Advanced search
1 file | 1.16 MB

Vindicating science – by bringing it down

Author
Abstract
Science, in the classical view, is the epitome of a rational endeavor, untrammeled by social and cultural influences. It strives to reflect the way the world really is, and is elevated above our petty human lives. Social explanations come into view only when science goes astray – when it stops being science. In recent decades, radical sociologists and other science bashers have tried to wrestle away science from the hands of those upholding the classical view, bringing science down to the level of other human endeavors. Science, they maintain, is social to the bone, and scientific knowledge is nothing but a tissue social constructions. In turn, this radicalism has fueled suspicions among science advocates about any naturalized conception of science: science should be free from the contamination of social influences. Both parties in the dispute, as we argue in this chapter, buy into an intuitive view that characterizes much of our everyday reasoning about the causes of belief: a stark opposition between the rational and the social. Wherever social influences hold sway, reason takes the hindmost. And wherever reason reigns, there is no need for social explanations. This opposition harks back to an even more basic intuition: true and justified beliefs don’t require a causal explanation. They are just self-evident. We grapple for causal explanations (social or otherwise) only when rationality fails. This assumption, handy though it is as a heuristic and first approximation, does not survive careful scrutiny, and needs to be abandoned. A rich causal account of science, including the constitutive role of the social, in no way detracts from its epistemic credentials. Science, after all, is the concerted effort of many human brains. If we want a non-miraculous explanation of science’s successes, we had better be able to account for them in social terms.

Downloads

  • Final - Vindicating Science—By Bringing It Down - Boudry & Pigliucci.pdf
    • full text
    • |
    • open access
    • |
    • PDF
    • |
    • 1.16 MB

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Boudry, Maarten, and Massimo Pigliucci. 2018. “Vindicating Science – by Bringing It Down.” In Perspectives on Science and Culture, ed. Stefaan Blancke, Kris Rutten, and Ronald Soetaert, 243–258. Purdue University Press.
APA
Boudry, M., & Pigliucci, M. (2018). Vindicating science – by bringing it down. In S. Blancke, K. Rutten, & R. Soetaert (Eds.), Perspectives on science and culture (pp. 243–258). Purdue University Press.
Vancouver
1.
Boudry M, Pigliucci M. Vindicating science – by bringing it down. In: Blancke S, Rutten K, Soetaert R, editors. Perspectives on science and culture. Purdue University Press; 2018. p. 243–58.
MLA
Boudry, Maarten, and Massimo Pigliucci. “Vindicating Science – by Bringing It Down.” Perspectives on Science and Culture. Ed. Stefaan Blancke, Kris Rutten, & Ronald Soetaert. Purdue University Press, 2018. 243–258. Print.
@incollection{7205072,
  abstract     = {Science, in the classical view, is the epitome of a rational endeavor, untrammeled by social and cultural influences. It strives to reflect the way the world really is, and is elevated above our petty human lives. Social explanations come into view only when science goes astray -- when it stops being science. In recent decades, radical sociologists and other science bashers have tried to wrestle away science from the hands of those upholding the classical view, bringing science down to the level of other human endeavors. Science, they maintain, is social to the bone, and scientific knowledge is nothing but a tissue social constructions. In turn, this radicalism has fueled suspicions among science advocates about any naturalized conception of science: science should be free from the contamination of social influences. Both parties in the dispute, as we argue in this chapter, buy into an intuitive view that characterizes much of our everyday reasoning about the causes of belief: a stark opposition between the rational and the social. Wherever social influences hold sway, reason takes the hindmost. And wherever reason reigns, there is no need for social explanations. This opposition harks back to an even more basic intuition: true and justified beliefs don{\textquoteright}t require a causal explanation. They are just self-evident. We grapple for causal explanations (social or otherwise) only when rationality fails. This assumption, handy though it is as a heuristic and first approximation, does not survive careful scrutiny, and needs to be abandoned. A rich causal account of science, including the constitutive role of the social, in no way detracts from its epistemic credentials. Science, after all, is the concerted effort of many human brains. If we want a non-miraculous explanation of science{\textquoteright}s successes, we had better be able to account for them in social terms.},
  author       = {Boudry, Maarten and Pigliucci, Massimo},
  booktitle    = {Perspectives on science and culture},
  editor       = {Blancke, Stefaan and Rutten, Kris and Soetaert, Ronald},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {243--258},
  publisher    = {Purdue University Press},
  title        = {Vindicating science -- by bringing it down},
  year         = {2018},
}