Chapter

An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies <i>Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics</i> <i>Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics</i> <i>Philip A. Sullivan</i>

Philip A. Sullivan

in A House Built on Sand

Published in print September 1998 | ISBN: 9780195117257
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785995 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195117255.003.0006
An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies  Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics   Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics   Philip A. Sullivan

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Building on a discussion of the nature of scientific knowledge, it is argued that a convincing demonstration of the presence of social values in the content of such knowledge requires showing that it occurs in disciplines where the knowledge has become stable, or has a record of accurate prediction. Two studies of this type are reviewed: a feminist critique of fluid mechanics, and an analysis by an Edinburgh sociologist of a dispute in the early 20th-century development of statistics. Both studies are shown to be fatally flawed. The first is riddled with elementary technical errors, making its subsequent case for male bias meaningless. The second ignores fundamental mathematical questions at issue in the dispute, leading its author to cast about for implausible sociological explanations.

Keywords: fluid mechanics; statistics; feminist critiques; strong programme; sociology of scientific knowledge; Katherine Hayles; David Mackenzie

Chapter.  15986 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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