- Paperback: 406 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (February 15, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226978621
- ISBN-13: 978-0226978628
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,864,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Nice Derangement of Epistemes: Post-positivism in the Study of Science from Quine to Latour 1st Edition
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Zammito shows how problems that Quine and Kuhn saw in the philosophy of the natural sciences inspired a turn to the philosophy of language for resolution. This linguistic turn led to claims that science needs to be situated in both historical and social contexts, but the claims of recent "science studies" only deepened the philosophical quandary. In essence, Zammito argues that none of the problems with positivism provides the slightest justification for denigrating empirical inquiry and scientific practice, delivering quite a blow to the "discipline" postmodern science studies.
Filling a gap in scholarship to date, A Nice Derangement of Epistemes will appeal to historians, philosophers, philosophers of science, and the broader scientific community.
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Zammito has an axe to grind with the prevalent ideas about science coming from STS. He takes the time to revisit and critique the origin of many of its founding myths. His book is invaluable for those who know the relevant literature and who have already a very good grasp of his subject matter. Zammito has a very strong view on what is going on, and he pushes it mercilessly. Thus, it requires an understanding of the issues. to see beyond his critique.If one does, however, he is rewarded with an excellent historical introduction of what has been going on in the field in the last thirty years.
This is not the book to get into the subject. It is a book for those who know the lay of the land.
"This book is an attack on the various studies I completed for my Masters in science and technology studies (STS) back in the 1980s, in which I learned that science was subject to sociological study. Zammito dismisses all that as post-modern pish-tosh, and asserts the inviolability of the sciences from criticism: science is right, end of story. All those idiots in humanities departments: fools, the lot of them!
"I don't agree with him, but I think this is an excellent critique of the sociological critique of science, and should be read by any student of STS."
I retract my earlier opinion: this is not an excellent critique. It is appalling. The further I get into this morass, the less I am inclined to continue. I pity the author's students, and I can only assume that they survive his lectures through the copious ingestion of illegal amphetamines. You need a PhD in STS before you can even start to read this molasses-slow piece of ponderosity. Alas, I only have a Masters, so I find it more than hard going.
Each and every page is a pain to read. Every paragraph is riddled with scare quotes, italicised terms, and longer quotes; all clearly meant to intimidate the reader into bowing to the author's vast, vast learning. You don't understand me, little (wo)man, the author implicitly says? Then begone, and do not trouble your betters. Come back in a decade or two.
A terrible example of the arrogant academic.
by the so-called human (and inexact?) sciences over the past 50 years or so. I prefer the term `metascience' introduced by Gerard Radnitzky but I agree that it does convey an idea of collegiality that never quite obtained in this domain, now vaguely assembled under the vaguer designation of `Science Studies'. Indeed what Zammito means to `chronicle' is not a pretty story but a petty, confused and quite misguided succession of ideological positions and contrapositions that may be summarized (with apologies to Alfred Jarry) as a `long journey from language to language via language'! This is clearly a partial point-of-view hailing from the quarters of `Philosophy of Science' where all these arguments have to be regarded as part of the long waning of the analytic tradition. Accordingly, Zammito picks up his thread from Quine but he is really retrospecting from Kuhn in order to focus on what he considers the main dogmas at issue in these discussions, namely the so called thesis on the `theory-ladeness of observation', `the underdetermination of theory by experiment' and `the incommensurability of theories', all of whom remains associated with the `Kuhnian Revolution' even if Kuhn picked them from other authors and never quite managed to adopted them in a reasoned way. But Kuhn advanced a few other suggestions which Zammito entirely ignores such as the recognition that scientific theories cannot be conceived as collections of true/false statements or even linguistic objects of any sort but are instead collections of more or less ingenious ideas capable of relating more or less disparate observations and predicting future ones. Amazingly (or maybe not) there is not in this book a single inkling that scientists actually try to pose and solve problems and you have to read some 120 pages till an actual scientific theory is mentioned by name and that is a singular occurrence, by the way! This only enforces another point which Kuhn repeatedly made about philosophers of science, namely that they are completely uninterested in what scientists actually do.
What Zammito further illustrates (less unconsciously) is that the same apparently applies to post-kuhnian historians of science, post-mertonian sociologists, ethnometodologists, reflexive analysts, strong programmists, feminists and assorted science-study types whom, incapable of establishing any methodology to approach their subject which meets the standards they set for themselves spend their time and paper in eternal diatribes indicting their colleague's and rivals work alike! The pointlessness of these discussions is underscored, though not intentionally, by Zammito's decision to `put together' the book as a long series of collages of bits of sentences quoted from the several authors involved in these quarrels, perhaps to avoid taking a position himself. I can only speculate on what would prompt someone to such withdrawal but it manages to turn a bad subject into a worse book and that is doubly sad because one is left wondering, not just `what do scientists actually do?', but also`what possesses people who claim to take up that question to end up this way?'. Zammito is of no help here and in the rare occasions where he expresses an opinion of his own he does it in the same flippant, vitriolic way he points out in the authors he surveys, as in: ``Put bluntly, two pages from Jorge Luis Borges on Pierre Menard are worth a hundred and more of Ashmore and even Mulkay.'' I would say a sentence from Jorge Luis Borges on anything is worth the whole 390 pages of `A Nice Derrangement of Epistemes'!