Dialogue: Refining Responses, Cycle 2

Amanda Introduction

(This is rough right now, but I think gets at the question we discussed yesterday. Any comments, questions, clarifications, or necessary additions are appreciated.)

Simplicity is often a characteristic lacking in academics, especially those who dwell in the humanities, social sciences, or liberal arts. Yet, many who claw at the walls of the ivory tower understand the work they labor over as meaningful, if not always understandable, to the world at large. Today on our show we grasp for the simple in a field where that tendency often proves illusive: the Philosophy of Science.

At its core the philosophy of science is an academic discipline tasked with the deciphering of scientific knowledge. It’s noted practitioners, Popper, Quine, Kuhn, Lauden, among others, have spent a life’s work examining how scientific knowledge creates seemingly self evident truths about the world we all occupy. These same authors also point us to pit falls. They demonstrate that elegant equations, formulas, or logic often fail to map onto the world; the self-evident truths of nature become less evident. With these analyses, the legs that scientific knowledge stands on wobble. Uncertainty must now be tempered with established fact.

We might assume that a line of questioning directed at sorting out the nature of scientific knowledge serves only as a masturbatory thought exercise for philosophers steeped in prestige and the privilege of tenure. Yet, as we have explored as a class there is, in the words of Marie Stettler-Kleine, “an intense practicality in asking questions about what it means for science to work”. We might also say that the boundaries of science, the decisions of what is and what is not science, impact all areas of our lives whether we fully realize it or not.

Let’s take for example a Scientific America op-ed written by Dan Rather following the election of Donald Trump. The gist of the article can be gleaned early on. He writes: “Science bolsters our global stature by its institutionalized respect for the truth, its evidence-based decision-making, and its willingness to accept differing opinions when the facts dictate them”.1 Here Rather defines clearly what science does – it is evidence-based, it respects the truth, it is open to differing opinions. Rather argues that a Trump presidency threatens the power of science. In turn, scientific experts must use their prestige to speak an ‘apolitical’ truth. And as Rather suggests, the media must work to elevate these voices help present the culture, spirit, and relevance of science to the lay public. He understands science as speaking truth to power, but his understanding of science as under political siege fails to acknowledge the power already institutionalized within the expertise of scientific voices.

Today we explore what is at stake when we declare that science works, when we accept that it creates truths about the world, when we grant the spokes men and women of their respective fields public expertise. The discussions and topics are wide reaching, but represent an attempt to intertwine the esoteric with the practical – to better understand what scientific knowledge does and doesn’t do in our shared world.

Being an STS’er at a Tech-Obsessed University— Marie Stettler Kleine

Okay, I know that this is very long, and a bit confusing with all the internal clauses within sentences, but I promise it will sound better as I revise it and when I turn it into an audio clip- this is the way we speak after all!!!! If chunks of it sound familiar, I amended a lot of my thought piece to have a "so what?" punch. Accordingly, I think this could be something of a conclusion, depending upon what others are coming up with.

With a tagline like “Invent the Future,” Virginia Tech obviously has a clear devotion toward technological inquiry. Very little can be done, especially at the university level, to question technology’s impending presence in our university’s future. With inevitably “progressive” steps forward tethered to our belief in our technological prowess, there seems to be quite a bit of risk associated with questioning what defines us as a university the most. So can we, safely, task ourselves with this charge as Science and Technology Studies Scholars?

With a fragile place in the academy, especially one that is becoming increasingly technology-obsessed, it is unsurprising that philosophers of science of the past have emphasized the redeeming qualities of scientific inquiry, defended its borders, and worked to define just what makes it worth emulating. This kind of boundary guarding raises some interesting questions about the field’s ability to keep a level head as it also guards what they will allow their own field to include as rigorous, informed, and relevant. Philosophers of science and those that have picked-up a lot of the remnants of their literature are playing an interesting balancing act between drawing attention to sciences successes and exploring the intricacies of what makes it so special in its idealized form while also trying to protect its ability to uncover truths in reality.

