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In praise of futile gestures: how scientific is the sociology of scientific knowledge?

Collins, Harold Maurice 1996. In praise of futile gestures: how scientific is the sociology of scientific knowledge? Social Studies of Science 26 (2) , pp. 229-244. 10.1177/030631296026002002

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Abstract

Calls for sociologists of knowledge to be committed to their subjects are examined critically. The idea of `commitment to commitment' is shown to be based either on fallacious reasoning or on a disguised call for commitment to the author's favoured causes. The `universal' and `local inevitability' arguments are analyzed and shown to be wrong. The former suggests that every scientific claim includes a commitment, willy-nilly; the latter says that analysts will be `captured', whether they like it or not. A particular case of the reception of a case study of a controversy is described; the reception of this case went against expectations, and some speculations are offered about the cause. Instances where the subject of a sociological study is also the object of study are looked at. Finally, good reasons for commitment are set out: one thing that the sociologist of science should engage in is `analytic critique of science', and this involves commitment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0306-3127
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2017 00:55
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/89229

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