Putting a Spin on Circulating Reference, or How to Rediscover the Scientific Subject

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 49:103-107 (2015)
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Abstract

Bruno Latour claims to have shown that a Kantian model of knowledge, which he describes as seeking to unite a disembodied transcendental subject with an inaccessible thing-in-itself, is dramatically falsified by empirical studies of science in action. Instead, Latour puts central emphasis on scientific practice, and replaces this Kantian model with a model of “circulating reference.” Unfortunately, Latour's alternative schematic leaves out the scientific subject. I repair this oversight through a simple mechanical procedure. By putting a slight spin on Latour's diagrammatic representation of his theory, I discover a new space for a post-Kantian scientific subject, a subject brilliantly described by Ludwik Fleck. The neglected subjectivities and ceaseless practices of science are thus re-united.

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Jeff Kochan
Universität Konstanz

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