Acknowledging this balancing act puts into question who the field of philosophy of science considers to be its audience. If, in fact, they are all speaking to scientists, why do (and in most of the cases “did”) they spend such little time with scientists, grounding their idealized science to how it actually functions on a daily basis? In the foundational pieces of philosophy of science, the observation of actual science is rarely emphasized. It seems as if conjectures are made about what might be happening, and what truths science may be uncovering, but very little consulting with actual scientists are included in their analysis. Promoting these kinds of observations could potentially bring a more cogent story line to often romanticized ones that philosophers of science tend to be so distracted with. It seems ironic that if the foundational philosophers of science were so enamored by the knowledge-engine that is science, but had very little interest in observing it as is –replacing this observation with actively painting the ideal picture of science that they wanted to depict— their academic interests and career-maintaining survival strategies began to blur between foreground and background; exchanging one for the other freely, while still having very little responsibility or ability to question science’s noble characteristics.

So, what followed, whose remnants can still be seen in contemporary STS’ers, seems inevitable in its own right. New critical scholars of 1980s-1990 had to begin observing science and the creation of technology in action. (Enter Latour and associations) They began to reflect on the contingencies that they were witnessing as they observed the once pristine domain. With the acceptance of social contingency, came analysis of the alternative choices science never took. These untested possibilities got critical scholars running full bore towards limitless cases and contextualization. This disciplinary move also makes a lot of practical sense. STS scholars need to 1) continue to appreciate science and engineering as impactful (if not progressive) endeavors while also 2) feed themselves. If not only to preserve their own worth, STS’ers necessarily vouch for the possibility of limitless productive observation of science and technological development; therefore primarily promoting science and technology as a worth-while human endeavor. STS has had (especially in very technically-minded universities) to remember that science drives (and pays for) the show. How does and should this influence how we view ourselves as practitioners? Practically, we cannot be aggressive vigilantes, out to preserve the right to liberally ask any question of the institutions that surround us that pops into our head, no one (let alone no one in the academy) is afforded that opportunity. Sure, tenure was put in place in order to allow for some of this freedom, but there is a plethora of other benefits to not disrupting our relationship to the practitioners that we study.

First, access, if we begin to question what is at the core of science and technology, we simply won’t be invited back. Second, funding opportunities, and publishing outlets are dependent upon some of this access that we should so delicately protect. Among these there is a number of internal social and career advantages to keeping scientists and engineers as allies. Asking too many questions can look like an aggressive of intrusive act that could harm other social scientists and humanists ability to work with these practitioners. An inconsistent message about what these critical scholars’ intentions are may fracture the kind of work that we will be able to do as a collective. Creating this cohesive front and message is and will not be easy, but hopefully there is comfort in the fact that this is not a new struggle, contemporary critical scholars have poked holes in some of the pristine picture of science, and science and technology studies has survived. We should continue to learn from the philosophers of science, and their balance between admiration and maintaining our value-add. We need to continually perpetuate the belief that science is a meaningful destination while trying to deconstruct its future at every turn.

Roger’s Radio piece dialog (DRAFT #1)

We grapple today with the nature of science as it pursues truth and also what the philosophy of science adds to that pursuit.
Since this is my first STS course in over a decade and my first dedicated philosophy course ever, I need help with any attempt to provide any insights to the question on the table. To that end I posed the following question to friends who are practitioners of science and technology in laboratories, think tanks and academia. All who I questioned have Doctor of Philosophy degrees in science or engineering fields.
The question was: “I’m taking a STS course titled The Philosophy of Science and Technology. Much of what we are studying is very new to me and as I prepare to write a final paper I’m curious regarding the influence of Philosophers of Science and Technology on those who are practitioners in the field. For example, have you studied Thomas Kuhn, Helen Longino, Peter Galison, Karl Popper, Martin Heidegger, Hans Jonas, or other philosophers of Science and Technology. If so, did they influence you?”
A few of the interesting answers follow:

One of my Professors who I greatly respected said students should not be intimated by the concise philosophies, theories and formalism which exists for Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Electro Dynamics, because that comes later after the critical discoveries. The scientists who made singular contributions did have some context for their discoveries but only partially. For example Millikan’s oil drop experiment to determine the charge on an electron. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_drop_experiment . His concept was that charge was discrete and not continuous as many believed, but I don’t think he any idea at the time of the wave particle duality which would come https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics later. As you may note the Philosophers are still working to explain the equations which most likely can only be explained by mathematical equations and people have the mathematical background, such as Schrodinger’s Equation:
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My brief formal study of philosophy left with me with 2 enduring impressions. First, the value of clear thinking (posing a clear question, identifying the rules for finding an answer, finding common ground in discussion if only in framing the discussion). Second, there is order in the universe, some of it obvious and, hence, perhaps, a lot more to be discovered. I decided to pursue a profession devoted to discovering universal order with science and technology as the rules for discovery. I changed my student status from "undeclared" to an electrical engineering major the next semester (beginning of my sophomore year). And I have been pleased with where it led me as a scientific and technological practitioner. Today, even accounting for all the things I have forgotten, the more I practice the more I know I don’t know, and is there to be discovered. And I enjoy the discovery.

