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SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY


RonaldN.GiereandThomasF.Gieryn,GeneralEditors

SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY
SteveFuller
IndianaUniversityPress
Bloomington and Indianapolis

FirstMidlandBookEdition1991
1988bySteveFuller
Allrightsreserved
Nopartofthisbookmaybereproducedorutilizedinanyformorbyanymeans,
electronicormechanical,includingphotocopyingandrecording,orbyanyinformation
storageandretrievalsystem,withoutpermissioninwritingfromthepublisher.The
AssociationofAmericanUniversityPresses'ResolutiononPermissionsconstitutesthe
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onlyexceptiontothisprohibition.
ManufacturedintheUnitedStatesofAmerica
Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
Fuller,Steve1959
Socialepistemology.
(Science,technology,andsociety)
Bibliography:p.
Includesindex.
1.Knowledge,Sociologyof.I.Title.II.Series:
Science,technology,andsociety(Bloomington,Ind.)
BD175.F85198800187-31056
ISBN0-253-35227-4
ISBN0-253-20693-6(pbk.)
234569594939291

CONTENTS
ForewordbyThomasNickles

ix

Preface

xi
PART ONE
ISSUESINDEFININGTHEFIELDOFSOCIALEPISTEMOLOGY

1. An Overview of Social Epistemology


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1.SocialEpistemologyastheGoalofAllEpistemology,4
2.SocialEpistemologyasthePursuitofScandal
andExtravagance,10
3.NonnormativeSocialEpistemologyandOtherAccommodating
Banalities,17
4.SocialEpistemologyRenderedNormativeandEpistemology
RenderedInteresting,24
2. Social Epistemology and Social Metaphysics

31

1.DrawingtheDistinction,31
2.TranscendentalandNaturalisticApproachesto
Representation,36
2.1.NaturalismamongtheSavages,45
2.2.NaturalismamongtheSystems,47
3.ExplainingTranscendentalismNaturalistically:
BlooronPopper,51
PART TWO
ISSUESINTHELANGUAGEANDHISTORYOFKNOWLEDGE
PRODUCTION
3. Realism, The Moving Target of Science Studies: A Tale of
Philosophers, Historians, and Sociologists in Hot Pursuit

65

1.Realism:Who'sGottheBurdenofProof?66
2.WhyIsItNowSoDifficulttoDefeattheRealist?69
3.PuttingScientificRealismtotheHistoricalTest,73
4.KuhnandtheRealismofMany-Worlds,85
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5.RegulativeandConstitutiveRealismintheHumanSciences,89
6.TheUltimateSolutiontotheProblemofRealism,96
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4. Bearing the Burden of Proof: On the Frontier of Science


and History

99

1.FeyerabendandtheProblemof"RivalYetIncommensurable"
Theories,100
2.TheMissingLink:BurdenofProof,105
3.BurdenofProofasTacitKnowledge:Rule-Governedness,111
5. Incommensurability Explained and Defended

117

1.EcologicalIncommensurability,117
2.TextualIncommensurability,128
6. The Inscrutability of Silence and the Problem of Knowledge
in the Human Sciences

139

1.InscrutabilityandtheAnalyticPhilosophyofLanguage,139
2.InscrutabilityasaNeglectedbutPersistentThemein
theHistoryoftheHumanSciences,147
3.ConjuringUpInscrutabilityinThoughtExperiments,151
4.Postscript:ADiagnosisofDavidsonism,158
Appendix A: How to Do Subtle Things with Words--The Ins and
Outs of Conceptual Scheming
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PART THREE
ISSUESINTHESOCIALORGANIZATIONOFKNOWLEDGE
7. The Demarcation of Science: A Problem Whose Demise Has
Been Greatly Exaggerated

175

1.LaudanandGierynontheDemarcationProblem,175
2.TheTwoHistoriesofScience:OfRoleandPlayer,178
3.ScienceandItsKindredRoles,182
4.ConflatingRoleandPlayerasanHistoriographical
Strategy,185
5.NewDemarcationCriteriaforScience,188
8. Disciplinary Boundaries: A Conceptual Map of the Field

191

1.TheBoundedness,Autonomy,andPurityofDisciplines,191
2.ThreeTechniquesforDetectingDisciplinaryBoundaries,193
3.AreDisciplinaryBoundariesNecessaryfortheGrowthof
Knowledge?195
4.WhenDisciplinesCollide:TheBernardPrinciple,197
5.DisciplinaryAmbivalence:PopperianandFoucauldian
Versions,201
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9. The Elusiveness of Consensus in Science

207

1.TwoPureTypesofConsensusandFourMixedOnes,208
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2.TheElusiveObjectofConsensusinScience,216
3.ConsensusRiggingByDisciplinaryRealignment,221
4.ImplicationsfortheHistoriographyofScience,226
10. From Moral Psychology to Cognitive Sociology: Making
Sense of the Forman Thesis

233

1.TheSocialHistorianintheGripofMoralPsychology,233
2.TowardCognitiveSociologyandtheProblemof
Objectivity,239
3.ImplicationsforRewritingtheFormanThesis,244
Appendix B: Having Them Change against Their Will--Policy
Simulations of Objectivity

251

PART FOUR
ISSUESINKNOWLEDGEPOLICY-MAKING
11. Toward a Revival of the Normative in the Sociology of
Knowledge

263

1.NormativityLost,264
2.NormativityRegained,267
3.FreedomandtheAdministrationofKnowledge
Production,270
12. Social Epistemology and the Problem of Authoritarianism

277

1.TheLureandAvoidanceofCognitiveAuthoritarianism,277
2.ExpertisePoliticizedandDepoliticized,283
Appendix C: Notes toward Designing a Core Curriculum for a
Graduate Program in Knowledge Policy Studies
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Bibliography

295

Index

313
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FOREWORD
Inthisprovocativebookweseethefutureofepistemology,oratleastonefuture.This
isreassuring,forRichardRorty,inPhilosophy and the Mirror of Nature,arguedthat
epistemologyhasnofutureandtoomanyofthedozensofrepliestoRortyhave
defendedthehonorofthesameoldquestionsandanswersthatwestudiedatschoola
decadeago,andfiveortendecadesago.Tosaythatthegloriouspastofepistemology
isfutureenoughisreallytoacknowledgeitsdeathasadiscipline.BothRortyandSteve
FullerareintellectuallyathomeonbothsidesoftheAtlanticandevenonbothsidesof
theChannel,nottomentionbothsidesofthedividebetweenthetwoculturessothis
alonewillnotexplainwhyoneassertswhattheotherdenies--therelevanceofwider
issuestoepistemologyofscience,andhencetherelevanceofthelattertothosewider
issues.Althoughnoonewouldmistakehimforaquantumlogician,Fullerislesspoetic
thanRorty,andhelookswithmorefavoruponscienceanduponsciencepolicyand
science-basedpublicpolicy.
DisciplinesarewhatFuller'sbookisabout.Hissocialturnwill"turnoff'many
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philosophers,andthemannerinwhichhenegotiateshisturnwillappearrecklessto
manyinthe(other)sciencestudiesprofessions--history,sociology,andpsychologyof
scienceandtechnology.Butthebookstandsvirtuallyaloneinitsdetailedargumentfor
asocialepistemology.Itisararityamongphilosophicalworksinthatitusesasocial
conceptionofinquiryratherthanabusingitoratbestonly"mentioning"it.Happily,the
daysarepastinwhichphilosophersandsociologistsspentmostoftheirtimetogether
beatingupononeanother.Thatissocialprogressofamodestsort.However,the
presentbookgoeswellbeyondthoserecentworkswhichfavorablymentionsociological
workandarguethatcooperationispossible.
Amoreimportant"possibility"questionis,towhatextentaremethodologicalproposals
ofphilosopherssocially(andpsychologically)possible?Inquiryisasocio-historical
processconductedbyhumanbeingswiththeaidofvarioustools.Manyphilosophersof
sciencenowgrantthathistoricalevidencecanrefutemethodologicalclaims.Onlyafew
haveseriouslyaskedwhethereventheleadingmethodologiesarecompatiblewithwhat
weknowofthesocialorganizationofinquiry.Forthemajority,itdoesnotreallymatter.
Forthemmethodologymaybehistoricallydescriptive,tosomeextent,butitissocially
normativeinapreemptiveway.Asfortheminority:compatibilismisfine,asfarasit
goes,butweneedspecificaccountsofhowsome"causes"canalsobe"reasons,"and
viceversa.Fullerappreciatesthatweneedtounderstandindetailthesocialrealization
ofthe"logic"ofinquiry,andthelogicalupshotofthesocialorganizationofinquiryand
itsproducts.
Inshort,SocialEpistemologylayssomeofthegroundwork,oratleastbreaksthe
ground,foranewfieldofstudy(orthetransformationofanoldfield).Fuller'sendless
remarksondisciplinaryautonomy,demarcation,the
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organizationofknowledgeandofitsinstitutionalvehicles,consensus,thelocalityof
research,expertise,tacitknowledge,authority,andsoon,areendlesslysuggestive.It
seemstomethatanyoneofepistemologicalbentlookingforrelevant,newproblemsto
tackleandnewfieldstoexploreneedlooknofurther.
ThomasNickles
UniversityofNevadaatReno
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PREFACE
Thisbookiswrittenbyaphilosopherofscienceonbehalfofthesociologyofknowledge.
SinceIbelievethatphilosophyisprimarilyanormativedisciplineandthatsociologyis
primarilyanempiricalone,mymostbasicclaimistwofold:(1)Ifphilosophersare
interestedinarrivingatrationalknowledgepolicy(roughly,somedesignfortheends
andmeansofproducingknowledge),thentheyhadbetterstudytherangeofoptions
thathavebeenprovidedbytheactualsocialhistoryofknowledgeproduction--afieldof
studythatIassumehadoriginallybeenexploredbyrhetoriciansandphilologists,and
morerecently,ofcourse,bysocialscientists.Moreover,ifphilosophersscrutinizethis
historyfairly,theywillthenbeforcedtoreconceptualizeboththesubstanceandfunction
oftheirnormativetheoriesofknowledge.(2)Ifsociologistsandotherstudentsofactual
knowledgeproductionwishtheirworktohavethemoregeneralsignificancethatit
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deserves,thentheyshouldpracticesome"naturalisticepistemology"andwelcomethe
opportunitytoextrapolatefromistoought.Iftheseempiricistsrealized,followingMax
Weber,thattheinferentialleapfromfactstovaluesisnogreaterthantheleapfromour
knowledgeofthepresenttoourknowledgeofthefuture(aleapthattheempiricists
wouldriskinthenormalcourseoftheirinquiries),theywouldberelievedofthepeculiar
combinationoffearandloathingwhichnormallypreventsthemfromencroachingonthe
philosopher'straditionalterrain.(Ahealthystepintherightdirectionhasrecentlybeen
madeinBarnes[1986].)Inanycase,thealternativeisthecurrentstateofaffairs,
wherebyscienceadministratorstoooftenjustifyratherhaplessdecisionsonthebasisof
somehalf-digestedphilosophyofsciencelearnedatuniversity.
Onthefaceofit,theseclaimsseemratherreasonable,perhapsevenharmless.Yet,the
interactionbetweenepistemologyandthesociologyofknowledgehas,infact,been
largelyantagonistic.FromthestandpointofwhatIcallsocialepistemology,thereasons
forthisantagonismarethemselvesquiteinteresting,sincetheyraiseawholehost
questionshavingtodowiththeresolutionofdisciplinaryboundarydisputes.Andnot
surprisingly,agoodportionofthisbookisdevotedtodevelopingsomewaysofthinking
aboutthesequestions.Foranimportantdecisionthattheknowledgepolicymakerwill
needtomakeiswhetheritisbettertohaveoneintegratedstudyofourknowledge
enterprises(a"ScienceofScience,"sotospeak)orthecurrentstateofaffairs,namely,
severalmildlyaffiliatedbutgenerallyindependentfieldsofinquiry.
Thereadershouldbewarnedattheoutsetthat,generallyspeaking,Iamnotinterested
in"theproblemofknowledge"asclassicallyposedbyepistemologists.Inotherwords,
thereaderwillfindlittleinthisbookthatconsiderswhetherourbeliefsinanexternal
worldareveridicalorjustified.Rather,thekeyissuesformeconcernafairlyliteral
senseof"knowledgeproduction,"whichincludeshowcertainlinguisticartifacts("texts")
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become
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certifiedasknowledgethepossiblecirculationpatternsoftheseartifacts(especially
howtheyareusedtoproduceothersuchartifacts,aswellasartifactsthathavepolitical
andotherculturalconsequences)andtheproductionofcertainattitudesonthepartof
producersaboutthenatureoftheentireknowledgeenterprise(suchasthebeliefthatit
"progresses").Infact,todrawthecontrastwiththeclassicalepistemologistasstarkly
aspossible,IwouldsaythatmostoftheissuesthatIconsiderwouldbeexactlythe
sortofthingthataCartesiandemonwouldneedtoknowinordertoconstructanillusory
worldofknowledgeforsomeunwittingres cogitans.
Nodoubt,theclassicalepistemologistwillcringeatthelastsentence,concludingthat
thereisnothingmoretomytheoryofknowledgethananempiricalaccountofwhat
peopleinvariouscommunitiescallknowledge.Inresponse,Iwouldfirstnotethatour
cringingepistemologistusuallyturnsouttobeaclosetskeptic,forwhommytheoryof
knowledgeisinadequateonlyforthesamereasonsthateveryoneelse'sis,namely,that
itcannotreliablydemarcate"real"knowledgefrommereopinion.Butthisglobal
negativejudgmentaloneiscauseforsuspectingthattheclassicalepistemologisthas
missedthepointofinquiringintothenatureofknowledge--whichistodefine,extend,
butsurelynottodeny,humanlypossibleepistemicpractices.Thismustseemarather
obviouspointtothenonphilosopher,yettheclassicalepistemologist'sblindnesstoit
maybeexcusedbyrecallingthatthesuperhuman(inaword,God)hastraditionallyset
thestandardofepistemicexcellence.Still,Ihopethatafterreadingthisbook,the
classicalepistemologistwillappreciatethatIamsensitivetoabasicfactthathasoften
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animatedaskepticalturnofmind:towit,thatourknowledgeclaimscoverlessground
withlesscertaintythanweordinarilyrealize.
Ascurrentlypracticed,thebranchesofphilosophydevotedtothenatureofknowledge-epistemologyandthephilosophyofscience--restonacoupleofelementaryfallacies.On
theonehand,philosopherstreatthevariousknowledgestatesandprocessesas
propertiesofindividualsoperatinginasocialvacuum.Theyoftenseemtothinkthatany
correctaccountofindividualknowledgecanbe,ipsofacto,generalizedasthecorrect
accountofsocialknowledge.Forexample,theassertibilityconditionsforascientific
claimaretypicallydefinedintermsoftheevidentialrelationthattheknowerstandsto
theknown,withouttakingintoaccounttheepistemicstatesofotherknowerswhose
relationstooneanotherandtheknownwouldgreatlyinfluencetheassertibilityofthe
scientificclaim.Andinsofarasthisslidefromtheindividualtothesocialhasbeen
implicitinsteadofargued,philosophershavecommittedthe fallacy of composition.
Ontheotherhand,philosophicalaccountsoftheindividualknoweraresometimesquite
perspicuous,butnotbecausetheyhaveisolatedrealfeaturesofindividualcognition.
Rather,theseaccountshaveidentifiedinferenceschemas,so-calledlogicsof
justification,andscriptsthathavepersuasiveforceinthepublicexchangeof
information.Whethertheseschemasand
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scriptsconstitutethestructureofbeliefformationinallrationalindividualsisimmaterial
totheirsocialimport,whichrestssolelyonmembersoftherelevantcognitive
communityrecognizingthatsuchrationallydisplayedinformationcommandstheir
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consideration.Consequently,philosopherscanfrequentlyslipintocommittingthe fallacy
of divisionbyassumingthatafeatureoftheknowledgeenterprisethatappearsprimarily
atthelevelofsocialinteractionis,ipsofacto,reproduced(bysomemeansorother)asa
featureofthemindsoftheindividualsengagedinthatinteraction.
Whydophilosopherstendtocommitthesetwofallacieswhendiscussingthenatureof
knowledge?Myowndiagnosispointstoaconfusionbetweenwhatisintendedandwhat
iseffectedinthecourseofproducingknowledge.Whenepistemologistscommitthe
fallacyofcomposition,theysupposethatonecanpredictwhetheraclaimislikelyto
passasknowledgeinaparticularcognitivecommunityonthebasisofwhatmostofthe
community'smembersbelieve.Likewise,whenepistemologistscommitthefallacyof
division,theyassumethatthebestexplanationforwhyacognitivecommunityofficially
treatsagivenclaimasknowledgeisthatmostofthecommunity'smembersbelievethe
claim.However,bothinferencesgreatlyunderestimatetheinfluenceexercisedbyeach
member'sexpectationsaboutwhatisappropriatetoassertinhiscognitivecommunity,
aswellaseachmember'swillingnesstodiscounthisownpersonalbeliefsandconform
tothesecanonicalexpectations--ifonlyasameansofmaintaininghisgoodstandingin
thecognitivecommunity.Inshort,then,inmyviewepistemicjudgmenthasmuchofthe
characterofidentifyingandanticipatingtrendsinthestockmarket.
LestthereaderthinkthatIhaveanentirelyconsensualistapproachtosocial
epistemology,Ishouldemphasizethatwhatmatters,fromthestandpointofthesmooth
operationoftheknowledgeprocess,isthatthereappearstobeaconformityin
epistemicjudgments.However,thisappearanceneednotrunanydeeperthana
similarityinthestyleinwhichthosejudgmentsaredelivered,whichcan,inturn,be
easilymonitoredbythevariousgatekeepersofthecognitivecommunity.Not
surprisingly,then,ascognitivecommunitiessuchasdisciplinesexpandintimeand
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space,itbecomesmorelikelythatseveralteamsofresearcherswillassenttothesame
setofsentencesbutapplytheminwaysthatsuggestthatthosesentenceshavequite
differentmeanings.Thisleavesuswithapictureoftheknowledgeenterprisewhich,on
thetextualsurface,seemsratheruniformandsystematicallyregulated,butwhich,at
themicrolevelofactualusage,isrevealedtobeonlylocallyconstrained.Theradical
dualitysuggestedheremaybeencapsulatedbythethesisthat,becauseoftheease
withwhichitcanconcealepistemicdifferences,the communicative process itself is the
main source of cognitive change.Whenwritinginamore"humanistic"idiom,Ireferto
theconsequencesofthispictureasthe problem of incommensurability,whereasIrefer
toitasthe elusiveness of consensuswhenwritinginamore"socialscientific"vein.
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Thebookhasbeenorganizedintheinterestof"today'sreader,"someonewhorarely
readsabookcovertocoverinonesittingbutdipsintoachapterhereandthere(though,
ofcourse,thebookshouldbereadinorderofpresentation).Consequently,eachchapter
canbereadbyitselfwithouttoomuchlossofcontext,andthereareperiodicreferences
toearlierandlaterchaptersofrelevance.Sinceparticularaudienceshaveparticular
needs,Ialsorecommendthefollowingreadingplans.Everyoneshouldreadatleast
chapter1,andpreferablyallofpartone.Humanistsshouldalsoreadthechaptersinpart
twoandAppendixBinpartthree,whilesocial scientistsshouldreadallofpartthree,
andadministratorsshouldreadthechaptersinpartfour.Philosophers of sciencewill,
withsomeluck,findsomethingofinteresteverywhere,thoughepistemologistsand
philosophers of languagemightconfinethemselvestoparttwo,whilesocial and political
theoristsmightpreferpartsthreeandfour.
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Tomakethemostuseoutofthistext,thereadershouldregardit,notastheusual
monolithicmonograph,butasaparcelofprovocations,asourcebookofideas,and
directionsforfurtherresearch.Needlesstosay,Iwelcomecriticismsoastoaffordme
theopportunityofgettingitrightinthenextbook,tentativelytitledPhilosophy of
Science and Its Discontents(WestviewPress,1988/9).Footnoteshavebeeneliminated
tofacilitatereading,thoughreaderswillhopefullyfindthereferencescitedanaidto
theirownresearch,especiallyinsuggestingconceptuallinksbetweenfieldsofinquiry
notnormallydrawntogether.Finally,referencesto"he,""him,"andthelikearealsoa
matterofconvenienceandshouldthusbeunderstoodinagender-neutralmanner.
Thisbookbegantoemergein1983andwaslargelycompletedby1986.Aversionof
chapter1appearsinaspecialissueofSynthesedevotedtosocialepistemology,edited
byFredSchmitt,whoisundoubtedlythemostcarefulandstimulatingphilosophical
readerthatIhaveyetrunacross.Aportionofchapter2wasaresponsetoapaperby
MargaretGilbert,deliveredattheAmericanPhilosophicalAssociationmeetings.Chapter
3isanexpandedversionofatalkgivenintheHarvardHistoryofSciencecolloquium
series.EverettMendelsohnistobethankedforhisgenerousinvitation.(Anoteof
thanks,also,toHilaryPutnamandtheHarvardphilosophygraduatestudents,fortheir
challengingandilluminatingremarks.)Chapters5and11wereoriginallydeliveredatthe
UniversityofColoradoHistoryandPhilosophyofScienceColloquiumseries.Partsof
thesetwochaptershaveappearedinPhilosophy of the Social Sciences, Explorations in
Knowledge,andEASST Newsletter.HereIwouldliketothankPatrickHeelan,Gonzalo
Munevar,ArieRip,andHowardSmoklerfortheirinformative,encouraging,and
sometimescritical,remarks.Partofchapter6wasdeliveredattheannualmeetingof
theInternationalAssociationforPhilosophyandLiterature.AppendixBwasoriginally
givenattheannualconventionoftheSpeechCommunicationAssociation.Foremost
amongmyfriendsinthisfieldhasbeenCharlesWillard.Aversionofchapter7has
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appearedinaspecialissueofPacific Philosophical Quarterly,whileaversionofchapter


8
-xiv-

hasappearedin4S Review.HereIhavefoundSteveWoolgar'swritingsinvaluable.
Chapter9,theonlyonebasedonachapterofmydoctoraldissertation,has,inturn,
beenthebasisofasymposiumpapergivenatthePhilosophyofScienceAssociation.
TedMcGuireandKenSchaffneraretobethankedformuchofthescholarshipwhich
gracesthatchapter.
Moregeneralthanksgotomylong-standingcronies,DavidGorman,editorofAnnals of
Scholarship,andJamesO'Brien,notesandreviewseditorofThe Yale Law Journal,both
fortheirfierceindependenceandloyaltyinmanymatters.RonGiereandTomNicklesdid
themosttogetthisbookacceptedforpublication,whileBobSloanandtheeditorial
staffatIndianaUniversityPresshavesincefacilitatedmatters,inconjunctionwithJim
RobertsofPublishingResourcesIncorporated,Boulder.RichardSteele,managingeditor
forTaylor&FrancisLtd.,hasindirectlypromotedthewritingofthisbookasdiligent
midwifetoajournalIhaverecentlystarted,alsocalledSocial Epistemology.The
philosophydepartmentattheUniversityofColoradohasbeenthemostpleasant
academicenvironmentinwhichIhavesofarworked.However,Icouldalwayscounton
GeorgesReytomakesurethatthepleasantatmospheredidnotslipintoadogmatic
slumber.Infact,ImustconfessthatGeorgeshasbeentheonlypersontomakeme
doubt(albeit,forafewfleetingmoments)thefundamentalnotionsinthisbook.My
studentshavealsobeenaconstantsourceofvariousformsofstimulation,thougha
specialplacemustbeaccordedtomyresearchassistant,StephenDownes.Finally,my
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biggestdebtistomymother,whoknewallalongthatthiswasgoingtohappen.
SteveFuller
UniversityofColorado
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PART ONE
ISSUES IN DEFINING THE FIELD OF SOCIAL
EPISTEMOLOGY
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CHAPTER ONE
AN OVERVIEW OF SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY
ThefundamentalquestionofthefieldofstudyIcallsocialepistemologyis:How should
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the pursuit of knowledge be organized, given that under normal circumstances


knowledge is pursued by many human beings, each working on a more or less welldefined body of knowledge and each equipped with roughly the same imperfect cognitive
capacities, albeit with varying degrees of access to one another's activities?
Withoutknowinganythingelseaboutthenatureofsocialepistemology,youcanalready
tellthatithasanormativeinterest,namely,inarrivingatakindofoptimaldivisionof
cognitivelabor.Inotherwords,inwordsthatonlyaMarxistorapositivistcouldtruly
love,thesocialepistemologistwouldliketobeabletoshowhowtheproductsofour
cognitivepursuitsareaffectedbychangingthesocialrelationsinwhichtheknowledge
producersstandtooneanother.Asaresult,thesocialepistemologistwouldbetheideal
epistemicpolicymaker:ifacertainkindofknowledgeproductisdesired,thenhecould
designaschemefordividingupthelaborthatwouldlikely(orefficiently)bringitabout
or,ifthesocietyisalreadycommittedtoacertainschemefordividingupthecognitive
labor,thesocialepistemologistcouldthenindicatetheknowledgeproductsthatare
likelytoflowfromthatscheme.IthusfollowtheleadofPlato'sRepublicandFrancis
Bacon'sNew Atlantisinconceivingofthe"epistemology"insocialepistemologyas
havinganinterestindescribingourcognitivepursuitsprimarilyasameansofprescribing
forthem.
Yetatthesametime,socialepistemologyisnot"utopian"inthepejorativesensethat
Marxusedtodistinguishhisown"scientific"brandofsocialismfromthose,suchas
Saint-Simon'sandFourier's,whichwerebasedonphilosophicalidealsthatcouldnever
beimplementedonamassscale.Itakethe"normalcircumstances"citedinthequestion
tobeuniversal,bothhistoricallyandcross-culturally,a"brutefact"aboutthenatureof
ourcognitivepursuitstowhichanynormativeepistemologymustbeheldaccountable.
Moreover,Itakethisbrutefacttoberesponsiblenotonlyforthevarietyofwaysin
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whichknowledgehasbeenpursued,butalsoforthevarietyofproductsthathavepassed
forknowledgeitself.Consequently,insoaligningmyselfwithnaturalisticapproachesto
knowledge,IrejecttheCartesiangestureofwithdrawingfromallsocialintercourseasa
meansofgettingintotherightframeofmindforposingfoundationalquestionsabout
thenatureofknowledge.Foreventhoughthesocialworldmayappeartobeaconfusing
placefromwhichtodeliverepistemicjudgments--certainlymoreconfusingthanthe
privacyofone'sownstudy--itisneverthelessthenormal(andprobablytheonly)placein
whichsuchjudgmentsaredelivered.Ifyoustilldoubtthewisdomofthismove,just
recallthatonlyanoldrationalistprejudice,onepopularizedbyDescarteshimself,ties
theadequacyofknowingtotheclarityandcertaintyofthinking.
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Laterinthisbook(ch.7)Iwillarguethatacrucialwayinwhichadisciplinemaintains
itsstatusas"science"isbymanipulatingthehistoricalrecordsothatitappearstobe
theinevitableoutcomeofthecourseofinquiryuptothatpoint.Inthefirstpartofthis
chapter,Iattemptasimilarlegitimatingmovebyshowingthatsocialepistemologyisa
naturaldevelopmentfromthehistoryofphilosophysinceKant.However,sincesocial
epistemologyasIconceiveitwillprobablystrikemanyreadersasanoffspringofrather
dubiouslineage,Ishallthenproceed,inthesecondpartofthechapter,towritea
differentrevisionisthistoryofmodemphilosophy.Heresocialepistemology,inits
incarnationas"thesociologyofknowledge,"constitutesaradical,ifnotwholly
successful,breakwithallprevioustheoriesofknowledge.Butanunwittingcombination
ofphilosophersandsociologistsnowadaysthreatenstosmothertherevolutionary
impulseinaspiritofaccommodation.Finally,Ioffersomesuggestionsastohowthe
socialepistemologistcanremainbothexcitingandrelevanttocontemporaryissuesin
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thetheoryofknowledge.

1. Social Epistemology as the Goal of All Epistemology


Youshouldnowhavearoughsenseoftheconceptuallocationofsocialepistemology.
Butletusproceedsomewhatmoresystematically.First,incallingmyfieldofstudy
socialepistemologyIhaveidentifieditasabranchofphilosophy,indeedperhapsthe
mainbranchofthatdiscipline.Yetacommonresponsethatphilosophershavemadeto
sociologyoverthepasttwocenturiesistoinvokewhatLarryLaudan(1977)hascalled
"thearationalityassumption,"namely,thatsociologicalaccountsofourcognitive
pursuitsareappropriateonlywhenthosepursuitsfailbyuniversallyacceptable
standardsofrationality.EvenKarlMannheim(1936),whoestablishedthesociologyof
knowledgeasaseparatedisciplineinthetwentiethcentury,invokedthisassumption
whenheexemptedmathematicsandthenaturalsciencesfromhisfieldofinquiry.Forall
theirideologicaldifferences,bothLaudanandMannheimportraythesociologistof
knowledgeaswantingtoshowthatthedomainforwhichaknowledgeclaimisvalidis
restrictedbythesocialconditionsunderwhichthatclaimwasfirstmade.Thus,unlike
thefounderofsociology,EmileDurkheim(1961),who,inKantianfashion,sawthe
universalfeaturesofcognition--space,time,number,cause--groundedinfeaturesshared
byallsocieties,LaudanandMannheimassumethatsociologicalaccountsofknowledge,
iftheyhaveanygroundingatall,aregroundedinthefeaturesofparticularsocieties,
andhenceare,inprincipleopposedtothephilosophicalaccounts,whicharebasedon
appealstouniversalrationality.Giventheuneasycomplementaritythathasthus
developedbetweenphilosophyasthestudyoftheuniversalandsociologyasthestudy
oftheparticularinourcognitivepursuits,itwouldseemthat"socialepistemology"has
becomeanoxymoron,acontradictioninterms.
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Still,itiscuriousthatforallitscurrentcentralitytophilosophy,thedisciplineof
epistemologyhasadistinctlypost-Kantianorigin.BeforeKantphilosopherstypically
understoodthenatureofknowledgeandthenatureofrealityastwosidesofthesame
coin.Thegenericphilosophicalquestionmaythushavebeenposed:Howisreality
constitutedsuchthatwecanknowit(insofaraswedo),andhowareweconstituted
suchthatrealitycanmanifestitselftous(insofarasitdoes)?ThepointoftheKantian
critique--atleastasitwastakenbyKant'ssuccessors--wastodetachthequestion
aboutknowledgefromthequestionaboutreality,largelybyarguingthatthequestion
aboutrealitymakessenseonlyasadisguisedversionofthequestionaboutknowledge,
andthattheanswertothequestionaboutknowledgeplacesnodiscernibleconstraints
onwhattheanswertothequestionaboutrealitymightbe.Inthisway,itbecame
conceptuallypossibleinthenineteenthcenturytopracticeepistemologyassomething
distinctfrommetaphysics(Habermas1971,Hacking1975a).
However,Kant'scritiquealonewasnotsufficienttoestablishepistemologyasa
legitimatephilosophicalenterprise.Afterall,ifKant'spredecessorshadbeenconvinced
thatknowingaboutthenatureofknowledgetoldthemnothingaboutthenatureof
reality,thenwhatwouldbetheirmotivationforstudyingknowledge?Thenineteenth
centuryprovidedananswerthatwassuitedtothepost-Kantianphilosophicalsensibility.
Foroncedisciplinesstartedtoproliferate,claimstoknowledgebegantobemadewhich
werejustifiedsolelyonintradisciplinarygroundsbutwhichwereclearlymeanttohave
interdisciplinarycognitiveimport.Thisgavetheinternalstructureofknowledge--quite
independentofanylinktoreality--anewcomplexitythatrequiredstudyinitsownright.
Thegeneraltermcoinedfortheseclaimswas"reductionist,"thetwomostnotablecases
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ofwhichweretheattemptstoreducechemicalphenomenatoatomicphysicsandthe
attemptstoreducementalphenomenatoakindofphysiologicalmechanics.Thepointof
studyingknowledge,then,wouldbetoarriveatrulesforadjudicatingthevarious
reductionistclaims,whichwouldinvolvedevisingametalanguageforrewritingallsuch
claimssoastodisplaytheexactextentoftheircognitiveauthority,oftenknownastheir
evidentialwarrant.Thenormativeimportofthisexercisemaybeseeninthatoncethe
atomichypothesiswasgrantedcognitiveauthorityintheexplanationofchemical
phenomena,itwaspossibletojudgetherelative"progressiveness"ofaresearch
programinchemistry,eitherpastorpresent,bythelikelihoodwithwhichitwould
facilitatethereductiontoatomicphysics.Theultimategoaloftheepistemologistwould
thusbetomapoutthestructureofcognitiveauthorityamongallthedisciplinesasa
meansofprovidingdirectionfortheirresearch--whichispreciselythegoalofsocial
epistemology.
Andso,myshortanswertotheallegedself-contradictorinessof"socialepistemology"is
thatepistemologyhasbeenawell-motivated,autonomousfieldofinquiryonlyinsofar
asithasbeenconcernedwiththesocialorganizationofknowledge.Suchhadclearly
beenthecasewiththefirst
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epistemologists,AugusteComteandJohnStuartMill,anditcontinuedtobethecasein
thetwentiethcenturywiththelogicalpositivists.Thecontinuityofthisconcernis
nowadayslost,however,mainlybecauselogicalpositivism'slegacyhasbeengreaterin
thetechniquesitintroducedfordoingepistemologythanintheactualprojectforwhich
thosetechniqueswereintroduced.
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ConsidertheeasewithwhichKuhn,Feyerabend,andHansonwereabletoshow,inthe
late1950s,thatthepositivistpanoplyofcorrespondencerules,equivalencerelations,
andsubsumptionstrategiescouldnotadequatelyaccountforthestructureofcognitive
authorityinthesciences.Indeed,manypositivistsevengrantedthemoreradicalcritique
thatthesecreaturesofformallogichadnoplacewhatsoeverintheepistemological
project.Why?Becausetheoffspringoflogicalpositivism,theanalyticphilosophers,were
comingtotheironicrealizationthattheformaltechniqueswhichtheyhadinheritedwere
bettersuitedfortheveryproblemsinmetaphysicswhoseintelligibilitythelogical
positivistshadquestioned.Thefocusoftheseproblemswasthenatureofmaterialand
logicalnecessity,inwhichtheworkofGeorgvonWright,JaakkoHintikka,Nicholas
Rescher,SaulKripke,andDavidLewishasfiguredprominently.Inshort,then,
contemporaryanalyticphilosophyhasletitsinquiriesbedictatedbytheavailablemeans
ratherthantheoriginalends.
Inspiteofthepositivists'errantways,KuhnandthePopperianshavemanagedtopick
upthehistoricalthreadandcontinuetheepistemologicalprojectintothepresentday.
AlthoughmanyPopperianswoulddenyit,aconstantreminderthatthisprojectisstill
aboutthesocialorganizationofknowledgeisthefrequentallusionstopoliticaltheory
thatonefindsincontemporaryphilosophyofscience:Popper'sself-styled"opensociety"
visionofthescientificcommunitymarkshimasaclassicalliberal,whileFeyerabend's
emphasisonthe"open"andLakatos'onthe"society"aspectsofthePopperianvision
marksthemas,respectively,ananarchist(orlibertarian)andasocialdemocrat.And
Kuhn,withhistalkofnormalsciencebeingdominatedbyasingleparadigmwhichcanbe
replacedonlyby"revolution,"is,byallaccounts,atotalitarian.Theseideologicallabels
shouldnotbetakenasmerelysuggestivemetaphors,butratherasliteralstatementsof
whatthevarious"methodologies"become,oncetheepistemologististransferredfrom
thecontextofappraisingalreadyexistentproductsofknowledgetothecontextof
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recommendingtheschemebywhichknowledgeoughttobeproduced(Krige1980).
Indeed,itwouldnotbefarfetchedtosaythat,whendoneproperly(thatis,whendone
selfconsciouslyassocialepistemology),thephilosophyofscienceisnothingotherthan
theapplicationofpoliticalphilosophytoasegmentofsociety,theclassofscientists,
whohavespecialcapacitiesandspecialstatusbutalsomakespecialdemandsoneach
otherandtherestofsocietyinthecourseofconductingtheiractivities.
Returningtothepositivists,itiswellknownthattheirchiefideologue,OttoNeurath
(1962),sawtheUnifiedSciencemovementas,inpart,away
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ofdrivingoutthepoliticallyconservativeandelitisttendenciesofhermeneuticalthinking
inthe"humansciences"(whichdefinedthetaskofinterpretationtobethesituatingof
textsinaclearlydefinedtraditionofreadersandwriterswhosawthemselveslargelyas
communicatingonlywithoneanother)anddrivinginthemoreradicalandegalitarian,
specificallyMarxist,politicsassociatedwithanaturalisticapproachofthe"social
sciences."LesswellknownishowNeurath'spreoccupationwiththestatusof"protocol
statements,"thosefundamentalbuildingblocksofevidentialwarrantinthenatural
sciences,contributedtohisoverallproject.
InlightofwhatIhavesofarsaidaboutsocialepistemology,acluetothedesiredlink
maybefoundintheworkofthehistorianinresidenceattheViennaCircle,EdgarZilsel
(1945),anotherMarxistwhoproposedthatthedecisivefactorintheriseoftheScientific
Revolutionwasashiftinthestructureofcognitiveauthority,suchthatthe
pronouncementsofthescholarclasswerenowheldaccountabletoexperimental
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standardswhichthroughouttheMiddleAgeshadcertifiedexpertiseintheartisanclass.
Beingexperimentalstandards,theywereindexedforsuchpubliclyobservablefeatures
astimeandplace,whichservedtoopenuptheknowledgeproductionprocesstopeople
fromallwalksoflife,eventothosewhowerenottrainedinthereadingofesoteric
texts.Thischangehadtheeffectofnotonlydemocratizingtheveryactofobservation,
butalsoofcreatingasystemforefficientlysortingthroughthevariousspeculationsthat
hadbeenadvancedinthepast.Neurath'sconcernwithprotocolstatements,alongwith
otherpositivistattemptsatformulatingaprincipleofverification,mayperhapsbeseen
asraisingtoself-consciousnessthevaluesofequality(oftheindividualknowers)and
progress(ofthecollectivebodyofknowers)whichwerefirstassertedintheScientific
Revolution.
If,asIhavebeenmaintaining,allepistemologyworthyofthenamehasbeenmotivated
byessentiallysociologicalconsiderations,thenmythesisshouldequallyapplytothe
veryattemptsbyepistemologists,suchasLaudan,todispensewiththesocialcharacter
ofknowledge.Ourfirstexposuretotheseattemptswasintermsofthearationality
assumption.Underlyingitisadistinction,popularizedbythepositivistHans
Reichenbach(1938),betweenaknowledgeclaim's"contextofdiscovery"andits"context
ofjustification"(sometimescalled"contextofvalidation").Bydistinguishingthesetwo
contexts,epistemologistscandissolvetheapparentparadoxinsaying,forinstance,that
giventheappropriatetests,abeliefinNewton'sLawscouldhavebeenjustifiedatany
pointinhistory,eventhoughthatfactcouldnotitselfhavebeenknownbeforeNewton's
time.Ontheotherhand,byconflatingthesetwocontexts,sociologistsfallvictimto
"thegeneticfallacy,"whichleadsthemtosaythatthevalidityofNewton'sLawsis,in
someway,affectedbytheiroriginsinseventeenth-centuryEngland.Itisnowadays
populartosoftentheblowjustdealttothesociologistbyarguingthatthenatureofthe
discovery/justificationdistinctionislittlemorethanverbal.Thus,"discovery"captures
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the
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noveltynormallyfeltaboutthemostrecentlyjustifiedclaiminone'sresearchprogram,
while"justification"describesthelogicalstatusofthediscovery,oncedivestedofits
psychologicaltrappings(Nickles1980).Nodoubtthisisanastuteobservation,butit
merelyneutralizesthedistinctionwithoutexplaininghowittooissociologically
motivated.Letusnowturntoonesuchexplanation.
Astheaboveexamplesindicated,thediscovery/justificationdistinctionisnormally
invokedbyepistemologistsinordertopreventthesociologistfromundulyrestrictinga
knowledgeclaim'sdomainofvalidity:Newton'sLawswerejustasvalidbeforeNewton
discoveredthemasafterward,andthefactthatwearethreecenturiesbeyondNewton
doesnot,inanyway,diminishourjustificationforbelievinginhislaws.Theintuitive
soundnessoftheseclaimsrestsonconceivingofjustificationasanidealizeddiscovery
procedure--inotherwords,asasortofscientificcompetencethatcanbeabstractedfrom
historicalperformancesofscientificreasoning.OnceNewton'sLawsarestrippedofthe
socio-historicalbaggagethatmightmakehimhostiletothem,evenAristotlecouldcome
tohaveajustifiedbeliefinthem.
Nowconsidertheepistemologist'sstrategyitselffromasociologicalviewpoint:How
doesitmakeadifferencetothedomainofpeoplewhoareeligibletovalidateNewton's
Laws?TakingourcuefromZilsel,thestrategyclearlyopensupthedomainofeligible
peoplebyreducingtheamountofesotericknowledgerequiredofthepotentialvalidator.
Inparticular,heneednothaveparticipatedintheculturalmilieuofseventeenth-century
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England,whichimplies,amongotherthings,thatheneednotbringtohisobservations
thespecializedtrainingthatonlyscientistslivingatthattimewouldhave.Instead,the
potentialvalidatorwouldrequireskills--forexample,theabilitytoperformcertain
calculationsandtofocusattentiononcertainphenomena--thatanyintelligentand
interestedhumanbeingcouldbetaughtatanytimeorplace.Thus,oneofthewaysin
whichepistemologistshavearguedfortheuniversalnatureofvalidityclaimsisby
appealingtotheintuitionthatGalileo,say,couldhaveconvincedAristotlethathis
accountoflocalmotionwasinerrorbyconductingfree-fallexperimentsinhispresence.
Oneconsequenceofregardingthediscovery/justificationdistinctioninthismanneris
thatitturnsoutnottobeasideologicallyperniciousasphilosophersandsociologists
haveoftensuggested.Asourceofthedistinction'sperniciousnesswasthoughttobe
thattheconceptofjustificationpresupposesaWhiggish,orabsolutist,conceptionof
epistemicchange.Afterall,whileitisclearthatGalileocouldconvinceAristotleofsome
things,couldAristotleconvinceGalileoofanything?However,aswehaveseen,evenif
Aristotle'sandGalileo'spersuasivepowersturnouttobeasymmetrical,thathas
happenedonlyafterbothhavebeenlimitedtojustificationproceduresthatare,in
principle,equallyaccessibletoallintelligentindividuals.Inotherwords,thisapparently
absolutistendhasbeenreachedbystrictlyegalitarianmeans.
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Evenifalltheprecedingconsiderationshavebeenenoughtopersuadeyouthat
epistemologyisaninherentlysociologicalactivity,youmaystillwonderwhy
epistemologistshavebeensohostiletotheidea.Myowndiagnosisofthesituation
pointstoarhetoricalstrategythatepistemologistsregularlydeploy--andsociologists
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unfortunatelyfallfor.Itinvolvestreatingcognitivepursuitsandtheirsocialorganization
asiftheyweretwoindependententitiesandthenaskinghowdoesknowingaboutthe
socialorganizationofaparticularcognitivepursuitaddtoourknowledgeofthepursuit
asacognitivepursuit.Ofcourse,thetypicalanswertothisquestionisthatitadds
nothingtoourknowledgeofthepursuitasacognitivepursuit,whichleadsthe
epistemologisttoconcludethatsociologyisirrelevanttoquestionsofepistemicstatus.
Thesociologisttacitlyassentstothisconclusionbyconcentratinghiseffortsonthose
featuresofcognitivepursuitswhichhehimselfrecognizesasnoncognitive.Togetaclear
senseofthefallaciousnessofthisstrategy,comparetheanalogous,andhistorically
morefamiliar,caseofsomeone(perhapsamedievalscholastic)maintainingthat
knowledgeofphysiologyisirrelevantforknowingaboutthehumanbeingasahuman
being.Howwouldheshowthis?Byarguingthatsinceeverycreaturehasaphysiology,
thereisnothingdistinctivelyhumanabouthavingaphysiology,and,therefore,nothing
aboutthehumannessofhumanbeingscanbelearnedbystudyingtheirphysiology.
Whattheargumentsagainstsociologyandphysiologyhaveincommonmaybedescribed
aseitheralogicalfallacyorarhetoricalstrategy.Thelogicalfallacytheyjointlycommit
istoconfusethe essential features of an objectwiththe features that distinguish it
from other objects.AsDunsScotuswouldputit,thearguershavemixedmattersof
quidditaswithmattersofhaecceitas.Mostpointedly:severalessentiallydifferent
objectscansharesomeofthesameessentialproperties.The"essentialdifferences"
refertodistinctionsinspeciesofthesharedessentialproperties.Andso,justbecause
humanbeingsarenottheonlycreatureswithaphysiology,itdoesnotfollowthat
humanbeingswouldbewhattheyarewithouttheirphysiology.Indeed,thescienceof
taxonomywasfoundedontheideathatasufficientlyfine-grainedunderstandingof
physiologywouldenableonetomakedistinctionsamongsttheanimalspeciessoasto
showthathumanbeingshaveauniquephysiology.Thus,ratherthandisqualifyingthem
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frombeingdistinguishingproperties,sharedessentialpropertiesmayprovidethebasis
formakingtherelevantspeciesdistinctions.Likewise,justbecausecognitivepursuits
arenottheonlyactivitiesthataresociallyorganized,itdoesnotfollowthatcognitive
pursuitswouldbewhattheyarewithouttheirsocialorganization.Indeed,thesociology
ofknowledgewasfoundedontheideathatasufficientlyfine-grainedunderstandingof
socialorganizationwouldenableonetomakedistinctionsamongthevarioushuman
pursuitssoastoshowthatparticularcognitivepursuitshaveuniquepatternsof
organization.
Asfortherhetoricalstrategydeployedbytheopponentsofsociologyandphysiology,I
willcallit,forlackofabettername,negativereification.It
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consistsofatwo-stepmove:(1)Q,thedefiningstructuralpropertyofP,isdistinguished
fromPandmadeintoaseparateentityhence,thesocialorganizationofknowledgeis
distinguishedfromknowledge"assuch,"andthehumanphysiologyisdistinguishedfrom
thehumanbeing"assuch."Thisisthereifyingmove.(2)EventhoughQhasnowbeen
formallydistinguishedfromP,thecontentofQremainsinP,therebyrenderingQdevoid
ofcontent.Thisisthenegativemove.Itleavestheimpressionthatonecangivean
adequateaccountofknowledgeorthehumanbeingwithoutreferring,respectively,toits
socialorganizationoritsphysiology.However,uponcloserscrutiny,itcanbeshownthat
theallegedlyunnecessaryentityiscovertlypresupposedintheadequateaccount.Thus,
indualistaccountsofthehumanbeing,themind,whichsupposedlydefinesthehuman
beingassuch,ischaracterizedashavingaparaphysiologyofitsown,namely,asystem
ofinterdependentfunctionswhichregulatesthebody.Likewise,aswesawwhen
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examiningthecontextofjustificationwhichsupposedlydefinesacognitivepursuitas
such,aparasociologyispresupposed,namely,anormativeaccountofthetermsunder
whichoneiseligibletoparticipateinthecognitivepursuit.Whyhasn'tnegative
reificationbeenmoreoftenrecognizedforwhatitis?Largelybecauseaccountsofboth
themindandthecontextofjustificationareneverdiscussedwithenoughspecificityto
broachtheissueofinstantiation:Whenhasoneidentifiedinstancesofmentalactivity?
Ofajustificatorycontext?Oncethesequestionsareraised,oneisforcedtointroduce
considerationsof,respectively,physiologyandsociology.

