all gone?
  • Still, there must be a difference between art and
    science, or religion and science - but which
    ones?
  • Isnt true that the method of the natural
    sciences is the experimental method?
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