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The Fate of Knowledge

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691088761
ISBN-10: 0691088764
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2002 Robert K. Merton Professional Award

"An interesting and important book by the one of the most important philosophers engaged in the debates about the rational and the social in science."--K. Brad Wray, Philosophy in Review

From the Inside Flap

"Longino's integrative account of knowledge represents a significant advance in our understanding of the interaction of the cognitive and the social dimensions of knowledge. It is a substantial contribution--the most thoughtful and sophisticated attempt thus far."--Richard Grandy, Rice University

"This is the first compelling diagnosis of what has gone awry in the raging 'science wars.' Rising above both sides to see what each can contribute, it presents a powerful constructive account of how to overcome the dichotomy between those who see science as rational and those who see it as the product of social forces. It offers a novel account of knowledge that accommodates the concerns of both philosophers and sociologists. Finally, it contributes to the development of pluralistic theories of science by demonstrating the varieties of pluralism exhibited by actual instances of scientific theorizing."--Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691088764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691088761
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Longino's work challenges some of the basic assumptions common in Western theorizing. She really reconceives the role of society in the creation of knowledge. As Richard Grandy suggests, this is as good as it gets.
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Format: Hardcover
I had to read this book for a Philosophy of Science graduate seminar. It started out very promising. Longino points out the social nature of science. Scientists read each other's work, work together in labs, etc.. There is a tremendous amount of interaction and critical dialogue that goes into the creation of data and the establishment of theories and ideas. She criticizes sociologists of science and philosophers alike for what she calls the rational-social dichotomy: the idea that rationality and sociality are mutually exclusive. The chapter on the sociologists of science (ch 2) was very interesting to me.
But then Longino gets to her positive theory. She wants to claim that knowledge is "irreducibly" social and that knowledge is pluralistic. I'm more sympathetic to the latter but the former is ... uhhh... not well taken. She has a complicated argument about theory underdetermination and how we need a properly structured community to select justified assumptions to properly bridge the gap between data and theory. But I see no reason to think that a community adds justification to assumptions or bridging principles that are not somehow reducible to what individuals do. She also claims that observation and reasoning are social processes, at least in the sciences. But, if we take a good analogy, is production and social cooperation through the division of labor "irreducibly" social? Are the material goods, like cars and computers, or the processes through which we produce them in factories or offices irreducibly social? Or are they simply the product of the combined actions of individuals? The latter seems the default position and Longino doesn't present any arguments for her position besides for underdetermination.
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