2. Social Epistemology as the Pursuit of Scandal and Extravagance


WiththefoundingoftheInstituteforSocialResearchatFrankfurtinthe1920sandthe
publicationofKarlMannheim'sIdeology and Utopiain1936,thesociologyofknowledge
wasatfirstnotoriousformaintainingthatthebestwaytoinquireintothenatureof
knowledgeisbyquestioningthemotives(or"interests")ofitsproducers.Whateverelse
onemightwanttosayaboutthisprogram,itwascertainlymeantasaradicalcritique
andreplacementoftheepistemologicalenterprise,especiallyofitsclassicaltaskof
layingdowninterest-invariantfoundationsforknowledge.
Indeed,thesociologyofknowledgewasconceivedasanirreduciblynormativediscipline,
integrallytiedtosocialpolicy-making(Mannheim1940).Itscentralthesiswasthatthe
socialacceptanceofaknowledgeclaimalwaysservestobenefitcertaininterestgroups
inthesocietyandtodisadvantageothers.Asapieceofknowledgepolicy,the
implicationswereclear:ifgrantingepistemicwarrantinvolves,amongotherthings,
socialacceptance,andakeybenefitofbeinggrantedsuchawarrantisthepowerto
makeauthoritativepronouncements,thengranting epistemic warrant is a
covert form of distributing power.
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covert form of distributing power.


Puttingaside,forthemoment,thedeliberatenesswithwhichthispolicy
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normallyis(orevencan be)carriedout,thethesisappearsmostplausiblewhen
consideringhowdisciplinaryspecialization(inlaw,medicine,business,andthesciences)
hasremovedanincreasingnumberofissuesfrompublicdebatetothetestimonyof
"experts."Thesedisciplinesexercise"power,"inthesensethatallepistemically
warrantedopinionintheirrespectivedomainsrequirestheircertification,which,inturn,
forcesthewarrantseekereithertoundergothearduoustrainingofbecomingsuchan
expertorsimplytoconserveeffortanddefertotheexpertsalreadyinplace.Not
surprisingly,then,thenormativeissueofmostconcerntothesesociologistsof
knowledge,especiallytheirmostrecentexemplarHabermas(1975),ishowtoprevent
therepublicanidealof"civicculture"fromtotallydissolving,inmoderndemocracies,into
a"massculture"whosemembersuncriticallysubmittotheauthorityofexperts.
Theoriginalscandalcreatedbythesociologyofknowledge,then,wastoclaimthatany
answerto"Whatarethesourcesofknowledge?"presupposesananswerto"Howshould
societybeorganized?"Classicalepistemologyappearedtobeaviablepursuitprecisely
becausetherewerethoughttobecertainknowledgeclaimswhosesocialacceptancehad
equalbenefitforall-atleastforallrationalbeings--andhencehadnoneteffectonthe
distributionofpower.Thisissimplyavividwayofexpressingthe"valueneutrality"of
scientificknowledge:thatis,whilesuchknowledgemaybeusedtopromoteawide
varietyofvalues(asinthedifferentpolicyendstowhicheconomicsmaybeapplied),
theknowledgeitselfisnotbiasedtowardoragainsttherealizationofanyparticular
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values.Thesourceoftheequalityofbenefitaffordedbytheseprivilegedknowledge
claimswastheequalityofaccessallegedofthem--atleastwhenreducedtothe
ultimatewarrantsfortheirassertion.Unlikesuchtraditionallyhermeticformsof
knowledgeasmagicandcabalistictheology,theefficacyofnaturalandsocialscientific
knowledgewouldseemnottorestonitsaccessbeingrestrictedtoonlyafewspecially
trainedindividualsrather,accesstothenaturalandsocialscienceshasalwaysbeen
advertisedas(inprinciple)opentoanyone,sinceitsepistemicwarrantsultimately
restedonthesortsoflogicalcalculationsandempiricalobservationsthatanyrational
individual,withamodicumoftraining,couldperform.Indeed,intherevampedversionof
theclassicalpositiondefendedbyMill,Peirce,Dewey,andPopper,increasingthe
accessibilitytothescientificprocesswasthoughttoincreasethequalityofthe
knowledgeproduced,sinceitwouldincreasethelevelofmutualcriticismofknowledge
claims,whichwould,inturn,increasethechancethatcreepingvaluebiaseswouldbe
purgedfromtheprocess.Andso,ifa"cultofexpertise"hasdevelopedinmoderntimes,
astheearlysociologistsofknowledgewereinclinedtothink,thentheclassical
epistemologistwouldinterpretthatsimplyasacaseinwhichcertainsocialinterests
(perhapsoftheknowledgeproducersthemselves,inthecaseofexperts)haveperverted
fortheirownendsthenaturaldevelopmentofknowledge,whichpromotesequalityof
benefitandaccess.
Initsfirstincarnation,thesociologyofknowledgeremainedlittlemore
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thanascandal.Itfailedtolaunchafull-scaleconceptualrevolution--letaloneundermine
theprojectofclassicalepistemology--becauseofconceptualconfusionsatitsown
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foundations.Theseconfusionsmadeknowledgeproductionseemmuchtoocontrived,as
ifthedominantclassinterestcouldsimplydictatewhatpassesforknowledgeinthe
society.Afterall,ifgrantingepistemicwarrantisindeedacovertformofdistributing
power,doesitfolloweitherthatgrantingepistemicwarrantis identical withdistributing
poweroreventhatepistemicwarrantisgrantedin order todistributepower?Theformer
possibilitycanbereadasasemanticthesisofthesortthatemotiviststypicallymake
aboutethicalutterances,transferredtoepistemologicalonesthelatterpossibilitycan
bereadasdescribingthemotivesorintentionsofthosewhograntepistemicwarrant,
which,inanextremeform,wouldconstituteaconspiracytheoryofknowledge.Neitherof
thesepossibleconclusionsnecessarilyfollowsfromthepremise,thoughtheoriginal
sociologistsofknowledgecertainlymadeitseemotherwise.Oneomittedpossibilityisa
moreindirectandinterestingconclusion,namely,thatgrantingepistemicwarrantsimply
has the effect ofdistributingpower--therebyleavingopensuchquestionsaswhetherthe
groupsbenefittingfromthisdistributionofpoweraretheoneswhowereoriginally
motivatedtoproposetheparticularknowledgeclaim,whethereitherthemotivatorsor
thebenefittersaretheoneswhomakethemostuseoftheclaiminproposingother
knowledgeclaims,andsoforth.Apersuasivedefenseofthisconclusionwouldbe
enoughtounderminetheprojectofclassicalepistemologyascharacterizedabove,since
itwouldshowthatthereisnomethodforgrantingepistemicwarrant,includingthe
methodsofthenaturalandsocialsciences,whichdoesnothaveaneffectonthe
distributionofpowerinasociety.Yet,atthesametime,suchadefensewouldnotbe
forcedtoassumetheextravagantthesisthatknowledgeisnothingbutamyththatthe
powerfulconcocttomaintaintheirpower.
AtthesourceoftheconceptualconfusionsthatunderminedtheOldWavesociologyof
knowledgewasanequivocalreadingoftheclaimthatallknowledgeis"value-laden"or
"interest-laden."Threesortsofgroupsmaybesaidtohavean"interest"inthesocial
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acceptanceofaknowledgeclaim:
(a)thosewhoweremotivatedtoproposetheclaiminthehopethattheymight
benefitfromitsacceptance
(b)thosewhoactuallybenefitfromtheclaim'sacceptance
(c)thosewhomakeuseoftheclaiminthecourseofproposingother
knowledgeclaims.
Letuscall(a)motivators,(b)benefitters,and(c)users.Theclassicalepistemologists
erredinfailingtoseethat,giventheinterest-ladennessofallknowledgeclaims,such
groupsalwaysexist,andthereforemustbetakenintoaccountbyanynormativetheory
ofknowledgeproduction.However,theearlysociologistsofknowledgewereextravagant
tosupposethatin
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many(perhapsmost)casesofknowledgeproduction,themotivators,benefitters,and
usersarethesamegroup.Ifthatwerethecase,thennotonlywouldtheproductionof
knowledgebereducedtothedisseminationofideology,butthedisseminationwould
provetobeincrediblyeffectivefortheoriginalideologueswouldthenbeshowntohave
tightenoughcontrolovertheuseoftheirideologythatonlytheyandtheiralliesbenefit.
Thispieceofextravagancehasbeenrevealedbythecurrentcropofempirically-minded
sociologistsofknowledgetobelittlemorethanarhetoricalillusion.TheNewWavers
(Latour&Woolgar1979,KnorrCetina1981,Gilbert&Mulkay1984,Collins1985),who
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describethemselvesas"socialconstructivists"or"anthropologistsofknowledge
cultures,"arguethatallpreviousinquiriesintothenatureofknowledgeproduction--both
philosophicalandsociological--haveerredinconcludingthattheremustbesomesortof
tightcontrolontheuseofknowledgesimplybecausethepractitionersofaparticular
disciplinejustifytheirknowledgeclaimsinsimilarways(bydrawingonthesamebodyof
knowledge,employingthesameinferentialtechniques,andsoforth).Statedthisbaldly,
thenaiveteisclear:Whyshoulditbepresumedthatanaccountofknowledge
production,asmightappearinabookorajournalarticle,representshowknowledgeis
actuallyproduced?Afterall,thediagnostictoolsavailabletomanuscriptrefereesare
fairlylimitedandrarelyextendtoacomprehensivetestingoftheknowledgeclaimunder
review.Notsurprisingly,then,knowledgeproducerstendtotakecareingathering
evidenceandtestingclaimsonlyinproportiontothelikelihoodthattherefereeswill
checkthem.Moreover,anessentialpartofwhatmakesanaccountofknowledge
productionsomethingmorethanareportoftheauthor'sbeliefsisthatitdescribeswhat
ought to have happened,giventheavowednormsofthediscipline.Evenmistakesand
accidentsmustbeaccountedforintherightway.Thus,theprocessbywhichknowledge
istypicallydisseminatedandintegratedservestoinsureauniformityintheexpression
andjustificationofclaimswithoutinsuringasimilaruniformityintheactivitiesleading
uptothesemomentsoftextualization.
However,onecanbemoreorlessnaiveabouttherelationofwordstodeedsin
knowledgeproduction.Morenaiveistheclassicalepistemologist,whotakesthe
expressedjustificationsliterallyasreferringtoacommonmethodwithatrackrecordof
gettingatanextrasocialreality.Alittlemoreastuteweretheoriginalsociologistsof
knowledge,whoneverthelesscontinuedtothinkthatbehindsimilarformsofexpression
mustliesimilarformsofconstraint,eveniftheyturnouttobenothingmorethanthe
ideologicalforceexertedbyadiscipline'sdominantinterestgroup.Tocounteractthis
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naivespiritofdeterminism,theNewWavesociologistsliketosaythatknowledge
productionis"contingent"or"context-dependent"or"open-ended."Unfortunately,these
expressionsmaskratherthanremedytheshortcomingsoftheearlieraccounts,
especiallythatoftheOldWavers.Inparticular,eachoftheseexpressionscanimply
either
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(i)thatnoknowledgeproducercanfullypredictand/orcontrolhowhisresearch
willbeusedbyothersintheirresearch,or
(ii)thatanyknowledgeproducerisrelativelyfreetotailorotherknowledge
claimstohisspecificresearchsituation.
TheerrorthattheNewWaversmakeistointerpret(i)asifitwereconclusiveevidence
for(ii),whichonlyservestomakeknowledgeproductionseem,onceagain,toomuch
underthedirectcontroloftheproducersthetwistbeingthatinsteadofknowledge
productionbeingdeterminedbylargecorporatewillssuchasdisciplinesandother
interestgroups,itisnowsaidtobedeterminedbysomewhatsmallercorporatewills
suchasresearchteamsandevenindividualshence,extravagancereturnsthroughthe
backdoor.
Sometimesthesociologists(Bloor1983,ch.6)trytomitigatetheseextravagantclaims
ofscientificself-determinationbysayingthatthenormsofscientificpracticefunctionas
atacitcivilcode.Inthatcase,thefreedomattributedtothescientistin(ii)is
constrainedbythefactthatthereareonlyacertainnumberoflegalwaysinwhichhe
canappropriateknowledgeforhisownresearch.Buteventhislegalisticglossdoesnot
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imposequitetherightsenseof"constraint"onthescientist'sactivities,sinceit
continuestoallowforacharlatantobesuccessfulatthesciencegame.Inotherwords,
itisstillpossibleforsomeonetobringaboutwhatevereffecthewishesonthescientific
audiencebycouchinghisclaimsinalegallyprescribedmanner.However,anotherfeature
ofthelegalanalogycanbeusedtoblockthecharlatan'ssuccess,namely,thatwhilea
lawregulatessomesocialactivities,oneactivitythatitdoesnotregulateisitsown
application.Likewise,thewould-becharlatanmayknowallthescientificnormswithout
therebyknowingwhicharetheappropriateonestoapplyinhiscase:toknowtheright
thingstosayisnotnecessarilytoknowtherighttimestosaythem.Forexample,he
maycompetentlywriteupa(fraudulent)experimentwhichpurportstodisconfirmsome
standinghypothesis,butifothermembersofthescientificcommunityarewritingup
(genuine)experimentswhichprovidesupportforthehypothesis,thenthecharlatan's
rusewillprobablyeitherbeignoredorsuspected(aswouldanyotherdeviantclaim)and
perhapssubsequentlyunmasked.Thisuncertaintyabouthownormsaretobeappliedin
futurecaseshaveledfollowersofWittgensteintospeakofthe"open-textured"nature
oflanguagegames.Itisanuncertaintythatisgroundedontheinabilityofanygiven
socialagenttodictatethemannerinwhichhisfellowagentswillconformtotheexisting
normshence,theinvalidityofinferringthebenefittersfromthemotivators.Noticealso
thatthroughoutthisdiscussion,theconstraintsandultimatefailureofthescientific
charlatanhavebeenexplainedentirelyinsociologicalterms,suchthatheisundermined
primarilybecauseheisunabletotrackthecognitivemovementsofhiscolleaguesand
onlysecondarilybecausehisexperiments
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areactuallyfraudulent.
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Whatwehavejustattemptedhereisasociological simulationoftheclassicalepistemic
idealofobjectivity.Itgoessomeofthewaytowardansweringscientificrealistssuchas
Boyd(1984)whoarguethatthebestexplanationforthe"success"ofscienceisits
accesstoextrasocial,"objective"reality.Incontrast,themethodofsociological
simulationrestsontheassumptionthatobjectivityandtheothervirtuesofknowledge
productioncanbeexhaustivelyexplainedbysociologicalprinciples.Noticethatthis
positionistheexactmirrorimageofscientificrealism:ontheonehand,scientific
realismtypicallydoesnotdenythesocialrootednessofknowledgeclaims,onlythe
relevanceofthatfacttoanexplanationofthetruthorfalsityofthoseclaimsonthe
otherhand,sociologicalsimulationneednotdenythe"real"truthorfalsityofknowledge
claims,onlytherelevanceofthatfacttoanexplanationofthesocialrootednessof
thoseclaims.Thepointofcontentionbetweenthetwosidesconcernswhetherclaims
thatexemplifyepistemicvirtuessuchasobjectivityarebestexplainedas"truthenhancers"oras"institution-maintainers."
Therelevanttestcaseforthescientificrealistandthesociologicalsimulatorisa
situation,perhapsathoughtexperiment,inwhichacultureacceptsaknowledgeclaim
thatwetaketobesubstantiallycorrectbutforreasons,orthroughamethod,thatwe
considerhighlysuspect.Inotherwords,byourlights,theculturehasstumbleduponthe
truth"byaccident."Agoodexampleherewouldbetheancientatomistbeliefina
principleofinertia.Needlesstosay,DemocritusneverconductedanythinglikeGalileo's
experiments,buthismetaphysicalpicturewasconducive,inmanyrespects,tothinking
along"proto-Galilean"lines.However,asfarasweknow,theatomistsdidnottryto
verifyexperimentallytheirmetaphysics,andindeed,giventheirbasicbeliefsaboutthe
radicalcontingencyofnature,theyprobablywouldhavebalkedattheveryideaof
conductingsuchexperiments.
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Scientificrealistsliketopointtoexampleslikethis,whereaculturegetsitright"in
spiteofitself,"assimultaneouslyillustratingthatourinquiriesare,insomewayor
other,directedatfathomingtheonerealitywhichweallinhabitandthatinquirers
fathomthatrealitywithvaryingdegreesofsuccess.Thesociologicalsimulatorwould
challengethisconclusionbyquestioningwhetheritwouldbepossibletoconvincethe
atomiststoconductexperimentsandtherebygetitrightby"theappropriatemeans."For
ifitturnsoutthattheatomistscannotbesopersuaded,thentheirsocialpractices
especially,thepursuitofpurespeculationwillhavebeenshownessentialtotheirbelief
inaninertiaprinciple,which,inturn,castsdoubtonwhetheritreallyisliketheprinciple
thatweendorse.
Therealistnormallyisthoughttohavetheupperhandinthedebatebecausethemore
cross-culturallyandcross-temporallyacceptedaknowledgeclaimis,themoredifficulty
thesociologisthasinexplainingitsimplyintermsoftheclaim'srootednessinseveral,
otherwisequitedifferent,socialenvironments.However,thecaseofthescientific
charlatanshowsthattherealist'sdialecticaladvantagecanbeundercut,ifthe
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sociologistadmitsthatneitherthemotivatorsnorthebenefittersofaknowledgeclaim
noreventhetwogroupscombinedhavefullcontroloverhowtheclaimisused.Inother
words,thethreesortsofinterestgroupsidentifiedearlieroverlapmuchlessthaneither
theOldorNewWavesociologistshavebeeninclinedtothink.Givenawideenough
expanseofhistory,examplesareplentiful.Considerthefateofintelligencetestingsince
1895.StartingwithBinet,themotivatorsinFrenchpedagogytreatedthetestsonlyas
diagnostictoolsforidentifyingstudentsinneedofremedialeducation.Theusershave
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sinceincludedthewholegamutofphilosophersofscienceandsocialscience
methodologistswhohavelookedtothetestsasevidenceforthescientificstatusof
psychology.AndsincethetestswereintroducedintoAnglo-Americanpsychologythrough
Spearman,thebenefittershaveironicallybeenthosewhobelievethatIQreferstoan
innateintelligencecapacitythatcanbelittlechangedbyeducation(Gould1983).
Therefore,thebestsociologicalexplanationfortheobjectivityofintelligencetestingis
itsversatilityincontextsquiteunanticipatedandevenunintendedbyitsoriginators.
Interestingly,anearlystepinthedirectiontowardsociologicalsimulationwastaken
whenPopper(1972)introducedWorldThree,therealmofobjectiveknowledge,whose
independentexistenceemergedasanunanticipated(andusuallyunintended)
consequenceoflatertheorizingaboutcognitiveinstruments,suchascountingsystems,
whichwereoriginallydesignedforquitespecificpracticalpurposes.Forexample,the
ancientsmayhavedevelopedthestudyofmathematicsinthecourseoftryingto
simplifythemanymeasurementtasksperformedineverydaylife.Ageneralstrategy
emergedtoseparateformallythemeasuringinstrumentsfromthemeasurablethings,
whichledtotheinventionofasystemforrepresentingthenaturalnumbersand,
subsequently,tothediscoveryofpropertiesthatthesystemhasindependentlyofhowit
isused.Thesepropertiesbecamethesourceofproblems,suchasthenatureof
irrationalnumbers,whichweresufficientlydistantfrommattersofappliedarithmeticto
constituteanautonomousdomainofknowledge.Yet,atthesametime,sincethis
autonomousdomainwasstillthoughttounderlieallmeasuringtasks,mathematical
expertsgainedthepowertocertifythecompetenceofengineersandotherprofessional
measurers.Atthispoint,thesimulationends,asthesociologistofknowledgereappears
toexaminethespecificinstitutionalandrhetoricalmeansbywhichmathematicshas
maintainedthispowerovertheyears,which,asBaconwouldhaveit,isexpressedas
knowledgeoftheunderlyingstructure,or"essence,"ofawidespreadsocialpracticelike
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measuring.
Theabovediscussionsuggeststhefollowingdivisionofexplanatorylaborbetweenthe
psychologyandsociologyofknowledge.Psychologyenterstostudythecognitive
limitationsonone'sabilitytoanticipatethelongtermconsequencesfollowingfrom
one'sowninteractionsandartifactproductions,aswellastobacktrackthose
consequencesoncetheyhaveoccurred.Theselimitationsarethehiddenliabilitybehind
themind's
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capacityto"economize,"thatis,tocondenseandstereotypeinformationsothatlessof
itneedstobestored.Weshalllaterreturntothistheme.Thevariousperformance
errorsinmemory,reasoning,andattributionidentifiedbycognitivepsychologistsinthe
laboratory(Nisbett&Ross1980)canserveasthebasisforthesestudies,keepingin
mindthatoutsidethelabthe"errors"arerarelycaughtoncetheyarecommittedand
maybesociallyrationalizedthroughreifications,suchasPopper'sWorldThree.The
significanceofsuchcognitivelimitationswillvaryaccordingtothenumberofindividuals
andgroupswhoseactivitieshavecausalrelevanceforoneanother,theirdistanceintime
andspacefromeachother,andthetechnologyavailableforcirculatingtherelevant
cognitiveartifacts,especiallytexts.Anditisthesociologist'stasktostudythese
variables.However,thisdivisionoflaboriseasiersaidthandone,asweshallseeinthe
nextsection.

3. Nonnormative Social Epistemology and Other Accommodating


Banalities
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TheNewWavesociologyofknowledgehasnotonlyinheritedthescandalouswaysofthe
OldWavers,butithasalsohaditsbrushwithbanality.Thebanalitycomesfromrecent
attempts,withinbothsociologyandphilosophy,todivestepistemologyofanynormative
force.Sociologistshavelongsuspectedthatphilosophicaltalkabouthowknowledge
"ought"tobeproducedismotivatedbyadesiretospeakwithanauthoritythatlies
beyondthecheckoftheempiricaldisciplines.Tosafeguardagainstempiricalcritique,
philosopherssincePlatoandDescarteshavetypicallysupplementedtheiraccountsof
theidealizedrationalknowerwithastoryabouthowheiscontinuallyunderminedbyhis
owndeep-seatedpassions(Dawes1976).ThesamemovecanbedetectedinpostPopperianphilosophyofscience,withLakatosblamingtheactualscientistsofthepast
forbeingsoswayedbyspecialinterestsandmobpsychologythattheyrarelyconformto
hisrationallyreconstructedhistory.Asthesociologistsseeit,thephilosophershave
cleverlyturnedaweaknessintoastrength:insteadoftakingtheempiricalremoteness
ofthephilosophicalidealtomeanthattheidealisfalse,philosopherstakeittomean
thatrealknowersarepreventedfromrealizingtheidealbysomepartoftheirpsychology
whichtheyhaveyettodisciplineproperly.Thus,themoreremotetheideal,thegreater
theneedforMethod(capitalizedtoindicateitsepistemicallyprivilegedstatus).Andthe
greatertheneedforMethod,thegreatertheauthorityofphilosophers,theexpertson
Method.Astheseremarkssuggest,thebanalresponsetothisphilosophicalruseisto
treatnormativeepistemology,atbest,asanexpressionofsourgrapesthatknowledge
isnotproducedasthephilosopherwouldlikeor,atworst,asanexcuseforthe
philosophertoignorealtogetherempiricalinquiriesintothenatureofknowledge
production.Inbothcases,theprescriptionisclear:theepistemologistshouldendhis
normativewaysandtherebydissolvetheboundariesthat
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currentlyexistbetweenhisworkandthatofthehistorian,psychologist,andsociologist.
Thephilosophicalroutetobanalityisquitedifferentinthatitportraysthe
epistemologistasmoredeceivedthandeceiver.Thelocus classicusisQuine's(1969,ch.
3)"EpistemologyNaturalized,"thoughRorty's(1979)Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
hasprobablydonethemosttopopularizethispicture.Thebasicideaisthatwhen
philosophersfromDescartestoKantproposedageneralMethodfor"justifying"
knowledgeclaims,theywereconfusingtworatherdifferententerprises:ontheone
hand,thereistheissueoflegitimatingknowledgeclaims,whichisdecidedbythe
conventionsofaparticularcultureandwilldependontheintereststhattheculturehas
inacquiringknowledgeontheotherhand,thereistheissueofexplainingknowledge
claims,whichinvolvesstudyingtheircausalorigins,ataskthatQuine,forone,takesto
bewithinthestrictpurviewofbehavioralpsychologyandneurophysiology.Bydividing
thelaborofjustificationinthismanner,theneedforaspecialdisciplineofepistemology
iseliminated:legitimationisbesthandledbythehumanisticdisciplinestraditionally
devotedtoculturalcriticism,whileexplanationisataskforwhichthenaturalsciences
andtheiremulatorsinthesocialstudiesarebestsuited.Moreover,oncejustification
hasbeensodivided,thedeepestepistemologicalproblemisconquered.Thisproblem,
accordingtoQuineandRorty,ishowtoaccountforourabilitytogenerateanindefinite
numberoftheoriesfromtheimpoverishedevidencebaseaffordedbyoursenses.The
twofoldwaytoasolutionis,first,totreathowonegetsfromtheevidenceto at least
onetheoryasamatterofpsychologicalexplanation,andthen,totreathowonegets
frommanytheoriestoonly oneasamatterofculturallegitimation.Inneithercaseis
thereanyneedforsomeoneequippedwithauniversallyapplicablenormativetheoryof
knowledge.
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Thereareseveralproblemswiththeseretreatstobanalityandthespiritof
interdisciplinaryaccommodationthattheybreed.Firstofall,themostthateitherthe
sociologistsorthephilosophershaveshownisthatthemethodsbywhich
epistemologistsjustifyknowledgeclaimsarenotuniquelytheirs,thoughepistemological
discoursedoesitsbesttoobscureanyresemblancetothemethodsofthespecial
disciplines.Supposenocaseformethodologicaluniquenesscouldbemade.Itstillwould
notfollowthatepistemologistsarenotinaparticularlygoodpositiontomakenormative
judgmentsaboutknowledgeclaims.Afterall,tospeakof"thedivisionofcognitivelabor"
istotalknotonlyaboutdifferencesinthetechniquesusedbythelaborersbutalso
aboutdifferencesinthematerialstowhichtheyapplythosetechniques.Andso,evenif
thesecretoftheepistemologist'ssuccessamountstonothingmorethananidiosyncratic
applicationofthesamedeductiveandinductivecanonsusedbyscientistsand
humanists,theepistemologistwouldremaindistinctiveinthatheattendstothe
interrelationsamongtheknowledgeclaimsmadebythespecialdisciplines,while
scientistsandhumanistsarerestrictedtotheoperationsoftheirowndisciplines.
Anotherwayofmakingthesamepoint,whichechoesthemesraisedbothearlierand
laterin
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thischapter,istosaythatthecriticsofnormativeepistemologyhaveablurredimageof
thetwostrandsofpositivismwhichhavedefinedtheproblemofknowledgesincethe
earlynineteenthcentury:ontheonehand,thecriticsrecognizethelogicalpositivist
strandanditsemphasisontheunityofmethod,whichreducesthetaskofepistemology
tothesortofconceptualhousecleaningthatpractitionersofthespecialsciencescould
themselvesdo,weretheynotoccupiedwithmoreimportantempiricalassignmentson
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theotherhand,thecriticsneglecttheComteanstrandanditsemphasisonphilosophy's
uniqueroleofapplyingthescientificmethodtothesciencesthemselvesforthepurpose
ofregulatingtheirdevelopment.
Stillskepticaloftheepistemologist'snormativepowers,thecriticsmaywonderwhythe
specialdisciplinescannotsimplyregulatetheirownactivities.Indeed,thislaissez-faire
attitudeissharedbybothnaturalisticallyinclinedphilosophersofscience(Laudan1981)
andsociologicallyinclinedcriticsofepistemology(Bloor1981),whowouldnormallyfind
themselvesatloggerheads.Theattitudecomesthroughmostclearlyinwhatwould
seemtobeaninnocently"pluralistic,"even"ecumenical,"attitudethatthelikesof
LaudanandBloorhavetowardtheinclusionofhistory,psychology,andsociologyinany
naturalistictheoryofknowledge.Presumably,theybelievethatthephilosophercanlearn
muchofvaluefromempiricalapproachestoknowledge.However,theydonotseemto
noticethattheknowledgeclaimsmadebytheseempiricaldisciplinesarenotobviously
compatiblewithoneanother.Indeed,someofthemoreinterestingclaimsmaybe
incompatibleinaway--callit"incommensurable"ifyouwill--thatdoesnotsuggestany
easyresolutionwithinaparticulardiscipline.Asprimafacieevidenceforthis
incommensurability,considerthat,fromexaminingthecitationpatternsintheirrelevant
literatures,onewouldbeforcedtoconcludethatpsychologistsandsociologistsof
scienceseldomdrawoneachother'swork,eventhoughtheyarenormallylumped
togetheraspartofthe"sciencestudies"disciplinarycluster(alimitedexceptionisDe
Mey[1982]).Uponfurtherconsideration,thisfindingshouldnotcomeasasurprise,
sinceallthatultimatelyunitesthepractitionersof"sciencestudies"isacommon
whippingboy,namely,classicalepistemology.Consequently,theyhavenotdevoted
muchefforttochallengingeachother'sclaims.Letusnow,then,turntosomelatent
pointsofconfrontationasameansofshowingthatthereisstillroomforthesortof
normative-yet-naturalisticepistemologyenvisionedbyComte.
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Onekeypointofconfrontationconcernsthedegreeofpsychologismthatneedstobe
incorporatedinasociologicalaccountofscientificactivity.Ingeneral,asociologistis
"antipsychologistic"ifhisaccountofsocialinteractiondoesnotrequirethatsocial
agentshaveanyprivatementalcontents,suchasparticulardesiresorbeliefs,distinct
fromtheirpubliclydefinedrole-expectations.Inthatcase,amongsociologistsof
science,theEdinburghSchool(Barnes1977,Shapin1982)mustbecountedasamenable
topsychologism,sinceittypicallypostulatesthatsocialagentshaverelativelywelldefined"interests"whichtheytrytopromoteby
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manipulatingthecourseofcertainlegitimatinginstitutions,suchasscience.
Consequently,theEdinburghSchoolhastendedtopresentscientificdebatesasa
"superstructure"whose"infrastructure"consistsofcompetingpolitical,economic,and/or
culturalinterests.
Incontrast,thestrongestcaseofantipsychologismmaybefoundamongthesocial
constructivists.Ontheirview,derivedinpartfromWittgensteinandFoucault,anagent's
mentalcontentsarethemselvessociallyconstructedthroughinstitutionalized
mechanismsofattribution.Ifsocialagentshaveaspecific"interest"onthisview,itis
simplytheinterestinmaintainingorenhancingone'spositioninthescientificgame
hence,theemphasisthatthesocialconstructivistsplaceonthepersuasiveelementsof
scientifictexts.Indeed,thesocialconstructivistsbreakwithboththeOldWaveFrankfurt
SchoolandtheNewWaveEdinburghSchoolinmaintainingthattheproductionof
scientificknowledgedoesnotfunctionprimarilyasanarenaforcompetingspecial
interestsrather,theybelievethat"thereisnoultimateobjectivetoscientific
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investmentotherthanthecontinualredeploymentofaccumulatedresources."(Latour&
Woolgar1979,p.198)Asweshallsubsequentlysee,thecapitalistmodelofknowledge
productionprovidesanewslantontheideathatknowledgeispursued"asanendin
itself."
Movingfrompsychologismtopsychology,precedentmaybefoundinthehistoryofsocial
psychology(especiallyinGestaltandattributiontheory)fortheincorporationof
sociologicalresearch.Theseeffortshavefocusedonthefindingthat,inanexperimental
situationopentomanyinterpretations,thepresenceofseveralpeoplecanenforce
closureonhowasubjectperceivesorreasonsaboutit.Ifwethentake"antisociologism"
tomeananaccountoftheindividualmindthatdoesnotincludeamechanismfor
registeringtheeffectsthatthepresenceofothersmighthaveonhisbeliefs,desires,or
courseofaction,thenthepsychologyofscienceexperimentsconductedintheTversky
andKahneman(1981)paradigm,whichcurrentlydominatesthediscipline,wouldhaveto
becalledantisociologistic.Theseexperiments(seeTweney,Doherty&Mynatt1982)
typicallyshowthatrealscientistsdonotimplicitlyreasonaboutevidence,hypothesis
selection,andsoforthaccordingtosomenormexplicitlyupheldbybothphilosophersof
scienceandthescientificcommunity.Thepsychologistsinthisparadigmsometimes
codifytheimplicitreasoningproceduresbutrarelyexplainwhytheydivergesogreatly-andsosystematically--fromtheexplicitnorm.Thenearestthattheycometoageneral
explanatoryprinciplefortheerrorsistoshowthatsubjects'responsesaresensitiveto
theprotocolsinwhichtheexperimenterframestheproblem:framethesameproblemin
twodifferentways,andyougettwodifferentresponses.Notsurprisingly,then,
scientistsaremostlikelytoreasonaccordingtotheexplicitnormwhentheyareasked
tosolveaproblemframedinthe"canonicalform"usuallyfoundintextbooks.Thiswould
seemtoopenthedoortosomesortofsociologism,perhapspointingtowardthe
psychologicallimitsofdisciplinarysocialization:Atwhatpointdoexperimentalprotocols
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countervailscientifictrainingindeterminingthe
-20-

scientist'sresponse?However,antisociologismdieshardamongthepsychologistsof
science,whotendtobelievethattheerrorsarebuiltintotheindividual'scognitive
mechanism.Theresultisapictureofhumanbeingsasinherentlydefectivecomputers
who,atleastwhendoingscience,aresubjecttoexternalvalidationchecks(Faust1985).
Interdisciplinaryinfiltrationaside,theincompatibilityofpsychologismandsociologism
alsoemergesintheformofrivalhistoricalhypothesesabouttheoriginandmaintenance
ofdisciplines.Thoughithasbeencustomarytotreatdisciplinesasthepointofcontact
between"thesocial"and"thecognitive"(roughly,themomentwhenmethodology
becomesinstitutionalized),themostcommonstrategyforexplainingtheirpresencehas
beenbroadlypsychologistic.Togetasenseofthedifferencebetweenapsychologistic
andasociologisticapproach(whoseexemplarisFoucault)tothehistoryofdisciplines,
considerthefollowingalternativehypothesesfortheriseofbiologyasaspecialscience
inthenineteenthcentury:
(d)Historical Psychologism--Biologybeganessentiallyasanideological
movementbyagroupofindividuals,callthem"vitalists,"whosharedan
interestingainingsocialrecognitionfortheirbeliefthatthephenomenaoflife
couldnotbeexhaustivelystudiedbythemethodsofthephysicalsciences.
(e)Historical Sociologism--Biologybeganessentiallyasan"opportunity
structure,"namely,acollectionofproceduresforobserving,describing,and
organizing(bothpeopleandthings)thathadprovedeffectiveinquite
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disparatedomainsbutwerenowmadeavailableforuseasanensemble.
Individualswithdifferent,andperhapsevenradicallyopposed,agendas
realizedthatitwasintheirowninteresttocontesttheirclaimsinaforum
boundbytheseprocedures.
Giventhesealternatives,thereceivedwisdominboththehistoryandthephilosophyof
sciencewouldrecommendhypothesis(d).Afterexaminingwhyineachcase,weshall
considerthechangeinstrategythatanacceptanceof(e)wouldinvolve.
Whilethehistorianwouldnothaveaprincipledreasonforpreferring(d),itisclearthat
historiesofsciencetendtohave(d)-likescenarios.Taketheissueofinterdisciplinary
borrowing,asinthecaseofaphysicistoreconomistmakinguseofsomemathematical
technique.Arguably,ahistoryofconceptualbreakthroughswouldbeexhaustedbya
historyofinterdisciplinaryborrowing.However,historiansfrequentlyunderstatethe
importanceofsuchborrowingbyfocusingonthefact,say,thatthemathematical
techniquecontributedsignificantlytothesolutionofthephysicist'sproblemratherthan
onthefactthatthephysicisthadtorefashionhisprobleminordertotakeadvantageof
themathematicaltechnique.Castingtheborrowingepisodeintheformerlightmakes
thehistoryof
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scienceseemdictatedbytheintentionsoftheindividualscientist,whilecastingthe
episodeinthelatterlightmakesthescientistappearconstrainedbytheavailable
resources.Andwhilemanyhistoriesofsciencehavebeenwrittenofthesuccessesor
failuresofscientists'projects,fewhaveconsideredtheextenttowhichopportunity
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structureshaveorhavenotbeenutilized.
Philosophershaveacharacteristicallyprincipledreasonforpreferringa(d)-liketoan(e)likehistoryofdisciplines.Itturnsonacommonlyheldviewaboutthegoalofknowledge
production,anissueaboutwhichweshallhavemoretosaylater.Butfornow,weneed
onlytoattendtotherudimentsofthisview,namely,thatknowledgeproducersfirst
stakeoutadomainaboutwhichtheymakeclaims,whichtheythentestwithspecial
procedurestoarriveattruthsaboutthedomain.Eveninthissimpleaccount,a
psychologyisimputedtotheknowledgeproducerwhich,inturn,tendstofavora
psychologisticreadingofhisactivities.Thecruxofthispsychologicalaccountisthat
theory formation precedes method selection.Withoutsuchanaccount,itwouldbe
difficulttoseethemotivationforthedisputebetweenrealistsandverificationistsin
epistemology.Theplausibilityofrealismrests,inlargepart,onthealleged
psychologicalfactthatwemakeclaimswhichwebelievearetrueorfalse,eventhough
wehavenowayofdeterminingwhichvalue.Presumably,accordingto(d),suchclaims
areoftenmadeintheearlydaysofadiscipline,whenthegrouphascertainbeliefs
aboutadomainbutnocommonlyacceptedmeansoftestingthem.Likewise,
verificationismmakessenseasanantidotetorealisminsofaraspeopledoindeedtend
totheorizefirstandchoosemethodslaterforthen,theverificationistwantstoshow
thatthetheorybecomescognitivelysignificant(andhenceitsclaimsacquiretruth
values)onlyonceamethodhasbeenselectedfortestingit.Incontrast,an(e)-like
historiographyofscienceturnstheprecedingpsychologicalaccountonitshead:domains
andtheoriesaboutthem--theverycontentsofdisciplines--areconstructedexpostfacto
tojustifytheappropriationandsuccessfuldeploymentofcertaintechniquesbyabodyof
individuals(Abir-Am1985).
Sofarwehavelookedatsomeinstanceswithinthehistory,psychology,andsociologyof
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sciencewhichindicateinterdisciplinaryincompatibility.However,insidethephilosopher's
owncamp,therehavealsobeenepistemologicalformsofpsychologismandsociologism.
Heretheincompatibilityisoverlooked,notoutofaspiritofecumenicity,butsimply
becausetherehavebeennoclearrulesforconductingphilosophicalargumentsaboutthe
regulativeidealsofknowledgeproduction,thecategoryunderwhichtheseformsof
psychologismandsociologismnormallyfall."Regulativeideal,"ofcourse,isaKantian
termforwhat,inthiscase,isbettercalleda"cognitiveutopia,"theoptimalsocial
organizationofknowledgeproduction--thechiefaimofsocialepistemology.Ifweuse
"Truth"asaplaceholderforwhateveristakentobethegoalofproducingknowledge,
thenthepsychologisticandsociologisticutopias,modeledon
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KantandPopper,respectively,maybedistinguishedinthefollowingmanner:
(f)Epistemological Psychologism--Thebestwayfortheknowledgeprocessto
produceTruthrequiresthatallproducerssharethesameattitudetowardthe
process,namely,theyshouldallintendtoproduceTruth.
(g)Epistemological Sociologism--Thebestwayfortheknowledgeprocessto
produceTruthdoesnotrequirethatallproducerssharethesameattitude
towardtheprocess,butratherthattheyevaluateeachother'sproductsinthe
sameway.
Onereasonthattheexpression"knowledgeclaim"hasbeenappearingwhere"belief"
normallydoesistoremainneutralbetween(f)and(g)astowhattheknowledgeprocess
issupposedtoproduce.Puttingasideaccountsofbeliefasadispositiontoactina
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certainway,theproductionofjustified(orreliable)truebeliefisnormallytakento
involveachangeintheproducer'spsychology(Goldman1986).Incontrast,aknowledge
claimmayberegardedpsychologisticallyastheoutwardexpressionofanattitudeor
sociologisticallyasamoveinalanguagegamewhichmaybedefendedordefeatedin
certainpubliclyobservedways.Thereadermayalsonoticearesemblancebetweenhow
thedistinctionbetween(f)and(g)hasbeendrawnandhowthedistinctionbetweenthe
contextsofdiscoveryandjustificationisnormallydrawn.Inthemostgeneralterms,
psychologism,likethecontextofdiscovery,involvesevaluatingtheframeofmindwhich
theproducerbringstotheknowledgeprocess,whilesociologism,likethecontextof
justification,involvesevaluatingtheconsequencesoftheknowledgeprocess--theactual
knowledgeproducts--regardlessoftheproducers'frameofmind.AsDurkheim(1938)was
thefirsttorealizeinhisdebateswithTardeandLeBon,sociologismhadtobe
distinguishedfrompsychologisminthiswayinordertopreventsociologismfrom
becomingnothingmorethanpsychologismonamassscale.Togetasenseofthedeep
seateddifferencessuggestedherebetween(f)and(g),letuslookathowbothwould
respondiftheEdinburghSchoolturnedouttobecorrectinclaimingthattheknowledge
productionprocessislittlemorethananarenaforcompetinginterests.
Aproponentof(f)wouldexpecttheproductionofTruthtobetherebyarrested,sincethe
individualsareintendingTruthonlyinsofarasitservestheirparticularinterests.Inorder
tomaketheknowledgeproductionprocessmore"productive,"theproponentof(f)would
havetheindividualproducersaimfortheTruthregardlessofitssocialconsequencesfor
themortheirfellows.Thiswouldentailtrulyassertingone'sownbeliefsinthehopethat
theyaretrue(andtreatingeveryoneelse'sassertionsinthesameway).Onecanreadily
seearoleforMethodinputtingtheknowledgeproducerintherightframeofmindfor
thearduoustaskoftrulyassertingthetruth.In
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-23-

contrast,theproponentof(g)isnotnearlysoMethod-conscious,largelybecausehe
doesnotbelievethattheproductionofTruthisespeciallyaidedbytheproducershaving
aspecialattitudetowardtheknowledgeprocess,suchas"intendingtoproduceTruth."
Consequently,theproponentof(g)ismoresanguineabouttheEdinburghthesis,
believingthatastheknowledgeproducerstrytomaximizetheirowninterests,theywill
trytoundercuteachother'sclaimsinthemostpubliclyacceptablewaypossible--namely,
byappealspertainingtotheproductionofTruth--soastocoverupthefactthattheir
criticismsaremotivatedexclusivelybyself-interest.Ifthisprocesscontinueslong
enough,itwillbethebasisofan"invisiblehand"or"cunningofreason"explanationfor
howtheTruthcanultimatelybeproducedbyacollectionofindividualswhosemain
interestshavelittletodowithproducingTruth.Moreover,thisexplanationis
sociologisticinthattheindividualsarerenderedunwittingproducersofTruthbecause
themeansbywhichtheypursuetheirinterestsisdictatedbytheneedtoobtaina
favorableresponsefromtheirfellows.

