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Re: ASA complaint (fwd) (fwd) - Science as Culture
by Elson Boles
31 July 2003 21:03 UTC
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I read Steve's commentary and must express my general agreement.  
However, Sherman doesn't go far enough, at least in word.  So maybe
he'll agree with this comment since I think it relates to the spirit of
his point.

Science can't provide "truth" not only because "facts" and paradigms
are always changing, but also because science is a culture or
meaning-system in more ways than Thomas Kuhn's idea of "paradigms"
expressed.  Since it is a culture, I don't agree that the modes of
science "are vastly superior to earlier ones."  But they seem to be
different in one key respect:  scientific methods provide a relatively
more objective method for gaining (not applying or using) certain kinds
of knowledge.  (Of course, it's hard to separate the process of
obtaining from the applying, since applying is needed to obtain). 

However, relatively more objective methods and the knowledge gained
therewith are "good" only if groups are interested in having these.  To
suggest that more objective knowledge of a certain kind is "superior" is
to make a moral judgement.  And thus it's tautological because it's
those who like science (who say it is better, not those who don't.  In
other words, science is only more objective to those who subscribe to it
and thus who give it significance.  And this is why science is no less a
culture than any other meaning system: practitioners do contend that, if
not superior, it is a good, beautiful, serviceable, whatever method for
certain means and ends.  It is a meaning system, a worldview, through
which and within which dominant and subordinate groups contest their
circumstances and competing cultural projects (at least according to the
results of scientific research).


Elson E. Boles
Assistant Professor
Saginaw Valley State University

>>> <Threehegemons@aol.com> 07/28/03 04:55PM >>>
There is a discussion about this resolution on the asa website at
http://www.asanet.org/memarea/secure/forum/ForumPF.cfm?ForumID=9  . 
Discussion peaked in late April and May, although I added my two cents
worth today.

Steven Sherman

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