…we read Kuhn’s book. Honestly, I didn’t really agree with him at the time. Can’t say it had much influence on me. As a chemistry student I was aware of Popper’s notion of falsifiability. Mostly people just copy what the last guy did and that’s how the culture of the discipline spreads, so it meets some standards for intellectual rigor in so far as that existed at the inception of the discipline and the procedures have been kept.
I didn’t really get into the philosophy of science until I was here. And I didn’t really get into it until people here were doing non-science and calling it science because it kinda looked like science (used numbers). Most of the physicists, chemists, etc. could point and say “no, you’re doing it wrong” but only have an aesthetic sense of wrong.

I wonder what these people would feel to be most valuable to our society – scientific discoveries or profound thoughts about scientific discovery? If I took the time to study the philosophies of these folks, would it change my approach? Would it make me more successful?

I am afraid my answer is very cryptic. No, I have not read any of the authors you cited. At one time, many, many, many moons ago, I read Bertrand Russell and his emphasis on logic appealed to me. Another one was Alvin Toffler who passed away this past summer. But he was more of a writer and futurist. Sorry to be of no help…
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I have attached a paper on Humanistic Engineering that my student , XXXXXX (with MA in English) and I wrote way back in 2003. This does not exactly meet your need but it shows my early entry into holistic engineering education in part influenced by researchers in STS including M. Gorman (UVa), C. P. Snow (British Scientist and novelist) and others
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I have never have read or studied these philosophers. Only reading journal articles these days, or daze…
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I think Thomas Kuhn is the only one on your list that I have read about before (or even heard of) concerning paradigm shifts. I have also studied Thomas Hughes wrt large technological systems and Michael Polyani wrt to tacit knowledge. I note they are not on your list. We have our students read them in our course. Nuclear power plants can be considered large technological systems and building nuclear weapons involves tacit knowledge.
END OF RESPONSE QUOTES***

I think a common thread in the responses I received is that there is little formal knowledge of the philosophy of science as we have studied it, but there is a serious respect for the role that philosophy should play. From our class discussions it is clear that there is a frustration concerning the connection of philosophical thinking with the practice of science and technology.
Marie hits a nail on the head when she states that access to practitioners of science and technology is critical to the relevance of STS. In today’s world of rapid advance and information connectivity within humanity in general, it is important that long term thinking and ethics be considered in the initial planning of scientific or technological endeavors. Amanda is absolutely correct that simplicity is needed when going beyond STS peers. Discipline specific terms are handy within the STS team, but are off putting to those who are not; this problem is not unique to STS, but STS is the discipline on today’s table. I disagree with Marie when she states that to question the thinking at the core of science and technology endeavors will result in not being invited back. As in all life, tact and courtesy are required, but the S&T practitioners I have known regard being questioned as an important part of life; also, the questions must make sense, so hard thinking is required. I agree with Jasanoff who argues that the ship of S&T should be steered from “the technologies of hubris” towards the “technologies of humility”. Another way to say all this is that we should work to ensure that the goal of S&T continues to be the long term benefit of humanity.
DRAFT


Annie Y. Patrick Radio Transcript

In my last conversation, I discussed the argument of real science versus that of metaphysics or “pseudo-science.” For that discussion, I focused on the renowned philosopher, Sir Karl Popper. Popper believed in challenging the quality of science by the use of falsifiability, refutability, and testability. Popper suggests that these “conclusions” should act as filters to be used as a sieve to separate the true science from the imposters of science. And though Sir Popper presents some rather valid premises to support his stance, as we all know in the world of philosophy, one person’s word is never the final word. Therefore, for the next few minutes, I will visit the arguments of other philosophers and scientists and present their opinions on science.