4. Social Epistemology Rendered Normative and Epistemology


Rendered Interesting
Followingtheexampleofethics,therearetwostandpointsfromwhichonecanmake
normativejudgments:
(m)beforesomeoneacts,soastodirecthisaction
or
(n)aftersomeoneacts,soastoevaluatehisaction.
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TheNewWavesociologicalcritiqueofepistemologicalpracticeassumesthat
philosophersmakenormativejudgmentsonlyinsense(n),namely,ascriticsofan
activityinwhichtheythemselvesdonotparticipate.However,philosopherscanequally
bereadasspeakingnormativelyinsense(m),whichwouldshowthat,liketheoriginal
sociologistsofknowledge,theyfollowMarx'sdictumthatnotonlymusttheyinterpret
theworldbuttheymustchangeitaswell.Indeed,thetruthofthemattermaywellbe
thatnormativejudgmentsinsense(n)aboutpastknowledgeproductionaremeantas
thebasisforissuingnormativejudgmentsinsense(m)aboutfutureknowledge
production.
Still,weneedtogivethephilosopher'spropensityforidealizationsomesociological
credibility.Agoodstrategyheremaybetotreatidealizationasanellipticalformof
socialengineering.TheultimatesourceofthisstrategyisFrancisBacon,thoughits
twentieth-centuryexemplarhasbeenGastonBachelard's(1985)theoryofscientific
experimentation,severalversionsofwhichpersisttothisday(includingvonWright
[1971],Bhaskar[1980],Hacking[1983],Heelan[1983],andApel[1984]).Thebasicidea
isthis:ifwe
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gobyordinaryobservationalone,naturedoesnotappeartohavealawlikecharacter.
Whatweneedtodo,then,istocreateanenvironmentinwhichthislawlikecharacter
canbeexhibitedondemand.Theinstructionsforcreatingsuchanenvironment,which
arenormallyleftimplicitinalaw'sceteris paribusclause,consistofsocialpracticesthat
wouldprobablyhavenoplaceoutsidethiscontext.Forexample,thesocialspaceneeded
fordemonstratingthelawofinertianowadaysrequiresthatobservationsbetakenof
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objectsmovinginafrictionlessmediuminalaboratory.Asarule,thesocial
constructivistwouldwanttosaythatwhenascientistclaimsthatsomemelangeof
phenomenais"essentially"governedbyaparticularnaturallaw,allthescientistmeans
isthatheknowshowtoconstraintheenvironmentsoastomakethephenomena
behaveinaregularmanner.Indeed,attemptshavebeenmade(Rip1982,Whitley1986)
todefinedisciplinesaccordingtothesortsofconstraintstheyrequire,andperhapsmany
ofthedifficultiesinvolvedwithintegratingresearchfromthesocialsciencesaredueto
thesedisciplinesoperatingwithincompatibleconstraints(formoreonthispoint,seech.
8).Andso,whenphilosophersspeakoftheidealrationalknower,theytoomaybe
suggestingthatourjudgmentsofknowledgeproductionshouldbetakeninamore
restrictedsocialsetting,withthephilosopher'spreferredMethodfunctioningaspartial
instructionsforcreatingthatsetting.Thus,weshouldtakeseriouslyasasteptoward
idealrationalityDescartes'remark,earlyintheMeditations,thathisMethodcannotbe
implementeduntilafteronehaswithdrawnfromnormalsocialintercourse.
Theonlyproblemwithinterpretingtheepistemologist'snormativejudgmentsinthisway
isthattheyprovideonlypartialinstructions.Theotherpartoftheinstructions,involving
therhetorical,technological,andgenerallyadministrativemeansbywhichthe
epistemologistcauseshisMethodtobefollowed,hasrarelybeenatopicofphilosophical
discussion.Themostimmediatesignofthisfailurehasbeenthelackofinterestthat
epistemologistshavegenerallyhadinissuesofeducation(Deweybeingtheobvious
exception).Instead,theepistemologisthasalltoooftenpresumed(thoughsome,like
Descartes,havebeenexplicit)thathisMethodis"selfcertifying,"whichistosay,that,
ifpresentedwiththeMethod,allrationalbeingswouldrecognizeitforwhatitisand
followit.Thispresumptionwouldseemtobeenoughtoconvicttheepistemologist,at
leastinthesociologist'seyes,ofbotharroganceandnaivete.However,the
epistemologistmaytrytovindicatehimselfbyarguingthatthesociologisthasmissed
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thepointofhisidealizationsbeingclothedincounterfactualsratherthandirectives,
namely,thathisinterestisrestrictedtothought experiments,casesofmethodical
abstractionwhosevaliditydoesnotrestontheirempiricalrealizabilityand,therefore,
doesnotrequirethatthesocialenvironmentberestructuredinanysignificantway.But
evenaresponseofthissortneednotsatisfythesociologist,whocanalwayssubjectthe
epistemologisttowhatIshallcallthe constructivist's regress,namely,thataslongas
therearenoself-certifyingMethods,andevenifwhatisatstake
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issimplytheconceptualnecessityoftheoutcometoathoughtexperiment,therewill
alwaysbeadifferencebetweentheepistemologist's Methodandthe means by which
the Method's acceptance is brought about,withthelatterrequiringsometransformation
ofthesocialenvironment--evenifonlyatthelevelofselectinglanguagethatwillbe
persuasivetotheintendedaudience.
Havingrecoveredthenormativeandsocialelementfortheepistemologist,amidstthe
suspicionsofthesociologist,letusnowmakesurethatthenaturalisticelement
remains.Onceitisgrantedthatthephilosophermakesnormativejudgmentsinsense
(n),wecanthenquestionhowthosejudgmentswork.Considertwopossibilities:
(n1)Everycaseofknowledgeproductionisevaluatedagainstthebestpossible
caseofknowledgeproduction.
(n2)Everycaseofknowledgeproductionisevaluatedasifitwerethebest
possiblecaseofknowledgeproduction.
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Givenitsconcernwithconstructingamethodforreachingoptimalknowledgeproduction,
epistemologyhastraditionallybeennormativeinsense(n1).However,givenwhatthe
sociologistshaveshowntobethesuspectmotivesandinadequatemeansforfollowing
throughon(n1),epistemologistsmightturntobeingnormativeinsense(n2)and
therebypracticepanglossian epistemology,afterthecharacterinVoltaire'sCandidewho
believedthat"thisisthebestofallpossibleworlds."Theideawouldbeforthe
epistemologisttotreatwhathewouldnormallyregardas"interference"inthesmooth
workingoftheknowledgeproductionprocess(fraud,misunderstanding,andothererrors)
asindicatingmerelythathehasyettofathomwheresuch"strayparts"fitintheprocess
(Dennett1971).
Infocussingonknowledgeasitisactuallyproduced,Idonotmeantosuggestthatthe
panglossianepistemologistshouldbasehisaccountsimplyonasnapshotofcurrent
practices.Rather,heshouldidentifythehistoricallyinvariantandregularlyvarying
featuresofknowledgeproductionwhichwouldleadsomeonetothinkthatitwasthesort
ofthinga"process"or"system"towhichonemayreasonablyattributeanoverall
design.Andso,aquestioninthepanglossianveinwouldbe,"Whywouldtheprocessbe
designedsothatknowledgeproducersusuallyexplaintheirsuccessintermsofa
particularmethodology,eventhoughtheyrarelydoanythingrigorousenoughtobe
describedasconformingtothatmethodology?"Onthepanglossianview,onecould
gradetheadequacyofaclassicalepistemologybyhowmuchoftheactualknowledge
productionprocessturnsouttobedysfunctionalinrelationtoitsidealizedmethod.
Whereastheclassicalepistemologisthimselfwouldexpectacertainamountof
dysfunctionality,thebestepistemologywouldnowbetheonethatfindsnothing
dysfunctionalabouttheprocess.
Atthispoint,insteadofgettingexcitedbyourproposal,theclassical
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-26-

epistemologistmightarguethathetoohastakenadesignstancetowardknowledge
production,theonlydifferencebeingthathedoesnotpresumethattheprocessis
always(orperhapsever)inperfectworkingorder.Indeed,bypresumingthattheprocess
isoptimallyfunctioning,thepanglossianepistemologistseemstocommitthe
naturalisticfallacy,sincehenotonlyinfersfromhowknowledgeproductionistohowit
ought to be,butactuallyequatesthetwo.Thisobjectionwould,thus,chargethe
panglossianwithanembarrassingamountofnaivete.Incounteringtheobjection,letus
startbyconsideringtwowaysinwhichanepistemologistmighttakeadesignstance
towardknowledgeproduction:
(p)Assumingthathealreadyknowsthepurposeofproducingknowledge,he
canthendeterminehowandwhetherthepartsoftheknowledgeproduction
processfunctiontorealizethatpurpose.
(q)Assumingthathealreadyknowsthatthepartsoftheknowledgeproduction
processfunctionoptimallytorealizesomepurpose,hecanthendetermine
whatthatpurposecouldandcouldnotbe.
Theclassicalepistemologistgoesthewayof(p),whichexplainshisconcernfor"truthenhancingmethodologies":truthisthegoaland(theepistemologist's)methodisthe
meanswhichmayormaynotbeoperatinginactualcasesofknowledgeproduction.But
inlightofthedifferencebetween(p)and(q),howistheclassicalepistemologistableto
assumethatheknowsthepointofproducingknowledge,especiallysinceheisthefirst
toadmitthattherehavebeenfewcasesofoptimalknowledgeproduction?Theanswer
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normallygiven,ofcourse,isthatby definitionknowledgeismethodologicallysound
accesstothetruth.Consequently,iftheclassicalepistemologistweretolearnthatmost
ofwhatpassesfor"knowledge"wasnotproducedinwhathewouldconsidera
methodologicallysoundmanner,hewouldwithdrawuseoftheterminthosecases
ratherthanchangethedefinitionofknowledgetocapturesomethingelsethatthecases
haveincommon.
Now,ifthepanglossianclaimedtoknowthepointofproducingknowledgeintheway
thattheclassicalepistemologistdoes,thenhewouldtrulybenaiveforhewouldthen
bedenyingwhatboththeclassicalepistemologistandthesociologistofknowledge
readilyadmit,namely,thattherearemajordiscrepanciesbetweenphilosophical
idealizationsofknowledgeproductionandtheactualcases.However,thepanglossian
takesadesignstance,insense(q),towardknowledgeproduction.Itfollowsthatthe
knowledgeproductionprocessworksoptimallytowardsomeend,butitisamatterof
empiricaldeterminationwhatthatendis:Whatsortsofgoalscanberealizedgiventhe
actualstructuralconstraintsonknowledgeproduction?Onthisview,itmaysimplybea
matterofempiricalfactthatactualknowledgeproductionprocesseslackanyclear
indicatorsforsuchqualitiesasretention,accumulation,andconvergence,which
philosophersof
-27-

sciencesinceCharlesSandersPeirce(Rescher1978)haveassociatedwiththealleged
pointofknowledgeproduction,progresstowardtheTruth.(Astrongerconclusionwould
showtheunfeasibilityofinstitutingtheappropriateindicators.)
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Theideathatthetrinityofretention,accumulation,andconvergencemightconstitute
yetanotherphilosophicalmythologyseemsfarfetcheduntilwestartexaminingits
foundations.AllthreePeirceanqualitiesdrawontheideathatknowledgeisnotmerely
transmitted,inaloosesense,frompersontopersonbutthatsomeinvariantcontentis
preservedinthecourseofeachsuccessfultransmission.Thetaskofanalyticphilosophy
inthetwentiethcenturyhaslargelybeentoarriveatatheoryofthisstrictersenseof
transmission,ortranslation.Yet,thehistoricalrecordrevealsonlyaseriesof
controversialattemptstodefinethenatureoftranslationintermsofwhatmakestwo
sentences"synonymous"or"expressthesameproposition."And,nodoubt,muchofthe
inconclusivenessofthisenterprisehasbeenduetothelackof"realworld"exemplarsfor
anystrictersenseofknowledgetransmission,outsidethestandardcasesoftruthfunctionalequivalenceinformallogic.Onthebasisofthisrecord,thepanglossian
epistemologistconcludesthatwhatevermaybethepointofknowledgeproduction,it
doesnotneedtoinvolveanactivityasillusoryastheanalyticphilosopher'ssenseof
translation.
Asaresult,thepanglossianisskepticaloftwoimagesoftheknowledgeproductthat
presupposeastrongsenseoftranslatability.First,hedoubtsthatknowledgecanbe
regardedasastorehousewhosecontentsareexpandedandcontractedatappropriate
moments.Thispictureofteninformstheviewthatunequivocaljudgmentscanbemade
abouttherelativesizeoftwobodiesofknowledge,anditiscentraltothebeliefthat
knowledgeisessentiallycumulative.Thelogicalconceptionoftranslationassumedby
thestorehousepicturebecomesespeciallyclearinattemptstorenderscientific
revolutions"rational."Forexample,IsaacLevi(1984)hasarguedthatinthecourseof
suchrevolutions,theknowledgebasemustcontractbeforeexpanding,andnotvice
versa,becausewerearevolutiontostartbyexpandingtheknowledgebase,a
contradictionwouldbeharbored.The"must"intheargumentseemstobeinvestedwith
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transcendentalstatus--atleastifthehistoryofscienceistoberenderedrational.Thus,
weshouldexpectthatthepartsofAristotelianphysicsinpotentialcontradictionwith
Newtonianmechanicswerefullyexcisedfromtheearlyeighteenth-centuryknowledge
basebeforeNewtonianphysicswasadded.Butclearlythiswasnotthecasehistorically.
Thisimpliesthatthesameknowledgeproductionprocesscanincorporateincompatible
bodiesofknowledge,which,inturn,suggeststhatrealknowledgeprocessesare,at
best,imperfectmonitorsoftheirownlogicalcoherence.Weshalllaterreturntothis
point,whenlookingmorecloselyattheknowledgeprocessasa"system."
Thepanglossianepistemologistalsodoubtsthattheknowledgeproductisrealistically
regardedasadeductivelyclosednetworkofcommitments.Whereasthestorehouse
picturetriedtoaccountfortheexpansiveand
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contractivepropertiesofknowledge,thenetworkpictureattemptstocapturesomeof
knowledge'sotherallegedproperties,suchasthepowerofpropositionstoexplaintheir
logicalconsequences,andofthoseconsequencestoconfirmthepropositionsfromwhich
theywerederived.Logicalpositivismwasdedicatedtoelaboratingthispicture.One
tellingfeatureisthatittypicallydefinesrationalityintermsoftheknowerbelievingall
thelogicalconsequencesofthepropositionstowhichheisexplicitlycommitted(Dennett
1978,part2).Theprinciplesourcesofirrationality,then,comefromtheknowereither
notmakingtherightinferentialmovesfromonepropositiontothenextorsimplynot
havingacomprehensiveenoughgraspofhisownknowledgebasetoknowwhathe
knows.Ifhistoricalrealityunderminedthefirstimage,psychologicalrealityundermines
thesecondforifknowledgewereadeductivelyclosednetwork,thenrationalitywould
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beexclusivelythepropertyofartificialintelligences,sincewhatpassesforirrationality
inthenetworkpictureisthenormforhumanbeingsandtheirknowledgeproduction
processes(asseenaboveintheirtoleranceforcontradictions).Thisobservationshows
thatthenetworkpictureviolatesthepanglossian'smethodologicalstricturethatthe
pointofknowledge(andrationalityafortiori)beempiricallydeterminedbystudyingits
naturallyoccurringinstances(Cherniak1986).
Havingjustgiventhepanglossiancritiqueofthetwoimagesoftheknowledgeproduct
thatpresupposeastrong,logician'ssenseoftranslatability,itmustnowbeadmitted
thatbothhavebecomeverymuchboundupwithordinaryconceptionsofknowledge.
Thus,theburdenremainswiththepanglossiantocomeupwithanalternativeimage
thatistruetotheknowledgeproductinits"naturalstate."Tomeettheclassical
epistemologist'schallenge,weshallprovidethepanglossianwithacompositeimageof
knowledgeproduction,drawnmostlyfromtheMarxism,Structuralism,andSystems
TheorythatiscurrentamongFrenchphilosophersandsociologistsofscience.Itisa
somewhatsanitizedsynthesisofproposalsputforthbyPierreBourdieu(1975),Michel
Serres(1972),andLatour&Woolgar(1979).(Fuller[1984]placesthisimageinthe
contextofcontemporaryEuropeansocialtheory.)Yet,asthefollowingthesesmake
clear,thesociologicalsimulationmarksaradicalbreakwithhowtheclassical
epistemologisthashandledsuchmatters.
(A)Itismisleadingtoregardknowledgeassomethingthatcould,atleastin
principle,beaccumulatedindefinitelybyallknowledgeproducers.Rather,
knowledgeproductionisan"economic"process,whichmeansthatthemore
knowledgehadbyoneproducer,thelesshadbyanother.Therefore,thekey
issueinregulatingknowledgeproductionisnothowtoaccumulatemorebut
howtoredistributemoreequitably.
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(A1)Theknowledgeproductionprocess"economizes"attwolevels:atthe
microlevel,eachnewknowledgeproduct(say,ajournalarticle)
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redistributestheoverallbalanceofcredibility(see[B])atthemacrolevel,a
relativelyconstantamountofknowledgeiscirculatingintheprocess,which
meansthatrelativelylittleoftheknowledgeproducedispreservedinthelong
runrather,itis"translated"(see[B1]).
(B)"Havingknowledge"isnotamatterofpossession,asthehavingofa
mentalrepresentationtypicallyisinclassicalepistemology.Rather,itisa
sociallyascribedstatusthataknowledgeproducercan(andnormallywantsto)
earninthecourseofhisparticipationintheknowledgeprocess.Aproducer
"hasknowledge"ifenoughofhisfellowproducerseitherdevotetheirresources
tofollowinguphisresearch(evenforpurposesofrefutation)orcitehis
researchasbackgroundmaterialfortheirown.Theproducercontinuesto"have
knowledge"onlyaslongastheseinvestmentsbyhisfellowspayofffor them.
Thus,"havingknowledge"isultimatelyamatterofcredibility.Butgiventhe
numerouswaysinwhichproducerscandrawoneachother'swork,thefactthat
therearecentersofcredibilityintheknowledgeproductionprocessdoesnot
necessarilyimplythattheproducersagreeonanythingmorethanonwhothe
credibleknowledgeproducersare.
(B1)Thesenseof"translation"relevanttoknowledgeproductionislimitedto
thedesignoffunctionallyequivalenttexts,whichfacilitatethedistributionof
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credibilityintheknowledgeprocess.Sincemoreknowledgeisproducedthan
couldeverbepreserved(footnotesdonotaccumulateinproportiontothe
footnotablematerialavailable),apremiumisplacedonworkswhichcanrender
redundantmuchofwhatisalreadyincirculation.Thus,whatarenormally
called"interpretations,""synopses,"and"glosses"passastranslations.These
worksaccruecredibilityfortheirproducersanddiminish,ifnotentirely
subsume,thecredibilityoftheproducerswhoseworksarereplaced.Thus,the
relevantsenseof"translation"isthatofsubstitutingandeliminatingtexts,
thoughwithoutthepresumptionthattheexactcontentsofthosetextsare
retainedalongtheway.Thatretentionisreallyasspottyasthisaccount
suggestsmaybeseenintheextenttowhichthecontentsofatextcanbelost
withouteverhavingbeendefinitivelyrefuted,onlytoberecoveredatsome
futuredatetorevolutionizetheparticularknowledgeproductionprocess.
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CHAPTER TWO
SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY AND SOCIAL METAPHYSICS
1. Drawing the Distinction
Wehavearguedthatperhapsthecrucialstepinmakingepistemologyanautonomous
activitywasitsseparationfrommetaphysics.Inthatcase,itwouldmakesenseto
spendsometimedistinguishingsocial epistemologyfromsocial metaphysics.Astandard
definitionofmetaphysicsis"thestudyofwhattherereallyis."Althoughsomehavebeen
overwhelmedbytheideaofsuchadiscipline,othershavefailedtobeimpressed.Why
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can'tonesatisfythedemandsofmetaphysicssimplybygivingacarefulandexhaustive
descriptionofwhatisperceptuallyavailabletous?Adisciplineofthiskind,callit
"phenomenology,"wouldmayberequireakeeneye,but,asdisciplinesgo,itwouldbe
morelikeartthanscience.Areadyresponsetothischallenge,popularizedbyDescartes,
istosaythatourperceptionsmaybeinerror,apossibilitythatcanbeputtorestonly
bymetaphysicallygroundingthoseperceptionsinsomethingindubitable.However,the
phenomenologistmaywellprefer,asdidErnstMach,toforegothemetaphysical
groundingandsimplybeveryconservativeintheconclusionshedrawsfromthe
phenomenaheobserves.Forexample,hewouldnotlicensetheinferencefromachairlikesensationtotheexistenceofachairoracollectionofmoleculesoranyotherentity
thatrequiressupplementingtheoriginalsensation.Inthatway,boththeproblemof
erroranditsmetaphysicalsolutioncanbeavoidedatthesametime.
Nevertheless,theneedforadisciplineofmetaphysicscanbeseenbyinterpretingthe
threatofperceptualerrorinaslightlydifferentlight.Afterall,intheCartesianstory,the
fearoferroristhefearthatanevildemonmaybetheultimatesourceofthevarious
phenomenaweperceive.Thatistosay,therealworryisthattheremightbeamuch
simpler(andmoreunsavory)accountofrealitythantheexhaustivedescriptionof
phenomenawouldsuggest.Thediversitymightdisguiseanunderlyingunity,andthe
phenomenologist'sprojectmightthereforebeanunnecessarywasteofeffort.The
relevanterror,then,isnotthatourperceptionsmaythemselvesbe false,butratherthat
theymaybesuperficial.Thisisachargetowhichthephenomenologistiscertainlyopen
andwhichcanonlybemetbyengaginginsomeadditionalenterprise,metaphysics,
whichaimstoreducetheworld'scomplexitytoaminimum.Indeed, metaphysics is really
nothing more than the study of the world's natural economy.Thus,amethodological
constraintonhowmetaphysiciansarriveattheiraccountsofrealityisthattheyexplain
themostphenomenabyappealingtotheleastnumberofprinciples.Thisstillleaves
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roomforthemanydifferentsystemsthathavepopulatedthehistoryofmetaphysics.At
oneextremeisNeoplatonism(Plotinus)andAbsoluteIdealism(Hegel),whichpurported
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toexplaineverythingintermsofjustonething.Attheotherextrememaybefoundour
phenomenologist,whoarguedthatanyattemptatreducingtheworld'sapparent
complexityhoweverusefulthatmaybeinfactdistortstheunderlyingreality,whichis
equallycomplex.
Nowthatthepracticeofmetaphysicshasbeenmotivated,whatreasonistheretothink
thatsuchapracticecouldbe"social"?Toanswerthisquestionwefirstneedtoconsider
whatitisabouthumanbeingsthatmakesthemcapableofdoingmetaphysics.A
naturalisticinquiryofthiskind,whichwouldmosteasilyfinditshomeintheperiodsince
MarxandDarwin,wasinfactsuggestedasearlyasPeterAbelardinthetwelfthcentury.
Abelardisgenerallyknownasoneofthefirstmedievalnominalists,buthealso
speculatedabouttheoriginoftheclaimsexpressedbyhisopponents,therealists,who
arguedfortheexistenceof"universals"underlyingparticularphenomena.Abelard'sbasic
position,whichwouldbeechoedcenturieslaterbythatothergreatnominalistJohn
StuartMill,wasthatthe metaphysician does reflectively what memory does
unreflectively.Toclarifythemeaningofthismaxim,Iwillnowturntoanexample
aroundwhichsubsequentdiscussionofsocialmetaphysicswillcenter.
Oneofthenaturalfunctionsofmemoryistoeliminatethedifferencesamongparticular
phenomenasothattheycanbemoreeasilystoredandrecalled.Inthecourseofthis
systematicforgetting,theuniquenessofthephenomenadropsoutandallthatremains
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arecertaingeneralpropertiesthatthephenomenasharehence,universalsaredistilled
fromparticulars.Therealistfocusesonthefactthatmemoryalwaysfunctionsinthis
way.Anothercapacity,onewhichpermanentlypreservedparticularphenomenaintheir
uniqueness,mightbequiteusefulbutitwouldnotbememory.Thenominalistreplies
thatjustbecauseuniversalsarealwaysdistilledfromparticulars,itdoesnotfollowthat
theymustbedistilledinjustoneway.Thenominalistthenproceedstoemphasizethe
conventionalelementinhowonegoesaboutdistillinguniversalsfromparticulars,even
thoughthedistillingisitselfuniversal.Inalaterchapter,Iwillarguethatan
institutionalizedversionofthedistillationprocessoccurswhenadisciplineengagesin
anhistoriographyofreification,whichlegitimatesthediscipline'scurrentactivitiesby
revealingthemtobetherealizationofagoalsharedbyrelatedpractitionersthroughout
history.
Wesee,then,thatthemetaphysician'sdisciplineconsistsinhisabilitytoattend
systematicallytocertainfeaturesofnaturallyoccurringphenomenaandtoignoreothers.
Thisishowuniversalsaredistilledfromparticulars,withtheuniversalspickingoutthe
"necessary"or"essential"featuresoftheparticulars.Writlarge,metaphysicalpractice
resultsintheschemesthatsocietiesdesignforclassifyingtheirmembers.Thepolitical
aimoftheseschemesistoexchangeindividualuniquenessfortheequalityand
interchangeabilitythatcomesfromreceivingthesameclassification.Thus,theyground
thepossibilityoftreatinglikecasesalike,andhencethepossibilityofatleastaformal
senseofjustice.Indeed,the"collectiverepresentations"whichDurkheimoriginally
identifiedasthedistinctsubject
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matterofhisbrandofcognitivesociologywere,inoursense,aspeciesofsocial
metaphysics.ThemainDurkheimianexamplesoftheserepresentationsnamely,the
basiclegalcategoriesexpressedintotemsandtaboosgovernthesegregationand
integrationofindividualsinasocietybydefiningeachindividualintermsofwhatLeviStrauss(1964)hascalleda"dualcode,"halfnaturalandhalfcultural.Thatis,
regulationsonindividualconductsimultaneouslyarticulatetheoriesaboutthe
individual'snaturalcapacitytobehaveinasociallyacceptablemannerandconfirmthe
truthofthosetheoriesthroughculturallyconstitutedagencieshence,slavesare
permittedonlylimitedinteractionwithcitizensbecauseoftheslave'sinherentlylimited
capacities,whicharereinforcedbypoliceeffortstosegregatetheslavesfromthe
citizens.
Inrecentyears,MichelFoucault(1979)hascarriedtheideaof"lawassocial
metaphysics"togreatlengths,revealingmoreovertheconventionsbywhichindividuals
arefittedintovariousmedicalandpenalschemes.Thefittingprocessinvariablyrequires
arestructuringofthephysicalenvironmentandtheadditionofnewtechnologies,all
designedtomakethesignsofmembershipintherelevantclassesmoreevidenttothe
trainedeye.Thisfactshouldcomeasnosurprise,andindeed,itexplainswhya
metaphysicsworthyofthenamemustbesocial:namely,ifametaphysicsistoappear
asanaccountof"howthingsreallyare,"thenitscategoricaldistinctionsshouldseem
"natural"eventotheperceptionofsomeonewhoisunlikelytounderstandoracceptthe
theoreticaljustificationsforthatmetaphysics.Inotherwords,inordertocoverupthe
sociallyconstructedcharacterofreality,itisimportantthatanypotentiallydiscontented
individualsbemadetofeelthattheymustbeartheburdenofproof,shouldtheyever
becomesuspiciousoftheregnantsocialmetaphysics.Forexample,Foucaulthimself
writesofthe"discipline"thatbothapsychiatristandapatientmustundergobeforethe
psychiatristcanclassifythepatientashavingacertainmentaldisorder.Forhispart,the
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psychiatristmustlearntofocushisattentionhis"gaze"Foucaultcallsitonspecific
behaviorsmanifestedbythepatientthataretobetreatedas"symptoms,"evenif,ina
differentsocialcontext,theywouldappearquitenormal.Likewise,thepatientmust
learntointerprethisownbehaviorinthiswayandtherebyadmitthatthepsychiatrist
betterunderstandswhatsortofpersonthepatientisthanthepatienthimselfdoes.In
thussubmittingtothepsychiatrist'sauthority,thepatientcontributestothe
standardizationoftheschemeforclassifyingmentaldisordersand,hence,toits
objectivity.
Onewayofmakingthemoveatthispointfrommetaphysicstoepistemologyistohave
themetaphysicianlocatehimselfwithinhisownscheme.Suppose,forinstance,thatthe
psychiatristreflectsonthepsychiatricstatusofhisownbehaviorandconcludesthathe
manifestsenoughsymptomsofmentaldisordertohavehimselflegitimatelycommitted
toanasylum.Assumingthatthepsychiatristholdssteadfastlytothevalidityofhis
scheme,henowfacesthefundamentalepistemologicalquestionofhowtoreconcile
appearanceandreality:Whyhastheessentially
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pathologicalnatureofhisownbehavioreludedhim(andothers)alltheseyears?
Appropriateanswerswouldincludereferencesto"falseconsciousness,""self-deception,"
"systematicdistortion,"andotherprocessesthatfallunderthegeneralrubricof
ideology.
Forourpurposes,anideologyisanexplanationofsomephenomenonthatalsoservesto
justifythephenomenon'spresence.Onthisdefinition,then,ideologiescan,butneed
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notbe,falserather,theyservemainlytoexplainphenomenasoastomakethem
appear"normal,"oratleastnotinneedoffurtherexamination.Therearetwocommon
formsofideologicalreasoning:
(a)Functional explanations,whichaccountforphenomenaintermsoftheir
beneficialconsequencesforsomeoverallsocialdesign.Itwouldberashto
claim,atleastwithoutfurtherargument,thattheyarealwaysfalse,thoughit
isnoteworthythattheyforestalleasyfalsificationbyallowingthepossibility
asinthecaseof"invisiblehand"explanationsofthecapitalistmarketthat
theagentswhogeneratethephenomenainquestiondonotknow(andperhaps
wouldevenobjectto)thebeneficialconsequencesthatfollowfromthem.
(b)Transcendental arguments,whichpurporttoshowthatifaparticularstate
ofaffairsdidnotobtain,somewell-groundedphenomenonwouldberendered
unintelligible.Whileanargumentofthiskindlooksasthoughitissupposedto
explainthewell-groundedphenomenon,itinfactservestoestablishthe
credibilityofthestateofaffairsnecessaryforthephenomenon'spresencefor
usuallythisstateofaffairsissomethinglikecausality,whichismetaphysically
moreobscurethanthewell-groundedphenomenonoftheworldhaving
spatiotemporalregularity.
Inshort,ideologiesaredesignedtopreventcriticismandrevision.Certainly,thiswould
betheimportofwhateverreasonsthepsychiatristhadofferedinthepastforbeing
exceptedfromhisownschemeofmentaldisorders.Forexample,thepsychiatristmay
havebelievedformanyyearsthathewassufficientlyreflectiveabouthismentalstates
toknowthathewasnotmotivatedbyanyoftheimpulsesthattypicallymotivate
patientswhoactinasimilarmanner.Truetothisexplanation'sideologicalform,itisby
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nomeansclearhowonewouldgoaboutchallengingitwithoutappealingtoastill
deeper,andcorrespondinglylessfalsifiable,cognitivelevelatwhichthepsychiatristwas
simply"rationalizing"ratherthan"reasoning."Butrecallthatwehavestipulatedthatthe
psychiatristdoeseventuallychallengeandoverturnthisexplanation.Forthemoment
thatthepsychiatristidentifiesandevaluateshisexplanation'sideologicalcharacter,he
becomesanepistemologist.
Andwhereinasocialmetaphysicsareideologiesmostlikelytobefound?Thekeysites
areintheregionsofwhattheanthropologistMaryDouglas(Bloor1979)calls"boundary
maintenance."Nomatterwhatthesocial
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metaphysicalscheme,individualscannotalwaysbeeasilyclassified.Moreover,
individualswhofall"between"or"beyond"aparticularsetofcategoriesthreatenthe
legitimacyoftheentireschemebyunderminingitschiefclaimtoauthority,namely,its
comprehensiveness.Thepointofboundarymaintenance,then,istoneutralizethe
effectsoftheseanomaliesonthescheme'slegitimacy,ideallyleavingthesocial
metaphysicsstrongerthanever.Byconsideringtwosortsofexamples,wewillbeableto
seehow,inthefirstcase,thisstrengthtravelsundertheguiseofflexibility,andhow,in
thesecondcase,itappearsassheerforce.
Asforflexibility,mostlegalsystemsincorporatesomeprincipleofequity,whichpermits
judgesdiscretioninparticularcasestotakeexceptionto"theletterofthelaw"inorder
tosatisfy"thespiritofthelaw."However,inAnglo-Americanlegalprocedure,the
appealtoequityhasbeensoextensiveastomakeonewonderwhythisfactisnot
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takentobesymptomaticoftheconceptualinadequacyofAnglo-Americanlegal
procedure.Rather,equityisseenaspointingtothe"mercifulness"ofthejudgeswho
presideoveraflexiblelegalsystem,which,inturn,givesonetheimpressionthatthe
lawisnotanironcladauthoritarianscheme.But,ofcourse,thechancesthatsuchalegal
systemwilleverbesubstantiallyrevisedisgreatlydiminished,preciselybecause
exceptionscansoreadilybetakeninparticularcases.
Asforthedarksideofideologyinaction,considerasituationfirstnotedbyDurkheim
(1951)andsinceplayedupbyFoucault.Itmightbethoughtthatasignificantand
regularoccurrenceofdeviantbehaviorprimarilycriminalandpsychiatricdisorders
wouldprovethattheregnantsocialmetaphysicswasdysfunctional.However,the
authoritiescanreadilyturnthisapparent"minus"intoa"plus"byarguingthatallit
showsisthatthedeviantsrecognizethemselvesasfallingundertherelevantcategories
intheschemeandthusdeliberatelytrytoavoidthevariousformsofincarcerationthat
wouldcountas"formalsubsumption."Clearly,thisideologicalmovebolsterstheregnant
socialmetaphysicsbyjustifyingmoreextensivesurveillanceasthedeviantsprovetobe
thatmuchmoreelusivethanoriginallyexpected.
Theepistemologist'sroleinallthisistolocatetheboundarymaintenancestrategiesof
theideologue.Usingouroriginalcaseofthepsychiatristasaparadigm,wearenow
readytoasktwoquestionsofthesortwhichdistinguishtheepistemologicalenterprise
fromthemetaphysicalone:
(c)Whatallowedthepsychiatrist'sideologytosurviveaslongasitdid,given
itsfalsity?
(d)Whatallowedthepsychiatristtodiscoverthefalsityofhisideology,given
itssurvivalvalue?
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Withoutevenbeginningtoanswerthesequestions,wearestillabletoconcludethatthe
epistemologist is interested in evaluating the metaphysical
-35-

scheme of the individuals that his own metaphysical scheme classifies.Asithappens,


thepsychiatrist'scaseisreflexive,sinceheistryingtosituatehimselfinsidehisscheme
ofdisorders.Buttheepistemologicalenterpriseassuchneednotbereflexiveand,in
fact,isgenerallymotivatedbyalackofreflexivityoneveryone'spart,boththe
individualsclassifiedbytheepistemologist'smetaphysicalschemeandthe
epistemologisthimself.Toputitbluntly,myepistemologyisparasiticonsomeoneelse's
(perhaps,asinthecaseofthepsychiatrist,myearlierself's)ideology.Anilluminating
andprovocativewayofrestatingthispointistosaythattherewouldbenoneedfor
epistemology,ifthemetaphysiciansimplysubmittedtotheauthorityoftheindividuals
classifiedinhisschemebytreatingtheirmetaphysicsashisown.
Oncestatedintheseterms,theauthoritariancharacterofepistemologyisbroughtinto
sharpfocus.Theepistemologistcaneitherauthorizethemetaphysiciansunderstudyto
speakonhisbehalforhimselfbeauthorizedtospeakontheirbehalf.Thefirst
possibilityisrealizedincases,wellknowntoanthropologists,wheretheepistemologist
decidesto"gonative"bysimplyassumingthatthetribalmetaphysicsrepresentshow
thingsreallyare.Thisisalsothestanceimplicitlytakenbyphilosophicalrelativism.The
secondpossibilityarisesunderthemoreusualsituationinwhichtheepistemologist
findsitnecessarytoreinterpretatribalmetaphysicsintermsofhisownmetaphysical
schemeinordertorenderthetriberational,thatis,asmakingreasonableerrors.Thisis
thestrategybehindmuchofphilosophicalabsolutism.Ineithercase,thepracticeof
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thestrategybehindmuchofphilosophicalabsolutism.Ineithercase,thepracticeof
epistemologyinvitesustoconsiderthegeneralissueofwhichindividualshavethe
authoritytorepresentwhichotherindividualsinmattersofknowledge.Indeed,what
doesitmeanforanindividual(personorthing)tostandinarelationof"representation"
tosomeotherindividual(personorthing)?

2. Transcendental and Naturalistic Approaches to Representation


StartingwithThomasHobbesandcontinuingthroughouttheAgeofReason,language
wasregardedasorderingtheworldofthingsjustaslawwasregardedasorderingthe
worldofpersons.InthecaseofHobbesandthematerialistsoftheFrench
Enlightenment,thelegalorderwasunderstoodsimplyasaspecialcaseofthelinguistic
order,and,moreinterestinglyperhaps,thelegalorderwasregardedasthebestcase
studyofthelinguisticorderatwork(Foucault1970,ch.4).Theconceptthatsubsumed
boththelinguisticandthelegalcaseswasrepresentation:namely,elected
representativesaregrantedthelicensetospeakonbehalftheirconstituencyina
mannerthatismorecloselycircumscribedthan,butnotfundamentallydifferentfrom,
thewayinwhichcompetentmembersofalinguisticcommunityaregrantedthelicense
tospeakonbehalfoftheworld.
Inpoliticaltheory,twoconceptionsofrepresentationaretypicallytreated,each
correspondingtooneoftheapproachestolinguistic
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representationoutlinedinthissection.Ontheonehand,arepresentativemaybe
empoweredbyhisconstituencytoactwithabsoluteauthoritywhenconductingits
affairs.Inthatcase,whatevervoicetheconstituencyhasisonlythroughits
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representative.ThisisthepositionoftheHobbesiansovereign.Interpretedasatheory
aboutthecognitivecontrolthatspeakersexerciseovertheworldinvirtueofspeaking
correctly,thisconceptionofrepresentationsuggeststheasymmetricalapproachofthe
transcendentalist,whoclaims,ineffect,thatwhatevercannotspokenforcannotbe
spokenabout.
Ontheotherhand,thenaturalisticapproachfavorsamoredemocraticconceptionofthe
representativeassomeonewhoisaccountabletohisconstituency,aprimusinterpares
("firstamongequals"),astheRomansputit,inasomewhatdifferentcontext.Since
wordsarethemselvesasortofthing,thereisnoreasontothinkthatthestructureof
theirrelationsisanymorestablethanthestructureofthethingswhoserelationsthey
represent.Andso,justasthingsmaychangewithoutaspeakereitherintendingor
expectingittohappen,likewisewordsmaychangeinasimilarmannerasaresultof
causallyinteractingwiththethingstheyrepresent.Theappropriatepoliticalanalogy
hereiswiththerepresentativewhounwittinglyloseshisseatbecausehemanagesto
saysomethingwhichupsetshisconstituency(Pitkin1972).
IaminbroadsympathywiththeEnlightenmentprojectofbridgingthelegalandthe
linguisticbyexaminingcommon"structuresofrepresentation."Oneconsequenceofthis
view,however,shouldbementionedattheoutset,lestyouthinkthatInowintendto
talkaboutlanguageinthedisembodied(thatis,decontextualized)mannerso
characteristicofcontemporaryphilosophy.WhenIspeakof"drawingvalidinferences"or
"makinglegalmoves"inalanguagegame,youshouldnotautomaticallythinkthatthese
inferencesandmovescouldsimplybemadebyanyoneinthelinguisticcommunity.For
example,inFoucault'sscenario,thepatient'ssubmissiontothepsychiatrist'sauthority
isbynomeansenhancedbyhisabilitytoreasonexactlyasthepsychiatristwouldabout
hiscondition.Onthecontrary,such"simulations"ofrationaldiscoursewouldtendto
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underscorethedepthandcomplexityofthepatient'smentaldisorder.Thus,notonly
mustapsychiatricdiagnosisbearticulatedaccordingtoafixedsetofrules,butitmust
alsobearticulatedbysomeonewhohasbeenauthorizedtoissueadiagnosisofthat
kind.Andso,itiscrucialtothepatient'shavingsubmittedtothepsychiatrist'sauthority
thatheremainsilentwhilethepsychiatristspeaksonhisbehalf.
Letusnowturntoamoresystematicconsiderationofthetwosensesinwhich
language/lawcan"order"things/persons.Aswehaveseen,thegeneralnameforthis
orderingrelationisrepresentation,and,foreaseofexpression,Iwillcalltherolethat
language/lawplayinrepresentation,therepraesentans(Latinfor"thatwhichdoesthe
representing"thepluralisrepraesentantes),andtherolethatthings/personsplay,the
repraesentandum(Latinfor"thatwhichisrepresented"thepluralis
-37-

repraesentanda).Inthatcase,therepraesentansmaybeseenaseither(i)regulating
therepraesentandafromoutsideitsdomainor(ii)constitutingtherepraesentandafrom
insideitsdomain.(i)describesatranscendentalapproachtorepresentation,whereas(ii)
describesanaturalisticone.Althoughthemoreusualapproachtorepresentationis
transcendental,Ishalldefendanaturalisticapproachinstead.
Onthetranscendentalapproach,arepraesentansneithercausallyaffectsnoriscausally
affectedbyarepraesentandum.Simplyput,theorderofwordsisindependentofthe
orderofthings.Theintuitionsbehindthisapproachareeasyenoughtoidentify.For
example,thereisnoonephysicalrelationinwhichallspeakersstandtotheworld,
simplyinvirtueofsaying"Newton'sPrincipia Mathematicawaspublishedin1687."
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Rather,thereseemstobeasetofsituations,moreorlesswelldefinedbythe
conventionsoftheEnglishlanguageforutteringthesentence"correctly"(thatis,as
statingacontextuallyrelevanttruth).Indeed,dependingonthestateofknowledgein
theparticularlinguisticcommunity,whatwewouldregardasthebestexplanationofthe
factthatNewtonpublishedPrincipia Mathematicain1687mayturnoutnevertobean
appropriatereasonforspeakersinthatcommunitysaying"Newton'sPrincipia
Mathematicawaspublishedin1687."Yet,atthesametime,thecausalindependenceof
wordsandthingsallowsboththeorderofwordstoactastheframeofreferencefrom
whichthechangingorderofthingsmaybe"mirrored"or"mapped"andtheorderof
thingstoactastheframeofreferencefromwhichtheorderofwordsmaybetestedand
perhapsevenreplaced.Thus,whetheritbeinhisincarnationasanAnglo-American
theoristofmeaningorasacontinentalsemiotician,thetranscendentalistnotoriously
holdsthatthereisanonphysicalrelationinwhichallspeakersstandtotheworldwhen
theyuttercorrectly,variouslycalledreferenceorsignification.Toknowalanguage,then,
istoknowhowtofindone'swayaroundtheworld,toknowthesortsofthingstowhich
onecanandcannot"refer"or"signify."
Incontrast,thenaturalisticapproachproposesthatarepraesentansmaycausally
interactwitharepraesentandum:theorderofwordsispartoftheorderofthings,
languageapartoftheworld.Theevidenceforthisviewisrathersubtle,relyingonthe
observationthatnomatterhowhardonetriestocontaintheeffectsofchangingeither
languageortheworld,itisvirtuallyimpossibletochangeonewithout,atleast
unintentionally,changingtheother.Philologistshavelongnotedthatlanguagechange
hasan"internaldynamic"contrarytothewishesoftheactualspeakers,asinthe
tendencyforsimilarsoundingwordstoacquiresimilarmeanings,which,inturn,creates
newcategoriesintowhichcasescanbefittedalltooeasily.Infact,itisprecisely
becausesuchchangesarelargelyunintentional,andhencedetectedonlyinretrospect,
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thatlanguageappearstohavetheautonomyandstructuralstabilitythatmakethe
transcendentalapproachseemsocompelling.
Togetatthecontrasthere,considertwowaysofexplainingtherecurrenceof"justice"
anditscognatesinthehistoryofWesternphilosophical
-38-

