Introduction: Scandals of Knowledge

Barbara Herrnstein Smith

in Scandalous Knowledge

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620234
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671670 | DOI:
Introduction: Scandals of Knowledge

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This chapter presents an historically informed overview of epistemological skepticism-the perennial questioning of what we can know or how we come to know things--and its radicalized modern versions. In characterizing contemporary, empirically grounded social studies of science (or “science studies”) and related constructivist epistemology in the tradition of Ludwik Fleck, Thomas Kuhn and Bruno Latour, it distinguishes them on the one side from classical normative, rationalist epistemology and, on the other, from the politically inflected “social constructionism” often associated with cultural studies. Charges of “relativism” directed at contemporary reconceptualizations of truth, knowledge and science are seen as products of the continued normative and ideological force of classic realist, rationalist and positivist ways of understanding these concepts.

Keywords: knowledge; epistemology; rationalism; skepticism; constructivism; social constructionism; science studies; relativism

Chapter.  6660 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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