An interview of Dr. Carolo Rovellis conducted on May 30, 2012, provided an interested peek into what makes science…well science. Dr. Rovellis is a theoretical physicist and leading contributor of quantum gravity. Rovellis started off by stating that the contemporary physicist makes the assumption that all past knowledge is wrong. How is this so? In the deep recesses of our curiosity, the thinking that is inherent to science must challenge present knowledge with the assumption that there may be something to modify in that present knowledge. In the end, science is not a characterized by the construction of data, but instead it is how the scientist thinks and at the end of it all, science is not about certainty. After reading, Dr. Rovellis thoughts, I wondered, Is Dr. Rovellis aware that his thinking of science is similar to Thomas Kuhn? For Dr. Rovellis, science is challenging the present knowledge. Isn’t this what Kuhn would classify as a “crisis.” In the end, Dr. Rovellis, though providing several thoughts on what science is, does his description of science separate it from pseudo-science?

Let’s next look at an interview of Dr. Timothy Williamson, the Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford. When asked the question, “What do you think it takes for something to be a science?” Instead of providing an answer, his response was “it’s not a very precise question. Just look at the range of the sciences.” He does not claim an exclusive understanding of science, however hints at that science is a type of systematic inquiry that involves a certain amount of control for accuracy, a certain degree of planning, and the ability to offer correction of errors and so forth with a final goal of acquiring knowledge. Though he provides a general answer to the question, there is a sense that he has provided an answer to please all and to include all types of science.

In my conclusion, I would like to discuss a recent article from Discover Magazine’s website, Is Science Broken? Let’s Ask Karl Popper. Poppers stance of what is science by the use of falsifiability is presented as being at odds with how science is conducted today. For example, Popper supports actively seeking evidence against a hypotheses, however, today’s scientist are not rewarded in this manner. Second, Popper calls for a rejection of hypotheses that are not consistent with the evidence. However, today’s scientists are not keen to publish work that is contrary to the hypothesis. Third, for Popper a hypothesis should make predictions, however, there is the problem of post-hoc storytelling. Ultimately, would Popper say that science is broken? From these three comparisons, I believe yes. The problem here is not in what science is, but how science is conducted. Where some people may criticize Popper’s arguments, this article may have instead provided it support.

Each of these readings present another way of looking at what makes science, well science. As a philosophy novice, Popper’s stance can be taken as a foundation or an introduction to this problem of demarcation of science and pseudoscience.

“Is Science Broken? Let’s Ask Karl Popper.” Discovermagazine.com. 15 Mar. 2015. <http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2015/03/15/is-science-broken-lets-ask-karl-popper/#.WD-XAvkrLIU>

Popper, karl. “Science: Conjectures and Refutations.” Philosophy of Science: The Central issues, edited by Martin Curd, J.A. Cover, and Christopher Pincock, W.W. Norton & Co, 2013, 3-10.

Rovelli, Carolo. Interview by Lee Smolin. Science is not about Certainty: A philosophy of Physics. Edge, N.p. 30 May 2012. <https://www.edge.org/conversation/carlo_rovelli-science-is-not-about-certainty-a-philosophy-of-physics>

Williamson, Timothy. Interview by Thomas Rambo. Philosophy as a scientific discipline: an interview with Timothy Williamson. N.p. 19 Sept. 2016.
<https://filosofisksupplement.no/2016/09/philosophy-as-a-scientific-discipline-an-interview-with-timothy-williamson/>

Ezra's Radio Radio Transcript

A rant on realism and rationality

The goal is to leave the listener with things to consider, hence the use of rhetorical questions. I also tried to write as If I were speaking. Perhaps ill develop this into a back and forth between a realist and anti-realist. .

Some Anti-realists claim that science proceeds in an irrational manner and fails to approximate the truth. Some are concerned with problems like underdetermination of theories by evidence, others point out what appears to be mob psychology going on in the adoption or rejection of scientific theories. However, if the scientific enterprise is so ridden with incommensurate rules and standards, vaguely defined and often contradictory theoretical virtues and is even subject to the temperaments of scientists and the institutions that fund them—why does it seem that we have gotten better at predicting and manipulating the world around us?

Today, I have more faith that a plane will stay aloft and transport me safely than I would have in the 1930’s. And I’m pretty certain that mercury rubs and leeches won’t reduce my fever. Beyond this, I possess the ability to engage in high-fidelity video communication with my friends around the world with hardly any effort, and chances are, we share similar attitudes about the safety of planes and the effectiveness of bloodletting. It would seem that modern science is doing pretty well, at least in fruiting technology and disseminating stable beliefs about the natural world.