discourse.Oneexplanationthetranscendentalonepointstoa"nature"ofjustice,
whichalltheoriesofjusticehavetriedtocapture.Thefactthatthesetheorieshave
beenverydiverseindicatesthatthenatureofjusticeisdeepandcomplex,andthat
perhapssomeofthetheoriesareinerror.Moreover,thefactthatthefortunesofthese
theorieshaverisenandfallenduringtheirhistorydoesnot,inanyway,alterthenature
ofjusticeitself.Anotherexplanationthenaturalisticonediagnosesthesituation
somewhatmoremodestly,namely,that"justice"isawordthathasbeenrecycledmany
timestocapturemanydifferentparadigmaticusages,whichwhentakentogetherreally
havelittlemoreincommonthanuseofthesameword.Ofcourse,thereare,soto
speak,"historicalreasons"forwhy"justice"getstransferredfromonecontextofusage
tothenext.Butifwecontinuetothinkthat"justice"ultimatelypicksoutsomething
withadeepandcomplexnature,thatisonlybecauseweneedlesslysupposethatmore
thansimplysomeaccidentalcausallinkstiethesecontextstogether.
Althoughmostcontemporarytheoriesoflanguage(withthepossibleexceptionofMarxist
ones)presupposetranscendentalism,thedebatewithnaturalismwasquitealivea
centuryagointworatherdifferentquarters:philologyandlogic.
Inphilology,naturalismhadbeenthereceivedviewfromtheGermanhistoricistschoolof
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FranzBoppandAugustSchleicher,and,bythe1890s,hadcombinedwithDarwinian
notionstoproduceaviewoflanguagesasspeciesundergoingvariationandselection
accordingtoprinciplesoutsidethecontrolofitsspeakers.Indeed,sincethephilologists
hadcometobelievethatlinguisticevolutionwassufficientlyindependentfromthewills
ofactualspeakers,suchthattheycouldatbest"anticipate"futurestatesoftheir
language,claimsbegantobemadeforphilologybeinganatural science(Aarsleff1982,
ch.10).
Interestingly,thetranscendentalistreactionbeganwithMichelBreal(1964),who
reversedthegroundingforthe"autonomy"oflanguage,andhencephilology:languageis
indeedindependent,butnotasanimpedimenttoexpressionhavingalifeofitsown,
butasaversatiletoolfacilitatingexpression.Thus,Brealreinterpretedtheproposed
lawsoflanguagechange,withaneyetowardthenewpossibilitiesforexpressionthey
openedratherthantheoldpossibilitiestheyclosed.Theresultwasaproposaltomake
"semantics"(awordofBreal'scoinage)thefoundationaldisciplineofthehuman
sciences.AndwithFerdinanddeSaussure'swork,Breal'sfunctionaliststrategywas
crystallizedinthetranscendentalapproachthatcurrentlycharacterizesscientific
linguistics.Foronceitwasacceptedthatthemerepresenceofalanguageatteststoits
speakersfindingitcapableofrepresentingtheirworld,itwasnolongerclearthata
diachronicstudyofthelanguagewouldusefullysupplementasynchronicstudyintrying
toexplainhowwordsrepresentthings(Aarsleff1982,ch.14).
Turningnowtologic,despitetheclearwinnerinthesedebates,thetwoapproachesto
representationseemed,atthetime,tobeonmoreorlessequalfooting.Ofparticular
interestherearethedifferencesbetweenthe"idealist"
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F.H.Bradleyandthe"realist"GottlobFrege(Passmore1966,chs.6-7).Asthescare
quotessuggest,themetaphysicallabelsarepotentiallymisleading:ontheonehand,
Bradley'sidealismisanexampleofthenaturalisticapproach,inthatitinvolvesaview
oflanguageasitselfapartoftherealityittriestorepresentontheotherhand,Frege's
realismisofthePlatonicsort,whichportrayslanguageoncestrippedtoitslogicalform
asthetranscendentalconveyorofpropositionswhosetruthorfalsityisindependentof
thefactthattheyaremateriallyembodied.Fregebelievedthatlogicwasaparticularly
goodanalytictoolforgettingatthestructureofrealitybecause,assomething
fundamentallydetachedfrommatter,logiccouldrepresentdistinct"senses"ofareferent
that,inthematerialworld,appearedasasolidwhole(asinthecaseofVenusnotbeing
materiallydistinguishedfromitsbeingtheMorningStaranditsbeingtheEveningStar).
Incontrast,BradleysawFregeanclaimsfortherepresentationalpoweroflogicaslittle
morethanrationalizations:theabstractcharacterofthe"structureofreality"simply
referstoitsincompletenessandhenceitsfalsity,whichfollowsfromthefactthatapart
ofrealityisbeingenlistedtoarticulatethewhole.
Asfortheirrespectiveviewsonthecapacityoflanguagetoconveytruth,Fregeis,of
course,famousformaintainingthatlanguagewasnecessaryfortheexpressionoftruth,
whichoccurredwheneverthetruthconditionsofasentencewere"satisfied"byastateof
affairs.ItshouldbynowcomeasnosurprisethatBradleydisavowedanysuchviews.
Instead,heheldtheinterestingpositionthatallsentenceshaveindeterminatetruth
values("degreesoferror")because,eveninthecaseofasentencewhosetruth
conditionshavebeensatisfied,nothinginthenatureofrealityitselfrequiredthatthat
sentenceand not some otherhadtobetheoneuttered.Inshort,then,becauseBradley
regardedlanguagefromthestandpointoftheworld(andnotviceversa,asFregedid),
hewassensitivetotheradicallycontingentcharacterofutterance,akeyfeatureofthe
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naturalisticapproachthathassincebeenexploitedbysocialconstructivistsinthestudy
ofscientificdiscourse.
Despitemygenerallackofsympathyforthetranscendentalapproachtorepresentation,
itneverthelesscapturesafairlybasicintuitionaboutthelanguage/worldrelation,
namely,thatiftruthisdefinedasthecorrespondenceofwordstothings,thenthere
mustbealanguagetranscendentconceptionoftheworld.Onthenaturalisticapproach,
itisnotclearhowtheworldatleastappearstohavethissortofconceptualdistance
fromthelanguagerepresentingit.Inresponse,letmeoffertwowaysinwhichthe
naturalistmightglossWittgenstein's(1961,prop.5.6)crypticremark,"Thelimitsofmy
languagemeanthelimitsofmyworld,"whichcanbeeasilyunderstoodasthe
transcendentalist'smotto.Forreasonsthatwillsoonbemadeclear,Icallthetwo
glossesthestraightandthecunningreadingoftheremark.Botharenaturalisticinthe
sensethattheyaccountfortheapparentcausalindependenceofwordsandthingsby
treatingwordsassimplyanothersortofthingintheworld.Inconsideringthe
naturalistic
-40-

glosses,youshouldnoticethattheyfocusonlanguage'sroleinfacilitatingandimpeding
theexpressionofcontent,ratherthaninabsolutelypermittingandprohibitingits
expression,whichis,bycontrast,typicalofthetranscendentalapproach.Indeed,the
Wittgensteinremarkisusuallyglossed,quitetranscendentally,asthatwhateverI
cannotsayIamsimplyprohibitedfrommeaning.
Thestraightreadingoftheremarkisasinstructionsformakingone'swayaroundthe
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world.Ifasentenceturnsouttobetrueinaparticularlanguage,thenitmustbetruein
virtueofsatisfyingverifiabilityconditionsexpressedinthatlanguage.Ifthatisthe
case,thenthereisanexplicitprocedureforcomingtounderstandthetruthofthat
sentencethatcanbe,inturn,usedasthebasisofeffectingatranslationfromthe
languageinwhichthetruthwasfirstexpressedtoanotherlanguageinwhichitremains
unexpressed.If,say,thefirstlanguageisNewtonianmechanicsandthesecondis
Aristotelianmechanics,thentranslatingthelawoffallingbodiesmaybeacumbersome
tasksinceAristotle'slanguagedoesnotlenditselftoaneasyarticulationofthistruth.
Perhapsconceptsusedinverifyingthelaw,suchasinertia,mayhavetoberepresented
asaninferencethatoneislicensedtodrawwhenpresentedwithevidenceexpressedin
anobservationlanguagebasicenoughforevenAristotletounderstand.Andso,whileit
isunlikelythatAristotlehimselfwouldhaveeverdiscoveredthelawoffallingbodies,it
isneverthelessmost likelythathecouldbepersuadedofitstruthbybeingtaughthow
toexpressitasatruththatis,toverifyitwithinthelanguageofhisownmechanics.
Theupshot,then,isthatlanguagesdifferonlywithrespecttotheirrelativeeaseof
articulationandcomprehension,thesourceofwhichistheusestowhichthelanguages
havebeencommonlyput.Thesedifferences,whicharemostclearlymanifestedin
attemptsattranslation,are,inturn,thesourceoftheintuitionthatsomelanguages
comecloserthanotherstorepresentingalanguage-transcendentworld.
Apropositsname,thecunningreadingofWittgenstein'sremarkslightlyshiftsthe
emphasesofthestraightreadingtoarriveattheideathatlanguageshouldberegarded
astheonlythingthatstandsinthewayofrepresentingwhateveronewantsaboutthe
world.Thecunningreaderstartswiththeseeminglyinnocuousobservationthattheonly
truthsexpressiblebylanguagearetruthsinlanguage,namely,inferencesthatarevalid
invirtueofbeingderivablefrompremises(whicharethemselvesderivablefromstill
otherpremiseswhosevalidityhavebeensimilarlyestablished).However,thesetruths
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merelyorientthespeakeraroundtheworld,withoutnecessarilyspecifyingwhatitis
abouttheworldthatallowsthesetruthstoorienthimsuccessfully.Itisinthislackof
specificationthatthecunningreadermaneuvers.
PaulFeyerabend's(1975,ch.11)Galileofableisagoodcaseinpoint.Herewehave
someone,Galileo,whoinfactviolatesmanyoftheacceptedrulesofinferenceforthe
scientificlanguagegameofhistimeandforothertimesaswell,sincehefakesthe
evidenceusedinverifyinghisclaims).Heis,inturn,justifiablypersecutedbythe
authoritiesoftheday,thePapal
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Inquisition,yetheendsupinthehandsofNewtontohavesaidsomethingthatwe
cannowsayisessentiallycorrectabouttheworld.Theironyiscompoundedin
Feyerabend'stelling,sinceitisnotclearthatGalileowasevenmotivatedbysome
intuitionof"theTruth"thatlaybeyondtheexpressivepowersofhislanguage,which
couldhaveservedasanapologiaforfakingtheevidence.Instead,hewasmostlikely
usinglanguage,justas every other speaker uses it,toexpressandsatisfyhisinterests,
which,inhisparticularcase,requiredthatthelanguagebemisused,namely,for
assertingclaimsevenwhentheywereunwarranted.Nevertheless,alltheseadhominem
argumentsagainstGalileoadduptoadmittingthesubstantialtruthofhisterrestrial
mechanics,preciselybecausetherewasnoreasontothinkthathisunderhanded
methodswouldhaveyieldedlastingresultsunless,ofcourse,thoseresultsjustso
happentorepresenthowtheworldreallyis,regardlessofmethodorlanguage.The
persuasivenessofthisargumentiswhatwouldhavemadeNewton,inFeyerabend's
fable,acunningreaderofGalileo.Atleast,thatishowcheatinginalanguagegamecan
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bemadetosimulatethepresenceofalanguagetranscendentworld.
Sincethenaturalistholdsthatwordsarejustakindofthing,thedistinctionbetween
wordsandthingsisafunctional,notanontologicalone:therearethingswithwhichand
towhichonerefers.Andasthesemioticiansarefondofnoting,giventheappropriate
code,anythingcanbemadetosignifyanythingelse.Thepuffsofairandscrawled
lettersthatnormallypassforwordshavethespecialadvantageofpermittingthe
economicalexpressionoftherepraesentanda.Inparticular,somemarksonapagemay
capturetheessentialfeaturesofathing,which,forwhateverreason,wouldbe
impossibletoinspectdirectly.Moreexplicitly:a repraesentans is a thing whose use is
efficient enough, in terms of the energy the user needs to expend vis-a-vis the cognitive
benefit he receives, such that it is more worthwhile to use it than the repraesentandum
itself.Thequestionmostclearlysuggestedbythisdefinitionis,"Howefficientis
'efficientenough'?"Theanswerwillbeintermsoftheoverallfunctionthatthe
representationalsystemservesinthecommunity.Thus,wecanaddresshowa
communityshoulddistributethingsbetweenthetwocategoriesofrepresentationsoas
toreachsomelevelofwhatIshallcallcognitive economy.
Atoneextreme,the"speaker"(meantinthesenseofthepersondoingtherepresenting)
mayuseasilentorinvisiblerepraesentans,whichexpendstheleastenergybutalso
offerstheleastcognitivebenefit,sinceanaudiencewouldbeunabletodeterminewhat
isbeingrepresented.Suchaspeakerwouldsimplylettherepraesentandum"speakfor
itself"andhopethattelepathyisaviableformofcommunication.Oneisremindedhere
ofthepregnantsilencesoftheZenBuddhistmasterwhichleavehisstudentsinan
equallypregnantandsilentstateofbewilderment.Clearly,therolethata
representationalsystemofthissortwouldplayinitscommunitywouldprimarilynotbe
thatofcommunicationintheusualsense.
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AttheotherextremearetheinhabitantsoftheislandofLaputa,whomGulliver
encountersonhistravels:theLaputianstalkonlyaboutthings
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thatareeitherwithinsightorreach,whichistosay,theycanrefertoonlywhatthey
canreferwith(Swift1960,part3).Inthatcase,maximumcognitivebenefitisgained,
insofarasanaudiencecanperceptuallyfixontherepraesentandumasitisbeingused
asitsownrepraesentans.Butmaximumeffortisalsoexpended,fornomatterhow
equivocalarepraesentanstheword"table,"say,maybe,itisneverthelessmucheasier
touse,formostpurposes,thantheactualtableitself.Furthermore,althoughthe
Laputianaudiencemayreapthecognitivebenefitsofknowingexactlywhataspeakeris
representing,theirlanguagewouldprobablyplaceseverelimitationsonthenumberof
thingstheycouldknowsoexactly.Thebruteidentityoftherepraesentandaas
spatiotemporallyextendedindividualscouldcertainlybeknown,aswellassomeoftheir
grosserperceptualpropertiestowhichonecouldreadilyreferbyostension.Butsince
thereisnoprivilegedsetofrepraesentantessuchassentencesorpicturesthatcould
beusedtorepresentthethingunderdifferentdescriptions,itwouldbedifficultto
expressthevarioussubtlefeaturesthatthethingmaysharewithotherthings.
Itmightbethoughtthatthecognitiveeconomyofacommunitytendstowardoneof
thesetwoextremes,whichcorrespondtofamiliarcaricaturesintheepistemological
literature.Thefirstextreme,minimumworkandminimumbenefit,maybeseenasan
exampleofradical skepticism,whichpresupposesthattherepresentationalcapacityof
anylanguageissufficientlyimpoverishedtoalwaysrendertherepraesentanda
cognitivelyunderdeterminedbytherepraesentantes.Thus,nomatterhowexplicitor
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graphicItrytobe,IwillneverbeabletospecifyexactlywhatIamtalkingabout,in
whichcaseImightaswellnottryatall.Thesecondextreme,maximumworkand
maximumbenefit,maythenbetakenasacaseofnaive realism,inwhichthe
repraesentandaarecognitivelydeterminedinfullbytherepraesentantesbecauseeach
repraesentandumisitsownrepraesentans.Ifthetwoextremepositionsweretheonly
availableoptions,thenlanguagewouldbeuselessasthemeansbywhichthecognitive
structureofthecommunityisrepresented,mainlybecausecommunicationwouldbe
undermined:radicalskepticismmakescommunicationimpossible,whilenaiverealism
makesitredundant.
However,thereisanotherwayoflookingatthecognitiveeconomyofacommunity,
namely,intermsofthingsregularlypassingfrombeingrepraesentantestobeing
repraesentanda,andbackagain,soastomaintainarough"equilibrium"betweenthe
thingsassignedtothetwocategories.Perhapsanexamplewillmakemymeaning
plainer.Letusstartbytakingsomethingthatisself-evident,suchasatablein
Laputian,sinceitisbotharepraesentandumanditsownrepraesentansatthesame
time.Thisisreasonablyregardedasthenaiverealistviewthatwehaveofthetablein
ordinarylife.NowletusimaginethattheLaputiansfindthattheytalkabouttablesso
much,thatitstandsinsomanysignificantrelationswithotherthingsintheirworld,
thatitwouldbemuchmoreconvenientsimplytobeabletodosomethingalittleless
strenuousthanmoveatableinto
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viewwhenevertheywantedtorefertoone.Theyalsorealizethetrade-offthatwouldbe
involvedinhavingtables,fromnowon,mediatedbysomeotherrepraesentans,suchas
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thefewpuffsofairittakestosay"table":namely,efficiencyhasbeenboughtatthe
priceofcognitiveunderdetermination,since"table"cannowbeusedtorefertothings
otherthanliteraltables,anditmaynotbeclearsimplyfromagivenutteranceof"table"
whichoneofthosethingsisintendedbythespeaker.However,thismayitselfnotbeall
bad,sincewithcognitiveunderdeterminationalsocomesthepossibilityforthesortof
semanticrichnessassociatedwithmetaphor,irony,andothernonliteralformsofspeech.
Toputitinanutshell,then,theintroductionoftheword"table"intoLaputiancanbe
construedastradingoffagaininefficiencyattheleveloftherepraesentans(thatis,
thewordiseasiertousethanthetableitselfforrepresentingthetable)againstaloss
inefficiencyattheleveloftherepraesentandum(thatis,thewordisnotasclearand
distinctarepresentationofthetableasthetableitself).Anditispreciselythis
balancingofrepresentationalgainsandlossesthatImeanby"equilibrium"ina
cognitiveeconomy.
WhilethevividnessoftheLaputianexamplemayhaveclarifiedtheconceptof
equilibriuminacognitiveeconomy,ithasperhapsfailedtodemonstratethegeneral
needforsuchaconceptinanaturalisticaccountofrepresentation.Tobringoutthis
need,letusassumethatatleastpartofthecommunity'sactivitiesisdevotedtothe
revisionandextensionoftheknowledgebaseinotherwords,thatthereisan
institutionfunctionallyequivalenttoscience.Oneclearlong-termeffectthatscientific
activityhasonacommunity'srepresentationalsystemcentersonthepassageofthings
betweenbeingrepraesentantesandrepraesentanda.Itisepitomizedinthequestion,
"Howmuchtheoreticalmediationdoessomethingrequireinordertobeknown?"Andby
"theoreticalmediation"Imeantheextenttowhicharepraesentandumismade
accessiblethroughthedistinctsetofrepraesentanteswenormallycalla"theory."Itake
ittobeacharacteristicofincreasedtheoreticalmediationthatitmakestheordinary
individual'saccesstoarepraesentandummoreindirect:perhapshemustnowmastera
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specialdiscourse,whichrequiresconsiderabletraining,beforebeingpermittedtospeak
authoritativelyabouttherepraesentandum.Conversely,decreasedtheoreticalmediation
opensupaccesstotherepraesentandumtomoreindividualsinthecommunity.
Therefore,wecanimaginetwokindsofpassagesoccurring.Ontheonehand,whatused
tobeself-evident,anobjectofordinaryobservationliketheLaputiantable,maylater
beknownonlyasacomplexofinferencesdrawnfromoneormorescientifictheorieson
theotherhand,anobjectthatwasonceknownonlythroughmuchtheoreticalmediation,
suchasthehiddeneighthplanet(Neptune),whichtuggedattheorbitofUranus,may
havenowbecomesufficientlyintegratedintoordinaryobservationthatoneneedonly
pointtotheplanetinordertomakeclearandknowledgeablereferencetoit.
Thethesisthatcognitiveeconomiestendtowardanequilibriumissimplytheideathat
any attempt at decreasing theoretical mediation at one point in
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the representational system is compensated for by an increase in theoretical mediation


at some other, perhaps as yet undisclosed, point.Inotherwords,notonlydoes
theoreticalmediationmakeaccesstoarepraesentandummoreindirect,butincreased
theoreticalmediationis,toalargeextent,itselfindirectly(unintentionally)caused.And
so,harkingbacktoanearlierexample,whileitisindeedtruethatAristotlecould
expressNewton'sselfevidentprimitiveconceptofinertiaonlyinahighlymediated
form,andhenceonlyindirectlyandclumsily,thisiscompensatedbythefactthat
aspectsofterrestrialmotionwhichbothcommonsenseandAristotelianmechanicscan
expresswithrelativelylittletheoreticalmediationturnouttobehighlytheorized
complexobjectsinNewtonianmechanics.Thebiteoftheequilibriumthesisthusliesin
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theimplicationthatunlessarepresentationalsystemisradicallyrestructured,thereis
noclearsenseinwhichacommunitycouldnowhave,say,a"more"theoretically
mediatedunderstandingoftheworldthanithadatsomeearlierpointinitshistory
rather,suchapparentcasesofincreasedtheoreticityarebetterseenasnothingmore
thanlocaloccurrenceswithintherepresentationalsystem,onlytobeoffsetbydecreased
theoreticityelsewhere.
Iassumethat,atthispoint,thethesisofcognitiveequilibriumisitselflessthanselfevident,andso,inordertomotivateit,Iwilldrawontwocasesonerelativelyconcrete
onefromanthropologyandonerelativelyabstractonefromsystemstheoryinwhichthe
thesisisassumedinthecourseofexplainingwhatishappening.Ifnothingelse,these
twocaseswillaffordustheopportunityofillustratingthedifferencebetweenthe
transcendentalistandnaturalisticapproachestorepresentation.
2.1. Naturalism among the Savages
Wellintothetwentiethcentury,anthropologistshadtaken"thesavagemind"toexhibit
patternsofreasoninginferiortothoseofthe"civilized"Westerner.Indeed,itwas
populartoargue,onthebasisoftheapparentsimilaritybetweenthementalitiesof
savagesandWesternchildren,thatthesavagewasanevolutionaryprecursorofthe
Westerner,notquitedeservingthetitleHomo sapiens.Oneallegedcaseofthesavage's
primitivenesswashisinabilitytodistinguishabstractconceptsfromconcreteobjects,as
showninhisfrequentconflationoftalkaboutwords(orconcepts,thetwowillusedbe
interchangeably)withtalkaboutthings.Forexample,ashamanmightclaimtobe
"thinkingwithanimalparts"inordertodecipheramessagefromthegods,eventhough
itlookstotheanthropologistasthoughheisarrangingthoseparts,whichhavealready
beenassignedmeanings,inordertotriggersomeassociatedreligiousconcept,whichis,
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inturn,probablyanimplicitcommandfortheshaman'scommunitytoactinacertain
way.Theanimalpartsthenarenotwhatreallygetmanipulatedinthought,justasthe
beadsofanabacusarenotwhatreallygetmanipulatedinarithmetic:boththepartsand
thebeadsaremerelyconcretemodelsofan
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abstractprocess,thinking,whosesuccessorfailureisconceptuallyunrelatedtowhether
themodelsaremanipulatedespeciallywell.Iftheanthropologistunderstandsthe
shamaninthislight,then,afterseeingthatthereareimplicitrulesfordecodingthe
animalparts,hewillwonderwhytheshamanandhiscommunityregardeach"correct"
(accordingtotheimplicitrules)decodingasanempiricaldiscoveryandwhythe
communitydoesnotsuspecttheshaman'sauthoritywhenhegivespatently"incorrect"
decodings.
Theanthropologistispuzzledherebecauseheisatranscendentalist,whiletheshaman
andhiscommunityarenaturalists.Forthenaturalist,nocategorymistakeiscommitted
insayingthatthoughtisconductedwithanimalpartsratherthanwithconceptsor
words.Incontrast,thetranscendentalistpresumesthateveryuseofanobjectmustbe
mediatedbyadistinctsetofconcepts,whichimpliesthatanontologicaldistinctionis
madebetweenwhatcancountasrepraesentantes(namely,concepts)andwhatcan
countasrepraesentanda(namely,objects).Therepraesentantesfunction,then,as
meanings,whatFregecalled"senses,"whichareassignedbythelinguisticcommunityto
fixtheidentityoftheobjectsothatitcanbereferredtoonaregularbasis.The
naturalistdeniesthispicture,ofcourse,claimingthatconceptsandobjectscanfunction
aseitherrepraesentantesorrepraesentanda.Indeed,considerwhatitwouldmeanto
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"allowanobjecttorepresentsomeconcept,"asinthecaseoftheanimalparts
representingadivinemessage,accordingtotheshaman'scommunity:towit,thatthe
objectistakenbythelanguageuserasself-evidentandhencenotinneedofanyfurther
mediatingconcept.Onthenaturalistview,somethingcountsaspartofthemediumof
thought,orsetofrepraesentantes,ifitcannotbeconveyedbysomemoreprimitive
mediumofthought,orrepresentedbysomemoreprimitivesetofrepraesentantes:that
is,tothink(orspeak,orrefer)withxistoregardxasself-evident.
Furthermore,whenitlookstotheanthropologistasthoughtheshamaniscoveringup
errorandtherebybreakinghisownrules,theshaman(andhiscommunity,insofaras
theyagree)isinfactrenegotiatingtherepresentationalfunctionofsomeaspectofhis
practice.Forexample,iftheshamandeniesthedivinemessagethatwouldnormallybe
readofftheanimalparts,heis,ineffect,claimingthatwhatwaspreviouslythe
repraesentandum(namely,theusualdivinemessage)shouldnowitselfbetakenasthe
repraesentansofsomeheretoforeunknownrepraesentandum(namely,anotherdivine
message).Theanimalpartswouldthenbe,sotospeak,"doublyinscribed."Tobalkat
thismoveasjustanobfuscatorypieceofadhocreasoningistosupposethatsome
straightforwardinterpretationoftheanimalpartsisbeingsuppressedbytheshaman.
Admittedly,theshamanmaybesuppressingwhatthetranscendentalistwouldlikehim
tosay,namely,thathemadeamistake.However,forthenaturalist,aswepresumethe
shamantobe,itdoesnotfollowfromthissuppressionthathiscommunityisnot
receivingasstraightforwardanunderstandingoftheanimalpartsaspossibleatleastif
thethesisofcognitiveequilibrium
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holdssway.Toexplainthispoint,supposethattheshamandoesconfesserror.
Whateverclarityisgainedbykeepingtherulesuncomplicatedbyexceptionalcasesis
lostastheshaman'swordcannolongerbetakenatfacevalue.Inotherwords,the
shaman's discourse itselfbecomesdoublyinscribed:apparently,heisissuingcommands
fromthegodsbutreally,hiscomprehensionofthegodsisfallible,andsothe
communitymayneedtoputforthindependentargumentsforfollowingthecommands
thatdonotinvoketheshaman'sauthority.
2.2. Naturalism among the Systems
ThreedemonshavepossessedtheWesternimaginationinthemodernperiod:
Descartes',Laplace's,andMaxwell's(Schweber1982).Inmanyways,however,theyare
thesamedemon:namely,theknowerwhoisabletoknowwithoutcausallyaffectingthe
known.InKantianepistemology,thisknowerwascalled"thetranscendentalego,"and
wehavebeencontrastingitsmannerofexpression,thetranscendentalapproachto
representation,withthatofthenaturalistapproach.TheCartesiandemonwas
encounteredearlierwhenmotivatingtheenterpriseofmetaphysics.Itsclaimto
transcendentalismrestsontheideathatthedemondoesnotleaveamarkofits
presenceintheworldofphenomena,thoughitspresence(orsomebenignversion,such
asGod)maybepresupposediftheworldofphenomenaistobeunderstoodassome
unifiedwhole.TheLaplaceanandMaxwelliandemonsareincarnationsofeighteenth-and
nineteenth-centuryphysicalscience,respectively.Laplace'swasacreatureofoptimism,
whileMaxwell'sturnedouttobeoneofpessimism.Thisdifferenceinattitudetowardthe
possibilityofthetwodemonsreflectsashiftinthephysicalscientist'srepresentational
systemfromtranscendentaltonaturalist.Inconsideringtheshiftwewillgetavivid
senseofhowthethesisofcognitiveequilibriumcanbeinterpretedasamodelofhow
conceptualchangeoccurs.
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Cyberneticshasbeendividedintothestudyoftwotypesofsystems:thedeviationcounteractingtype,inwhichnoisecanbeeliminatedfromthesystemwithout
introducingnewnoise,andthedeviation-amplifyingtype,inwhichnoisecanbe
eliminatedonlybyintroducingnewnoise,whichthenhastobeeliminated,andsoon
(Maruyama1968).Thelawsgoverningthefirsttypearetemporallyreversible,whichisto
say,thatanearlierstateofthesystemcanberegainedsimplybyreversingthe
operationofthelaws,whilethosegoverningthesecondaretemporallyirreversible.And
so,ifweregardthephysicaluniverseasasystem,thenthelawsofclassicalmechanics
wouldmodeltheuniverseasthefirsttype,whiletheprinciplesofentropyandevolution
wouldmodelitasthesecond.InthefirstuniverselivesLaplace'sdemonwho,justgiven
theuniversallawsandanysetofinitialconditions,cancomputewhathappensatany
pointinspacetimewithout the computation itself making a difference to the state of the
universe.IntheseconduniverselivesMaxwell'sdemonwhotryasitmayto
approximatethe
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transcendentalaloofnessoftheLaplaciandemonisabletobringaboutalocalreversal
ofthestatisticaltendencytowardentropyonly at the cost of generating entropy
elsewhere in the universe.Indeed,themorestructurethattheMaxwelliandemon
succeedsinimposingonthemotionofmoleculesinaspecificregion,themorelikely
thattherestoftheuniversewillexhibitarandomdistributionofmolecules.Toputthe
pointsomewhatparadoxically,theveryprocessofconferringorderontheuniversehas,
asoneofitsunintendedconsequences,thegenerationofdisorder.Clearly,abeingthat
findsitselfsoinextricablyboundtotheuniverseitwantstorepresentisaproductof
naturalism(Watzlawick1977,ch.18).
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Laplace'sdemonistheidealclassicalepistemologist,whoseeffortsatgaining
informationabout(oreliminatingnoisefrom)theworld-systemdoesnotrequireanyloss
ofpreviouslygainedinformation.Ontheclassicalapproach,informationacquisitionwas
presumedtobeperfectlycosteffective:theLaplaciandemon'scomputationssucceed
inproducingnewknowledgewithout"consuming"anyoldknowledge,whichistosay,
thatthenewknowledgedoesnotinvalidatetheold.Thisimageisresponsibleformuch
oftherhetoricofclassicalepistemology:
(e)theobserverunobtrusivelyrepresentingtheworld-system(evenwhenthe
modeofrepresentationinvolvesinstruments,suchastelescopesand
microscopes,thatalterbothperceptionandtheobjectsperceived)
(f)theoverallprogressivenatureofknowledge(whetheritbetowardgreater
verisimilitude,certainty,orsimplytheaccumulationofmorefacts)
(g)theso-calledparametricnatureofscientificrationality.
Iftheserhetoricalpointsreflectedtherealityofthescientificenterprise,thenthethesis
ofcognitiveequilibriumwouldclearlybeshownfalse.But,asithappens,overthelast
fiftyyearsthepointshavebeenshowntobelittle morethanrhetoric.Phenomenological
philosophiesofscience,startingwithGastonBachelard's(1985)pioneeringNew
Scientific Spirit,havecounteredpoint(e)withtheslogan"Norepresentationwithout
transformation(oftheLifeworld)."Weshalllatermakemoreofthisslogan.Kuhn
effectivelyshatteredpoint(f)byshowingthatanyinformationgainedduringascientific
revolutionmustbepaidbackbysomeretractionoftheoldknowledgebase.Wewill
shortlyillustratethisobservation,whichtheLakatosianshavedubbed"KuhnLoss,"forit
providesthehistoricalbasisforourcognitiveequilibriumthesis.Finally,the
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contemporaryFrenchphilosopherofscience,MichelSerres(1972,1982),hasresponded
topoint(g),whichIshallnowdiscussinsomedetail,todrawouttheimplicationsofthe
cognitiveequilibriumthesisforthetheoryofrationality.
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Theterm"parametric"isnormallyatermindecisiontheory.Adecisionmakermaytryto
optimizehissituationineitheraparametricorastrategicenvironment(Elster1983).
Thedecisionmakerofconcerntoushereisthescientistwhooptimizeshissituationby
obtainingafullydeterminate(completelyinformative,noisefree)representationofthe
world-system.Theclassicalepistemologistpresumesthatheoperatesinaparametric
environment:thatis,hehasnoreasontothinkthatNatureintendstokeephersecrets
fromhimbydeliberatelyconfoundinghishypotheses.Naturemaybedifficulttofathom,
butnotbecauseoffickleness.Foroncethescientistproposesacorrecthypothesis,
Natureeasilysubmitstohisrule.Lesssexist(thatistosay,lessBaconian)versionsof
thisimageofNaturemaybefoundinAristotelianpotencies,Kantianmatter(the
"receptive"mode),andtheHegelianin-itself.ItisanimagethatSerrescountersby
portrayingthescientist'senvironmentasstrategic,withNaturejustasinterestedin
revealingthescientist'ssecretsasthescientistisinterestedinrevealingNature's.As
thescientificenterprisebecomestrulyagameoneplayswithNature,theapproachto
representationshiftsfromtranscendentaltonaturalistic.
AscientistsuchasNewtonintendstoeliminatethenoise,or"anomalies,"inthe
Aristotelianworld-systembyprovidingaunifiedandmathematizedtheoryofmotion.He
operatesontheassumptionthathisstrategywillsolvemoreproblemsthanitcreates
and,thus,willcountasasteptowardtotalknowledge.However,givenhisfinite
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intellectualresources(greatastheymaybe),Newtoncannotsurveyallthepossible
statesoftheworldsystemthatmayresultfromeachofthecoursesofactionavailable
tohim.Consequently,heactslikeMaxwell'sill-fateddemon:intheimmediatevicinityof
theproblemsheistryingtosolve,suchasthoseconcerningthemotionsoftheplanets,
NewtonmakesstrikingadvancesoverAristotle.Indeed,theadvancesaresostriking
thattheydivertthepublic'sattentionfromthemassivenoisebeinggeneratedatthe
otherconceptualendoftheworld-system.ForonceNewtondivestedphysicsof
teleology,mannolongerhadapurpose,or"naturalplace,"intheuniverse,exceptas
anothermovingbody.Arguably,themagnitudeofthisproblemmatchestheoneNewton
succeededinsolving.Andso,despitethisimplicitcost,theNewtonianRevolutionwasat
firstverymuchseenasanetgainininformation,aswitnessedinthecontinuationof
Aristotelianmodesofspeakingabout"man'splaceintheuniverse"byvarious
eighteenth-centurypersonalities,includingNewtonhimself.
Whatarewetomakeofthisblitheincoherence?Inwordsborrowedfromthe
deconstructionistcriticPaulDeMan(1971),thecontinuedtalkofman'splaceinthe
universerevealedthe"blindness"unintentionallygeneratedbythe"insights"ofthe
NewtonianRevolution.SerreswouldpersonifythisblindnessintermsofNaturehaving
successfullyoutfoxedthescientistathisowngamebygettinghimtoconstruealossas
awin.ThesuccessofNature'slongtermstrategyisrevealedinphilology,asthe
expression"man'splaceintheuniverse"subtlyshiftedmeaningsothatitultimately
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becamedifficulttoarguethatNewtonhadfailedtorepresentasignificantportionof
realitywithoutappealingtothe"old"useoftheexpressioninAristotle'scosmology.A
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keymomentincoveringoverthesenseofKuhnLossoccurredwhenKantcharacterized
thosenon-Newtonianelementsofthehumanconditionpurposeandmorality,especially
ashavingapara Newtoniannature.Thus,Kantdistinguishedbetweenman's
phenomenalbeing,governedbylawsbeyondhiscontrol(namely,thoseofNewton's
universe),andman'snoumenalbeing,governedbylawsthatareselflegislated.After
thisdistinctionwasmade,theburdenofprooflaysquarelywithsomeonewhowishedto
arguethatanaccountofthephysicaluniversewasradicallyincompleteifitdidnot
provideanaccountof"man'splace."
Bywayofindicatingexactlyhowthesavagesandthesystemsillustratethecognitive
equilibriumthesis,wemightstartbyexplainingwhyIcallitanequilibriumthesis.After
all,boththermodynamicistsandtheirfollowersincyberneticsarefondofsayingthat
whatcountsasa"system,"andwhetheritisinastateof"equilibrium"or
"disequilibrium,"dependsonhowoneframesthepointandscopeoftheactivitiesunder
consideration.Forexample,theanthropologistfocusedondivinationasaself-contained
practice,andconsequentlyfoundtheshaman'sadhocreasoningabouttheanimalparts
toincreasethelevelofsystemicdisorder,sinceitseemedtocomplicatetheimplicit
rulesofdivinationfornoapparentreasonexcepttosavetheparticularcase.Incontrast,
thesavagessituatedtheshaman'sreasoninginalargersystemofrepresentation,
namely,onewhichincludednotonlytheanimalparts,buttheshamanhimself,as
representantes.Thequestionforthem,then,waswhethertocomplicatetheir
interpretationofhowdivinationworksortheirinterpretationofhowtheshamanworks.
Thesavagesdecidedontheformer,whicheffectivelyincreasedtheleveloftheoretical
mediationrequiredforanobservertounderstanddivination,sincenownotonlymusthe
graspovertregularitiesinthepractice,buthemustalsoknowthosecrucialjunctures
whendeviationisallowed.Oneconsequenceofthismoveistoplacemoreauthorityin
thehandsoftheshamanovertheinterpretationofhisownactions.Noticetheupshot,
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namely,thatthesavages,asopposedtotheanthropologist,realizedthatthereareno
absolutegainsorlossesoforderintheirrepresentationalsystem:inthisregard,they
implicitlysubscribedtothecognitiveequilibriumthesis.
Similarly,wemightthinkofNewton'sEnlightenmententhusiastsasactinglikethe
anthropologist,onlythistimebeingimpressedwiththeincreasedorderinour
understandingofthephysicaluniversebroughtaboutasaresultofNewtonian
mechanics.However,thissignofscientificprogressisseenbythecriticalhistorianasa
purelylocalphenomenonintherepresentationalsystemofeighteenth-centuryEuropean
culture,sinceitonlymadeitthatmuchmoredifficulttounderstandthenatureofhuman
beings:againthetrade-offcharacteristicofthecognitiveequilibriumthesis.Indeed,
contrarytowhatonemighthaveexpected,thetheologiansofthetimewereabletotake
comfortintheemerging"man-the-machine"motif,sinceit
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embodiedaparadoxworthyofadivinegenius.AsAntoineArnauldfirstnoted,evenifit
istruethatmanhimselfisjustanothermachine,manisneverthelesssucha
sophisticatedmachinethatitwillalwaysremainamysteryhowGodwasabletocombine
therathersimplelawsofphysicstodesignhim(Vartanian1973).Noticealsothatthis
caseclearlybringsouthowcognitiveequilibriumismaintained:notonlyisone'saccess
tohumannaturemademoreindirectwiththeriseofNewtonianism(insofarashuman
naturecanbeunderstoodonlythroughthetheoreticalmediationofmechanics),butalso
this indirectness is itself indirectly caused(insofarasthemysteriesoftheman-themachinemotifweretheunintended,andoftenunrecognized,consequencesofthe
introductionofNewtonianism).
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3. Explaining Transcendentalism Naturalistically: Bloor on Popper


Wenowturntoasustainedexaminationofanattempttoexplainthetranscendentappearingfeaturesofrepresentationinpurelynaturalistic,andspecificallysociological,
terms.InaseriesofwritingsstartingwithareviewofObjective Knowledge,DavidBloor
(1974)hasattemptedtoshiftthelocaleofPopper'smysteriousWorldThreetherealm
ofknowledgewithoutaknowingsubjectfromaPlatonicheaventoaWittgensteinian
languagegame.Forallitsmystery,WorldThreeisneverthelesstheveryepitomeofthe
transcendentalapproachtorepresentation.WeshallseethatwhileBloorsucceedsin
showinghowmuchofwhatordinarilypassesassignsofobjectivitymaybeunderstood
astheproductofnormativelyconstrainedsocialaction,hefailstosociologizeprecisely
whatPopperandotherthinkershaveconsideredtobemostemblematicofoursenseof
theobjective:namely,something (an anomaly or a problem) achieves objective status
in virtue of resisting our efforts (understood either individually or collectively) at
conceptualization and anticipation.Yetheretooasociologicaltranslationispossible.
Accordingtomydiagnosis,Bloor'srelianceonWittgensteincauseshimtoneglectthe
historicaldimensionofknowledgetransmission.Remedyingthisdeficiencysuggestsa
roleforFoucault's"archaeological"approachinfortifyingBloor's"StrongPrograminthe
SociologyofKnowledge."
In"EpistemologywithoutaKnowingSubject,"Popper(1972,ch.3)offersa"biological"
argumentfordoubtingthatmindsandbodiesexhaustalltheentitiesinhabitingthe
humanworld.Notonlyismanaconsciousanimal,heisalsoabeingwhose
communicativecapacityhasevolvedtothepointofbeingabletodescribeandcriticize
hisencounterswiththeworld.Theproductsofthesedistinctiveeffortsbooks,artworks,
andothertextualizedorsymbolicallycodeditemshaveapeculiarontologicalstatus:
theyareneitherknowersnor,strictlyspeaking,knownsrathertheyareknowables.To
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coaxourintuitionsintoadmittingthisthirdworld,Popperasksustoimagineasituation
inwhichwehavelostboththementalandmaterialproductsofourencounterswiththe
environment.Thus,weno
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longerhaveourindividualsubjectivestoresofinformationaccumulatedfromyearsof
experience,nortodowehavesuchartifactsasmachines,tools,andbuildings.Yet,so
Popperclaims,aslongastheitemsinWorldThreeandourabilitytodecodethem
(presumably,agenerallinguisticcompetence)remain,wewillbeable,aftermuch
hardship,toreconstructourculture.Inastrongerversionofthisstory,eventhehuman
beingsareeliminated,andsufficientlycompetentMartiansareimportedtoreconstruct
thehumanworld.ThefactthatfeatsofthiskindwouldbepossibleleadsPopperto
concludethatthereisanautonomousrealmof"objectiveknowledge."
Thereadermayalreadysensethatweareonsometrickyground.Inthefirstplace,the
verypremiseofPopper'sthoughtexperimentiscontroversial:namely,thatalienscould
reconstructourculturebydevelopingalinguisticcompetenceinawaythatdoesnot
involveactuallyinteractingwithus.ItisclearwhyPopperwantsthispremise,sinceit
drivesawedgebetweenourbeliefs(WorldTwo)andthealiens'abilitytoknowthem
(WorldThree).However,AlasdairMacIntyre(1984,pp.1-5)hasrecentlyenlistedalien
anthropologistsinthecauseofmakingsenseofourmoraldiscoursewithmuchless
success.MacIntyresupposesthatanythingshortofperfectlinguisticcompetenceis
boundtogivethealiensasystematicallydistortedpictureofthepointofhavingmoral
discourse.Indeed,insofarasweinthepresentappearalientoAristotleandtheother
greatethicistsofthepast,wehavesimilarproblemshence,thethesisofAfter Virtue.
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(Inparttwo,IshalladdresstheproblemsraisedbyMacIntyreandresolvetheminaway
thathe,butnotPopper,wouldfindsalutary.)
ButthereareotherproblemswithPopper'sconceptualizationofWorldThree.First,to
saythatWorldThreeistherealmofthe"knowables"istocapitalizeonanequivocal"able."ThoughPopperislessthancompletelyopenonthispoint,whatseemstomarkoff
thetextsinWorldThreefromthetoolsinWorldOneisthattextscaninterveneinany
ofthethreeworlds.AtextcanbeusedtointerveneinWorldOne,ifitisinterpretedas
asetofinstructionsformaintainingortransformingthephysicalenvironment.Thesame
textcanalsobeusedtointerveneinWorldTwo,ifitisinterpretedasasetof
propositionsthatpurporttorepresentoneoftheworldsand,hence,acandidateforthe
reader'sassent.Finally,andmostobviously,thetextcanbeusedtointerveneinWorld
Three,ifitisinterpretedasasetofremarksthatdefinesthesignificanceofsomeother
text.Theequivocationin"knowable"entersonceweobservethatatextis,therefore,
notonlyanobjectthatcanbeknowninseveraldifferentways(thatis,"knowable"in
thesenseofinterpretableasasetofinstructionsorpropositionsorremarks),butalso
itselfamediumforknowingtheobjectsofthedifferentworlds(thatis,"knowable"in
thesenseofsomethingthatcanbeusedforknowingsomethingelse).
Now,readerswhohavebeeninfluencedbythelikesofMarshallMcLuhanandUmberto
EcowillfindthisdefinitionofWorldThreeexcessivelynarrow,sincecontemporary
studiesoftechnicsandsemiotics
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tendtocollapseWorldOneandWorldThreeintoarealmof"mutuallysignifying
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objects."Thus,onthiscurrentview(whichisintuitivelymostplausibleinthe
archaeologicalcontexts),textsintheconventionalsense,linguisticallycodedbitsof
matter,donothaveaprivilegedstatusas"representers"or"signifiers"ofrealityany
artifactwillsuffice.ButacharitablereadingofPopperdemandsthatthedifference
betweenWorldsOneandThreebeseenasfunctionalratherthanasontological.In
otherwords,atextmaysimultaneouslybeinthetwoworlds,butinWorldOneit
functionsasamaterialobject,whileinWorldThreeitfunctionsasaknowable.This
functionaldistinctionisimportant,sincePopper'selaborationofarealmofknowablesis
probablythemostsuccessfulattemptyetatsavingtheintuitionsthathavetraditionally
motivatedPlatonistandothertranscendentalistontologies.Moreover,aswillbenotedin
ourcritiqueofBloor,theseintuitionsareeasilylostonthemodernmind.
BloorentersthepictureoncewestarttowonderabouttheexactcontentsofWorld
Three.WhilePopper'sthoughtexperimentmayhavesucceededincarvingouta
metaphysicalspaceforobjectiveknowledge,clearlymoreworkneedstobedoneinorder
tofullyspecifyitscontents.Forexample,ifDon QuixoteistobefoundinWorldThree,
thenitcertainlydoesnotappearthereassomeboundprintedpagesonalibraryshelf,
norasthesetofparticularinterpretationsgleanedbyparticularreaders:theformer
wouldbefoundinPopper'sWorldOneandthelatterinWorldTwo.WhereasPopperat
thispointresortstoPlatonicideas,Hegel'sAbsoluteSpirit,andFregeanpropositions,
Blooroffersthemoredown-to-earthsuggestionthatWorldThreeissimplythesocial
worldor,moreprecisely,thesetofpermissiblemovesofthelanguagegamesthat
constitutea"formoflife."Inthatcase,Don QuixoteappearsinWorldThreeasthe
languagegameonemustplayinordertopassoffaninterpretationofthetextas
legitimatetoagivencommunityofreaders.Amongthecomponentsofthisgamewould
beknowledgeofwhatcountsasapropercitationfromDon Quixote,whatcountsasa
properargumentinsupportofaparticularinterpretationofthetext,andsoforth.Contra
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PopperandotherclosetPlatonists,Bloor'sWorldThreedoesnotcontain"thebest
possiblereading"ofDonQuixotesay,allthetruepropositionsconcerningCervantes's
intentionsinwritingthetext.
ThislastpointisimportantforBloorbecause,likeWittgenstein,hestressestheopentexturednatureofsuchconceptsas"propercitation"and"properargument,"which
impliesthatthesocialorderdefinedbyasetoflanguagegamesconstrainsanagent's
possibilitiesonlythroughtheactionstakenbyotheragentsinparticularsituations
(Waismann1951).Thus,whatcountsasapermissibleinterpretationofDon Quixoteat
onepointinhistorymightnothaveappearedthatwayatanearlierpoint,eventhough
inbothcasestheinterpretersseemtohavebeenplayingthesamelanguagegame.
WhenPopper(1972,p.155)claimsthatWorldThreecaninteractwiththeothertwo
WorldsonlythroughWorldTwo,hemakeslargelythesamepoint.However,asBloor
observes,sincePoppermodelsWorldThree,at
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leastinpart,onanimmutablePlatonicheaven,heunderestimatestheopentextured,
andhencesociogenic,natureofitscontents.Butasweshallnowsee,Bloorgoestothe
oppositeextremeandunderestimatestheautonomy,andhence,objectivityofWorld
Three.
Bloor(1984,p.229)claimsthathissociologicalconstrualofWorldThreecapturesthe
chiefaspectsofobjectivity,whichheidentifiesas"theimpersonalandstablecharacter
thatattachestosomeofourbeliefs,andthesenseofrealitythatattachestotheir
reference."Bloor(1982)normallycreditstheideatoDurkheim,thoughDurkheimnever
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quiteexpresseditthewayBloordoes.Insteadofspeakingofbeliefsashavingasocial
origin,Durkheim(1961)generallyreferredtocollectiverepresentations.Thedifferenceis
subtle,butneverthelesscrucialforunderstandingthesourceofBloor'sdifficulties.
LikePopper,DurkheimandhisfollowersinFrenchandBritishsocialanthropologyhave
treatedbeliefsasirreduciblysubjectiveandhenceoutsidethedomainofaninquiry
devotedtoobjectiveknowledge(associologywassupposedtobe).Indeed,itwason
thesegroundsthatDurkheimhaddissentedfromGabrielTardeandGustaveLeBon,who
arguedthatthecollectiverepresentationsstudiedbysociologywerereducibletoa
summationofthe"sentiments"oftheconstitutiveindividuals,whichwouldbetheproper
subjectmatterofanintersubjectivepsychology(Sorokin1928,ch.11).Although
Durkheimhimselfwaslessthanexplicitonthispoint,aclosestudyoftheDurkheim
School'suseof"collectiverepresentation"wouldrevealthatsuchanentityarisesnot
wheneveryonehasthesamebeliefs,norevenwheneveryonebelievesthatabeliefhas
beenacceptedbythegrouprather,itariseswheneveryonetacitlyagreestoexpress
whatever they may happen to believeintermsofspecificlinguisticandothersymbolic
practices.ThisiscertainlyhowSaussureconstruedDurkheiminthecourseofpresenting
structurallinguistics(thatis,langue)asastudyofcollectiverepresentations(Dinneen
1967,ch.7).Inotherwords,theattitudeemergentonbeliefonceepistemologists
ascendfromtheindividualtothesociallevelisconformity:individualsbelieve,groups
conform.InthemostthoroughstudytodateofDurkheimianepistemology,Rodney
Needham(1972,p.155)underscoresthispointbyobservingthatinmodernsocieties,
thelegalsystemcomescloserthananyparticularsetofbeliefstoexemplifyinga
collectiverepresentation.
MorelikeFoucaultthanPopper,theDurkheimiansgosofarastodenyanycross-cultural
(letalone,ontological)importtothecategoryofbelief.Theypointoutthatbeliefs
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inhabitpersonalpsychologies,whichare,inturn,theinventionofmodemEuropean
culture(Mauss1979).Consequently,theanthropologistrunsagreatriskof
misinterpretinganaliencultureifhetriestosortoutitsepistemologyintermsofthe
"beliefs"thatmembersoftheculturehold.Needham(1972,ch.2)beautifullydocuments
thisclaim,asinthecaseoftheNuer,whodonothaveawordforbelief,notbecause
theirpsychologicallexiconisnotsufficientlydiscriminating,butbecausethecontextsin
whichtheNuerevaluateassertionsneverrequirethatthey
-54-

