Situated Knowledge and Common Enemies: Therapy for the Science Wars

Michael Lynch

in The One Culture?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2001 | ISBN: 9780226467221
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226467245 | DOI:
Situated Knowledge and Common Enemies: Therapy for the Science Wars

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One of the prominent tendencies in the constructionist studies of science is a resolute insistence that science is work. Like other forms of work, scientific practice is viewed as an embodied and material labor process involving numerous, often obscure, parties. Connected with this emphasis is a stress upon the “local” or “situated” character of scientific and technical work—work that involves practical actions and reasoned judgments, which are not a matter of mechanically following methodological rules. Moments of creative struggle and opportunities for improvisation in a laboratory occur from top to bottom in a hierarchy of research directors, staff scientists, technicians, and civilian participants. The contingent products of this collective labor process (data, results, publications, discovery claims) are more than deliberately planned outcomes, as they can be sources of surprise and puzzlement. An understanding of the implications of this picture of scientific work may provide a basis for solidarity rather than epistemological infighting.

Keywords: situated knowledge; science wars; epistemology; scientific work; scientific practice; methodological rules; technical work

Chapter.  2587 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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