Chapter

Social Constructivism

Ilkka Niiniluoto

in Critical Scientific Realism

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251612
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598098 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199251614.003.0009
 Social Constructivism

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Philosophers of science should take seriously the fact, emphasized already by Peirce and Popper, that scientific knowledge is a product of the scientific community. The ontological and epistemological views associated with the sociology of science have often been interpreted as forms of relativism and anti‐realism. This chapter examines critically the position of the Edinburgh school (Bloor, Barnes). It is argued that the Strong Programme need not be in conflict with realism, but its radically nominalist doctrine of meaning finitism should be rejected. But Latour's social constructivism, if taken literally as an ontological view, cannot be reconciled with scientific realism.

Keywords: anti‐realism; Barnes; Bloor; Edinburgh school; finitism; Latour; Peirce; Popper; relativism; scientific community; social constructivism; sociology of science; Strong Programme

Chapter.  11854 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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