treatanassertionasexpressingabelief.Inotherwords,theresimplyarenosituations
inNuerculturewhereonewouldbeinterestedinevaluatinganassertionintermsofits
fitwiththeasserter'sbackgroundknowledge:thetypicalcontextinwhichwewould
evaluateabelief.Eveninourownculture,theevaluationofbeliefsinthissenseis
relativelyrecent.TheLatinsourceoftheconcept,fides,originallyhadtodowithloyalty,
awillingness(or"disposition,"asepistemologistswouldnowsay)toactonbehalfofthe
objectofbelief,especiallyinthecaseofGod.However,theconceptofbeliefastheunit
ofapersonalknowledge,whethertheobjectbeGodor"medium-sizeddrygoods,"came
intogeneralEnglishusageonlyinthenineteenthcentury(Smith1977).
However,toputBloorontherighttrack,wedonotneedtodecideherewhetherbeliefis
across-culturallyvalidcategoryofknowledge.Thepointheneedstotakefromthe
Durkheimiansis,vividlyput,thatbeliefsarethe"messages"thatindividualsofasociety
sendtoeachother,whilerepresentationsaretheircommon"medium."Thus,abelief
mayberepresentedlinguisticallyinvariousways,eachconveyingthesenseofthebelief
moreorlesssuccessfully.Therulesofalanguagegamemaybesuchthatcertainbeliefs
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invirtueofbeingreadilyexpressiblearemoreeasilyjustifiedthanothers,butthat
doesnotprecludethepossibilitythatahardto-justifybeliefmaysomedayhaveits
burdenofproofbornesuccessfullybyaskillfulplayerofthegame.Thus,whatBloormay
havemistakenforacollectivebeliefis,infact,apresumptionunderwhichmembersof
thesocietyhaveagreedtooperate.Toreturntoouroriginalexample,itisnotthatthe
morefarfetchedreadingsofDon Quixoteareimpossibletodefend,butratherthatthey
requiresatisfyingprobativestandardsmuchmorestringentthaninterpreterswould
probablyundertake.Consequently,thefarfetchedinterpretationisdefacto,thoughnot
dejure,excludedbythecommunityofreadersasalegitimatebeliefaboutthemeaning
ofDon Quixote.
Thesameappliestoepisodesoftheoreticalchangeinscience.However,likemostofhis
antagonistswhodo"internalist"historyofscience,Bloorerrsinthinkingthatduringsuch
episodeswhatgenerallyhappensisthatbeliefschange.Atleast,thisisanerrorifBloor
intendsonsavingtheappearancesofPopper'sWorldThreewithinaDurkheimian
framework.Popperisquiteadamantthatbeliefsarepurelysubjectivemattersthat
belongexclusivelytoWorldTwo,and,aswesaw,WorldThreeappearsinWorldTwoas
thedisplayofcertain,mostlylinguisticcompetences(especiallytheabilitytoread)
whichwouldallowforthesuccessfulreconstructionofourcultureafteraglobal
catastrophe.OnceBloorisgivenamorestrictlyDurkheimiangloss,theroleoflanguage
gamesinsociologizingWorldThreebecomesclear:namely,theydefinethesituationsin
whichthesecompetencescanbedisplayed,whichisexactlyhowtheyprovidethe
normativestructureofsocialaction.Bloorsometimesactuallyespousesthisposition,as
whenhesays,
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theconnectionbetweenthestablefeaturesofthesocialsystemandthestable
featuresoftheknowledgesystemisperfectlyclearcut.Oneisnotanarbitrary
correlateoftheother.Aswearrangetheconventionalpatternofourrelations
weare,atthesametime,arrangingtheframeworkuponwhichourcognition
mustdepend.Thisshouldoccasionnosurpriseoncewerealizethatwedonot
haveachoicebetweenarrangingourbeliefsaccordingtoreality,andarranging
themaccordingtosocialconvention.Weknowwithourconventions,notin
spiteofthem.Ourconventionsrepresentanunavoidableconditionfor,and
vehicleof,knowledge.Toyearnafterarealityunmediatedbyconventionislike
wantingtoseebetterbygettingourorgansofvisionoutoftheway.[Bloor
1984,pp.239-240]
Nevertheless,Bloorfailstomaintainthispositionconsistently,perhapsbecauseheruns
togethertwomeaningsofconvention.Inpoliticsandlinguistics,conventionsare
contrasted,respectively,withcontractsandgrammars,inthataconventionisapractice
thathasemergedlargelywithoutdesignyetcontinuestobemaintainedinvirtueofthe
beneficialconsequencesaccruedtotheindividualswhoadheretoit.Conventionsinthis
sense,thesubjectofDavidLewis'(1969)influentialbook,areoftensaidtobenaturally
occurring.Butthereisalsoamoreartificialsenseofconventionassociatedwith
"conventionalism,"adoctrineformulatedbyHenriPoincareaboutwhatconfersvalidityor
legitimacyonatheoreticalstatement,namely,thatitfollowsfromsomeearlierexplicit
agreementaboutdefinitionsandassumptions.AsHilaryPutnam(1975,ch.9)first
observed,conventionalism'smetaphysicalconsequencesarestrongerthantheyseem,
sincethedoctrineimpliesthatthevalidityof,say,amathematicaltheoremfollowsfrom
nothing butthesetofaxiomsfromwhichitcanbederived.Now,mostofBloor's
examplesoftheoreticalchangeinscienceinvolveexplainingtheadoptionofasetof
theoreticalbeliefsintermsofhowthosebeliefswouldpromotetheinterestsofagroup
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ofinterest-seekingscientists.Sometimestheemphasisisplacedonhowthescientists
canexpostfactobenefitfrombeliefswhichhappentogaintheapprovalofthegreater
scientificcommunity:thissuggeststhefirstsenseofconvention.However,onother
occasions,theemphasisisplacedonthescientistsoriginallydecidingtoholdacertain
beliefinordertopromotetheirinterests,whichsuggeststhesecondsenseof
convention.
Bloor'sfailuretodistinguishthesetwosensesofconventionbecomesmostapparent
whenwetrytoparsetheconcommitant"arranging"of"ourrelations"and"theframework
uponwhichourcognitionmustdepend."EvengrantingthatBlooriscorrectwhenhesays
thatwheneverweengageinsciencewearealsoengaginginasocialpractice,itdoes
notfollowthatwhatmakesforgoodsciencepolicyalsomakesforgoodsocialpolicy
(andviceversa).Ifweregardscienceasanaturallyoccurringconvention,likethe
capitalistmarketplaceinthePopperianmanner,thenthetemptationistoletsciencebe
assciencedoes,whichisnotnecessarilybeneficialforthesocietyatlarge.Ontheother
hand,ifscienceisregardedasanartificiallyconstructedconvention,likeagameinthe
ethnomethodologicalvein,thentheremaybethetemptationtoerectanddismantlethe
institutional
-56-

structureofdisciplineswiththesortofeasenormallyreservedforfashions.Thus,until
Bloorisforthcomingwithatheoryofconventions,itbynomeansclearhowshowingthe
"conventionality"ofourknowledgeenterprisesissupposedtoexplainorjustifythem.
Nevertheless,Bloor'sconvention-and-interestexplanationshavebeentakenas
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competingwiththeaccountsofferedbyinternalisthistoriansofscience,whotryto
explaintheverysametheoreticalbeliefsintermsofevidenceandbackground
information(ormisinformation,asthecasemaybe)availabletotherelevantscientists.
NeithertypeofexplanationrequiresacleardemarcationofWorldThreefromWorldTwo.
Inparticular,theylackthesenseofnormativeconstraintthatasociologizedversionof
WorldThreeissupposedtoprovide(Lukes1982b).Toremedymatters,Bloorwouldbe
wisetoavoidfocusingonhowindividualscientiststailortheirbeliefstoservetheir
socialendsrather,heshouldtrytoshowhowscientificlanguagegamesimpedeor
facilitatethearticulationandlegitimationofcertainbeliefs,regardless of who might be
interested in advancing them.Andso,toborrowBloor'sfavoriteexample,whileitmay
betruethatBoyleandNewtonwouldnothaveputforthcorpusculariannatural
philosophieshadtheynotbeeninterestedinstavingoffreligioussectarians,thisat
mostgivesasociogenicaccountofhowtheirbeliefsattainedsubjectivestatus-thatis,
beliefswhichtheypersonallyfoundworthyofpursuit.Toexplainsociologicallyhowthese
beliefsattainedobjectivestatuswouldbetoidentifythearbitersofscientific
competenceinseventeenth-centuryEnglandandtheformsoflinguisticrepresentation
(especiallythekindsofarguments)theytookassignsofsuchcompetence,andofferan
assessmentoftherelativeeasewithwhichcorpuscularianbeliefscouldbeconveyedin
thismedium.
AndsoweseethatthesourceofBloor'sdifficultiesinconstructingasocialtheoryof
objectivitymaybetracedtohisusualportrayalofsocialagentsasrelatively
unconstrainedmanipulatorsofthecontentsofWorldThree.Asaresult,Bloorisunable
toshowhowobjectivitytranscendsthejudgmentsofacollectionofpsyches,denizensof
WorldTwo,withoutrevertingtosometraditionalidentificationoftheobjectivewiththe
physicalthatis,partofWorldOne.Ironically,thisweaknessinBloor'spositionismost
glaringinwhathetakestobehisbiggestadvanceoverPopper'saccountofWorldThree.
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AkeyPopperianargumentfortheindependentexistenceofWorldThreeisthatall
theorieshavelogicalimplicationsunknowntotheoriginaltheoristwhicharerecognized,
andhencediscovered,bylatertheorists.Theseunanticipatedtheoreticalconsequences
thenbecomethebasisofproblems,whichforPopperaretheonlysourceofgenuine
intellectualgrowth.BloordismissesthisargumentasakindofmystifiedPlatonism,
offeringinitssteadthefollowingexplanatorystrategy:
Wewouldhavetosaythat,really,logicalimplicationsdonotpre-exist:we
constructthemaswegoalong,dependingonnothingbutthedispositionsthat
wepossessnaturallyorhavebeengiveninthecourseof
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ourtraining.Thiswillhavetobethereasonwhyweagreetotheextentthat
wedoonsuchmattersastheimplicationsofourpremises.Ourtendencyto
saythattheconsequencesofourpremisespre-existthenbecomesafacetof
ourbehaviorthatcallsforspecialexplanation.Theexplanationmightbethat
certainfeelingsattendourdrawingofinferences-say,feelingsofcompulsion.
Ortheexplanationmightbethatthiswayoftalkingisawayoftryingto
justifyour(reallyunjustifiable)tendencytosayonethingratherthananother.
Itisourwayofcreatingacontinuitybetweenourcurrentandourpastverbal
practices.[Bloor1984,pp.234-235]
NoticethatthekindofexplanationBloorsuggestsfor"ourtendencytosaythatthe
consequencesofourpremisespre-exist"is,broadlyspeaking,teleological.Thelastthree
sentencesofthequotemayeachbeunderstoodas"teleological"inthreedistinct
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senses:
(j)eachmaybedescribingtheintentionsofcertainindividualswhoseinterests
areservedbybeinglogical
(k)eachmaybeusinglogicalcompulsiontorationalizecertainotherwise
inexplicablepsychologicaltendenciesfoundinallhumanbeings
(l)eachmaybegivingthefunctionthatbeinglogicalservesinmaintainingthe
socialorder,regardlessofwhetheranyoneintendeditthatwayoreven
realizesthatsuchafunctionisserved.
Butdoanyoftheseaccountsexplainthesenseofobjectivitythatthe social agents
themselvesattachtothelogicalimplicationsofatheory?Anotherwayofputtingthis
pointistoask,assumingthatthereissomevalidityto(j),(k),and(l)asexplanations
ofourtendencytobelogical,whythenaremostagentsintuitivelyskepticalofthe
adequacyoftheseveryexplanations?Forweroutinelyreaffirmourbeliefinthe
objectivityoflogicalimplicationsin the course of doubting sociological explanations of
the very kind Bloor proposes.Somehow,wevaguelysuspect,theremustbemoretologic
thanjustasetofconventionsestablishedbysocialagentstobehaveinacertainway.
WhileBloormayultimatelyberightthatalltheseintuitionsandsuspicionsareinstances
offalseconsciousness,theyareexactlythesortsofthingwhichconstitutethe
appearance of objectivityandthusneedtobesavedorreducedbyasocialtheoryof
objectivity.(Weshallconsiderthispointinmoredetailinch.10.)
ForasomewhatdifferentperspectiveonBloor'sinabilitytokeeptheidentityofWorld
ThreedistinctfromPopper'sothertwoworlds,letusbrieflylookatBloor'smost
extendedattemptatshowinghowagentsnegotiatetheunanticipatedconsequencesofa
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theory.ItappearsinareviewofLakatos'Proofs and Refutations.HereBloor(1979)


arguesthatatheorycanretainitsclaimtorepresentingrealityinspiteoffailed
predictionsandunforeseencounterexamples,justaslongasitsproponentsagreeto
deployasetofdevicesLakatos'negativeheuristicdesignedtoneutralizethe
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destabilizingeffectsofanomalies.Bloorthenshowsthatthetendencytouseonesuch
devicemorethananothersay,monsterbarringoverexceptiontakingisindicativeof
howtheparticularresearchcommunityisorganized.Butcantheseeffortsattheory
maintenancebetakenasthesourceofthetheory'sobjectivity?Asbefore,thebest
strategyforansweringthisquestionistoconsiderthepointatwhichtheobjective
intuitivelydivergesfromthesocial.Whiletheclassificationofananomalyisreadilyseen
associallynegotiable,theverypresenceoftheanomalywhencecomestheneedfor
classificationseemsquiteindependentofthesocialorder,largelyinvirtueofitsnot
havingbeenanticipated.EvenBloorisofthisopinion:"Thenaturalorderprovidesthe
externalstimulus,andthesocialorderthetermsoftheresponse."(Bloor1974,p.76)
YetPopperhimselfrefusestoletobjectivityslidebackintoitstraditionalplaceinWorld
One,asBloornowseemstosuggest.Indeed,asweshallnowsee,itappearsthat
inclusionofboththeoriesand their unanticipated consequenceskeepsalltheobjects
securelyinWorldThree.
Letusconsidertwosomewhatanalogouscases,onefirmlyrootedintheanimalkingdom
andtheotherquitedistinctlyhuman.Supposesomejungleanimalswantadrinkof
waterfromthelocalpond.Sincethisistheirsoledesire,theytaketheshortestrouteto
thepond,plowingthroughtheunderbrushandleavingtracesofapathwhichcanbe
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laterusedbyotheranimals.Thoughclearlyanunanticipatedconsequenceoftheinterest
inwater,thepathwillsoonbecomeanobjectofinterestinitsownright,asits
existencecreatesproblems,whichifnotaddressedcouldseriouslyupsettheanimal
ecology.Forexample,shouldthepathhavefreeorrestrictedaccess,andwhatifone
animaltriestorestrictpassagetomembersofitsownkind?Thattheanimalsfeel
compelledtoaddresstheseproblemsinsomewayindicatestoPopper(1972,p.117)
thattheirbehaviorisconstrainedbyWorldThree.
Nowsupposetheancients,reflectingonthemanymeasurementtaskstheyperformin
everydaylife,decidetoeconomizeoneffortbyclearlydistinguishingthemeasuring
instruments,whichcanbeusedrepeatedly,fromthevariousthingsthatcanbe
measured.Thisleadstotheinventionofasystemforrepresentingthenaturalnumbers.
However,itissoonnoticedthatthesesymbolsdomorethanjustfacilitatepractical
tasks.Ontheonehand,thenumbersystemhaspeculiarpropertiesofitsown,which
generatethekindsofproblemsmathematiciansdiscoverandtrytosolveontheother
hand,oncethenumbersystemisrecognizedasmediatingallmeasurementtasks,
knowledgeofatleastsomeofitspropertiesbecomesnecessaryforcompetencein
measuring,whichultimatelyleadstomathematicsbecominganessentialpartofthe
trainingof,say,engineers.Theformerconsequence,stressedbyPopper,establishesthe
autonomyofmathematicsasabodyofknowledge,whilethelatterconsequence,
stressedbyFoucault(1975,p.118)as"theprincipleofrarity,"authorizes
mathematicianstojudgethecompetenceofengineerswhenevertheyengagein
measurement.
Fromthesetwocasesofhowanimalsandhumansunexpectedlyindeed,
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unintentionallycauseWorldThree,wemaydrawsomeconclusionsaboutthenatureof
thelinkbetweenunanticipatedconsequences,objectivity,andthesocialorder:
First,theconsequencesofcreatingthepathandthenumbersystemwereunanticipated
inthattheircreatorshadnoideaofthevariouswaysotherswouldusethem.This
impliesthatforunanticipatedconsequencestoarise,theremustbeacollectionof
individualsdrawingfromacommonpoolofartifacts(includingsystemsof
representation),butforpurposesthatarenotalwayscloselymonitoredandthusallow
fordivergentuses.Hadtherebeenclosesurveillanceoftheindividuals,thenitwould
havebeenpossibletoanticipate,andtherebyperhapscontrol,therangeofusesto
whichthepathandnumbersystemcouldbeput.AsRobertMerton(1936)originally
observed,virtuallyeveryclassicalsocialtheoristincludinga"methodological
individualist"likeAdamSmith(onemightaddPopper
[1957]aswell)locatedtheoriginofthesocialintheconstraintsthatthese
unanticipatedconsequencesplacedonthepossibilityforfutureaction.
Whatmakesacollectionofindividualsdifficulttomonitor,andhencetheiractions
difficulttoanticipate,iseithertheirsheernumerosityortheirdistributionovergreat
expansesofspaceandtime.Hadtheinventorofthenumbersystemthoughtthathis
schemewouldmakeiteasylatertoposetheproblemofirrationalnumbers,hemight
havecomeupwithsomeotherwayofseparatingoutthemeasuringfromthemeasured,
orhemightevenhavescrappedtheideaentirely.Butofcourse,oncethenumber
systemlefthishands,theseoptionswerenolongeravailable.Foucault's(1979)
relevancehereistobringoutasociologicalcounterpartto"Natureabhorsavacuum"to
wit,Power abhors ignorance.Wheneveritisimpracticabletomonitortheactivitiesofa
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vastarrayofindividuals,theunmonitoredindividualsconstitutethemselvesasa
monitoredgroup,or"discipline."Andsoweseethatnotonlydothemathematicians
studytheunanticipatedconsequencesoftheinventionofthenumbersystem,butthey
alsoembodyaspecialcompetencewhichallowsthemtomonitortheactivitiesofthe
engineers(Smart1983,pp.108-137).
Itisclear,then,thatunanticipatedconsequencesareintrinsicallysociohistorical
phenomena.BothPopperandBloormissthepoint,thoughfordifferentreasons.Popper,
perhapsbecausehisparadigmofWorldThreeisthesetofmathematicalobjects,
unnecessarilyfallsbackonaPlatonicpictureoftheconsequencesofatheory"preexisting"theirdiscovery.Afterall,Popper(1972,pp.128-140)firstpresentedthethree
worldspictureasacriticaltributetothemathematicalintuitionistL.E.J.Brouwer.
Brouwerbelieved(i)thattheonlyrealmathematicalobjectsarethoseconstructible(by
somedirectproofprocedure)bythefinitehumanmind,(ii)thattheseobjectsexist
solelyasmentalconstructions,and(iii)thattheirobjectivityismaintainedonlybyour
abilitytoconstructthemat will.PopperintroducedWorldThreelargelyasameansof
refutingBrouwer'sbeliefthat(i)entails(ii)and(iii).Thepositivethesistoissuefrom
thisrefutationwasthatmathematicalobjectscannotbepurelymentalconstructions,or
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intuitions,becausealltheproblemsarisingfromthemcannotbeanticipatedbythe
finitemind.
Bloor,whoaltersthenatureoftheoriesfromsetsofpropositionstolanguagegames,
rightlycriticizesPopperforoverreactingtoBrouwerand,thus,retainingaPlatonist's
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senseof"pre-existing"mathematicalforms.Still,thesociologistisnottherebyforcedto
render,say,therealizationofacontradictionaseitheramatterofpureconventionora
signofbrutenatureimpingingonthetheory.Rather,heneedonlysaythatLakatosstyleanomaliesariseonceatheoryisusedtorepresentadomainwhichtheoriginal
theorist(s)didnotfullyanticipateormaybeevenintended.However,increatingthe
theory,theoriginatoralsocreatedthe potentialtobeusedthatway.(Themodelfor
suchasubstantivenotionofpotentialis,ofcourse,Aristotle'sdynamos,whichhasbeen
revivedinsocialtheorybyBourdieu[1977].)Onlysomeofthepotentialconsequencesof
atheoryareeverarticulated,whileotherswillforeverremainsilentasothertheoretical
languagegamesemerge.
Whatmakestheemergenceofunanticipatedconsequencespossibleisalsowhatmakes
theiremergencedifficulttodetect.Ordinarily,actionsareevaluatedintermsofthe
consequencesthattheiragentsintendandanticipate.Byproductsoftheactionsare
rarelytakenintoaccountunlesstheyarefairlynoticeableintheirownrightorrelatively
contemporaneouswiththeintended/anticipatedconsequences.However,ifthese
byproductsdonotmakethemselvesfeltuntillongaftertheinitiatingactionsandthen
inaratherdifferentcontextcompoundedwiththebyproductsofotheractionstheyare
unlikelytobeperceivedascausallyrelatedtotheoriginalactions.Foucault's(1975)
"archaeologyofknowledge"aimspreciselytorecoverthisoftenobscurechainof
accidents,fortheinabilitytospecifythesocio-historicaloriginofaconceptorpractice
hasoftenbeentakenasasignofitstimelessnessandimmutabilityinaword,its
objectivity.Thus,inThe Order of Things,Foucault(1970)startswiththecuriousfact
thatwhile"theproblemofman"hasgenerallybeenregardedasaperennialoneforour
culture,theideaofaninquiryspecificallydevotedtoitdoesnotariseuntilKant's
coinageof"anthropology"in1795.Foucaultthengoesontoshow,amongotherthings,
howthepotentialforanthropologicaldiscoursewascreatedbytheroughlysimultaneous
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appearanceinthemid-eighteenthcenturyofquiteindependentlinesofresearchin
naturalhistory,philology,andpoliticaleconomy.UnlikeBloor,whousuallyseemsto
drawepisodesfromhistorywithoutdemonstratinganawarenessofthefluxofhistory,
Foucaultrealizesthattoidentifytheobjectivewiththesocialisnottomakewhat
passesasobjectiveknowledgeanylessresistanttotheintentionsandexpectationsof
individualsocialagents.
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PART TWO
ISSUES IN THE LANGUAGE AND HISTORY OF
KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION
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CHAPTER THREE
REALISM, THE MOVING TARGET OF SCIENCE STUDIES:
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A TALE OF PHILOSOPHERS, HISTORIANS, AND


SOCIOLOGISTS IN HOT PURSUIT
Iswhetherasentenceistrueorfalse,orwhetherastateofaffairsobtainsornot,
relativetoourstateofknowledge?"No,"saystherealist."Yes,"saystheantirealist.
Settingthedebateinsuchstarktermsmakesthedifferenceofopinionseemquite
straightforward.And,indeed,itwouldbe,wereitnotforthefactthatthedisputearises
atmanypointsinScienceStudiespointsbetweenwhichtherearenoclearconnections.
Inotherwords,wefollowMichaelDummett(1976,ch.10)andJerryFodor(andoppose
themorepopularW.V.O.QuineandDonaldDavidson)inseeingtheproblemofrealism
decideddifferentlyindifferentcontextsofinquiry.Itisamistaketosimplypresumethat
theproblemmustberesolvedinonewayforallcontexts.Admittedly,thestandard
procedureinmetaphysicaldisputeshasbeentoattemptall-or-nothingsolutions.But
thisprocedureencouragesasortof"inprinciple"or"apriori"styleofargumentation,
which,becauseitisdesignedtocoverallcases,tendstobeconductedatsoabstracta
planethatitbecomesdifficulttojudgethevalidityoftheparticularargumentsmade.
Weshallseeanexampleofthisstyleinthetranscendentalargumentsforscientific
realism,whicharesoabstractthatitisnolongerclearhowthehistoricalevidence
shouldbeinterpreted.
Beforewebegintrackingdownthevariouscontextsinwhichtheproblemofrealism
arises,aquicksurveyoftheconceptualterrainisinorder.Forthesakeofconvenience,I
shallstatetheseasalistofdicta:
(1)Youcannotparticipateinthescientificrealismdebateevenasan
antirealistunlessyouareanhistoricalrealist.Allpartiesbelievethatthe
historyofsciencebearsdecisivelyontheoutcomeofthisdebate,largely
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becausetheypresumethathistoricalinquiryisasepistemologicallysoundas
anyotherempiricalinquiry.ThisevengoesforKuhnandFeyerabend,bothof
whomaremoreconcernedwithhowhistoricalagentsconstructedtheirworlds
thanwiththemorestrictlyhermeneuticalissueofhowhistoriansconstructthe
historicalagents.Infact,givenhisreluctancetoabstractfromthe"brute
facts,"thescientificantirealistmaybeespeciallycommittedtohistorical
realism.
(2)Althoughsociologistsofknowledgeare,understandably,antirealistsabout
theentitiesproducedbyphysicistsandothernaturalscientists,theyneednot
beantirealistsaboutsocialentitiesaswell.Forexample,theymaybelieve
thatthereis"afactofmatter"aboutwhyacertainsetofindividualsaresaid
tobelongtoacertaincategory.Butwhereasthescientificrealistwouldideally
saythatthe
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facthastodowithpropertiesthattheseindividualshaveincommon(an
"essence"),thesociologistwould,first,showthattheindividualsreallydonot
sharetheallegedcommonpropertiesand,then,explaintheindividualsbeing
"conventionally"groupedtogetherintermsoftherelevantsocialfactsabout
thecontextofcategorization.
(3)Themodernrealistdebatesareanalogoustothescholasticdisputeover
theexistenceofuniversals.Correspondingtothedefendersofuniversalsare
regulativerealists,whobelievethatifsomethingisanx,thenitisanxin
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virtueofcertainpropertiesthatallx-typethingsaresaidtohave.
Correspondingtothenominalistsareconstitutiverealists,whobelievethat
therearecertainbruteindividuals(things,events),invirtueofwhichwords
refer,butwhichdonotinanywaydependonthewordsfortheirexistence.The
pointtobenotedhereisthatthesetworealismsarelogicallyindependentof
oneanother.Forexample,bothpositivistsandsocialconstructivistsare
typicallyconstitutiverealistsbutregulativeantirealists,whileKuhnandmost
Platonistsareregulativerealistsbutconstitutiveantirealists.Ofcourse,
scientificrealistsarerealistsonbothscores,thoughthethoughtthatone
mustholdthesameviewonbothregulativeandconstitutivemattershasled
tomuchconfusioninthedebatesoverwhetheralienculturesare"really"
rational.
(4)Insofarasscientificrealismiscommittedtothegradualaccumulationof
knowledgeovertime,itpresupposesthatknowledgecanberetained,which,in
turn,entailsthatthecontentofagivenknowledgeclaimcanbepreserved
intactinalaterbodyofknowledge.Nowtherealisthastwooptionsastohow
thisperfecttranslationoccurs:eitherbypreservingtheentitiestowhichthe
originalclaimantthoughthewasreferring(pluralistic,ormany-worlds,realism)
orbypreservingonlytheevidencethatoriginallycausedtheclaimanttorefer
ashedid(monistic,orone-world,realism).Thedifferenceisrepresentedby
KuhnandQuine,respectively.Heretheantirealistholdsthatneitherofthe
realistoptionsprovidesanentirelysatisfactoryaccountofhowtranslation
occurs.Instead,eachcaseoftranslationinvolvesacontextuallydetermined
trade-offbetweenthetwoapproachestotranslation.

1. Realism: Who's Got the Burden of Proof?


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Therewasatime,threehundredyearsago,whenBishopBerkeleycouldargueapriori
thatrealismwasunintelligibleonthegroundsthatcounterfactualclaimsaboutthestate
oftheworldindependentofknowerswereneithertruenorfalse,sincebydefinitionsuch
claimscouldnotbeverifiedhence,Berkeleyarguedthatour"intuitive"beliefinthe
existenceof
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Godwasgroundedinourequally"intuitive"antirealismtowardtheworld,whichrequired
thepresenceofanevervigilantverifier.Butthosedaysarelonggone.Nowadays,in
arguingaboutrealism,philosophersfrequentlystartwiththeclaimthatwehaverealist
intuitions,thatrealismiscommonsense,orthatrealismisthenaturalattitude.Claims
ofthiskindareintendedtoshifttheburdenofprooffromtherealisttotheantirealist.
Yet,despitethefactthatsuchclaimsprefacedetailedargumentsforscientificrealism,
theyaretypicallybasedonanequivocation.
Incommonparlance,"regardingtheworldrealistically"or"havingarealisticattitude
towardtheworld"isbestglossed,inphilosophicaljargon,asknowingtheprobabilities
ofcertainstatesofaffairsobtainingundertheconditionsmostlikelytoobtaininthe
agent'sworld.Thus,peoplewhoareordinarilydescribedas"realistic"arenotoneswho
knowthetheoriesthatbestexplainhowandwhythingshappenastheydo(something
thatascientificrealistwouldknow),butpeoplewhocananticipatewhatisandisnot
likelytohappen,bothinlightofandinspiteofwhatevertheymightdo.Theordinary
realistthenisadevoteeofpracticenottheory,phronesisnotepisteme,savoirnot
connaissance.
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Itwouldseem,then,thatthe"realist"ofcommonparlanceisindifferenttothe
philosophicalproblemsofrealism.Indeed,wecanimagineascientificrealistwhom
ordinaryfolkswouldregardasanythingbutaparadigmcaseofa"realist"intheirsense.
Forexample,thisscientificrealistmaybeequippedwithallthebesttheoriesavailable
forexplainingeverythingthatisofinteresttohim,butbecausethesetheoriesmustbe
combinedinrathercomplicatedwayswhenappliedtoparticularcases,ourrealisthas
greatdifficultyaccessingtheinformationheneedstopredictwhatisgoingtohappen
next.Tobeconcrete,letussaythatheknowsallthebesttheoriesofterrestrial
mechanics,optics,andperceptualpsychology,butnothingaboutthe"folk"psychological
andphysicaltheoriesimplicitinourordinaryunderstandingoftheworld.Itwouldhardly
besurprisingthenifourscientificrealistendsupbumpingintowallsanddoingallthe
othersortsofthingsthatwouldmarkhimasan"absent-mindedprofessor"ratherthan
asa"realist"ofcommonparlance.
Ironyaside,thisexampleshouldmakeussensitivetothefactthatevenifweknewthe
"realprinciples"governingthebehaviorofsomedomainofobjects,itwouldnotfollow
thatthoseprincipleswouldbeofmuchuseinansweringthequestionsthatinterestus
aboutthatdomain.Moretothepoint,itwouldnotevenfollowthatthoseprinciples
wouldbeofmuchuseforscientific research itself,unlesswehadalreadyestablished
(throughindependentargument)thatthesearchforrealprinciplesisoneoftheaimsof
science.Thispointwouldhavebeenobvioustoapositivist/fideistlikePierreDuhem
(1954),whoarguedthatsincetheprinciplesthentypicallyproposedas"real"were
metaphysicalandtheologicalinnature,knowledgeofthemwasclearlybeyondthe
methodologicalstricturesofscience.However,thepointisnowmuchsubtler,insofaras
wemightwanttoincludeamongthe"realprinciples"entitiesderivedfromthe
applicationof
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scientifictechnology,suchasquarksandothercreaturesofmicrophysics,whose
relevancetothehumanconditionseemsminimalandwhoseinteresttoscientistsmay
entirelydependonthesearchforrealprinciplesbeingoneoftheaimsofscience.
(Admittedly,thescientificrealistmayhavean"escapeclause"here,ifhecanshowthat
theserealprinciplesarenecessaryfortheproductionofcertainhumanlybeneficial
byproducts.)
SomeoneunsympathetictowhatIhavesaidsofarwillremark,"Allthatyouhave
managedtoshowisthat'realism'isawordwithmanydifferentmeanings.Thefactthat
philosophicalrealistsliketopiggybackontheordinarysenseofthetermonlyshowsthat
theyshouldn'tbeallowedtodothat.Itcertainlydoesn'tshowthatanyformof
philosophicalrealismisfalseoruntenable."True,but,forbetterorworse,itistheword
"realism"thatmakesliterarycriticsandhistoriansofscienceperkuptheirearsandstart
takinganinterestinwhatphilosophersaredoing.Andgiventhatthetermsofthe
realismdebatehaveshiftedovertheyears,itisstillverymuchanopenquestionasto
whatistheinterestingissuethathoversaroundtheword"realism."Togiveyouasense
ofhowdrasticallythetermshaveshiftedoverjustthelasttwentyyears,considerthat
backinthedayswhenthedebatewaspresentedas"realismvs.instrumentalism,"the
burdenofproofwasplacedontherealisttoexplainwhysciencecouldnotgoaboutits
businesswithoutsupposingthatthetermsmentionedinitstheorieshadrealreferents.
Thepresumptionwasthatthepositivisttheoryofsciencewasbothcorrectand
exhaustive:namely,thatscienceaimstowardgreaterpredictionandcontroloftheworld
andthattherelativevalueoftheoriescanbemeasuredexclusivelyintermsofhowthey
contributetothatgoal.Traditionalvirtuesofscientifictheoriessuchasexplanatory
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power,fertility,andanalogyremainedvirtuousonlytotheextentthattheyservedas
indirectindicatorsofincreasedinstrumentality.Itshouldbenotedthattherealistof
commonparlancewouldprobablyfeelquitecomfortablewiththesentimentsofthe
instrumentalistwho,afterall,isnotdenyingthatthetermsofscientifictheoriesrefer
ratherheisdenyingonlythattheendsofscienceareenhancedinanywaybyknowing
whetherornottheyrefer.Thus,justastheordinaryrealistisindifferenttotheissue
debatedbycurrentphilosophers,theinstrumentalist,as,sotospeak,"theconscienceof
commonscientist,"wasindifferenttotheissuethatgreatlyexercisedhisopponent
twentyyearsago(Nagel1968,ch.6).
Fromarhetoricalstandpoint,thescientificrealistwasoriginallyatadisadvantage
becausethedebatewasframedininstrumentalistterms:thatis,therealisthadtogive
aninstrumentalistdefenseofrealism,namely,byshowinghowrealismenhancedthe
endsofscience.Withthedecksostacked,itisperhapsnotsurprisingthatconvincing
realistresponseswerenotforthcoming.Therehasbeengreatconfusionoverthe
significanceofthisdialecticalstateofaffairsinthe1960sandearly1970s,againlargely
duetothefactthathistoriansandphilosophershavenotbeencarefulinspecifying
exactlywhat"realism,""instrumentalism,""positivism,"andthe
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likearesupposedtocharacterize.TaketherolesthatKuhnandFeyerabendarethought
toplayinallthis.Inmyview,whileKuhnandFeyerabendwerebeneficiariesof"the
instrumentalistpresumption"thenoperatinginphilosophicaldebate,theythemselves
werenotinstrumentalists.Indeed,theywerecommittedtoratherexoticformsofrealism
(KuhntoamanyworldsontologyandFeyerabendtoaone-worldontologythatresists
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anypossibleepistemology)whichwouldquicklydiscouragethescientificenterpriseif
anything scientific hinged on knowing whether or not the terms of our theories had real
referents.And,ofcourse,thisistheverypointthatinstrumentalismdenies.

