Science (Concepts in the Social Sciences)

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9780335198474: Science (Concepts in the Social Sciences)
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"Congratulations to Steve Fuller! After this book, the public's understanding of science (and the scientists' too) will never be the same again. He shows how much of our "common sense" of science is conditioned or created, both by its implicit cultural context and its carefully cultivated legends. He combines philosophical acuity, sociological insight and historical depth, and then tells his story in a sparkling prose. He is irreverent without being irresponsible, and committed without being tendentious. Like any other ageing institution, science must learn to become self-aware if it is to adapt and survive; and so Steve Fuller is actually science's best friend."

Jerry Ravetz (author of Scientific Knowledge and its Social Problems)
What qualifies such seemingly disparate disciplines as paleontology, high-energy physics, industrial chemistry and genetic engineering as "sciences", and hence worthy of sustained public interest and support? In this innovative and controversial introduction to the social character of scientific knowledge, Steve Fuller argues that if these disciplines share anything at all, it is more likely to be the way they strategically misinterpret their own history than any privileged access to the nature of reality. The book features a report written in the persona of a Martian anthropologist who systematically compares religious and scientific institutions on earth, only to find that science does not necessarily live up to its own ideals of rationality. In addition, Fuller highlights science's multicultural nature through a discussion of episodes in which the West's own understanding of science has been decisively affected by its encounters with Islam and Japan. An important theme of the book is that science's most attractive feature - its openness to criticism - is threatened by the role it increasingly plays in the maintenance of social and economic order.

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Review:

"...a swashbuckling book. Fuller's formidable scholarship takes no prisoners." - Nature "...gets off toa rattling good start...The critical core of the book is the high point of its quality as an enjoyable read." - Futures "Steve Fuller's work is important to the interdisciplinary of STS because he is one of the few philosophers who has engaged the socialstudies literature in a 'constructive' way. Rather than focusing on on the few examples of epistemological relativism in the SSK literatureand demonstrating their philosophical incoherence, Fuller has engageda much wider range of historical, sociological and anthropological sources and examined their philosophical import. Furthermore, by focusing philosophical analysis on the 'normative dimension of scientific enterprise', or social epistemology, he offers a bridge between the social sciences and philosophy through topics such as policy. Thus, he points the way to a genuinely interdisciplinary dialogue that avoids old saws such as realism and relativism." -Metascience "The work makes original and ingenious use of various conceptual tools from several social sciences. It contains a philosophical depth and a cultural and historical breadth rare in social accounts of science, while dealing with the most current contested issues. It sparkles with numerous new ides and opens many avenues of inquiry for the scholar. Yet at the same time it is accessible to the educated layperson orbeginning student. The work is written in an engaging and witty style, making it useful as an introductory text as well as an analytic evaluation of current issues such as of that multiculturalism in science for more advanced scholars in sociology, science studies and philosophy." - History of the Human Sciences "As a self-confessed purveyor of 'frequently outrageous views,' Steve Fuller canbe relied on for a spirited and provocative text-and so this proves...What is impressive is Fuller's intellectual boldness in weaving together a wealth of sociological, philosophical and historical arguments that aim to reveal for public scrutiny the true nature of science." - Public Understanding of Science "...This book is a roller-coaster ride through science studies...the book grabs the readers by the throat and throws them around until the last vestiges of any 'rose coloured spectacles of science's long and progressive past' are beaten out of them...The whole effect is to leave the reader's head spinning, and Fuller is to be congratulated for that." - Science, Technology & Human Values "...This book is a useful and insightful journey through some of the key debates about science as a human activity." - Sociological Research Online "Congratulations to Steve Fuller! After this book, the public's understanding of science (and the scientists' too) will never be the same again. He shows how much of our 'common sense' of science is conditioned or created, both by its implicit cultural context and its carefully cultivated legends. He combines philosophical acuity, sociological insight and historical depth, and then tells his story in a sparkling prose. He is irreverent without being irresponsible, and committed without being tendentious. Like any other ageing institution, science must learn to become self-aware if it is to adapt and survive; and so Steve Fuller is actually science's best friend." - Jerry Ravetz (author of Scientific Knowledge and its Social Problems)

Synopsis:

What qualifies such seemingly disparate disciplines as paleontology, high-energy physics, industrial chemistry and genetic engineering as "sciences", and hence worthy of sustained public interest and support? In this innovative and controversial introduction to the social character of scientific knowledge, Steve Fuller argues that if these disciplines share anything at all, it is more likely to be the way they strategically misinterpret their own history than any privileged access to the nature of reality.

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