Or maybe it isn’t that simple… Perhaps what we humans have achieved is only one modality of predictions or manipulations on the natural world, one that has been driven and guided by human desires. It is possible that the nature of our reasoning and even the anatomies of our bodies blinds us to "der dinge an sich," rendering our predictions and manipulations incomplete, or only capable of scratching the surface in terms of understanding what is happening and what can be changed in this world—or even worlds potentially. How can we escape “the platonic cave,” as it were, if even our best microscopes and other testing instruments are built to portray the natural world in a way that we can best process it? We might be able to see the shadows with greater clarity but what of the world beyond the shadows or even outside of the cave? My mind can’t even begin to conceptualize this, and probably isn’t meant to.

Continuing on, we might even wonder if human language is adequate for describing natural phenomena, or are we losing some “reality” or truth when we define the electron as “a stable subatomic particle with a charge of negative electricity, found in all atoms and acting as the primary carrier of electricity in solids.” Or how about when we say “the electron is an elementary particle consisting of a charge of negative electricity equal to about 1.602 × 10−19 coulomb and having a mass when at rest of about 9.109 × 10−31 kilogram or about 1⁄1836 that of a proton?” These expressions are at the very least (Salva Veritate) synonymous but are either veridical? It is conceivable that some entities and phenomena or even properties of electrons transcend logical relations and truth-values! What then is the limit to what can be expressed or explained by scientific language? And would that limit be attributable to a shortcoming latent our reasoning, language, anatomies or even the nature of the universe itself?

Maybe we need to invoke a bit of pragmatism here to remedy the problem, for therapeutic reasons if nothing else… Even if all science were practiced “perfectly,” such that all the problems mentioned earlier were alleviated, there would still be an infinite number of theories consistent with any given body of evidence. We never actually weigh all the possible theories against each other, we pick what we think is the best out of a few. And rarely is it the case that out of this lot, that we get equally competitive theories. There’s usually some shortcoming in one, whether it be it's predictive accuracy, logical consistency, comprehensiveness or even Popperian criteria like falsifiability and testability. In addition to this, if we accept that for all intents and purposes, real objects are things that what we can possibly observe or theorize about, then scientific theories seem to prima facie approximate truth. If these two points can be accepted, it seems ok to say that science proceeds rationally and that our best scientific theories approximate truth. Although many anti-realists would reject the second claim, citing that for any theory T, there exists a theories T+ that make identical predictions about observable objects, but make vastly different predictions about unobservable objects. That is where things become fuzzy.



Kian Lua's Transcript

Today I am going to talk about objectivity in science, and how scientific realism plays a part in scientific objectivity. More specifically, I will mention Helen Longino’s conception of scientific objectivity. To Longino, scientific objectivity is secured by the social character of inquiry. Indeed, the practice or doing of science is social in nature. As Longino says, science is not something practiced by individuals but by social groups, and scientific knowledge is the product of many individuals working in concert. How can these statements be explained?

First of all, aspiring practitioners of science go through an education process to learn how to do science. They are trained by more experienced scientists to understand the techniques, skills and mindset required to do “good” science. Also, scientists constitute a network of communities embedded in a society, and scientists’ survival depend on how fellow scientists as well as society evaluate and value what they do. Scientific discoveries and hypotheses by individuals are usually critically examined, restated and reformulated by other scientists before becoming a part of accepted scientific knowledge. Hence consensus regarding scientific knowledge is typically created through disagreements and the meshing of a variety of points of view.

Longino also mentions peer review as a mechanism through which scientific discoveries are critically examined. Peer review ensures that theories and experimental results are rigorously examined, determines what counts as genuine scientific knowledge and keeps out spurious scientific claims. In other words, peer review ensures scientific objectivity. It makes sure that the authors of scientific reports have interpreted their findings in a way that is free of their subjective preferences.

Now, lets switch topics a little and talk about scientific realism. I believe that most scientists, particularly those in the natural sciences, hold the believe that science aims to produce true, or approximately true, descriptions of how the universe operates. In this sense, scientific realism can be an epistemic aim of scientific inquiry. Of course, I am not saying that all currently accepted scientific theories refer to the world and correspond to the approximate truth, since that is a stronger case of scientific realism and will not be included in today’s discussion. I am talking about a weaker, aspirational case of scientific realism. Approximately true theories are what scientists aspire to achieve.