2. Why Is It Now So Difficult to Defeat the Realist?


Aswewouldexpectofanydialectic,thependulumhasnowswungsothatthecurrent
philosophicaldebateoverrealismplacestheburdenofproofsquarelyontheshoulders
oftherealist'sfoe,nowcalledthe"antirealist,"whichalreadysuggeststhatthefoe's
verypositionmakessenseprimarilyintermsofitsoppositiontorealism.Therearetwo
waysofposingthequestionthattheantirealistmustnowanswer,whicharenotstrictly
equivalent,butwhicharesimilarenoughtohighlightthedifferenceinstylebetweenOld
WaveMetaphysiciansandNewWavePhilosophersofScience.IntheOldWave:Isthere
anywaythatthesuccessofsciencecanberenderedintelligibleotherthanbysaying
that(mostof)thetermsofits(mostrecent)theorieshaverealreferents?IntheNew
Wave:Isthereanybetterwayofexplainingthesuccessofsciencethanbysayingthat
(mostof)thesentencesofits(mostrecent)theoriesaretrue?TheOldWavedaresthe
antirealisttorefuteatranscendentalargumenttotheeffectthatarealistinterpretation
ofscientifictheoriesmustbepresupposedconceptuallyifthehistoryofscienceisto
makeanysenseatall.TheNewWavearguesinasomewhatmoreempiricalvein,
hypothesizingthatoncewecollectallthedataaboutscientificpracticeandsituateita
generaltheoryofourattemptstomakesenseofreality,wewillfindthatthebest
explanationofwhyscienceissonotablysuccessfulisthatitstheoriesaretrue
representationsofreality.ThedifferencebetweentheOldWaveandtheNewWave
Realists,then,boilsdowntothedifferencebetweenKantandPeirce.
Yet,foralltheirdifferences,bothWavesofRealistsagreeonwhattheantirealistneeds
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toaccountforaswellastheycan:namely,thesuccessofscience(Boyd1984).
Expressingthecontestedphenomenoninthiswaynicelycapturestheextenttowhich
therealistnowcontrolsthetermsofdebate,suchthattheantirealistisasked,ineffect,
toprovidearealistdefenseofantirealism."Success"issimplytherealist'sdiscreetway
ofsaying"progress,"thelongtermnetaccumulationofknowledgeasmeasuredby
increasinglybetterexplanation,prediction,andcontrolovermorephenomena.Ifsuccess
inthissenseistakentobeabrutefactaboutthehistoryofscience,thennoticethe
sortsofexplanatoryavenuesthatare
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closedofftotheantirealist.Take,forinstance,thisargument:ifwecomparewhat,say,
Aristotlewasinterestedinexplaining,predicting,andcontrollingwithwhatwecurrently
are,itwouldnotbesoclearthatrelativetoourinterestswehaveadvancedthatmuch
furtherthanAristotledidrelativetohis.Theantirealistcannotmakethisargument
becausetherealist'sconceptof"success"allowsanyrelativisticmaneuvertobe
reinterpretedbysaying,first,thatAristotlewasessentiallyengagedinourprojectwhen
doingwhathecalled"science"and,second,thatAristoteliansentencescanbe
translatedintoourownandthenevaluatedfortheirtruthvalues.
Anotherlineofattackclosedtotheantirealististhis:asmajorconceptualchangesoccur
inscience,cognitiveinterestsshiftsoastorenderentirebodiesofknowledgeobsolete,
notbecausetheyhavebeenshownfalse,butbecausetheycannotbeeasilyfittedinto
thenewconceptualscheme.Asaresult,scientistssimplystoptalkingaboutsuch
matters.ThisisthephenomenonthatLakatosianscall"KuhnLoss,"whichismostclearly
illustratedinthelossoftelosasaconstitutivefeatureofnatureafterthetransition
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fromtheAristotelianworldviewtothemechanicalworldsystem.Clearly,theantirealist
wantstoshowbythisargumentthatitisdifficulttomakeouttheclaimthattherehas
beenanetgaininknowledge,exceptfromthestandpointofwhatcurrentlyinterestsus.
However,realistseasilyblockthismovebywhatisknown,afterKripkeandPutnam,as
the causal theory of reference(Schwartz1977).Thegeneralstrategyhereistosaythat
justbecauseAristoteliansthoughtthattherewereteloi("purposes")aboutwhichone
couldmaketrueorfalseclaims,itdoesnotfollowthatsentenceswhichmentionedteloi
werereallyabouttheintendedentities.Rather,theAristoteliansentencesreallyreferto
whateverentitiesinthebestscientifictheory(withours,ofcourse,actingassurrogate)
wouldbestexplaintheirutteringthosesentences.Theenvisionedexplanationwould
thenshowhowtheAristotelianssystematicallymisidentifiedthepropertiesofsomereal
entitiesasteloi.
Inblockingthislastargument,therealistclaimstobemakingapointabouttherelation
ofmeaningtoreference:namely,atheoryofreferenceforalanguageneednotadmit
whatspeakersofthatlanguage"mean"or"intend"bytheirsentencesitneedonly
admittheentities(asidentifiedinthebestscientifictheory)whichcausedthespeakers
toutterthosesentences.However,totheantirealist,thissimplylookslikeasubtleway
ofbeggingthequestioninfavorofrealism,sinceitpresupposesthatthereisafactof
thematteraboutthereferenceofparticularsentences,independentofthelinguistic
categoriesinwhichtheworldisconceptualized.Yet,thispresuppositionissupposedto
betheboneofcontentionthatdividestherealistandtheantirealist.Befittingthe
current"realistpresumption,"philosophicaldebateoverthecausaltheoryofreference
hascenteredlargelyonmakingtheproposalconceptuallycoherentandonspecifyingthe
implicationsofcasesinwhichthereferentisnoteasilyidentified.Therehasbeenlittle
discussionaboutthegeneralempiricalfeasibilityofsuchatheory
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(Dowehavethesortofresourcesitwouldtaketodeterminethereferenceofsentences
inthismanner?)orwhetheritapproximatesouractualreferringpractices.Now,isthere
anywaythatthehistorianofsciencecanopenupsomenewavenuesofinquiriesand
therebysavetheantirealistfromhisdialecticaldisadvantage?
LetusstartwiththeOldWaveMetaphysician,whomakesatranscendentalchallengeto
theantirealist.Atfirstglance,itmightseemthattheempiricallymindedhistorianhas
littletoofferintheantirealist'sdefense.Butsuchajudgmentwouldbemuchtoo
premature.Recallthatthetranscendentalargumentpurportstoshowonlythe
conceptualnecessityofarealistinterpretationofthehistoryofscience.Anditisat
leastarguablethatitwouldbeverydifficultindeedtounderstandthehistoryofscience
asahistoryofscienceifitstrajectorydidnotexhibitthekindofprogresslackinginthe
historiesofothercognitivepursuits,suchasreligionandcommonsense.However,just
becausethereisthisconceptuallimitationinour understandingofscience,itdoesnot
followthatthehistoryofsciencereallyexhibitstheconceptuallynecessaryprogress.It
maysimplybethatacertainwayofwritingthehistoryofsciencehasbecomeso
entrenchedinourcultureonewhosenarrativestructureincludesa"Scientific
Revolution"intheseventeenthcenturyandtheincreasinglysuccessfulattemptsofthe
specialsciencesoverthelastthreecenturiestoemulatethevirtuesofclassical
mechanicsthatwesystematicallyignoreorexplainawayanyevidencewhichwould
impedethisparticularhistoriography.
NoticethatwehavejustprovidedthebasisforarealistrefutationofOldWaveRealism
thatis,atthesametime,adefenseofantirealism.Moretothepoint,itisadialectical
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strategyinwhichtheskillsofthehistorianofscienceareessential.Hismainrolehereis
to"demystify"or"deconstruct"thenarrativesnormallyusedforrecountingthehistoryof
sciencebyrevealingthe"facts"(construedasarealistwould)thataresystematically
omittedbecausethesenarrativesperformthelatentfunctionoflegitimatingthe
cognitiveinterestswhichmotivatecurrentscientificinquiry.Ifthehistorianfindsthe
exemplarsofthismethodMarx,Foucault,Derridaratherobscuremasterstofollow,
thatisonlybecausethemastershavebeenunwillingtopresupposehistoricalrealismin
thecourseofdefeatinghistoricalthesesadvancedbytherealist.MarxandFoucaultmay
beexceptionshere,buttheycertainlydonotfollowthroughontheirrealism
consistently.Indeed,oneofthebiggesttacticalblunderscommittedbythe
deconstructionistshasbeentofocusexclusivelyonthereflexiveimplicationsoftheir
radicalantirealism,whichleadsthemtoproducetextsthat"deconstructthemselves,"
whileremainingoblivioustothefactthatonthecurrentdialecticalscenerealismismost
forcefullyrefutedonitsownterms.However,therealistshavenotbeenoblivioustothe
significanceofthisblunder,whichisthatcarriedtoitsextreme,antirealismcouldnot
groundthekindofcommunicationtheorythatispresupposedbysciencepreservingthe
truthsthatitaccumulatesovertime.
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Somewhatmoresure-footedinitswillingnesstopresupposehistoricalrealismisthe
methodologyofQuentinSkinner(1969),who,armedwithAustin'sspeech-acttheory,has
systematicallyshownthevastdisparitybetweenhowMachiavelli,Hobbes,andLocke
wereunderstoodbytheirintendedaudiences(which,asSkinnerisatpainstoobserve,is
somethingotherthanhowtheyintendedtobeunderstoodbythoseaudiences)andhow
weunderstandthemasvoicesin"ourpoliticaltradition."Moreover,themostsignificant
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featureofthisdisparityisnot,say,thatHobbes'audienceunderstoodhimasasserting
oneproposition,whileweunderstandhimasassertinganotherrather,theyoften
understoodHobbesasperformingsomespeechactotherthanasserting,whichisthe
speechactwetypicallyunderstandhimtobedoingallthetime.Idirectthispointabout
Skinner'smethodologyspecificallytohistoriansofscience,sinceamongthefactsthey
mayunearthtorefutetherealististhatthescientistsinquestionwerenotoriginally
understoodasmakingassertions,butratherspeechactswhichdonotinvolvethe
assignmentoftruthvalues.
Beforegoinganyfurther,itshouldbemadeclearthatthehistorianofscienceneedsonly
topresupposehistoricalrealismdialecticallyinarguingagainstthescientificrealist,
who,afterall,willacceptonlyargumentswithrealistpremises.NothingIhavesaid
shouldbetakentosuggestthathistoricalrealismisgenerallyadesirablephilosophical
position.Butinallfairnesstothescientificrealist,Ishouldalsosaythathewouldbe
abletofendofftheattacksofthehistorianofscience,ifhecouldneutralizethe
significanceofthefactsthathehasbeen"systematically"omitting.Briefly,sucha
possibilitywouldconsistintherealistsomehowmanagingtoabstractthe"purpose"of
thehistoryofsciencenamely,toattainthemaximallycoherentandcomprehensive
theoryofthenatureofthingsandthenshowinghowtheeventsheidentifiesare
essentialforrealizingthatpurpose,whiletheonesidentifiedbythehistorianare
accidentalandneednothavetakenplace.
Inrecentphilosophyofscience,thePopperians,especiallyImreLakatos(1970),have
beenmastersatthissortofcounterfactualteleologizing.However,inwritingsucha
history,thescientificrealistmustbecarefulnottofallpreytoafallacyfirstnotedby
MaxWeber(1964),whichwouldinvolveconfusingthevalue significanceofrealismwith
itscausal significance.Althoughthevaluesignificanceofscientificrealismisundeniably
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greatinsofarasmajorscientists,suchasAristotle,Galileo,Newton,andEinstein,made
senseoftheirownworkinthisway,suchacommitmenttorealismmaywellturnoutto
havehadrelativelylittleimpactindeterminingtheactualcourseofeventsinthehistory
ofscience.Indeed,giventhecausalcomplexityofhistoryingeneral,itiswellwithin
reasontosupposethattheoperativecausalfactorshavebeenincidentaltothevalue
commitmentsofthehistoricalagents.
NowontoamoredirectconfrontationbetweenthehistorianofscienceandtheNew
WaveRealist.YouwillrecallthattheNewWaverthinksofhimselfasbeingasortof
scientistofhistorywhosetheoryofreferencewill
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helphimestablishwhatscientistsinthepastwerereallytalkingaboutandhowright
theywereinsayingwhattheysaidaboutit.NowiftheNewWaveRealistfancies
himselftobeascientist,oratleastsomeonewhoproposesrealismasanempirical
hypothesisaboutthe"success"ofscience,thenthehypothesismustbesystematically
testable.Admittedly,sincetheNewWaveRealistisneedlesstosayarealist,hemay
stillberightevenifthereturnsouttobenowayoftestinghishypothesis.Hemay
simplyfollowtheOldWavelineandclaimthatthecausaltheoryofreferenceispartof
whatmustbepresupposedifthehistoryofscienceistomakeanysenseatall.
However,inthatcase,theNewWaverwouldalsohavetogiveupanypretenseofbeing
scientificorempirical.Andso,heisforcedtoplaythegameofverifiability conditionsin
theantirealist'sballpark:namely,towhatextentcanwedeterminethereferenceofpast
scientificdiscoursesuchthatweareabletotellhowmuchofitistrue?
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3. Putting Scientific Realism to the Historical Test


FromreadingPutnam(1975,ch.131984),onecouldeasilygettheimpressionthatthe
requisiteverifiabilityconditionsareeasilysatisfied.Muchoftheargumenthaswhatcan
onlybecalleda"pseudo-empirical"feel.Forexample,wearetoldthattheBohrRutherford1912descriptionofwhattheycalled"electron"approximately fitsthe
quantummechanicaldescriptionofwhatistodaycalled"electron,"invirtueofour
electronplayingmanyofthesameconceptualrolesthattheirelectronwasintendedto
play.ThewayPutnamwishestoverifythisclaimisbyapplying"thebenefitofthedoubt
principle"toBohrandRutherford(intheir1912frameofmind),whichimpliesthatifBohr
andRutherfordwereshown(whatwenowknowtobe)themistakenbeliefsthat
informedtheir1912descriptionoftheelectron,theywouldgladlyaccepttoday's
formulation.ThepseudoempiricalfeelofallthisdoesnotstemfromPutnam'smere
relianceoncounterfactualhistory.Actually,Ithinksuchahistorycanbequitevaluable
forthehistorianofsciencewhowishestotakepartintherealismdebatesaslongas
itsmethodologyissomewhatmoresubstantialthananappealtonaiveintuition,which,
Ifear,isallthatisoperatinginPutnam'scase.
Wherenaiveintuitionislurking,transcendentalconcernscannotbefarbehind.And
indeed,PutnamgoesontoarguethattheBohr-Rutherfordelectronmustapproximately
describethereferentofourterm"electron,"inorderforthehistoryofsciencetobe
renderedintelligible.Hisstrikingwayofmakingthispointisbyclaimingthatthe
rationalityofsciencedependsonthefollowinginductionbeingblocked:just as no
scientific theory held fifty years ago (or at some other suitably distant time in the past)
is today taken to be true, likewise in another fifty years no theory that we now take to
be true will enjoy that status.Putnam'sworryseemstostemfromaviewthathas
becomeprevalentamonghistoriansinfluencedbyKuhnandFeyerabend,
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namely,thatalternativescientifictheoriesarenotsimplybetterorworsewaysof
makingsenseofacommonbodyofdatabutratherareactuallyconstitutiveofdifferent
bodiesofdata.Itfollowsonthis"holistic"approachthattoreplaceonescientifictheory
withanotherisalsotoreplaceonebodyofdatawithanother.Consequently,since
theoriesareacceptedandrejectedaswholes,nothingispreservedandtransmittedin
thecourseofhistory,whichmeansthatthekeyindicatorofscientificprogress,
cumulativegrowth(atleastinthebodyofdataaccountedfor),iseliminated.
Nowifoneholdsthatscientifictheoriesaredesignedexclusivelytoattendtothe
cognitiveandpracticaldemandsofaparticularperiod,thenradicalholismofthissort
doesnotcauseanyproblems.ButasRichardBoyd,oneofPutnam'sstudents,has
observed,thesuccessionoftheoriesinthehistoryofscienceappearstohaveanimplicit
direction,namely,towardthesubsumptionofmoredata(Putnam1978,ch.2).Boyd
believesthatthistendencyoccursbythelatesttheoryaccountingfordatathatan
earliertheoryfailedtodo,whileretainingmostofthedatathatallowedtheearlier
theorytoreplaceastillearliertheory.NoticeherethatBoyd'sconceptofdirectionality
allowsustodistinguishastrongerandaweakerversionofscientificrealism.The
strongerversion,oneendorsedbyPeirce,Popper,andtheearlyPutnam,takesthe
tendencytowardincreasingdatasubsumption,or"phenomenasaving,"inthehistoryof
scienceasevidenceforscienceaimingfor(andultimatelyarrivingat)thebestpossible
accountofhowthingsreallyare.Onthisview,thehistoryofsciencehasbothadirection
andagoal:scientificactivityisbothpurposefulinitsownrightandhasapurposeother
thanitsownpursuit.Incontrast,theweakerversionattributestoscienceadirectionbut
notnecessarilyagoal,namely,thesubsumptionofevermoredatawithouttheprocess
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havingtoconvergeontheultimatepictureofreality.Suchaviewwouldbepalatableto
apositivist,hasactuallybeenendorsedbyBasvanFraassen(1980),atheoretical
antirealistwhoisalsoanempiricalrealist,andseemstobelurkinginPutnam's(1983)
mostrecentwritings.
BecausePutnam'sworkencompassesbothversionsofscientificrealism,itmakesagood
touchstoneforlaunchingcritiquesofthegeneralposition.Ishallproceedbyattacking
thestrongerversiononfourgrounds,thenlaunchingoneattackontheweakerversion,
andfinallycriticizinganyscientificrealismthatreliesonacausaltheoryofreference.
Thefirstcriticismislaunchedatthesupposedneedtoblocktheinductionthatworries
Putnam.Aswasnoted,onlyascientificrealisthassuchaneed.Eitherofhismajor
opponents,theinstrumentalistorthemoregenericantirealist,cannotonlyaccept,but
alsoexplainwhytheinductionshouldgothrough.Recallthatthewholepointof
instrumentalismisthatthesuccessofscienceisnottiedtothetruth-valueofitsclaims
(orevenwhethertheyhavetruth-values),sincescientifictheoriesarenothingbut
elaboratesetsofinstructionsforpredictingandcontrollingtheworld.Therealist's
worrieswouldthusseemtostemfromhavingtoonarrowan
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understandingofthedifferentfunctionsthatlanguagecanperform:surelytheyinclude
morethanjustrepresentationordescription,since(soclaimstheinstrumentalist)the
linguisticpracticeofscientistsdoesnotfunctionprimarilyineithermanner.Themore
genericantirealistwouldtakeaslightlydifferenttack,granting(atleastforthesakeof
argument)thatscientificdiscourseisprimarilyrepresentationalordescriptive,butthen
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arguingthatasthecognitiveinterestsofthescientificcommunitychange,sotoodothe
sortsofthingsaboutwhichoneneedstohavetruetheories.Onthisdiagnosis,then,the
realistisworriedonlybecauseheholdstheunwarrantedbeliefthattherearesome
historicallyinvariantcognitiveinterestsalludedtoearlierasthe"purpose"ofthe
historyofscienceintermsofwhichonemayspeakof"increasingsuccess"overtime.
MysecondcriticalremarkisdirectedatPutnam'sappealto"approximatetruth."Unlike
mostphilosopherswhocriticizethisnotion,Iamnotsomuchconcernedwitheitherthe
conceptualpointthat"approximatetruth"mayhavenousefulmeaningifthetruthisnot
alreadypresumedtobeknown(asPutnamandotherrealistsmoreorlessdo)orthe
factualpointthatnomethodhasyetbeendevisedfororderingscientifictheories
accordingtohowcloselytheyapproximatethetruth.Myownconcerniswithtaking
seriouslythemetaphorwhichguidedPopper'soriginalconceptualizationof
"verisimilitude,"theprototypeofallrecenttheoriesofapproximatetruth.Popperlikened
theideaoftheoriessuccessivelyapproximatingthetruthwithmountaineersclimbinga
mountainshroudedinfog.AnimplicationofthemetaphortowhichIwoulddrawyour
attentionisthatseveralmountaineersmaybethe same distance from the summit but
coming at it from different directions.Thismakesmatterssomewhatmessyforthe
scientificrealist,unlesshehasreasontobelievethatthereisapreferred directionto
thetop(compareHaack[1980]).
Todrivehomethislastpoint,considertherolesthatthemysticalJohannesKeplerand
themechanisticReneDescartesplayedinthedevelopmentofNewton'sworld-system.
(Inusingtheword"development,"Iamtryingtotellthescientificrealist'sstoryinas
muchofhisowntermsaspossible.)Keplerwascorrectabouttheellipticalshapeofthe
planetaryorbitsandabouttheexistenceofanattractiveforceovertheplanetsthat
decreasedininverseproportiontothesquareofaplanet'sdistancefromthesun.
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Unfortunately(fromthestandpointofNewton),Keplerbelievedthatthephysicalsource
ofthisforcewasthesunandthattheforceitselfwastheembodimentoftheHolySpirit.
NowDescarteswascorrectaboutminimizingtheexplanatorysignificanceofGodand
abouttheexistenceofanotherforceintheuniverse,namely,theoneinherentinbodies
thatpushesthemtowardoneanother.ButwhileDescartes,therefore,hadaclear
conceptionofinertia,helackedanysenseofgravitationalattraction.Moreover,he
continuedtothinkthattheplanetsmovedincircularorbits.ThiscomparisonofKepler
andDescartessuggeststhatifthereisnopreferreddirectiontothetruth,thenKepler
andDescartes,despitetheirradicallydifferentorientationstoscience,approximatedthe
truths
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expressedinNewtonianmechanicstoroughlythesamedegree,sincetheworkofthese
two"naturalphilosophers"representscomplementarytheoreticalstrengths(and
weaknesses)fromthestandpointofNewtonianmechanics.
Whilenoneoftheabove,strictlyspeaking,contradictsscientificrealism,therealist
wouldstillfinditaratherundesirablepossibilitybecausescientistswouldthenappeara
bittoounwittingintheircontributionstotheprogressofscience.Itisonethingto
claim,asPutnamandrealistsnormallydo,thatpastscientistswantedtoknowabout
roughlythesortsofthingsthatnowinterestusandthereforearerightlysaidtohave
provided,inmanycases,approximatedescriptionsofwhatwecannowprovidetrue
descriptions.Itisquiteanotherthingtoclaim,aswehaveshowntobepermissibleby
theconceptofapproximatetruth,thatpastscientistscanprovidedescriptionsthat
approximateourowneveniftheyhadnointerestwhatsoeverinknowingaboutthesorts
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ofthingsthatnowinterestus.
Thisbringsustomythirdcriticalremark,whichconcernsPutnam'sappealto"thebenefit
ofthedoubtprinciple."AstheBohr-Rutherfordexampleillustrated,Putnamassumes
thatshowingarationalagentthatsomeofhisbeliefsarefalseissufficientforhis
changingthosebeliefs,specificallyto the ones that his critic suggests.Nowsuchan
assumptionmightbeappropriateinPutnam'schosenexample,sinceitishistorically
probablethatBohrandRutherfordwereengagedinaprojectthatcontemporaryquantum
mechanicshasbroughttofruition.However,ingeneral,itisimportanttocountenance
twosortsofsituations,whoselikelihoodincreasesthefartherbackinhistorywego,in
whichwewouldstillwanttoclaimthattheagentwasrational:
(a)theagentgrantsthatsomeofhisbeliefswouldbefalse,wereheengaged
insomemodemproject,whichheisnot,andsothecriticismsarenot
applicable
(b)theagentadmitsthathisbeliefsareindeedfalse,butcorrectsthemsoas
toretrenchhisowncognitiveinterests,ratherthantoconformmorecloselyto
thebeliefsofhismodemcritic.
Acoupleofthoughtexperimentswillperhapsjaryourintuitionsintherightdirection
thatis,awayfromindiscriminatelyapplyingthebenefitofthedoubtprinciple.Startby
supposingthatGalileotriedtoconvinceAristotlethroughaseriesofexperimentsthathe
confusedaverageandinstantaneousvelocity.WhymightAristotlenotbeimpressedby
thedemonstration?PerhapsAristotlewouldrefusetopayattentiontotheresultsofa
sciencethatusesGalileo-styleexperiments,ormaybe,seeingthatthedistinctionin
velocitiesboilsdowntoadifferenceintheirmathematicalrepresentation,hewoulddeny
theirintelligibility.NowletussupposethatathoroughlyagnosticNewtonian(thatis,
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notNewtonhimself)triedtoconvinceKeplerthatuniversalgravitationalattraction,and
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notthesun'sluminescence,wasthebestexplanationoftheinversesquarelaw.
WhereastheNewtonianwouldunderstandhisargumentsasbeingexclusivelyabout
physicalprinciples,Keplerwouldinterpretthemintermsoftheirconsequencesfor
conceptualizingGod'spowerandwouldthusjudgetheNewtonian'sarguments
accordingly.
IdonotwanttosuggestbytheseexamplesthatAristotleandKeplercouldneverbe
broughtaroundtotakingGalileo'sandtheNewtonian'scriticismsastheywereintended.
However,aconversionofthatkindwouldinvolvepersuadingAristotleandKeplerthat
theirprojectsarenotassoundasthoseoftheircritics.Moreover,Ibelievethatthere
canberationalargumentevenaboutsuchnormativematters.AllIwishtopointout
hereisthatthecriticwouldthenhavetoappealtosomethingmorethanthesimple
falsityofhisinterlocutor'sbeliefs.
Myfourthcriticalremark,whichwassuggestedbysomethingsIearliersaidabout
approximatetruth,addressestherealistclaimthat"truth"isthebestexplanationfor
thesuccessofscience.Evenifwegrantthattheoverallgoalofthehistoryofscienceis
themaximallytruerepresentationofreality,itdoesnotfollowthatthebestexplanation
forthesuccessofanyparticularscientifictheoryisthatitistrue.Tolicensesucha
conclusionwouldbesimilartoarguingthatbecausethemarketfunctionstobenefitall
itsparticipants,itfollowsthateachparticipantintendstobenefittheothers,even
though,asAdamSmithshowed,whatallowsthemarkettobeself-regulatingisprecisely
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thatitsparticipantsintendtobenefitonly themselves.Ingeneral,tothinkthatthetruth
ofthewholeimpliesthetruthofitshistoricallyconstitutivepartsistocommitthe
fallacyofdivision.ItakethislogicalpointtounderpintheHegelianthesisthatifhistory
is"rational,"orpurposeful,thenitisprobably"cunning"aswell,inthesensethatits
agentsunwittinglybringaboutthispurpose(Elster1978,ch.5).
Dependingonhisattitudetothehistoryofscience,therealistmayfindtheHegelian
thesiseithercomfortingordistressing.Hewouldfinditcomforting,ifheseesthehistory
asprovidinganempiricaltestofhisexplanationforthesuccessofparticulartheories.
Ontheonehand,anincreasingnumberofhistoricalandsociologicalstudiesshowthatif
weequatethe"success"ofascientifictheorywithitssurvivalvalue,thenitisprobably
falsetosaythatthemostsuccessfultheorieshavebeentheoneswhoseclaimstotruth
havebeenmostcloselyscrutinized(Shapin1982).Still,ontheotherhand,asa
Hegelian,thescientificrealistcandismissthesepotentiallyfalsifyingcasesandclaim
only"truthinthewhole."Andperhapshisstorywouldnotbeentirelyimplausible.Ifa
scientifictheorytypicallysurvivesbecause,say,itservesthecognitiveinterestsofits
time,thenthosepartsofthetheorythatareretainedthroughouthistorymustserve
several,perhapsquitedifferent,cognitiveinterests.Howisthatpossible?Maybe
becauseinterest-invarianceistheleadingempiricalindicator(orpracticalconsequence,
toputitmorerobustly)oftruth.
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Butnoticethepricethatthescientificrealisthastopayfortellingthisstoryandhere
hestartstofindtheHegelianthesisdistressing:towit,therealistbecomesirrelevantto
thesortsofissuesthatinteresthistoriansofscience,whichtypicallyconcernthefates
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ofparticulartheories.Moreover,evenwhenthehistorianisconcernedwithexplaining
thesurvivaloftheoriesthroughmajorchangesincognitiveinterests,therealistmust
contendwiththealternativeaccountsmorelikelytobefavoredbytheantirealistand
instrumentalist:whereastheantirealistmighttrytoshowthatthechangeincognitive
interestscausedsubtleshiftsinthemeaningofthetheory'stermswhichrendertheold
andnewversionslittlemorethanhomonyms,theinstrumentalistmightwelljustfall
backonanappealtohumanresourcefulnessinadaptingoldtheoriestonewends.
Theweakerversionofscientificrealismwouldseemtobelessopentocriticism,sinceit
purportstorendersciencerationalwithoutreferringtoanygoalsoutsideofthepractice
ofscienceitself.Indeed,thereisawayofelaboratingthisviewthatmakesit
compatiblewithsocialconstructivistapproachestoscience,whicharenormallyregarded
asantirealist.WhereasPutnamonlyhintsatsuchaview,ithasbeenmorefully
articulatedbyIanHacking(1983,chs.9-14)inRepresenting and Intervening.Thebasic
ideasharedbyPutnamandHackingisthatBoyd'ssenseofdirectionalityinthehistory
ofsciencebecamepossibleonlyonceunitsweredesignedformeasuringlevelsof
accuracyandprecisioninparticular,theaccuracyoffitbetweenpredictedandactual
observationsandthemathematicalprecisionwithwhichbothsortsofobservationscan
becharacterized(Laymon(1984)appliesthisthesistoNewton'slightexperiments).To
putitbluntly,theconceptofscientificprogress,especiallytheideathatonecan
approximatethetruthbydegrees("verisimilitude"),wasabyproductoftheinventionof
certaininstrumentsthatallowedtherelevantsortsofmeasurementstobetakenand
compared.Notsurprisingly,theseinstrumentsincludingthetelescope,microscope,and
pendulumclockwereintroducedinthelateRenaissance,roughlythetimeofthe
ScientificRevolution.
Togetafeelforthefitbetweentherealistandconstructiviststrainsinthisversionof
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scientificrealism,considersomegeneralclaimsthataproponentofthispositionwould
makeaboutthehistoryofscience:
(c)Beforethedesignofaccuracyandprecisionmetrics,itwasimpossibleto
speak,inanymodemsense,ofonetheorybeing"better"thananotherfora
givenrangeofphenomena.
(d)Theonlycircumstanceinwhichitmakessensetosaythatonetheoryis
"better"thananotheriswhentheybothmeasurethesamerangeof
phenomena(andonetheoryprovidesmoreaccurateandprecisemeasurements
thantheother).
Neitheroftheseclaimsisparticularlysurprising:(c)reflectstheconstructivistand(d)
therealiststraininthisweakerversionofscientific
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realism.However,thelitmustestforthepositionarisesinanswertothisquestion:
Doesitmakesensetosaythatameasurabletheoryis"better"thanatheorywithout
provisionsformeasurement?Hereisanotherwayofputtingit,whichclarifieswhat
exactlyisatstake:Does the "invention" of scientific progress itself constitute a
moment of progress in the history of science?Therealiststrain(dominantinPutnam)
says"Yes,"whilethesocialconstructiviststrain(dominantinHacking)says"No."Either
responseisproblematic,however,becausetheweakerversionofscientificrealism
cannotgenerallymakegoodontheconnectionbetweenitsownsenseof"scientific
progress"and"thegrowthofknowledge,"withoutbeggingthequestion.
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Aswesuggestedearlier,theweakerversionofscientificrealismiscompatiblewith
positivism.Andhereinliestheproblem.Boydassumesthatsuccessivetheoriesareable
tosubsumemoredatabecausetheyhavegreaterexplanatorypower,which,inturn,
derivesfromeachsuccessorisolatingdeepercausalfactorsthanitspredecessor.Thisis
clearlyarealistaccount,indeedtheonlyonethatworks,accordingtoBoyd.However,
thereisanalternative,antirealistaccountforthe.directionalityofthehistoryofscience:
namely,intermsofatendencyforinstrumentstobeusedtothepointofmaximum
efficiency(Elster1983,part2).Thistendencymayberegardedaseitherrelatively
autonomous,asinthepursuitoftechnicalvirtuosityforitsownsake,ortiedtoagoal
outsidescientificpracticeproper,asintheapplicationofscientifictechniquestosocial
problemswhenevertheopportunityarises.Thepursuitoftechnicalvirtuosityisan
especiallyinterestingoptionbecauseitcaptures,toalargeextent,howthe"pure
scientist"conceivesofhisownactivity(Polanyi1957).Inthatcase,thepurposefulness
of,say,usingatelescopetomakeverypreciseobservationsiscomparabletothe
purposefulnessofplayingatrumpettomakehighlynuancedsounds.Thiscomparisonis
agoodreminderthatpursuingscienceforitsownsakeislogicallyindependentof
pursuingscienceforthesakeofTruth.Indeed,therealistwouldneedanempirical
argumenttoestablishthatpursuingscienceforitsownsakeratherthan,say,pursuing
scienceforthesakeofincreasingwealthorpoweristhebestmeansofpursuingTruth.
Moreover,itisentirelyopenwhethersuchanargumentiseverlikelytowork.
Fortheepisodeinthehistoryofsciencethatepitomizestheantirealistline,interpreted
bothaestheticallyandinstrumentally,oneneedonlyturntothedevelopmentof
AlexandrianscienceinlateAntiquity,whichproducedEuclid'sgeometry,Ptolemy's
astronomy,Galen'smedicine,Diogenes'grammar,andCallimachus'prosodyall
distinguishedbytheperfectionoftechnique,aconcernforapplication,andadisdainfor
speculationsbeyondthephenomena.Indeed,themotivationforbuildingtheLibraryof
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Alexandriawas,contrarytorealistexpectations,nottocentralizeallknowledgeinorder
tofacilitatefurtherstudyandsynthesis.Rather,thelibrary'severincreasingsize
symbolizedakeydimensionofpoweratwhichthePharaohwasunsurpassed.Indeed,
whilecomprehensive,
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thelibrarywasnotparticularlywellorganized(Thiem1979,Fuller&Gorman1987).
Noticethatthisgreateraofmeasurementandtechniquetookplaceover1,500years
beforetheScientificRevolution.Againcontrarytorealistexpectations,theobservations
madeduringtheScientificRevolutionwere,forthemostpart,lessaccurateandprecise
thanthosemadebytheAlexandrians.(Ofcourse,thisisnottodenytherealistclaim
thattheexplanationsofthesephenomena"improved"duringtheseventeenthcentury,
atleastinthattheybegantoapproximateourown.)Totakeavividcase,theutilityof
Ptolemy'sAlmagestfornavigationwasnotsurpasseduntilLaplace'sCelestial Mechanics
of1799turnedNewtonianmechanicsintoaconvenientdeviceforcomputingthe
positionsofthestarsandplanets(Toulmin1972,p.378).
Finally,letusconsiderwhetheritisempiricallyfeasibletotestthecausaltheoryof
referenceasanexplanationforthecontinuityapparentlyexhibitedbythehistoryof
science.Totakeaconcretecase,whatwouldahistorianwithrealistsympathiesneedto
knowinordertoshowboththatArchimedeswasinterestedindiscoveringthenatureof
whatwecall"gold"andthathewouldaccepttheatomicweightofgoldasabetter
descriptionofitsnaturethantheoneheproposed2,500yearsago?Myperhaps
surprisingansweristhathewouldneedtoknowat leastwhatsomeotherhistorian
wouldneedtoknowinordertoshowthatArchimedeswasnotinterestedindiscovering
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thenatureofwhatwecall"gold"and,consequently,wouldnotaccepttheatomicweight
ofgoldasabetterdescription,etc.Wemightimaginethissecondhistoriantobea
supporterofKuhnorSkinner,whoisascientificantirealistbutahistoricalrealist.In
otherwords,oursecondhistorianbelievesthatArchimedesistalkingaboutwhateverhis
intendedaudienceunderstoodhimtobetalkingaboutandthatthereisafactofmatter
astohowhisaudienceunderstoodhim.
Butregardlessoftheirstandsonscientificrealism,bothhistorianswouldneedtoknow
whatArchimedes(orhisintendedaudience)thoughthewastalkingabout.Thismay
seemtobearathertrivialpointofconvergence,yetithighlightsthefactthatjust
becausethescientificrealistdoesnotgranttheArchimedeanconceptualframeworkany
authorityindeterminingwhatArchimedeswasreallytalkingabout,itdoesnotfollow
thattherealistcandowithoutknowinghowthatconceptualframeworkpickedout
objectsforArchimedes.AsKripke(1977)wouldputit,Archimedes'descriptionofwhat
hecalled"chrysos"performstwodistinctfunctions:itbothdefines the meaningand
fixes the referenceof"chrysos."WhereasafollowerofSkinnerorKuhnmighttendto
conflatethesetwofunctions,thescientificrealistwantstobeableusethedescription
soas,first,toidentifywhatintheworldArchimedesistalkingabout(thatis,fixthe
referenceof"chrysos")and,second,todeterminewhetherwhathesaysaboutitistrue
(thatis,toseewhetherwhathemeansby"chrysos"isthesameaswhatourbest
scientistmeansby"gold").Indeed,wemightseethereference-fixingaspectofthe
episodeasexhibitingtheperformativecharacterofthedescriptionforevenonceit
turnedoutthatArchimedeshaddefinedthe
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meaningofgoldincorrectly(thatis,onthebasisofafalsetheoryofelements),theact
ofdefinitionitselfremainedasthehistoricaltracegroundingsubsequentattemptsata
definition.
Itshouldbeclear,then,that,ifanything,thehistorianwithscientificrealistsympathies
needstoknowmore,notless,aboutArchimedes'originalcontextofutterancethanhis
opponent,sincetheSkinnerianhistorian,inaflourishofKuhnianmany-worldsrealism,
couldsimplyconcludethatwheneverArchimedessaid"chrysos"hewas(ofcourse)
talkingabouttheentitychrysossomethingthatoccupiesamoreorlesswell-defined
spaceintheGreekconceptualframeworkandnotfeelthathewasmissinganything
importantbyneverhavingobservedArchimedesholdupasampleofwhathecalled
"chrysos."Whilethismayappeartoimplyadefenseofthethoroughnessrequiredofa
historianwithscientificrealistsympathies,keepinmindthattheissuehereisnot
thoroughness but feasibility.Yourphilosophicalpositioninthecurrentrealistdebates
shouldkeepyoubelievingthatthehistoryofscienceisbothdoableandworthdoing.As
wehavejustseen,however,itisnotclearthatthecausaltheoryofreferencesupports
suchabelief,since,onthisview,whatmakesthehistoryofscienceworthdoingisthat
itallowsustodeterminehowclosetothetruthpastscientistsgot,yettheway
historiansaresupposedtodeterminethisisbyobservinghowthereferenceofpast
scientifictermswerefixed.Ofcourse,muchturnsonhowstrictlyoneinterprets
"observing."Onaradicalempiricistreading,whichmakesobservationsomething
inherentlyofthepresent(asinthecaseofsense-datalanguage),thehistorianwouldbe
blockedbylogicalimpossibilityinhisattempttoshowthecontinuityofscientificinquiry
overtime.Butevenifweweretocountas"observations"thetextbookreportsof
authoritativeindividualsnamingorsamplingobjects,wewouldstillbefacedwiththe
factthattherelevantevidenceisnotsystematicallyavailable.Inotherwords,oncewe
regardlanguagefromanempiricalstandpoint,thereisnoreasontothinkthatthe
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referenceofeveryterminalanguageisinitiallyfixedinthemannersuggestedby
Kripke,northatthereferenceofeachtermistransmittedbya"teacher"reenactingthe
originalnamingepisodeforthebenefitofa"pupil."
Nowthislastobjectionmaystrikethereaderasbeggingthequestionagainstthe
realist,sinceitslidesfromcommentingonourknowledgeofreferencefixingepisodesto
commentingontheveryexistenceofsuchepisodes.Onlyanantirealist,itwouldseem,
canslidefromepistemologytoontologymerelywith"inotherwords"ratherthanwith
extensiveargument.Themissingpremisehere,whichcomplicatestherealismissue
evenfurther,isthatreferencefixingisasocial fact,asinthecaseofacontractora
promise.Thatistosay,amajorpartofwhatmakesanevent"areference-fixing
episode"isitsbeingofficiallydesignatedassuchanepisode.Inonesense,then,social
factsareclearlycreaturesofantirealism:namely,theyarebroughtintoexistencebythe
appropriategrouprecognizingthemassuch.Forevenifitisreasonabletosupposethat
everytermhadan"original"useinthesenseof"temporallyfirst,"thatoriginaluseisits
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reference-fixingepisodeonlyifithasbeencanonizedasthestandardbywhich
subsequentusesareevaluatedas(im)properapplications,extensions,andsoforth,of
theterm.Nodoubt,thispointisoftenmissedbyanequivocationon"origin,"which,like
theGreekarchai,canmeaneither"temporallyfirst"or"ultimateprinciple."Thus,as
Searle(1969,pp.50-53)wouldputit,peopleoftenconfusethe"brutefact"andthe
"institutionalfact"oforigin.
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fixingepisodeexistsforagiventermisindependentofourcurrenthistoricalknowledge.
Indeed,tosaythatafacthasbeen"sociallyconstructed"isnottodenyeitherits
objectivestatusoritsabilitytopersistinthefaceofhumaneffortsatchangingit
pointsmade,inrecenttimes,byPopper(1972)andSartre(1976),respectively.Rather,
tocallafact"social"issimplytoremarkonthefact'sorigin,whichmaywellbequite
significantinitsownrightespeciallyifthefactinquestionisonegenerallyregardedas
nothavinganorigin,ormoreprecisely,onegenerallyregardedasnotneedingtohave
originatedwhenitdidinordertoenjoytheepistemologicalstatusthatitdoes.(The
relevantexamplesherearemathematicalfactsandotherallegedly"necessary"or
"universal"truths.)Inthatcase,identifyingthesocialoriginsofthesefactscanbethe
firststeptowardshowingthevariouslongtermculturalcommitmentsthathadtobe
madeinorderfortheirsocialcharactertobeerased.Morerelevanttoourconcernshere,
arealistattitudetowardsocialfactsisnecessaryinordertodistinguishbetweenterms
forwhichwenolongerhavetheevidenceastohowtheirreferencewasfixedandterms
whichsimplyneverhadtheirreferencefixed.Forasweshallseebelow,itisthesecond
halfofthisdistinctionthatfiguresinthemostdamagingcritiqueofscientificrealism.
Ifthereissometruthtowhatwehavebeensaying,thenwhyhastherebeenrelatively
littlecriticismofthecausaltheoryofreference?Onereason,nodoubt,isthatthesort
ofreference-fixingeventstowhichthecausaltheorist,orhistorian,wouldneedaccess
aretherelativelymundaneonesthatoccurwhenever,say,amasterintroducesanovice
toatechnicaltermoraparentteachesachildanewword.Becausewefrequently
witnesssucheventshappening,andindeedoftenparticipateinthem,thereisa
tendencytothinkthatwecansimplyinferbyanalogywhatwouldhaveoccurredinpast
reference-fixingepisodes.However,referencefixingisatransparentactivityonlyfor
competentspeakersofthelanguagewhosetermsarebeingfixed,sinceaspeaker
understandshowthereferenceofanewtermisfixedbybeingabletolocateits
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meaningintheconceptualspacemappedoutbyhislanguage,whichwill,inturn,enable
himtoindividuatethereferentfromotherthingsintheworld.Nowtherealisthistorian's
taskwouldbegreatlyaidedifculturestypicallyrecordedtheirprinciplesofindividuation:
thatis,iftheymadeexplicitbothhowmuchoftheworldismeanttobepickedout
whenevertheyusedanameandwhicharetheclearandborderlinecasesofusingthe
namecorrectly.However,typicallynosuchrecordsaresystematicallykept,thusgiving
risetotheproblemwhichQuine(1969,chs.
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1-2)hasfamouslycalled,"theinscrutabilityofreference."DrawingonWhorfsaccountof
theontologyimplicitintheHopilanguage,Quineillustratestheinscrutabilitythesisby
havinganativesay"Gavagai"andpointtowhatlookstotheanthropologisttobea
rabbitandthenaskinghowwouldtheanthropologistbeabletotellwhether"Gavagai"
meansrabbit,rabbitpart,oreventheflythatalwaysfollowsrabbitsaround.Needlessto
say,thesituationismuchmoredesperateforthehistorianwhocannottaketheliberty
toconductexperimentsondead"natives"totesttheseinterpretivepossibilities.
Giventheobviousimportanceofindividuatingprinciplesforturningtheabstract
conceptualframeworkofalanguageintoaconcretepractice,itmightbethoughtthata
recordofthemwouldbeusefulnotonlyfortherealisthistorianbutforthenative
speakersaswell.Why,then,dotheygounrecorded?Aquestionofthiskindnamely,of
whysomethingisn'tthecaseis,ofcourse,unabashedlyspeculative.Still,thinking
aboutitmayremindusofsomebasicfacts,especiallythatyou cannot become a
member of a culture by taking a correspondence course.Moreprecisely,theknowledge
amassedbyacultureisencodednotmerelyinthesentenceswhichfillthepagesthat
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historianstypicallyreadbutinthehabitsthatonecomestolearnbyinteractingwith
othermembersoftheculture.Isubmitthatthemainhabitslearnedbynativeswhich
markthemas"competentspeakers"consistinhowtoindividuateobjectsthroughtheir
language.
Buthavingsaidthat,couldthesehabitsofindividuation,atleastinprinciple,be
recordedinwriting,sothatahistorian,manyyearsandmilesaway,wouldbeableto
developacompetenceinthenativelanguagewithouteverhavingtomakecontactwith
thenativesthemselves?Afterall,themainreasonwhythenativesfailtoarticulatetheir
individuationprinciplesmaysimplybethattheydonothaveaninterestinbelaboring
withwordswhatgivesthemnodifficultyinpractice.However,Isuspectthatthereason
runsmuchdeeper,namely,thatalthoughthenativesareconstantlybeinggiven
feedbackaboutwhethertheyhaveusedsometermorothercorrectly,itdoesnotfollow
thatthereareanystrictprinciplesgoverninghowthatfeedbackisgiven.Returningto
Quine'sexample,thefactthatthenativesthemselvesdiscriminatebetweenrightand
wrongusesof"Gavagai"doesnotallowtheanthropologisttoconcludethattheir
judgmentcallsaredetermined(evenimplicitly,inthesenseofaChomskyandeep
structure)byasetofgrammaticalrules.Thegeneralpoint,then,isthatjustbecause
thelinguisticbehaviorofthenativesislocally constrained,thatdoesnotmeanthat
theirbehaviorisalsosystematically regulated.
SofarIhavearguedthatonereasonwhythecausaltheoryofreferencehasnotbeen
criticizedforbeingunverifiableisthatthefactsitreliesonareratherhomelyand
thereforethought(fallaciously)tobereadilyavailable.Anotherreason,Ishallnow
maintain,isthatthecausaltheoryprobablyfunctionsasatranscendentalconditionfor
ourunderstandingthepresentashistoricallycontinuouswiththepast:thatis,the
intelligibilityofhistorywouldbesubstantiallyundermined,ifitprovedimpossibleto
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renderwhat
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pastspeakersweretalkingaboutintermsofthingsthatwemighttalkabouttoday.But
aswenotedearlierwhencriticizingrealismasatranscendentalconditionforthe
intelligiblityofscienceitself,evenifthecausaltheoryofreferenceisconceptually
necessaryforourmakingsenseofhistory,itdoesnotfollowthatitcannotbe
empirically dubiousaswell.
Indeed,ifwearecorrectinclaimingthatrelativelyfewwordshavehadtheirreferences
canonicallyfixed,thenitislikelythatmostofthetimethehistorianhasnowayof
knowinghowtocharacterize,inhisownlanguage,whatsomepastspeakerwastalking
about,unlesshehasquitedetailedknowledgeoftheactualcontextofutterance.
Moreover,asourremarksinthesecondtolastparagraphsuggest,eveninthecasesof
wordswhosereferenceshavebeencanonicallyfixed,themerepresenceofcanonical
usagedoesnotguaranteethatthecanonwillbeappliedinasystematicfashion.Thus,
thelaterWittgenstein(1958,1967)wasrighttomaintainthatevenwell-defined
concepts(thatis,asystemofsemanticallyrelatedwords)are"open-textured"with
regardtotheirapplicationinspecificcases,whichmeansthatthereisnofactofthe
matteraboutthecorrectapplicationofaconceptinagivencasepriortothenative
speakersactuallylettingtheapplicationpassascorrect.Andso,evenifthehistorian
wereabletocrossexaminetheoriginalhistoricalagentsabouttheirusage,hewould
probablydiscoverthattheyhadnoprincipledknowledgeaboutit.Inshort,despiteits
admittedtranscendentalstatus,it is doubtful that the sort of knowledge required by the
causal theory of reference has ever existed.
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LetmeexplainwhatImeanbythislastclaim.Ofcourse,Iamnotdenyingthat
speakersofalanguagefixthereferenceoftheirtermsorthattheygetinto"habitsof
referring,"sotospeak,whichallowthemtoindividuateobjectsinnewsituationswith
relativeease.WhatIrejectistheideathataculturehasanyauthoritativemeansof
ensuringthatalltheseactivitiesproceedinasystematicandconsistentmanner:while
languagegameshavemanylocalreferees,theyhavenothinganalogoustoasupreme
courtorabureauofstandards.Asaresult,thereareprobablymanycasesinwhich,say,
onegroupofancientGreekspermittedacertainuseof"chrysos"topassascorrect,
whileanothergroupofGreeksrefusedtoallowasimilaruseofthewordtopass.Ifthe
twogroupsdonotsoonafterwardmeetuptodecidewhichusageiscorrect,then
"chrysos"startstoacquireacomplexreferentialfunction,which,inthelongterm,will
leadtothesubtleshiftsinmeaningthatphilologistshavefoundtobeubiquitousin
language,andwhichare,inturn,thesourceofmuchofthe"incommensurability"studied
inthisbook.Givenitsratherlowlevelofself-regulation,alanguageisthenhardlythe
idealmechanismforstoring,transmitting,andretrievinginformation.Therefore, we
must take seriously the possibility that a language is simply not well designed to do the
sorts of jobsstorage,transmission, and retrievalthat the scientific realist requires of
it.Ifafinalblowiseverdealttoscientificrealism,itwillbeonthesegrounds.
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4. Kuhn and the Realism of Many-Worlds


