Discourse, Practice, Context: From HPS to Interdisciplinary Science Studies

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One of the most widely debated and influential implications of the "demise" of positivism was the realization, now a commonplace, that philosophy of science must be firmly grounded in an understanding of the history of science, and/or of contemporary scientific practice. While the nature of this alliance is still a matter of uneasy negotiation, the principle that philosophical analysis must engage "real" science has transformed philosophical practice in innumerable ways. This short paper is the introduction to a symposium presented at the 1994 PSA Biennial meetings that focused attention on recent developments at the interface between various disciplinary science studies fields. It brought together two philosophers who explore the implications of sociological and historical contextualization for philosophical studies of science, Brian Baigrie and Joseph Rouse; and a sociologist and historian, Andy Pickering and Betty Smocovitis, whose work raises philosophical questions about the sciences and about science studies. Each argued for ways of reconceptualizing our subject domains, our purposes, and our conventional strategies of inquiry that promise much richer understanding of the sciences, but necessarily challenge discipline-specific traditions of science studies quite profoundly. If there is a common theme to be discerned in these discussions it is that, in the spirit of Rouse's recommendations, science studies should be understood to be an essentially open ended and dynamic enterprise, like the sciences they study.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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