Here, I argue that since most scientists are realists, their desire to investigate the world that exists independent of human mind, and their desire to look for “approximate truths”, compel scientists to be objective in both their scientific endeavours and as peer reviewers. Of course, anomalies in the peer review process are not impossible. There have been concerns over the breakdown of peer review, when scientific papers were accepted on the basis of non-objective factors, such as the institutional affiliation of the authors instead of the intrinsic worth of the paper itself. However, I would further argue that, since scientific work and scientific objectivity are both social in nature, and since scientists aspire for theories that map on to the world as closely as possible, then eventually, through time, this mistake will surface in the scientific community and correctional steps will be taken.

The argument that the scientific community will eventually emend un-objective scientific results that did not get pointed-out in a peer review does not negate the importance of the peer review process, for it could take a long time before such measures are taken. Additionally, waiting for someone within the community to come across these mistakes could delay the progress of science. Peer review is a practical and efficient system to ensure as much objectivity as possible when presenting new scientific claims and evaluating the validity these claims.

Reference:
Longino, H. E. (1990). Science as social knowledge: Values and objectivity in scientific inquiry. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.


Joshua Earle Transcript

My apologies for getting this up late. Feel free to place this section in any location in the piece. I can have the audio recording to anyone who wants to edit them together whenever they need it.

Philosophy of science has a couple of endemic problems that seem to me to be at the heart of its apparent falling out of favor in STS. One of them is a problem that should be easy to fix, and in fact, it probably should have been fixed already. I call this problem the Problem of Moving Goalposts. The second is more central to the very goal of philosophy itself, and is the stickier wicket. I call this problem, The Problem of Definition. I will not try to solve either of those problems in the few minutes that I have, but rather try to outline them in a way that might encourage understanding, or perhaps even to spur an attempt at a solution in the future.

The first problem, the one that should be fixed by now, that I call the Problem of Moving Goalposts, is one of slippery goals. It is often not clear whether a philosopher, when discussing an issue about science, is speaking of how things are, or of what we can know about the thing. Science is interesting to philosophers because it has been the greatest epistemic engine humans have ever had. Yet scientists don’t usually speak of uncovering knowledge, they speak of uncovering truth about the world, about what it is, ontologically, physically. So when philosophers speak about science, their arguments can seem to shift between describing how things are and how we know the things that science tells us.

This problem is, to me, key to understanding the difficulty between the philosophical stances of realism vs relativism. When Helen Longino decribes the two problems of objectivity as in one sense being bound up in questions of truth and reference, and in another sense in modes of inquiry, this epistemological-ontological split rises again. When Laudan breaks down the relationship between scientific theories (which are epistemological in nature) and reality (or the ontology of the things to which the theories refer) this split happens again. Realists, to me, do not necessarily talk about whether or not we can know reality, but mostly that it exists… and yet relativists generally are talking about what we can know about reality, and it gets assumed that they are also talking about reality itself being relative or not existing at all. This category confusion needs to be more specifically addressed in philosophical work around science and around issues of realism and epistemology.

The second, and more pressing problem, is the problem of definition or demarcation. This is less about the Popperian issue of what science is and is not, but more along the lines of definitions themselves (e.g., define "Table"… go ahead, I'll wait). Language, being necessarily representative, variable, and contextually contingent, is difficult to make actually refer to things out in the world. The closer it seems that we try to get to a definition, the slipperier reality seems to become. It's like a linguistic uncertainty principle. So, when philosophers delve down into the minutiae of definitions and reference, it seems to me to be a self-defeating proposition.

This may seem like purely philosophical or semantic problem, unrelated to everyday life or the day to day work a scientist or engineer does. But when we posit an STS intervention this becomes extremely important, because it affects how seriously we are taken in those interventions. When we try to nail down definitions and fail, how can scientists trust that we know what we're talking about when we say they should include X or Y thing in their work? When our work moves goalposts in confusing ways, we'll get tuned out. The stakes for STS, especially those who deal with science (regardless of their direct association with philosophy), could not be higher. These difficulties already almost killed STS in the 1980s and 90s, and it's one of the reasons, I believe, that the philosophy of science is less-important to STS than it used to be. Finding a solution to these issues may be key to the survival of our field altogether. dun dun duuuuun <— I may or may not actually include the dun dun duuun. I leave it to the group to decide.

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