Onthefaceofit,mylastpronouncementseemspatentlyfalse,atleastonsemantic
grounds:Whatelseisalanguagebutameansbywhichknowledgeisstored,
transmitted,andretrieved?Trueenoughbutonecansaythatlanguagewasdesigned
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toperformparticularcognitivefunctionswithoutbeingcommittedtosayingthatit
performsthosefunctionsparticularlywell,oreventhatthosearethefunctionsthatit
performsbest.Indeed,thepointofthissectionwillbetoshowthatpoorself-regulation
isthepricethatlanguagepaysforbeingaratherexceptionalmeansoflending
continuity,andhencelegitimacy,towhateverhappenstobethecurrentstateofaffairs.
Asoursubheadingsuggests,thisphaseoftheinquirywillexamineanewandstrange
brandofrealism.
DespitewhatIhavesaidaboutthedesignfeaturesoflanguage,Iamfarfromskeptical
aboutthepossibilityofourhavinganyhistoricalknowledge.Afterall,theremaybea
factofthematterastowhetheraculturehadacertainconcept(thatis,whetherit
appliedasetofsemanticallyrelatedwordsinarangeofcases)withouttherebeinga
factofthematterastowhethertheconceptisappliedcorrectlyinaparticularcase.The
problemwiththecausaltheoryofreferenceisthatitisrealistonbothscores,even
thoughrelativelyfewwordshavehadtheirreferencesfixedinawaythatwouldprovide
eitherthenativeorthehistoriangroundsforjudgingthecorrectnessofusage,aside
fromthebrutefactthat,inparticularcases,theusehappenedtogochallengedor
unchallenged.Notsurprisingly,historianstakeintoaccountthisabsenceofcanonical
factsaboutusageinthecourseoftheirpractice,and,indeed,thisfeatureoftheir
practiceexplainswhyphilologyhastraditionallybeentheflagshipdisciplineofthe
"historicalsciences."SayIwanttoknowtheextenttowhichtheancientGreek"chrysos"
overlapsinmeaningwiththemodernEnglish"gold."Asanhistorian,Istartbygettinga
clearsenseoftheconceptualspacemappedoutby"gold,"namely,thecategoryit
belongsto,thekindsofpredicatesascribedtoit,theregistersofdiscourseitoccupies
(technical,colloquial,etc.),theimplicitlycontrastingterms,anditstypicalfigurative
uses.Iwouldprobablyneedtorelyonadictionary,athesaurus,anencyclopedia,and
somewritingsamples.Next,Igothroughasimilarroutinefor"chrysos."Finally,I
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comparenotesfortheextentofoverlap.Noticethatallthiscanbedonewithoutmy
everhavingobservedacorrectapplicationof"chrysos."
Whiletheprocedureoutlinedaboveiswellwithinthelimitsofverifiability,youmight
wonderwhetheritexhaustseverythingthatahistorianneedstoknowinorderto
understandaculture.Afterall,shouldn'theknowsomethingabouthowwordsinthe
nativelanguagewereusedinparticularcases?Inanimportantsense,thehistorian
alreadydoes,sinceif,inaparticularcase,anancientGreekwasdeemedcorrectinhis
useof"chrysos,"thenthehistorianknowsthereasonthattheGreek(orhis
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audience)wouldhavegivenforhishavingused"chrysos"onthatoccasion:namely,that
theparticularstufftowhichthespeakerreferredwasdeemedtohavetheproperties
thatanythingcalled"chrysos"isdefinedashaving.Thissortofinformation,whichcould
begainedfromasomewhatidealizeddictionaryofancientGreek,doesnotpredict,or
perhapsevenexplain,whythatparticularstuffonthatoccasionwasidentifiedasan
instanceofchrysos,butitdoesjustifythesignificanceofthateventtotheancient
Greekaudience.
Indiscussingmattersofmethodology,aswehaveintheprecedingexample,itisalways
temptingtoclaimthathistoriansfocussomuchonthelinguisticfeaturesofaculture
becauseonlythosefeaturesarereadilyavailabletothem.However,insteadofassuming
thathistoricalmethodologyissimplyamatterofmakingthebestofabadsituation,we
cantakeittosuggestanaccountofhowlanguageworksdifferentfromtheoneimplicit
inthecausaltheoryofreference.Ratherthan"chrysos"beingdirectlyattachedto
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samplesofthestuffwecall"gold"throughepisodesofreferencefixing,this account
would suppose that both "chrysos" and the sample are alternalive ways of identifying a
concept which serves a particular function in legitimating the practices of ancient Greek
culture.IfthereadersuspectsthatIamtryingtoimputeasocializedversionof
Platonismtothehistorian,thenhehasfollowedmesofar.
Letusconsideranalternativewayofmakingthesamepointthatwillbefamiliarto
readersofWittgenstein'sRemarks on the Foundations of MathematicsandPhilosophical
Investigations.Myknowledgeof,say,thePeanoAxiomsandallthetheoremsof
arithmeticthesortsofuniversalprinciplesthatmathematiciansstudyandformalizeis
neversufficienttodeterminewhicharithmeticprincipleIamapplyingwhenIamtrying
tocompleteanumberserieslike"2,4,8,..."Moreover,whenthemathematicalrealist
(or"Platonist")claimsthatthereisafactofthematterastohowtheseriesgoes,he
maywellbecorrect,butthatpieceofinformationofferssmallcomforttotheperson
counting,whoisinterestedinfindingoutexactlywhichfactisbeingreferredto.Whatis
missing,ofcourse,isthebackgroundknowledgethatformsthecontextforthis
particularcaseofcounting.And,soWittgensteinfamouslyconcluded,ifoneis
interestedindiscoveringwhatgroundsourmathematicalknowledge,inthisground-level
senseofknowinghowtocontinuetheseries,thenhehadbetterlooktothesocial
functionservedbytheparticularcountingpractice,whichwillrendercertainwaysof
continuingtheserieslegitimateandotherwaysillegitimate.NoticethatWittgenstein
hasnotsomuchshownPlatonismfalseasirrelevanttotheregulationofouractual
countingpractices,which,inthefinalanalysis,areconstrainedonlyonacontext-bycontextbasis(Bloor1973).
OuronlydifferencefromWittgensteinisthatwehavenospecialinterestinunderplaying
thelegitimatingroleofPlatonism.Fornomatterhowtheseriesturnsouttobe
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completedonaparticularoccasion,itscompletionwillbejustifiedintermsofits
conformitytooneoftheinfinitelymany
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validmathematicalformulaethatarenormallysaidtoinhabitthePlatonicHeavenor
someothersuitablyobjectiverealm.AndunlikeWittgenstein'sphilosophical
anthropologist,historianscanstudythelocalapplicationofconstraintsonlywithgreat
difficulties.Likewise,whenitcomesestablishingthecanonicaluseof"chrysos,"whileits
usageisnotdefinedinawaythatwouldenablethehistoriantopredictitsapplications,
itisdefinedsothatoncesomethingissaidtobeaninstanceofthe"chrysos,"the
historianhecaninferthepropertiesinvirtueofwhichthatthingisproperlycalled
"chrysos."
ThereisonesenseinwhichIwouldgosofarastoclaimthatthehistorianisnot
missinganyessentialinformationaboutancientGreekculturebyneverhavingobserved
aGreekfixthereferenceofhiswords,namely,insofarasthehistoriansupposesthat
sentencesinancientGreekarebetterdesignedformanufacturingthecultureofancient
Greecefrommomenttomomentthanforeitherdescribingrealityor,indeed,
communicatingactualeventsacrosslongstretchesoftimetothehistorian.Without
repeatingmyearlierremarks,thegeneralreasonwhyhewouldsupposethatthedesign
featuresoflanguageareasIhavesuggestedisthathecanobtainreliableinformation
abouttheconceptualframeworkunderlyingancientGreekculturebyknowingits
language,whilehisabilitytoextractfromthelanguageinformationabouttheexact
historyoftheculture(thatis,theactualeventstowhichparticularsentencesrefer)is
muchlesscertain.Idonottakethistobeasurprisingresult,sinceacrucialfeatureof
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howaculturemaintainsitsidentityovertimeisbypublicizing,throughtherepeateduse
ofsentencesinitslanguage,thesimilarityofcurrentepisodesintheitshistorytothose
initspast.However,giventhatthecultureislikelyduringanappropriatelylongperiod
tohaveundergonemanychanges,itisthereforeimportantthatlanguageusebequite
versatile,eventothepointofallowingsubtlechangesinworduse,aso-called"slippage
inreference,"togounnoticed.Admittedly,subtlechangesofthiskindmakeitdifficult,if
notimpossible,forthehistoriantosortoutwhatactuallyhappenedintheculture.But
thenagain,thepointisthattheculture'slanguagewasnotdesignedprimarilywiththe
historian'staskinmind.
AllthisisbywayofbringingKuhnbackintothepicture.Ihavesofarvacillatedbetween
labelingKuhnan"antirealist"andlabelinghima"realist"whobelievesinmanyrealities.
Iwouldnowliketoarguethatheisfruitfullyunderstoodasbeingboth,andthereby
distancehimsomewhatfromthepositionof"historicalrealism"thatIhavebeen
attributingtoQuentinSkinnerandhavepittedagainstthescientificrealistthroughout
mostofthispaper.TogetatwhatItaketobeKuhn'sintriguingmetaphysicalposition,
letusstartbyidentifyingwhatKuhncallsa"paradigm"or"disciplinarymatrix"witha
language'simplicitconceptualframework,asdiscussedabove.Nowletusrecallthree
partsofKuhn's(1970a)notoriousincommensurability thesis:
(e)thatscientistsindifferentparadigmsinhabitdifferentworlds
-87-

(f)thattheclaimsoftwodifferentparadigmscannotbecompared
(g)thatscientistsinoneparadigmtendtosystematicallymisunderstandthe
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claimsmadebyscientistsinanotherparadigm.
Thereisalsoafourthparttothethesiswhichisoftenneglected,butwhichnevertheless
factorsinKuhn'srathertraditionalviewsontheobjectivestanceofthenormalscientist:
(h)thatthescientiststhemselvesaregenerallyoblivioustothetruthof(e),
(f),and(g),whichistosay,theybelievethatthereisonlyoneworldand
manyparadigms,thattheycancompareclaimsmadebydifferentparadigms,
andthattheycanunderstandwhatscientistsfromanotherparadigmare
saying.
Ourquestion,then,iswhatisthebestwaytounderstandthiscomplicatedstateof
affairs.
IfKuhnwereapureantirealistsay,asocialconstructivistoftheLatour&Woolgar
(1979)varietyhewouldhavecharacterizedtheboundariesbetweenparadigmsasfluid
ratherthanrigid,thesubjectofconstantnegotiationbyconcernedparties.Admittedly,
Kuhnisverymuchthesocialconstructivistwhenheclaimsthatthereisnofactofthe
matterastowhether,say,a specific sampleofgasisoxygenordephlogisticatedair.
Verymuchwilldependonwhichscientistsareinthevicinityatthetime,andwhichone
endsuppersuadingtheothertoidentifythegasasaninstanceofoneortheother
substance.Inshort,itwilldependontheactualhistoryofthesituation,muchofwhich
willbeunavailabletothehistorianandtherebythesourceofthesortsof
misunderstandingsassociatedwithincommensurability.YetKuhnalsoseemstobelieve
thatthereisafactofthematterastowhetheroxygenordephlogisticatedairas such
exists:theansweris,notoriously,thatbothexist.Itakethissimplytomeanthateach
substanceperformsadefiniteroleinaspecificsystemofconcepts,orparadigm,which
maybeinvokedcorrectlyorincorrectlyrelativetothatsystem.Thus,oncethetwo
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scientistshaveagreedtodiscussthegassampleinthelanguageofoxygen,asetof
opportunitiesforutteringtruthsandfalsehoodshavebeenopenedup(compareHacking
1982).Aspartsofconceptualsystemsinthisrobustsense,oxygenanddephlogisticated
airenjoyaPlatonicexistence,whichistosay,thattheyarepartofthepermanent
possibilitiesforarticulatingthestructureofreality.Anironicwayofsummarizingour
readingofKuhn'spositiononrealismistosaythathebelievesintheindependent
realityofallscientificallypossibleworlds(thatis,paradigms)excepttheactualone,
whoserealitydependsentirelyonwhattherelevantgroupofscientistsnegotiate.
Wemay,ofcourse,resorttolessironicterms.Toborrowadistinction
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introducedbythephilosopheroflaw,JohnRawls(1955),Kuhnseemstobearegulative
realistandaconstitutive antirealist.AsRawlsportraysthisKant-inspireddistinction,
regulativerulesaredraftedbylegislatorsandappearasstatutorylaws:forexample,"All
wrongdoersmustbepunished."Noticethatthisruleisstatedasauniversalprinciple,
butitdoesnotmentionwhichcasescountasinstancesoftheprinciple.Thelatter
problemisthebusinessofadjudication,whichworksbyapplyingconstitutiverules.
Theserulesdeterminehowandwhichparticularcasesshouldbeconstructedunderthe
principle,usuallyonthebasisoftacitcriteriaforwhichajudge'sopinionprovidesex
postfactojustification.OnthebasisofRawls'distinction,wecanmakesenseofthe
ideathatarulecanbeuniversallyapplicablewithoutitselfspecifyingtheuniverseof
casestowhichitmaybelegitimatelyapplied.Thus,ajudgemaybelievethatthereisa
bodyoflawtoupholdinhisdecisions,withoutbelievingthatthecorpusdetermines
whichparticularlawappliesinthecaseheiscurrentlydeciding.However,ifheexercises
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discretiontodecidethataparticularlawdoesapply,thenthatlawspecifiesreasons
(precedentsandstatutoryinterpretations)justifyinghisdecision.LikewiseforKuhn's
understandingofthe"rules"governingthelanguagegameofphlogistonchemistry:
althoughtherulesdonotdeterminewhetherphlogistontalkappliestothenext
experimentaloutcome,ifitturnsout(throughnegotiation)thatsuchtalkapplies,thenit
deliversaspecificdescriptionandexplanationfortheoutcome.

5. Regulative and Constitutive Realism in the Human Sciences


ArmedwithRawls'distinctionandageneralsensitivitytothedifferentcontextsinwhich
theproblemofrealismarises,wemaynowturntoelucidatetherathercomplicated
debatesaboutascriptionsofrationalityinthehumansciences.Asweshallsee,the
complicationsaretheresultofthecontestingpartiesfailingtodistinguishbetween
issuesaboutwhethertherearerealrulesintermsofwhichwemustjustifyour
ascriptionsofrationality(theregulativeissue)andwhethertherearerealrulesfor
identifyingthatacertainbehaviorisorisnotrational(theconstitutiveissue).This
confusioncolorstherationalitydebates,insofaras,ineachoftheversionsdiscussed
below,oneparty(generally,theWittgensteiniansandthesociologists)realizesthata
theoryofrationalityisnotcompletewithoutaddressingthesetwodistinctissues,while
theotherparty(generally,thePopperiansandtheDavidsonians)realizesthatyoucan
believethattherearerealregulativerulesforjustifyingascriptionsofrationalitywithout
believingthatthereareanyrealconstitutiverules(orevenholdinganyobviousviewon
theissue).Moreover,asthedetailsreveal,theconfusionofrulesandrealismscuts
acrosstheusualbattlelinesofrelativism versus universalismandscientism versus
humanism.
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ThesurestwaytogetpartisansofPopper,Wittgenstein,Davidson,andthesociologyof
knowledgeintoopendebateisbyaskingthemhowtheywoulddeterminewhetherthe
beliefsofanaliencultureorhistoricalperiodwererational.ThePopperiansstartedthe
debateaquartercenturyagoasanattackonPeterWinch's(1958)WittgensteinianIdea
of a Social Science(Wilson1970).Themorerecentexchangeshavebeendominatedby
DavidsonianscenteredatOxfordpickingaparttheEdinburghSchool's"StrongProgramin
theSociologyofKnowledge"(HollisandLukes1982).Allthecontendingcampslayclaim
toa"naturalistic"theoryofrationalityonethataccountsforthejudgmentsthata
philosophicallyastuteobserverwouldmakeinsituationsactuallyfacedby
anthropologistsandhistorians.Andsinceeachcamp'stheoryofrationalityispresented
asanextensionofitsgeneralposition,itwouldseemthatwehavetheperfectsetting
fortheempiricaltestingofphilosophicaltheories.Butnosuchluck.Fordespitetheoften
dazzlingpolemicslaunchedbythevariouspartisans,oneisforcedtoconcludethatthey
havebeenshootingpasteachother.Still,soIshallnowargue,thereisamethodto
theircollectivemisfirings,whichonceidentifiedwillallowustoplacesubsequentdebate
overthisversionof"epistemologynaturalized"onamoresecurefooting.
Tostart,letusdrawthebattlelinesseparatingthefourcampsbyspecifyinghoweach
woulddeterminetherationalityofanalienbelief.
The Wittgensteinianswouldsimplycheckwhetherthebeliefcanbeexpressedasalegal
moveinanalienlanguagegame.Sincetherationalityofabeliefisrelativetotherules
ofaparticularlanguagegame,theverysamebeliefsay,intheefficacyofwitchcraft
mayberationalinthecontextofanalienculture,yetstillbeirrationalinthecontextof
ourown.Moreover,theWittgensteiniansclaimthatalllanguagegamesarecreated
equal,suitedastheyaretotheirrespectiveformsoflife.Inthatcase,itfollowsthatall
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beliefsystems,onceproperlycontextualized,areequallyrational(Winch1958,Bloor
1973).
The Popperianswouldcheckwhetherthealienstendtorevisetheirbeliefsinresponse
tocriticism,especiallyfromsomeonenotsharingtheoverallbeliefsystem.Forexample,
thecriticmaybethephilosophicallyastuteobserverhimself,whopointsoutthatwhat
thealiensaretryingtoaccomplishbyperformingwitchcraftsay,healingmaybemore
effectivelybroughtaboutbymedicaltechniquescurrentlyusedinhisculture.Since
Westernculturehashistoricallybeenthemostopentocriticismofthiskindandhence
cognitivelythemostprogressivePopperiansarguethatourbeliefstendtobeheld
morerationallythanthoseofthealiens(Jarvie1970,Gellner1970,MacIntyre1970).
The Davidsonianswouldcheckwhether,giventheinterests,backgroundbeliefs,and
evidenceavailabletothealien,thephilosophicallyastuteobserverwouldhimselfhold
thebelief.Thistestpresupposesthatallculturesshareacoresetofrulesforlicensing
beliefs,whichincludebasicpatternsofdeductiveandinductiveinference,aswellasa
correspondencetheoryoftruth.Theseuniversalsofrationalitypermita"bridgehead,"as
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MartinHollis(1982)putsit,fortheobservertoconcludethatanaliennomatterwhat
hecurrentlybelieveshasthecognitivepotentialforholdingourbeliefs:thealienjust
needstobeprovidedwithourinterests,backgroundbeliefs,andevidence(Davidson
1984,Lukes1982,MacDonald&Pettit1981).
The Sociologistswouldcheckwhetherthealienissensitivetothesocialfactorsthat
maintainthejustifiabilityorlegitimacyofhisbeliefeventotheexclusionofother
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beliefsthatcouldbemadetoappear,atleastinprinciple,equallyjustifiedorlegitimate
simplybyextendingtheevidencebase,challengingsomebackgroundbeliefs,
reorientingcognitiveinterests,etc.Thus,irrationalitybecomesthelimitationsonone's
cognitivehorizonassociatedwiththe"falseconsciousness"senseofideology.And
insofarasbothscientistsandshamansengageininquirieswhich(atleastindirectly)
maintaintheirrespectivesocialorders,bothareequallyirrationalonthisaccount.
Thoughtheyrarelyarticulateit,thesociologistsconceiveofrationalityastherealization
thatnosinglesystemiseverlikelytoincorporateallpotentiallyjustifiablebeliefs:to
justifysome,othersmustremainunjustifiable(Bloor&Barnes1982,MacIntyre1970,
Mannheim1936,Lukacs1971).
Threenotes.First,eachcamphasbeenpresentedasan"idealtype,"sinceitsmembers
onethinksofDavidBloorandAlisdairMacIntyreoccasionallybreakrankandadopt
thetacticsoftheothercamps.Second,andmoresignificant,wehavebeenusing
"belief"inasensethatfailstodiscriminatebetweenthedispositiontoasserta
propositionandthedispositiontoactasifthepropositionweretrue.Thoughweshall
shortlywanttodistinguishthesetwocases,fornowweshallfollowthecustomofour
fourcampsandblurthedistinction.Third,ourfourcampsrepresenttwogeneralsenses
of"naturalistic"thatmaybeappropriatetoatheoryofrationality.Ontheonehand,the
WittgensteinianandtheDavidsonianobserversevaluatetherationalityofabeliefwithin
thecontextinwhichit"naturally"arises.Ontheotherhand,thePopperiansandthe
sociologistsbasetheirjudgmentsonobservationsthatapproximatea"natural-scientific"
standpoint,namely,oneinwhichtherelevantcategoriesofevaluationneednotbe
nativetotheculturewhosebeliefsareunderstudy.
Althoughasweoriginallyobserved,ourfourcampshavesplitintotwomoreorless
separatebattlefronts,asimilardialecticalstrategyhascharacterizedbothfronts,which,
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inbothcases,hasresultedinanimpassetoanyfurtherdebate.Itistothisstrategy
thatwenowturn.
ConsiderWinch'stypicalrebuttaltothePopperianchargethathisWittgensteiniantheory
ofrationalitydoesnotreallycapturethesenseofwhatitistoberational.IanJarvie,for
example,arguesthattoberationalistohaveaninterestinpursuingone'sendsas
effectivelyaspossible.Consequently,therationalbeingissomeonewhowouldgladlybe
showninerrorifitpromisesastillmoreeffectivemeansforpursuinghisends.Winch
maybereadasofferingatwofoldresponse:
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(j)Themembersofaculturemayhaveaninterestinpursuingtheirends
withouthavinganinterestinpursuingthemaseffectivelyaspossible.Instead,
theymaybeconstrainedbyotherinterestsincompatiblewiththepursuitof
"effectiveness."Thus,aslongasitappearsthatthelanguagegamesthatthe
membersplayhaveapoint,theyconstitutearationalformoflife.
(k)Evenifmembersofaculturehaveaninterestinpursuingtheirendsas
effectivelyaspossible,itdoesnotfollowthatwhatwewouldconsideran
improvementineffectivenesswouldbesoconsideredbythemembers.Thus,
whilethemembersmayadmitbeingreceptivetocriticism,itisnotclearthat
theywouldcountanythingthePopperianmightproposeasgenuinecasesof
criticism,sinceinstancesofcriticismmustthemselvesbeexpressibleaslegal
movesinalanguagegameplayedbythemembers.
Closetrelativistsanduniversalistsrevealtheirtrueselveswhenpresentedwith
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response(j).Relativistsfinditobviously true,sinceonlymodernWesternculture
professesanoverridinginterestinthepursuitof"instrumentalrationality."Toascribe
thisinteresttootherculturesistofosteramostmisleadingethnocentrism.However,
universalistsfind(j)obviously false,sincetheythinkitimpossibletoconceiveof
pursuingendswithoutsmugglinginasensitivitytoeffectiveness.Thefactthatthe
sensitivityremainslatentinmostculturesdoesnotdisturbtheuniversalist,forheis
confidentthatwithoutittheirpursuitswouldsoonbeterminated.
Althoughmuchinkhasbeenspilledinassessingtherelativistanduniversalistreactions
to(j),Ifearthattheirdifferencesarenoteasilyresolved,largelybecausethetwo
reactionsformsomethinglikeaKantianantinomy.Thatis,whattherelativistand
universalistareultimatelyarguingaboutaretherulesforconductingthenaturalistic
studyofrationality.Therelativist,ineffect,isrecommendingastrictpolicyofascribing
cognitivedispositionstoindividualsonthebasisofbehavioralevidence.Thus,ifthe
membersofaculturedonotmanifestvirtuallyallthebehaviorsincludingverbal
cognatesthatweassociatewithacertaindisposition,thentheobserveristoconclude
thatsomeother,perhapsdistinctlyaliendispositionisbeingexpressed.Incontrast,the
universalistadvisesalaxpolicyofascribingcognitivedispositionswhichexplainsaway
differencesbetweenwhattheobserverwouldideallyexpectandwhatthealienactually
doesastheresultofmitigatingcircumstancesinthealien'senvironment.The
universalistjustifiesthismoveonthegroundsthathe,unliketherelativist,believes
thathecandistinguishtheessentialfromthenonessentialfeaturesofasocialpractice.
Andnotsurprisingly,then,astrictpolicyofascribingcognitivedispositionsencourages
therelativisttostretchhisimaginationintryingtomakesenseofthealien'sbehaviorin
unfamiliarterms,whereastheuniversalist'slaxinterpretivepolicyservestorestricthis
imagination,compellinghimtoarguethatthealiencouldnotbe
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understoodasdoingorthinkinganythingotherthanwhatwewoulddoorthinkunder
similarcircumstances.
Weshallhavemoretosayshortlyaboutthenatureofthesedifferences,butnowletus
sumupwhathassofartranspired.Wemightsaythatinproposing(j),Winch
stalematestherationalitydebatebecausethereisnocommonlyacceptedprocedurefor
ascribingcognitivedispositionswhichwouldallowthecontestingpartiestotreat(j)as
anempiricalhypothesis.Ontheonehand,ifthealienactuallyneedstoassertabelief
inthevalueofeffectivenessinordertobeproperlyascribedsuchabelief,thenthe
relativistwithwhomWinchnormallysideswillalmostalwayswin.Butif,ontheother
hand,thealienonlyneedstomanifestsomeminimalnonverbalbehaviortodemonstrate
thesamebelief,thentheuniversalistwhoismorecloselyassociatedwithJarviewill
moreoftenprovevictorious.
While(j)broughtouttheregulativeaspectofanaturalisticstudyofrationality,(k)
highlightstheconstitutiveaspect.Andonceagain,Winch'sresponsecreatesanimpasse
tofurtherdebatethatisneverthelessinstructive.Ineffect,Winchisnowchallenging
Jarvietotrytoconstitutehiscriticismofanalienbeliefasalegalmoveinoneofthe
alienlanguagegames.WinchseemstobemotivatedbythesuspicionthatJarviecannot
makegoodonthechallengebecausethePopperiantheoryofrationalityispurely
regulative,andthuscarriesnoempiricalexpectationsfortheobserverofparticular
instancesofalienbelief.Winch(1970)himselfhasacatchywayofputtingthis:whereas
Popperiansareconcernedexclusivelywiththe rationality of criteriathatthealienswould
usewhenevaluatingbeliefs(DothesecriteriaconformtothePopperianideal?),Winch
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andhisfellowWittgensteinianswanttoidentifythe criteria of rationalitythatJarvie,the


aliens,oranyoneelsewouldrelyonwhenjudgingcertainbeliefstoberationaland
othersnot.Thesecriteriawouldvaryamongcultures,eachcenteringonafew
paradigmaticuses,whicharethenextendedbyanalogytonewsituations.Andso,Winch
mightargue,sincethePopperianparadigmsofcriticismaretwodistinctlyWestern
culturaldevelopmentsSocraticdialecticsandBaconiancrucialexperimentsitwould
probablybeverydifficultforthePopperianobservertorecognizeanalienpracticeasan
instanceofcriticism.Thiscouldmeaneitherthattheobserverfindsmostaliencultures
tobeuncriticalandhenceirrational,orthatheisforcedtoloosenhisowncriteriaof
rationalitysothatjustavaguereceptivenessto"learningfromone'smistakes"becomes
sufficientforascribingrationalitytothealiens.Thelatterpossibility,indicativeofa
universalistapproachtorationality,seemstobethetacktakenbyJarvieandother
Popperians.Thisexplainsthewatered-downversionofPopperianismtowhichtheyhold
thealiensaccountable.
However,inpursuingthislaxinterpretivepolicy,thePopperiansgingerlyavoidmeeting
Winch'schallenge.Forexample,thealiensareneveraskedthecognitivestatusoftheir
vaguelydefinedcriticalpracticewithintheirownlanguagegames:Isitassignificantas
thePopperiansmakeitoutto
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be?Moreover,wouldthealiensacceptjustanysharpeningoftheircriticalpracticebya
Popperianobserverasanimprovement,orwouldthesuggestedchangebeconsidered
"unnatural"?WinchandotherWittgensteinianssupposethatthePopperianshaveno
choicebuttoanswernotobothquestions.Inthatcase,eitherthecriticizabilitycriterion
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isnotasuniversalasthePopperiansthought,orthealiensarenotasrationalasthey
firstseemedtobe.TosidesteptheseequallyunsavoryoptionssotheWittgensteinians
arguethePopperianswouldhavetodeveloptheconstitutiveaspectoftheirtheoryof
rationality,whichwould,inturn,forcethemtocometotermswiththedifferencesin
situationsandattitudesthatcallfor"criticism"inparticularlanguagegames.
Inthe1980stheWittgensteiniansandthePopperianshavetakenabackseattothe
sociologistsofscienceandtheDavidsonians,respectively.Admittedly,someofthe
termsofourdisputehavechanged.Nowadaystherelativistismorelikelytofavorthe
scientificstandpointofthesociologist,whiletheuniversalistleansmoretowardthe
humanisticperspectiveoftheDavidsonian.Contrastthiswiththehumanismofthe
WittgensteiniansversusthescientismofthePopperians.Inaddition,theopposing
campshavebecomemoreextremeintheirclaims.Whereas,forthemostpart,the
Popperiansproposedonlymodustollensasauniversalcriterionofrationality,the
Davidsonianshaveaddedtothattheotherprinciplesofnaturaldeduction,Mill'scanons
ofinduction,andvarioussubstantivemetaphysicalassumptions.Indeed,fromreading
Davidson,onewouldthinkthatallthatseparatesusfromanyaliencultureisthestore
ofempiricalknowledgeonthebasisofwhichbeliefsarelicensed.Similarly,the
sociologistsoutdotherelativismoftheWittgensteinians:Bloorexplicitlyassimiliates
thelawsoflogicandmathematicstosocialconventions,andothershavesuggestedthat
thecourseofnaturalsciencemaybecharted,notbywatchingsomeinternalnecessity
workingitselfoutinhistory,butsimplybylookingatwhomakesthekeydecisionsinthe
relevantbureaucracies.Still,theimpassesaremuchthesameasbefore,asweshall
nowsee.
Indefendingthevalueofthoughtexperimentstohistoricalunderstanding,Kuhn(1981)
imaginesasituationinwhichGalileotriesempiricallytoconvinceAristotlethathis
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conceptofvelocityiscontradictory,suchthathefailstodistinguishtheaveragefrom
theinstantaneousspeedofabody.KuhnlikensthisepisodetooneofPiaget'schildren
whoisbroughttothethresholdofthenextcognitivestagebybeingmadetohave
contradictoryintuitionsabouthowaparticularexperimentwillturnout.Asitso
happens,Kuhnseemstowanttousethissituationtoshowthattherearewaysof
havingone'sparadigmpenetratedfrom"theoutside."Thiswouldmakehimjustthis
oncethedarlingoftheDavidsonians,sincethesuccessofGalileo'sandPiaget's
demonstrationsdependonthemandtheirrespectivesubjectssharingafairlyextensive
setofprinciplesofreasoning.However,whatgoesforKuhnneednotgoforthehardline
sociologist,suchasBloor,who,inresponsetotheDavidsonianclaimthatAristotle's
rationalityhinges
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onhiscapacitytoseeandcorrecttheincoherenceofhisconceptualways,would
probablymakethefollowingtwoarguments:
(m)AristotlemightwellseethepointofGalileo'sexperimentsandyetnotbe
swayedbytheargumentthatself-contradictorinessaloneissufficientgrounds
forrevisingaconcept.Admittedly,logicalconsistencywasavirtuetoutedby
Aristotlehimself,butitisfarfromclearthathetouteditasthevirtueto
pursuebefore all others.Indeed,thefactthatnoneofAristotle'sratherdiverse
philosophicalcontemporarieshadpointedoutthisproblemthatGalileocan
demonstratesoeasilysuggeststhattheGreekswerenotnearlyasconcerned
asweareabouttheinternalconsistencyofaconceptualscheme.
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(n)EvenifAristotletooktheeliminationofcontradictionstobeoneofhis
primaryconcerns,itisnotclearthathewouldidentifytheminthesameway
thatwe(orGalileo)do,noreventhathewouldcorrectthecontradictionshe
identifiedinamannerthatwewouldconsiderappropriate.Muchwilldependon
Aristotle'sgeneralattitudetowardconceptualanomalies,andespeciallyhis
senseofwhichtypeshavethegreatestpotentialforundermininghisprojects,
forthosewouldbetheonestargetedforofficial"elimination"andnotsimply
ignored.Thus,thesociologistisforcedtotheironicconclusionthattherobust
conceptualconstraintspostulatedbytheDavidsoniansaddrelativelylittleto
theconstraintsalreadyplacedonAristotle'sbehaviorbyhissocialinterests.
Theastutereaderwillnodoubtseeaparallelbothbetween(m)and(j)andbetween(n)
and(k).ButIshallconfinemydiscussiontothefirstparallel.TheDavidsoniansandthe
sociologistsappeartodifferultimatelyoverthecorrectpolicyforinterpretingAristotle,
anissuethatcannotberesolvedsimplybyappealingtocertainfactsaboutAristotle.
However,acrucialdisanalogybetween(m)and(j)isthat,in(m),thescientist(the
sociologist)isarelativist,whereasthehumanist(theDavidsonian)isauniversalist.For
example,in(j)theuniversalist'slaxinterpretivepolicyenabledhimtoabstractinvariant
principlesofrationalityfromtheimmediateculturalcontext.Bycontrast,in(m)the
Davidsonianismoreinterestedinusinghisownsenseofrationalconductasa
subjectivemodelforrenderingAristotle'sconductrationalthaninidentifyingspecific
principleswhichobjectivelyunitehimselfandAristotleinonerationaldiscourse.Inother
words,thedesiredoutcomeoftheuniversalist'sinquiryisnolongeranexplicitmethod,
suchasthecriticizabilitycriterion,bywhichtherationalityofaliensmaybeevaluated,
butanimplicitone,suchasVerstehen,whichisappliedwiththeaimofrenderingalien
conductrational.
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Likewise,in(j)therelativist'sstrictinterpretivepolicywasdesignedtodojusticetothe
fullrangeofthealien'ssocialexperience.ButoncetheWittgensteinianyieldstothe
sociologistin(m),thepointofarelativistpolicyhasalsochanged,forithasnow
becometheconsummateoutsider'sperspective.Thisshiftinthestatusofrelativism
startstomakesenseonceweconsiderourownabilitytotolerateacertainamountof
deviationinhowpeopleinourowncultureconductthemselves.Indeed,oneofthe
definingfeaturesofourbeing"insiders"toourowncultureisthatweknowwhatis
essentialandwhatisnotessentialtounderstandabouttheconductofourfellowsin
ordertounderstandthepointofwhattheyaredoing.Inthisrespect,themethodology
ofVerstehenisanattempttoregardeveryoneasessentiallyaninsidertohisown
culture.However,theobjectiverelativistdoesnotbelievethathecantakethesesorts
ofinterpretiveliberties,and,asaresult,judgestheappropriatenessofhisownpursuits
intermsofhisabilitytoidentifysystematicvaluedifferencesbetweenhisownandthe
alienculture.Andcertainly,thisishowanthropologistsinthetwentiethcenturyhave
triedtoprovetheirscientificcredentials(Rosenthal1984,part3).

6. The Ultimate Solution to the Problem of Realism


Thischapterhasproceededontheassumptionthatthereisnooneproblemofrealism
thatourbestmetaphysicswillultimatelysolve.Nevertheless,itistemptingtosuppose
thatthereisamaximallygeneralversionoftheproblemsofrealismthatwehavebeen
considering.Ifthereissuchaversion,itmaybebestexpressedasaproblemof
translation.Afterall,onewayofseeingthepointofcontentionbetweenanyrealistand
anyantirealistisintermsofwhetherthereissomethingthatremainsconstantinspite
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ofradicalchangesinhumanknowledge.Translatingbetweenthelanguagesoftwo
radicallydifferentculturesfitsthiscondition:Istheresome"content"thatcanbe
conveyedintact?Iftheculturesaretemporallyorderedandroughlycoextensiveinspace
(asin"TheHistoryofEurope"),thequestionthenbecomesoneofknowledgeretention,
whichgroundstheconceptofscientificprogress,towhichthescientificrealistis,inturn,
committed.Moreover,thequestionof"conveyingcontent"isultimateinthesenseof
beingindifferenttothetwomajorrealistwaysofcharacterizingcontent,namely,as
propositionsinaPlatonicrealmorobservationsentencesinanempiricalrealm.
Translationhasplayedakeyroleinscientifictheoryselection,asunderstoodinthe
analyticphilosophicaltradition,sincetheearlydaysofpositivism.Ideally,beforethe
scientistcandecidewhichoftwotheoriesisbetter,thephilosophermust"reduce"or
"parse"eachtheoryintoits"cognitivecontent."Positivistshavetraditionallysuspected
thatmuchoftheactualdebatesoverscientifictheorieshavenotbeenaboutdifferences
incontent,butmerelydifferencesintheideologicalconnotationsofcertain
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verbalformulationsofthetheories.Forourpurposes,abitofparsingisinorder,since
wewanttoexaminewhetheritispossibletoextractreal"content"fromatheorythat
canthenbeaddedtothestorehouseofknowledge.Ifso,thenrealisminsome
"ultimate"sensehasbeenvindicated.
Attheoutset,weshouldkeepinmindthatthereisaconceptualdifferencebetweenhow
theproblemofrealismarisesforthephilosophertryingtoparseascientifictheoryand
howitarisesforthescientisttryingtodecidebetweentwoparsedtheories.In
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particular,evenifthephilosophergivesarealistparsingoftworivaltheories,the
scientistmaystillbeanantirealistinthecourseofmakinghisdecision.Havinga"best"
interpretationofeachtheoryis,atmost,onlyanecessaryconditionformakinga"best"
decisionbetweentwotheories.Moreover,thispointhasafurthercomplication.Overthe
lastgeneration,analyticphilosophershaveusuallycitedQuine's underdetermination
thesisandKuhn's incommensurability thesisasreasonsforthinkingthatthereisnofact
ofthematterastowhichoftwotheoriesrepresentsrealitybetter,andhenceno
groundsforthescientistbeingarealist.Indeed,thetwotheseshavebeenoftenlinked
togetherinargumentasiftheyweremutuallycompatibleproductsofanantirealist
parsingofscientifictheories.However,asweshallnowargue,theirparsingstrategies
areneitherantirealistnorcompatible,thoughthegeneralantirealistconclusionthey
supposedlysupportturnsouttobecorrect.
Letusreturntothestandardexampleofphlogiston-basedchemistryandoxygen-based
chemistryasthetworivalchemicaltheoriesinthelateeighteenthcentury:Whyisitso
difficulttodecidebetweenthem?Ineffect,theunderdeterminationand
incommensurabilitythesesanswerthisquestionbyparsingthetheoriesinsuchaway
thattheirallegedrivalryiseliminated.InthecaseofQuine'sthesis,thephilosopher
wouldreducethetheoriestotheirevidentialbases,thenrealizethattheysavethe
phenomenaequallywellandmakesimilarpredictions(thatis,oncetheirdefendersare
forcedtoformulatethepredictionssolelyintermsoftheirobservationalconsequences).
InthecaseofKuhn'sthesis,thephilosopherwouldparsethetwotheoriesintermsof
theobjectstowhichtheyweremeanttoapply,andthenrealizethattheobjectsdonot
correspondtooneanotheronatype-fortypebasis(forexample,thereisnoentityin
theoxygen-basedchemistrythatanswerstoallthepropertieshadbyphlogiston).While
inbothcases,therivarlrybetweenthetwochemistrieshasclearlybeeneliminated,the
eliminationstrategiesarediametricallyopposed:ontheQuineanstrategy,thetwo
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theoriesendupbeingalternativewaysofarticulatingroughlythesamecontent,whereas
ontheKuhnianstrategy,thetheoriesenduprepresentingdomainswithmutually
exclusivecontents.
Fromthestandpointoftheproblemofrealism,thisisaninterestingconclusion,
especiallysince,taken alone,neithertheQuineannortheKuhnianeliminationstrategy
isantirealist:theQuineanreducestoaversionofempiricalrealism,whiletheKuhnian
reducestoaversionofmanyworldsrealism.Yet,thescientistcannotbesatisfiedwith
eitherstrategybecausebyeliminatingtheelementofrivalrybetweenthetwo
chemistries,
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eachhasalsoeliminatedtheneedforadecisiontobemadebetweenthem,whichwas,
afterall,theoriginalreasonforwantingtoparsethetwotheories.However,taken
together,thepolartendenciesoftheQuineanandKuhnianstrategiessuggestthat
beforebeingabletodecidebetweenthetwochemistries,thescientistwillhaveto
adoptametastrategyforselectivelyapplyingeachparsingstrategy.Forexample,ifthe
chemistisclearlya"modem,"hewillprobablywanttoparse"phlogiston"inaQuinean
manner,namely,intermsoftheevidenceforitsassertion,and"oxygen"inaKuhnian
manner,intermsofitsintendedreferent.Moregenerally,thechemistwillwanttotreat
someofthesentencesinthetwotheoriesasstraightforwardlymeaningfulutterances
(Kuhnianly)andothersassimplybehaviorsthatareproducedwhenevercertaindataare
regularlypresented(Quineanly).
Notsurprisngly,thesetwowaysoftreatingthesentencescorrespondtothetwocentral
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andcomplementaryapproachestotranslationidentifiedbypracticingtranslators:formal
(Kuhnian)anddynamic(Quinean)equivalence(Nida1964).Moretothepoint,practicing
translatorsbelievethatthereisnoone"bestway"ofnegotiatingthiscomplementarity,
excepttomakethetrade-offinawaythatisbestsuitedtothepointofwantingthe
translationinthefirstplace.Insofarassomethingsimilarcanbesaidaboutthenature
ofthemetastrategyfortradingoffthetworealisttheoryparsings,antirealismwould
seemtobetheultimatesolutiontotheproblemofrealism.Weshallpickuponthese
pointsinchaptersfiveandsix.
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CHAPTER FOUR
BEARING THE BURDEN OF PROOF:
ON THE FRONTIER OF SCIENCE AND HISTORY
Thischapterexploresthepointwheretheepistemologyofscienceandtheepistemology
ofhistorymeet,namely,theevidencebasewhichallowsthehistoriantoattribute
knowledgestatestoascientificcommunity.Akeypresuppositionofthisinquiryisthat
thecentralproblemsinrationalizingourepistemichistorydonotconcernchangesin
belief,butchanges in orthodoxy.Itisonethingtoaskwhateachmemberofa
communityshouldbelieveforhimself:anessentiallyCartesianquestion.Itisquite
anotherthingtoaskwhatthemembersshouldtaketobethedominantbeliefsoftheir
community.Thissecondquestionconsiderstherelativeburdenofproofthattheirbeliefs
shouldbear.Moreover,itisnotobviousthattheanswertothefirstquestionconstrains
theanswertothesecondquestioninanysignificantway.Evenifthevastmajorityof
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membersofthecommunityholdacertainbelief,thatisnoindicationofwhetherthey
wouldallowittopassinopenforumwithoutstrenuousargument.Onvariouslong-term
methodologicalorideologicalgrounds,themembersmayhaveaninterestinkeeping
certainoftheirwidelyheldbeliefsfromgaininggeneralsocialcurrency(thatis,from
actingaslicensesorwarrantsintheirlanguagegames).Considerthisvividcase:forall
weknow,amajorityofscientistsmaystillbelieveinGod,yetthebeliefmustbearan
enormousperhapsinsurmountableburdenofproofbeforeitcanbeusedtojustifya
scientificclaim.
Anothersuchcasemaybethebeliefsthatscientists(andhumanistsaswell)haveof
oneanother's"realreasons"forconductingcertainlinesofresearch.Sociologistsof
sciencehavenodoubtaccuratelycapturedthe"interest-laden"natureofthesereasons.
Butgiventhescientificcommunity'soverridinginterestinthelong-termmaintenanceof
ourknowledgeenterprises,ithaserectedmanyprobativebarriersthatpreventthe
sociologists'findingsfromgaininggeneralcredence.Nottheleastofthesebarriersare
alternative,moreorthodoxexplanationsfortheseemingly"interest-laden"behavior.
Indeed,ifJonElster(1979,ch.2)iscorrect,akeyreasonwhytheorthodoxviewdoes
notnecessarilycoincidewiththemajorityviewisthatbydistinguishingtheorthodoxy
fromthemajority,acommunityisaffordedanindirectmeansforchangingits
undesirableyetwidespreadbeliefs,namely,bymakingthemsodifficulttoexpress
(sincetheymustbearsuchalargeburdenofproof)thatthemembersofthecommunity
areeffectivelydiscouragedfromholdingthebeliefs(Fuller1985a,ch.2).Thus,through
adequatetraining,scientistsmaycometobelievethatthereisasharpdistinction
betweentheoretical(interest-free)andpractical(interest-laden)reasoning.Andso,we
seethatalthoughanswerstoquestionsofpersonalbeliefmaynotresolvequestionsof
orthodoxy,answerstoquestionsoforthodoxymaybeusedtoresolve(at
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-99-

leastindirectly)questionsofpersonalbelief.
However,theselasttwoparagraphshavebeensomethingofateaser,sinceIdonot
intendtodiscusstheinterestingnormativeissuestheysuggestaboutepistemicchange.
Mytaskhereisthepropaedeuticoneofshowinghowtheepistemichistoriangoesabout
identifyingorthodoxies,orpresumedtruths,andbeliefsthatbearvaryingburdensof
proof.Thistaskissetagainstthebackdropofdebatesinthephilosophyofscience,my
purposebeingtohighlighttheinadequacieshadbyallsides.
WestartbyconsideringFeyerabend'sattacksonpositivismandconcludethathisown
versionofrealismlacksthekeyvirtueofpositivism,namely,awell-developedtheoryof
"verification"orevidence.Thisproblembecomesespeciallyacuteinthecaseof
incommensurability,whichisdefinedhereintermsoftwotheorieshavingdifferent
verifiabilityconditionsbutthesametruthconditions(soasnottogetintoanyneedless
debateswiththescientificrealist).Onouraccount,twotheorieshavedifferent
verifiabilityconditionswhentheydonotbearthesameburdenofproof.Weclaimthat
ouraccountofverifiabilityconditions,basedonthesocio-historicalvariableofburdenof
proof,rendersthehistoryofsciencemoreintelligiblethanotheraccounts.Moreover,
renderingthehistoryofscienceintelligibleistakentobeanessentialconditionforany
adequatetheoryofsciencetomeet.WethusadoptastrategyofMinimal Hegelianism,
wherebythepresenceofasufficientreasonispresumedforwhateverhappensinhistory.
Inthischapter,languageistreatedasthesomethingthat"happens"(aperformance),
whichthenallowsustodrawonGrice'sQuantityMaximandQuentinSkinner'shistorical
methodologytofashionaprincipleforjudgingburdenofproof:namely,thehistorical
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figureswhosaymore(indefenseoftheirclaims)neededtosaymore,sincetheyborea
greaterburdenofprooffortheirclaims.MinimalHegelianismisthenusedtointerpret
Kuhn'sdistinctionbetweenthetacitknowledgeofparadigmsandarticulated
methodologicalrules.Intheend,wedrawonresourcesfromthepositivisttheoryoflaw
tobearoutKuhn'sclaimthatparadigmscannotbereducedtorules.

1. Feyerabend and the Problem of "Rival Yet Incommensurable"


Theories
Inhis1951doctoralthesis,"AnAttemptataRealisticInterpretationofExperience,"Paul
Feyerabend(1981a,ch.2)setoutforthefirsttimethemetaphysicalstrategythat,
withinadecade,wouldmarkhimasthemostpotentphilosophicalfoethatlogical
positivismhaseverhad.Feyerabendconsideredtwoparadigms:positivismandrealism.
Weshallbeginbylayingouttheseparadigms,partlyfollowingFeyerabend'sargument
andpartlyexpandingitsscopetoincorporatemorerecentdevelopmentsinthe
positivism/realismdebate.
Accordingtopositivism'sproponents,RussellandCarnap,observation
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sentencesderivetheirmeaningfromone-to-onecorrespondenceswithatomicsensations
orcombinationsofsuchsensations.FeyerabendcalledthistheStability Thesis,
presumablyafterthepositivisttenetthatmeaningwaspossibleonlybecause,atthe
mostbasiclevelofobservation,wordshadsomestableattachmentcallit
"correspondence"totheworld.Assubsequentpapersshowed,Feyerabendtookthis
thesisasthesourceofthepositivistclaimthatscientifictheoriesmaychangewithout
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thesisasthesourceofthepositivistclaimthatscientifictheoriesmaychangewithout
themeaningsoftheoreticaltermsundergoingachange.ThiswasthenotoriousMeaning
Invariance Thesisthatallowedforthecomparisonofscientifictheoriesand,thus,for
judgmentsabouttheirrelativemerits.Moreover,onthepositivistview,thesetof
sentencesconstitutingatheoryisnothingmorethananeconomicalmeansforinferring
observationsentences.
Thelastpointaboutpositivismmaybetakenintwoways(notdistinguishedby
Feyerabend).Ontheonehand,itmayimplythattheoryaddsneithertotheempirical
contentclaimedoftheworldnortothemeaningoftheobservationsentences.The"nor"
followsfromthe"neither"bythepositivist"criterionofcognitivesignificance,"namely,
thatasentence'smeaningfulnessisexhaustivelydefinedintermsofitsempirical
content.Ontheotherhand,thepositiviststanceontheroleoftheoryinsciencemaybe
takentoimplythattheempiricalcontentofatheoryexceedsthatofitsobservation
sentences,ifthetheoreticalsentencesareunderstoodasmakinguseoftermsdenoting,
say,middle-sizedobjects,whichareconstructedfrominfinitelymanyatomicsensations.
Butinthatcase,theoreticalsentencesare,strictlyspeaking,undecidable,sincewecan
neverdeterminethetotalevidenceforthepresenceofonesuchobject.Onthefirst
reading,positivismisaspeciesof"antirealism"inBasvanFraassen's(1980)sense,
whichisinformedbyscientificpracticeonthesecondreading,positivismis"antirealist"
inMichaelDummett's(1976)sense,whichisinformedbyordinarylinguisticpractice.
Bothreadings,however,sharetheviewthatwhateverhiddencausalmechanismsseem
tobeinvokedintheoreticalsentencescanbejustifiablyregardedasnomorethan
heuristicfictions.
Accordingtorealism,thepositiontakenbyFeyerabendhimself,someonemaybecaused
toutteranobservationsentencewheneverhehasaparticularsensationwithoutthat
sensationconferringmeaningonthesentence.Thedistinctionbetweenthecausaland
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semanticsourcesofutterancesisblurredinthepositivistuseofsensationsasits
metaphysicalstartingpoint,which,ineffect,conflatesthirdandfirstpersonperspectives
onanindividual'sbehavior.Thebehavioralscientistcancorrelatethespeedwithwhicha
subjectlinguisticallyrespondstotheexposureofaphysicalstimulus.Thesubject
himselfimmediatelyidentifieshissensationofthestimulusasameaningfulobject.
Contrarytotheconnotationsof"sensations,""speed"cannotbeequatedwith
"immediacy,"forthespeedofresponsestemsfromtheconditioninghistoryofthe
subject,whiletheimmediacyofidentificationstemsfortheobservationsentencebeing
derivablefromacomprehensivetheorythatdefinesthesensationasevidenceforsome
higher
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orderentityorprocess.Feyerabendsuggeststhatthepositivistconflationmayarise
fromasubjectpossiblybeingsowellconditionedtorespondwithinonetheoretical
languagethathecannotconceiveofthesensationasevidenceforsomeotherentity.
However,thisinconceivabilityshouldnotbeconfusedwiththesupposedinfallibilityof
theobservationsentence,for,onceagain,sincethesentencederivesitsmeaningfroma
theorywhichpositsentities,ifthoseentitiesturnoutnottoexist,thenthesentence
mayturnouttobefalse.
Feyerabend'sargumentswereoriginallyaimedatNielsBohr,whoclaimedthatitwas
"psychologicallyimpossible"foraphysicisttounderstandtheworldasclearlythrough
quantummechanicsasthroughclassicalmechanics.Classicalmechanicsis,sotospeak,
the"ordinarylanguage"ofphysics.Bohrisinterestingbecause,whilehebelievesthat
themeaningsofsensationsareconferredbyasubject'sentiretheoreticallanguage,he
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alsobelievesthatonlyonesuchlanguageisuniquelyisomorphicwiththetotalityofour
objectsofperceptionnamely,theworldofmiddle-sizedobjectsofclassicalmechanics.
Feyerabend,thus,seesinBohraveiledendorsementoftheStabilityThesis.Incontrast,
therealisttreatstheentitiespositedbyatheoryastheputativecausesofasubject's
linguisticbehavior,suchthatthebehavioralscientistandthesubjectmayberegarded
asofferingrivaltheoriesofthesame"phenomena"(which,inturn,willbedescribedin
thelanguageofthetheorythatturnsouttobetrue).Thissuggeststhatarealisttheory
ofreferencewouldbeidenticalwiththelatestphysicaltheory,oratleastthebest
availableaccountofthecausesoflinguisticbehavior,regardlessofwhethermostactual
languageusersknow(thebesttheoryof)whattheirobservationsentencesaretrueof.
Againincontrast,apositivisttheoryofreferencewouldgrouptogetherobservation
sentencesutteredbyindividualsindifferentlanguagesthatweretriggeredbysensations
ofthesametype.Itwouldthusdependcruciallyonthepossibilityofintersubjective
agreementamonglanguageusers.
Althoughhehasshowntheadvantagesofarealistoverapositivistparadigmof
experiencefordoingthekindsofactivities(suchassearchingforhiddencausal
mechanisms)thatnormallyfallundertherubricof"science,"Feyerabendnevertheless
realizesthathisownaccountofmeaning,whichrelativizesmeaningtoparticular
theories,obscures,ifnotrendersincoherent,thesenseinwhichtwotheoriesmaybe
regardedasofferingrivalinterpretationsof"thesamephenomena."Forevenin1951,he
hadalreadyrenouncedthepossibilityofacrucialexperimentdecidingbetweenthem.
Yetthecogencyofrealismasagenuinealternativetopositivismrestsonmakingsense
oftheconceptofrival yet incommensurabletheories.Asweshallsee,thisproblemis
hardlyastrangertopositivism.
Oneofthemoreunsavoryfeaturesofpositivismhasbeenpreciselyitsinabilityto
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providesufficientreasonforthetheorychoicesthathaveoccurredinthehistoryof
science,letalonewhytheoreticalissuesshouldappearmoresignificantthanempirical
ones.OnthesortofantirealismespousedbyvanFraassen,thereisnothingtochoose
from,sincetheoretical
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languagesaremerelynotationalvariantsforexpressingthesameempiricalcontent.At
best,then,theprominentdisputesinscienceturnouttobeargumentsaboutheuristics:
tobeaNewtonianoranAristotelianissimplyamatterofhowone'sscientificresearch
istobeorganized.Atworst,scientifictheorydisputesbecomeexercisesintheemotive
usesoflanguageor,morecharitably,"ideologicalconflicts":tobeaNewtonianoran
Aristotelianissimplyamatterofidentifyingtheinterestgroupofwhichoneisa
member.OnthesortofantirealismespousedbyDummett,theremaybearealchoice,
butneveradequatewarrantformakingit,since,shortoftotalevidence,legitimate
doubtmayremainaboutwhetherornottheputativeobjectofsometheoreticalterm
reallyexists.This,ofcourse,isoneofthemanyguisesunderwhichtheproblem of
inductionhastraveled.And,asNelsonGoodman's(1955)"grueparadox"hasshown,the
scientist'spredilectionfortheorizingwithoneoftwotermsthatsavethephenomena
equallywellwilldependonwhichtermhappenstobebetterintegratedwithotherterms
inthescientist'slanguage.Ironically,throughouthiscareer,Feyerabendhasresortedto
thesepositivistmaneuverstoaccountforboththeapparentgroundednessof
establishedtheoriesandtherealungroundednessofnewtheories.Indeed,hemay
easilybetakentohaveendorsedthefollowingargument:
(P1)Iftheorychoicecanbeexplainedbypositivistmaneuvers,
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(P2)Andtheorychoice(asopposedto,say,datagathering)isthemost
significantfeatureofscience,
(C)Thensciencedoesnotliveuptoitsrationalself-image.
However,nothingsaidsofarforcesustoaccept(P1).
LarryLaudan(1977),forone,hastriedtogetaroundthe"rivalyetincommensurable"
problembydenyingthattwotheoriesmustbecommensurableinordertoberivals.The
generalstrategyistodecideinfavoroftheresearchtraditionthathassolvedmoreof
theproblemsithassetforitself.However,thisstrategyislesshelpfulthanitfirst
seems,sinceitisnotclearhowsuchdecisionwouldbemade.Assumingthatthedecider
canindividuateproblemswithineachresearchtradition,hemustthenweighandtally
them,notunlikeautilitariancalculus.Butitisdifficulttoimaginethemechanismsof
suchaweightingwithoutsupposingthattheresearchtraditionsaremuchmore
commensurablethanLaudanwouldhavethembe.Indeed,Bentham'sowncalculuswas
motivatedbytheideathatqualitativelydifferentgoodswerereducibletothenet
magnitudesofpleasureandpainthattheygavethesameresulttoeitherthedecideror
thoseforwhomthedecisionwasbinding.Thus,wecanconcludethatatleastLaudan's
attempttoseverrivalryfromcommensurabilitywillnotdo.Noticethatwehavesofar
supposed,ashavemostphilosophersofscience,thatincommensurabilityisanobstacle
toanypossiblerivalrybetweentwo
-103-

theories.Laudan'sstrategywastocircumventtheobstacle.Butperhaps
incommensurabilityisintegraltounderstandingthesenseinwhichtwotheoriesmaybe
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rivals.However,thereareseveralsensesofincommensurability.Weshallfirstlookata
radicalsenseofincommensurability,towhichwewouldnormallybeattracted,butwhich
istooradicalforourcurrentpurposes.
Onestraininthepositivisttraditiontracesallseeminglysignificantdisagreements
namely,thoseoverhigher-orderconceptsliketruth,goodness,andbeautytomutual
misunderstandingsbythedisputants.LetuscallthistheBabel Thesis.TheBabelThesis
appearsintheviewthattwotheoriesofequalempiricaladequacyaremerelynotational
variants,aswellasintheQuine-Davidsonpositionthatoptimaltranslationmakesmost
ofthesentencesinthetranslatedlanguagecomeouttrue(Follesdal1975).Theideais
thatgiventhesameevidence,andthesamebackgroundknowledge,allrational
individualswouldlicensethesameinferences.Andso,iftwodisputantsagreeonthe
premisesbutnottheconclusion,thenthisdisagreementmaybeattributedtosome
misunderstanding:perhapsonepartyerroneouslypresumedthattheotherpartyhadthe
samebackgroundknowledge,orperhapstheotherparty'sconclusionshavesimplybeen
mistranslated.Appliedtoscience,theBabelThesisimpliesthattheonlyepistemic
reasonwhyitappearsthatchoicesbetweentheoriesmustbemadeisthatthe
proponentsofthetwotheoriesdonotquiteunderstandwhateachotherisclaiming
and/oraboutwhattheyareclaimingithence,rivalryimpliesincommensurabilityina
ratherstrongsense.Ouronlyrealepistemicduties,then,aretoeffectatranslationthat
maximizesconsensuswherethetwoproponentsaremakingclaimsaboutthesame
domainofobjectsandtospecifywherethetwoproponentsaremakingclaimsabout
differentdomainsofobjects.
NoticethattheBabelThesisdoesnotdenythattherearegoodsocialreasons
necessitatingtheorychoice:perhapsresourcesarelimited,andthelanguageofone
theory(especiallyitsmetaphors)suggestsapplicationsthattheotherdoesnot,even
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thoughthereisnodifferenceinempiricalcontent.TheimplicationsoftheBabelThesis
arefar-reaching.Foriftheveryneedfortheorychoiceis"social"ratherthan"epistemic"
(inthewaythataclassicalphilosopherislikelytodrawthedistinction),thenthereis
somethingtothethesis,advancedbybothFeyerabendandFoucault,thattobelievethat
establishedscientifictheoriesareentities"commanding"ourassentand"constraining"
ourassertionsabouttheworldistomixtheepistemicandsocialimportofthose
theories.Howevertantalizingitwouldbetoexplorethisimplicationhere,thereader
mustturntothenextchapters.Forpresentpurposes,theBabelThesisdoesnotoffer
therightaccountof"rivalyetincommensurable,"sincethereadingofthehistoryof
sciencethatitpresupposesraisestoomanyfoundationalquestions.
-104-

2. The Missing Link: Burden of Proof


Instead,ouraccountof"rivalyetincommensurable"turnsontheideathattwotheories
areincommensurablebecausetheydonotbearthesameburden of proof.Admittedly,
considerablenormativeforceisattachedtotheideathattwotheoriesbeartheburdenof
proofequally,asinthecaseofacrucialexperiment,wherebythesameoutcomeissaid
toverifyonetheoryandfalsifyanother.Thisapproachtoburdenofproofsuitedthe
positivists,whogenerallyconceivedoftheoriesasclosedlogicalstructures.Asaresult,
theyhavebeenunabletomakesenseoftheintuitionthatevidencebearsonlyonparts
oftheories,andondifferentsizedpartsofdifferenttheories(Glymour1980).However,
inordertogiveburdenofproofamore"realistic"flavor,followersofKarlPopperhave
refinedtheideaofcrucialexperimentsothattheoutcomeofsuchanexperimentneed
notbearoneachofthetheoriesequally:onetheorymayhaveahigh-levelprinciple
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falsified,whiletheothermay,atthesametime,haveonlyalow-leveltheorem
corroborated.ImreLakatos(1970)introducedtheideaof"negativeheuristic"inorderto
determinejustwhataspectsofatheorymaybetestedbywhatpiecesofevidence.And
Doppelt(1982)hasevenattemptedapartialexplicationofThomasKuhn'sconceptof
incommensurabilityintermsoftwotheorieshavingwidelydivergentsensesofthe
relativesignificancehadbyparticularpiecesofevidence.
Nevertheless,tosaythattheevidencedoesnotbearontwotheoriesequallyisnotto
saythatthetwotheoriesdonotbeartheburdenofproofequally.Inordertoidentify
theconditionnecessaryforthetwotheoriesnotbearingthesameburdenofproof,
imaginethatonepredictsthatsomeeventwillhappen(O)andtheotherpredictsthat
theeventwillnothappen(-O).Theburdenofproofwouldbedifferent,then,onlyifthe
kindofevidencethatisadequateforshowingthetruthofOisnotalsoadequatefor
showingthat-Oisfalse.Atypicalcasewouldinvolveproponentsofonetheoryneeding
onlytoassert"O"asevidenceforObecausethetruthofOissowellentrenchedthat
mereassertioncommandsassent,whileadvocatesofanopposingtheoryneedtogo
throughagreatmanyargumentsandexperimentsinordertopersuadethescientific
communitythat-Oisreallythecase:mereassertionof"-O"maycommandlittlemore
thanincredulouslooks.
Theroleplayedbythekindofevidencehasbeenunderscoredbecauseindiscussionsof
thepossibilityofcrucialexperiment,andhowevidencebearsontheoriesingeneral,
"evidence"isusuallytakentobesentencesdescribingtheoutcomeofsomeempirical
inquiry.UntilHacking's(1983)recentworkonexperiment,littleattentionhadbeenpaid
tothekindsofproceduresusedforgeneratingthisevidence.Infact,itmayevenbe
suspectedthatmuchoftheimportancethatLakatosandLaudanattachtoempirical
adequacyandtheoreticalpromiseasprinciplesofrationaltheorychoicewouldbe
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diminishedifacleardistinctionweremadebeenthesheerquantityofevidence(thatis,
thenumberofverifiedclaims)possessed bytwotheories
-105-

andthequalityofevidence(thatis,thekindsofproceduresforverifyingclaims)
demandedofthetwotheories.Inthatcase,theLakatosiandictum"Alltheoriesareborn
refuted"maybereplacedbyAll theories are born plaintiffsastheproblemforwhichan
accountoftheorychangeinsciencewouldbethesolution.
Nodoubt,theimpoverishedsenseofevidencenormallyfoundinthephilosophyof
sciencecanbetracedtothelingeringeffectsofpositivism,especiallyitshistoricalrole
inexplicating"theconditionsofverifiability"foranobservationsentence,theunitof
evidence.Inbrief,thestrategyhasbeenasfollows.Thetruthconditionsofan
observationsentencearedefinedbytheTarskiConventionhence,"O"istrueifandonly
ifO.O'sverifiabilityconditionsare,inturn,definedasareductionofOtothesetof
atomicsensationswarrantingtheassertion"O"(formore,seeHacking1975a,ch.12).
NoticethatverifiabilityconditionsaredefinednotasaprocedureforgeneratingObut
merelyastheappearanceofOthatlicensestheassertion"O."Thisexplicationofthe
conditionsofverifiabilitygoeslittlebeyondtheStabilityThesis.Indeed,byidentifying
verifiabilitywithasimplephenomenalanalysisoftruthconditions,thepositivistsdidnot
distinguishthetwoconditionssharplyenoughforthinkingaboutoneindependentlyof
theother.Thisisamajorpointforus,since,insayingthattwotheoriesbearunequal
burdensofproof,wewanttodrawthefollowingdistinctionthatwouldbedifficultforthe
positivisttoexpress:
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(a)Giventwotheories,oneofwhichentailsOandtheother-O,ifOistrue,
thenipsofacto-Oisfalse.
(b)Giventhesametwotheories,ifEisthekindofevidencethatwouldverify
O,thenEisnotnecessarilythekindofevidencethatwouldverify-O.
Whereas(a)claimsthatthetwotheorieshavetruthconditionsfortheirrespective
observationsentences,(b)claimsthatthetwosentencesdonotnecessarilyhave
commonverifiabilityconditions,sinceonetheorymaybeartheburdenofproofand
therebyrequiremoreelaborateproceduresforestablishingthetruthofitsclaimsthan
theother,whoseclaimsare(forthetimebeingatleast)presumedtrue.Thepositivist
woulddeny(b)becausethekindsofevidencerequiredtoverifyOand-Oarethesame,
namely,theobservationofwhicheverhappenstobethecase.Noticealsothat(a)and
(b)contributetosavingtheappearancesofFeyerabend'srealism,inthatthe
independenceof(a)from(b)securestheminimalconditionofrealism:thetruth-valueof
asentenceobtainsirrespectiveofthemeansbywhichthevalueisdetermined.
Furthermore,(b)simplystatesthatthetwotheoriesbearunequalburdensofproof,our
glossontheconceptofincommensurability.Finally,(a)showsthatatleastpartial
translatabilityisallowedbetweenthetwotheories,sothatwedonotdependonthethe
BabelThesis.
-106-

Assoonasitbecameclearthatnotheorycouldbeverifiedinthepositivistsenseof
verifiability,thepossibilitywasopenedfortheconceptofburdenofprooftobe
articulatedinoneoftwoways.Ontheonehand,theconceptcouldbearticulatedin
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termsofthedegreetowhichagivenclaimhasbeenconfirmedorcorroborated,such
that,iftheobservationalconsequencesofonetheoryaremoreconfirmedthananother,
thenthemoreconfirmedtheoryispresumedtrueandtheburdenofproofisplacedon
thelessconfirmedtheorytomakeitscase.Ontheotherhand,thearticulationcouldbe
intermsofthenumberofproblemssolvedorphenomenasaved,suchthattheburdenof
proofisplacedonthetheorythataccountsforless.However,byfocusingonwhatwe
previouslycalled"thequantityofevidence,"positivistshavehadnotoriousdifficultiesin
convertingtheirdefinitionsofverifiability(suitablyamended)intoproceduresforreading
thehistoryofscience.Ifverifiabilityisdefinedasdegreeofcorroboration,howaresuch
degreestobeidentifiedforparticularclaimsmadeinhistory,which,atleastinthemore
interestingcases,donotadvertisetheirstatisticalstatusontheirsurfacestructures?
Butisthisafaircriticismofpositivism?Thatdependsonwhetherwecanprovidean
accountofverifiabilityespeciallythataspectoftheconceptconcerninghowtwo
theoriesbeartheburdenofprooffromwhich"instructions"canbederivedforreading
thehistoryofscience.AssuccessiveeditionsofA.J.Ayer's(1952,ch.8)Language,
Truth, and Logicamplyillustrate,verifiabilityhasbeendevelopedmorewithaneye
towardsatisfyingcertainlogicaldemandsthanhistoricalones.Thus,weshouldnotbe
surprisedifanadequatedefinitionofverifiabilityturnsouttohavenoobviousbearing
onhowhistoryisread.Andperhapsthisishowitshouldbe,especiallyifonetakesthe
Popperianlinethatthephilosophyofsciencestandsinrelationtosciencejustasethics
doestohumanactioningeneral(Popper1981).Inthatcase,sincethephilosophyof
scienceisanexclusivelynormativediscipline,itisundernoobligationtodevelop
conceptsthatmakethephenomenaofthehistoryofscienceeasiertosaveforitmight
wellbethatscience,likehumanactioningeneral,hasbeenexemplaryonlyduring
sporadic"revolutionary"episodes.
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Ifphilosophyofscienceisnottobecomeindistinguishablefrommeredescriptivehistory,
theonlystrategyotherthanPopper'swouldseemtoinvolveshowingthatthehistoryof
scienceisinherentlynorm-governed.HewouldtrytovindicateHegel'smaxim:"thereal
isrationalandtherationalisreal."Moretothepoint:themorehistorythatcomesout
rationalbyone'sphilosophicalaccount,thecloseronehascometodiscoveringthe
identityofthegoverningnorm(orsetofnorms).Thus,in principle,greaterknowledgeof
historybegetsbetternormativejudgments.Wehaveintroducedtheseglobalconcernsin
ordertopointoutthat,insofarasweareinterestedindefiningoneaspectofverifiability
burdenofproofasaphilosophicalconceptthatimpliesamethodforreadingthe
historyofscience(ratherthanasaphilosophicalconceptagainstwhichthehistoryof
scienceisthenjudged),weareimplicitlyendorsingaHegelianratherthana
-107-

Popperianapproachtothenormativestatus,or"rationality,"ofhistory.Thisis,tosay
theleast,acontroversialmove(one,however,whichechoesthemovetoward
"panglossianepistemology"inch.1).AndwhileIdonotintendtoshowthatHegel
shouldbeendorsedoverPopper,IdointendtoshowthatHegelisatleastasworthyof
endorsement.Interestingly,giventhegenerallyecumenicalspiritofourtimes,ithas
becomenecessarytomakemypointbyshowingthatHegelissomethingotherthan
Popperdressedupforanineteenth-centuryaudience.Inotherwords,wemustaddress
thequestion:Isthereagenuine differencebetweenthePopperianwhoarguesthatmost
ofhistorydoesnotconformtohisnormsandtheHegelianwhoarguesthatallofhistory
conformstohis?
Onereasonwhywemightatfirstsuspectthatthereisnorealdifferenceisthatthe
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Hegeliansenseofhistory,the"world-historic,"excludesmostofwhatwouldotherwise
beconsideredhistoricalphenomenamuchinthemannerofanormativeaccountof
historicalrationality.Amongcontemporaryphilosophersofscience,IanHacking(1981b)
hasmostforcefullypressedforthissortofsimilaritybetweenPopperianandHegelian
senseofhistoricalrationality.Attheoutset,Hackingadmitsthatthedifferences
betweenHegelandthePopperianLakatosstandout.Ontheonehand,Lakatosheld
thatjudgmentsofanagent'soranact'srationalitywereessentiallyretrospective,which
impliesthathistoryisrationalonlyinthesensethatamoderncanclaimthathewould
havedonewhatsomehistoricalagentdid,hadhebeeninthesamesituation,giventhe
agent'ssetofbeliefsandinterests.Ontheotherhand,Hegelbelievedthat,insome
objectivesense,historyitselfwasgovernedbysufficientreason.Hackingargues,
however,thatLakatoswasforcedtoadoptaretrospectivistapproachtorationality
becausehisparadigmofrationality,thehypotheticodeductivistmethodologyofthe
positivists,constitutedastyleofreasoningalientothestylesinwhichmostscientific
activityhasbeenconducted.Consequently,Lakatosfounditdifficulttoidentify
instancesofrationalityinhistoryandhadtoresortto"rationallyreconstructing"past
episodes.
Hacking,nevertheless,endorsesthesehistoriographicalmaneuversbecausetheyreadily
supporthispetthesisthatanyattempttoshowtherationalityofhistorywillissue
eitherinmassiveomissionsofwhatactuallyhappened(soastopreservetherationality
oftheaccount)orinmanyjudgmentstotheeffectthatvarioushistoricalagentsdidnot
actinanoptimallyrationalfashion(simplybecausewecannoteasily"makesense"of
whattheydid).HackingbelievesthatHegeltookthewayofthe"either,"whileLakatos
tookthewayofthe"or."Admittedly,Hacking'sargumentisgroundedinaFoucauldian
premise,namely,thatanyaccountofhistoricalrationalityconstitutesa"rationalization"
(inFreud'ssense)andhenceafalsificationofhistory.Butwhateveronemakesofthe
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cogencyofthispremise,theargumentstillposesachallengethatdeservestobemet.
LetusstartbyreturningtotheHegelianclaimthatthereissufficientreasonfor
whateverhappensinhistory,suchthatthephilosopherdoesnotsomuchimposenorms
asdiscoverthem.Ifwetreattheutterancesofhistorical
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agentsassituatedactions(as,say,aspeech-acttheoristoraMarxistwould)rather
thanasverbaliconsoftheexternalworld(asapositivistandmostotherswould),then
theHegelianclaimcanbetranslatedintoPaulGrice's(1975)MaximofQuantityfor
ConversationalImplicature.Sincethisconclusionmustappeartobedrawingarabbitout
ofahat,thelinkshouldbemademoreexplicit.
Grice'sprojectistoarticulatewhat"speakers"(understoodmostgenerallytoincludeany
languageusers)mustpresupposeinorderforcommunicationtobearationallygrounded
activity.Hisstrategyistoidentifyheuristicsthataspeakerusestosupplythe
backgroundagainstwhichhisinterlocutor'sutterancesaretobeunderstood.Oneof
Grice'sfourmainheuristics,or"maxims,"isQuantity:everything that is said needs to be
said.Inconversation,thismaximworksbyeachspeakerpresumingoftheotherthat
everythingtheysayisnecessaryformutualunderstandingtooccur.Onesaysneithertoo
muchnortoolittle.Thesamecanbeappliedtothehistoricalrecord,sothatwheneverit
seemsthatargumentativepointsarebeingbelaboredbyanhistoricalagent,the
historianisinstructedtopresumethatthefiguredidnottakeforgrantedthathis
intendedaudiencewouldunderstandwhatthehistoriannowfindssoobvious.Notice,
therefore,thattheQuantityMaximispresumedtooperatebetweentheauthorandhis
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intendedaudience,butnotnecessarilybetweentheauthorandthehistorian.Italso
followsthattheremaybepointsthattheauthorneedneverarticulate,sinceheandhis
audiencetakethemforgranted,eventhoughwithouthavingthemmadeexplicitthe
historianrunstheriskofseriouslymisunderstandingtheauthor.
TodrawouttheconsequencesofthislineofreasoningwouldleadusbacktotheBabel
Thesis.ButinordertoapplytheGriceanaccounttothehistoryofscience,weshalllimit
ourhorizons.OurmodelwillbeQuentinSkinner's(1969,1970)appropriationofJ.L.
Austin's(1962)speech-acttheory,whichwasfirstintroducedinchapterthree.In
particular,weshallrestricttheconceptof"understanding"totheaudiencebeing
sufficientlyinformedbythespeakerthatitcandecidewhetherhisclaimistrueorfalse
thatis,weareacceptingaverifiabilistaccountofmeaning.Inthatcase,wecanspeak
ofthethreshold of decidabilityforaclaimastheextenttowhichaspeakermustinform
hisaudiencebeforeitcanmakeadecision:Howexplicitmusthebe?Whatfollowsisa
tentativeorderingofthresholdsfromclaimsthatareeitherpresumedtrueorpresumed
falseuntilotherwiseshown(A)tothosethatplacetheentireburdenofproofonthe
speakertoreversethepresumedtruth-valueoftheclaim(E):
QuestionWhatmustanauthor/speakerdosothathisintendedaudiencecandetermine
thetruthvalueofhisclaim?
(A)Mereassertionoftheclaimissufficientforimmediateacceptanceor
rejection.Indeed,iftheaudiencehesitatedoveracceptingorrejectingthe
claimfornostatedreason,thentheaudience'scompetencewouldbe
justifiablythrownintodoubt.Thismayberegardedasthe
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speech-actversionofso-calledanalytictruthsandsynthetictruisms.
Furthermore,(A)-typeclaimsmaybeso"self-evident"thattheyremainunsaid
asthespeakeraddresseshisaudiencehence,theyaretheonesmostlikelyto
eludethehistoriananddistorthisunderstanding.
(B)Anassertionoftheclaimmustbeaccompaniedbyexplicationorverbal
argument,forwhiletheclaimmaybeinferredfromthosealreadyacceptedby
theaudience,itisaninferencenotoften(orperhapsever)drawn.
(C)Anassertionoftheclaimmustbeaccompaniedbya"loose"statementof
evidence,thatis,associatedconsiderations(forexample,circumstantial
evidence,analogousdecidableclaims)whichbythemselvesdonot
demonstratethetruth-valueoftheclaim,butneverthelessprovideenough
informationsothattheaudience,giventheclaimsitalreadytakesas
decidable,willbeabletodecidethisoneaswell.
(D)Anassertionoftheclaimmustbeaccompaniedbya"strict"statementof
evidence,thatis,aprocedurefordemonstratingthetruthvalueoftheclaim
thatuses"techniques"(inthebroadsense,toincludeunaidedperceptionand
mentalcomputation,aswellasthemoreobviouscases)acceptedasreliably
representingreality(ifempirical)and/orpreservinginformationacross
operations(iflogicomathematical).
(E)Anassertionoftheclaimmustbeaccompaniednotonlybyastrict
statementofevidence,asin(D),butalsobyanaccountofwhytheaudience,
withouthavingundergonethestipulatedprocedure,mightthinkthattheclaim
hastheoppositetruth-valuefromtheonedemonstrated.
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ThemethodologicalupshotofwhatmaybeseenasourMinimal Hegelianismisthatthe
historyofscienceisataleofburdensofproofshiftingfromaclaimtooneofitsmany
possibledenials,withincommensurabilityarisingwhenthethresholdofdecidabilityfor
someclaimOisat(A)andthethresholdfor-Oisat(E).Roughly,incommensurability
lessensasthethresholdsforOand-Odrawclosertogether,withthetwoclaimsbeing
commensurableonlyifbothhave(C)astheirthresholdandthusbeartheburdenof
proofequally.Furthermore,thethresholdsmaybeadjacent,asinthecaseof(A)forO
and(B)for-O,whichwouldariseifsomeonewhospeaksfor-Ocouldshowthatwhat
theaudiencetakesasanaturalconsequenceofitsbodyofacceptedclaims,O,infact
doesnotlogicallyfollowthoseclaims.Thisisthesortofpositioninwhichtheordinary
languagephilosopherfindshimselfwheneverheclaimstohave"discovered"amistakein
usage.Noclaimiseverdefinitivelyshown
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tobefalse,butrather,theburdenofproofitmustbearbecomessooverwhelming(an
extremecaseof[E])thatnooneisinclinedtotakeupthechallengeinitsdefense.And,
inaccordancewiththeQuantityMaxim,theclaimfallsintotheoblivionoftacitrejection
(thatis,[A]).Notsurprisingly,then,a"revolution"occurswhensomeonesuccessfully
bearstheburdenofproofofaclaimwhosethresholdis(E),andso,a"paradigmswitch"
wouldamounttoareversaloftheburdenofproofforalargebodyofclaims.

3. Burden of Proof as Tacit Knowledge: Rule-Governedness


AlthoughwehavejustborrowedliberallyfromtheKuhnianlexicon,pointsofcontact
haveyettobemadewiththeaccountofscientificchangegiveninKuhn(1970a).First,a
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"paradigm"maybeidentifiedwiththoseclaimswhosethresholdofdecidabilityis(A).
However,theydonotconstitutealltheclaimsmadebythemembersofascientific
community,sincemanyoftheirclaimsmayhavedecidabilitythresholdsat(C).Andin
thecaseof"anomalies,"thetwoincompatibleclaimsaccountingfortheanomalywould
havetheirthresholdsat(C),makingitimpossibletodecidebetweenthem.Noticethat
eventhoughtwosuchclaimswouldbe"commensurable"inoursensebecausetheybear
anequalburdenofproof,theycouldalsobesymptomaticofanothersenseofKuhn's
"incommensurability,"namely,theonenormallydescribedasQuine's(1960)
"underdeterminationoftheorybydata."Onouraccount,Kuhn'sthesisaboutscientific
revolutionsstatesthatonceenoughclaimsandtheirdenialshave(C)astheirthreshold
ofdecidability,claimswhosethresholdis(A)willbesuccessfullydeniedbyclaimswhose
thresholdis(E).Forourpurposes,thehistoricalvalidityofthisthesisisnotsomuchof
interestasthereadingofthehistoryofsciencethatwouldberequiredfortestingthe
thesis.Thisisnotanidleconsideration.ForifKuhn's(1977b)ownrepliestohiscritics
aretobebelieved,agreatdealofthemisunderstandingthatphilosophershavehadof
histhesisstemsfromaprofoundmisunderstandingofhowthehistoryofscienceworks.
Admittedly,Kuhnhasneverplumbedthesedepthstoanyone'ssatisfaction,anditmay
bethoughtthathisremarksaremerelyself-serving.However,readcharitably,theissue
seemstocenteronchapterfiveofThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions,whereKuhn
maintains"thepriorityofparadigms"overmethodologicalrulesinreadingthehistoryof
science.Aninterpretationofthisassertionwillnowbeofferedthatturnsitintoan
extensionofourownMinimalHegelianism.
Inchapterfive,Kuhnmostcloselyassociates"paradigm"with"tacitknowledge,"thekey
featuresofwhicharecapturedbyascientificcommunity'sclaimswhosethresholdof
decidabilityis(A).Sincesuchknowledgeis"self-evident"or"natural"tothescientists,it
willprobablygounarticulated,astheQuantityMaximwouldhaveit,andtherebyprove
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elusivetothehistorian.Thismuchhasalreadybeenadmitted.ButKuhn
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seemstomakeastrongerclaimabouttacitknowledgethatcompoundsthehistorian's
difficulties:tacitknowledgeisneverarticulated,thatistosay,noteventonovice
scientists.Anoviceissaidtolearnthetradeexclusivelythroughthenegativefeedback
ofinstructorsonceatextbookexamplehasbeenmisappliedtoanewcase.Kuhnis
rathercarefulnottosaythatthenovicelearnsacertainbodiesofbeliefsinstead,he
learnsarough-and-readywayoftalkingaboutwhatheisdoingwhichconsistsof
appealstothesimilaritybetweenhisactionsandtheonesprescribed,again,by
textbookexamples.Kuhnevenseemstosuggestthatascientificcommunityhasnoway
ofmaintainingthatitsmembersholdsimilarbeliefsaboutwhattheyaredoing,onlythat
they"pass"ascompetentperformerswhetheritbeinthelaborataconference.And
so,Kuhnconcludesthatwhileitshouldbepossibletodeterminetheparadigmofa
scientificcommunityfromexaminingthehistoricalrecord,thereisnoreasontothink
thatanyassertionconcerningacommunalcommitment(say,toaparticular
methodology)madebyamemberofthatcommunitywillcaptureit.Infact,such
assertionstendtobemadeonlyoncetheself-evidentnatureoftheparadigmhasbeen
calledintoquestion.
Kuhn'sclaimmaybeinitiallyunderstoodasareassertionoftheHegelianoverthe
Popperianlineonhistoricalrationality.Ifthemethodologicalrulesutteredbyamember
ofthescientificcommunitycouldcapturethesubtlenatureoftheparadigm,thenmuch
ofthehistoricalrecordwouldberenderedsuperfluous.Philosophersofsciencecould
simplytakewhattheirfavoritescientisthadtosayaboutscientificpracticeasan
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adequatesynopsisofthatpractice,withoutstudyinghowthescientificcommunity
actuallydidtheirwork.Hackingshowedthatphilosophersinfactdojustthat.However,
insodoing,theydonotcarefullydistinguishthe intended applicationofmethodological
rules(atheoryofoptimalscientificactivity)fromtheirillocutionary force(theactivity
performedinutteringtherules).Unlessthehistoricalrecordovertlycontradictsthe
methodologicalpronouncements,thephilosopherisinclinedtotakethemasintended
thatis,notasactionsonparwithotheraspectsofscientificpractice,butasprivileged
representationsofthatpracticewhichallowthephilosophertosafelyignorethoseother
aspects.(Recallourcritiqueof"transcendentalist"approachestorepresentationinch.
2.)Kuhn'spointwouldthenbethattheillocutionaryforceofassertingcommunal
commitmentsistoindicatethatthescientificcommunityisenteringaperiodof
dissensusoversuchcommitments-apointthatwouldbeeasilymissedonthePopperian
approachtohistoricalrationality.Incontrast,suchapointwouldvindicatetheHegelian
approach,sinceitwouldgotoshowthatmethodologydoesnotmerelyrecapitulate
practicebuthasadistinctfunctionofitsownthatis,thereisasufficientreasonforits
beinguttered.
Atthispoint,itwouldbeinstructivetointegratethediscussionofKuhnwiththeissues
raisedaboutFeyerabendatthebeginningofthepaper.Atthattime,wepointedout
thatifrealismistoberegardedasagenuinealternativetopositivism,itmustovercome
positivism'sinabilitytoprovide
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sufficientreasonfortheorychoicesthathaveoccurredinthehistoryofscience.Wethen
sawthatFeyerabendfailedtomeetthechallenge.However,ourreadingofKuhnmay
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offeraidtotherealist.First,assomeoneinterestedmoreintheperformativethaninthe
representationalnatureoflanguage,Kuhnwouldclaimthatalltheorydisputesamount
tomethodologicaldisputesoverhowand/orwhethercertainconceptsapply.Next,asa
MinimalHegelianwhodiscovers"reasoninhistory"(Hegel1964),hewouldpresumethat
thereisadeepparadigmaticstructuretothehistoryofascientificcommunitythat
cannotbesimplyinferredfromthesurfaceutteranceofmethodologicalrules.
Furthermore,justasthepositivistmaintainedthattheoriesareheuristicfictions,
Popperians,wehaveseen,makesimilarclaimsaboutaccountsofhistoricalrationality
whichKuhn,ofcourse,implicitlydenies.Indeed,Kuhn's(againimplicit)critiqueofthe
Popperianapproachtohistoricalrationalityparallelstheoneoriginallymadeby
Feyerabendagainstthepositivistconceptofexperience.Whereasthepositivist
conflatedthesituationthatgaverisetoanindividualutteringanobservationsentence
(whichcouldbedeterminedbysomethirdparty,suchasabehavioralscientist)withthe
meaningheconferredonthatsentence(whichwouldbedeterminedbythetheoretical
frameworkoftheobserverhimself),thePopperianistakentohaveconflatedthe
historicalsituationthatgaverisetotheutteranceofmethodologicalrules(namely,
communaldissensus)withtheinterpretationthattheuttererwouldhavehisaudience
attachtothoserules(namely,thatthisishowscienceisandshouldbepracticed).
However,havingsaidthismuch,wehaveyettoindicatewhereinliesthedifference
betweentacitknowledgeandarticulatedmethodology.
GivenourpreviousanalysisoftheQuantityMaximintothresholdsofdecidability,it
followsthatmethodologicalrulesdonotmerelystatewhatwasobvioustothescientific
communityofthetime.Weretherulessoobvious,theywouldnotneedtobestated
theywouldsimplybeshowninpractice.Onthecontrary,theassertionofmethodological
rulesiswarrantedonlywhenthereissufficientdoubtabouttheregulationofscientific
practice.Fromtheseconsiderationsitmightbeconcludedthatmethodologyisnothing
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butideology.Inotherwords,scientistsstarttalkingabouttheirpracticeonlyasameans
ofdeferringattentionfromwhattheyarereallydoing,whichismuchmorecomplicated
thananeatsetofruleswouldindicate.Furthermore,itwouldbepracticallyimpossible
toenforcesuchrules,eveniftheyconstitutedanadequatedescriptionofthebest
science,sincescientistspracticetheirtradeindiverselocales.Howwouldonethenbe
abletocontrolthejudgmentcallsonwhatcountsasacorrectapplicationofaparticular
conceptoracorrectextensionofaparticulartheory?However,byuttering
methodologicalrules,scientistsaimtopersuadetheircolleaguestoreadthehistoryof
theirdisciplineinawaythatallowsthemtoevaluatepreviouspractice,supposedly
(giventheunlikelihoodthatsuchmethodscouldberigorouslyenforced)withaneye
towardsubsequentpractice.Ineffect,theperlocutionary force(thatis,thepractical
import)ofmethodologicalutterancesistomakescientistsPopperianhistorical
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rationalists.Notsurprisingly,then,Popperfavorsepisodesof"crisis"inthehistoryof
sciencepreciselybecauseonlythenarescientistslicensedtomakethekindsof
judgmentsonealwaysbeingmadebyphilosophersofsciencethathethinksaremost
appropriateforbringingouttherationalityofscience.
Howevercompellingthisconclusionmaybe,itstillwouldnotsatisfysomeonewho
believesthatthereisapointatwhichideologyendsandknowledgebegins.Eventhough
Kuhnmayin factberightthatscientistshavegiveninadequateaccountsofthe
principlesgoverningtheirpracticebecausetheyarereallytryingtoservesomeother
purposebyassertingsuchprinciples,thatfactinitselfdoesnotprecludethepossibility
ofareflectivescientistsomedayarticulatinganadequateaccountoftheprinciples
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governinghispractice.Kuhnoffersnoreasonsforthinkingthattacitknowledgemust
remaintacitforever,orelsebedistortedinarticulation.However,Kuhndoesseemto
wanttomakethisstrongclaim.Onewaytomakegoodonitwouldbetoshowthatthe
tacitknowledgeofparadigmsisdifferentin kindfromthemethodologicalrules
articulatedbyscientists.Thatistosay,thetwodonot"govern"scientificactivityinthe
samesense,andsoonecannotbereducedtotheother.Thissomewhatcrypticstrategy
maybeilluminatedbydiscussingthetwokindsofnormswehaveinmind.
IfwetakeatfacevalueKuhn'saccountofhownoviceslearnthescientifictrade,largely
throughnegativefeedback(whichisalsohowcolleagueskeepchecksononeanother's
work),thentheapplicationofconceptstonewdataandtheextensionoftheoriestonew
domainswouldseemtobedefinableonlyintermsofwhatthephilosopheroflaw
HerbertHart(1948Baker1977)hascalleddefeasibility conditions.Hart'smainexample
isasituationinwhichajudgemustdecidewhetheracontracthasreallyexisted
betweenthetwolitigants.AsinAnglo-Americanlegalmattersgenerally,theburdenof
proofisonthepartywhowantstodenythepresumedstateofaffairs,namely,theone
wantstoclaimthatwhatinitiallypassedasacontractbetweenhimandtheotherparty
shouldbeinvalidatedashavingneverexisted.Hartpointsoutthatthejudgedecides
thematternotbyseeingwhetherthetransactionunderdisputefallsunderawelldefinedconceptofcontract(thatis,aconceptwithspecifiablenecessaryandsufficient
conditionsforapplication),butbyseeingwhetherthecomplaintconformstooneofa
moreorlesswell-definedsetofdefeatingconditions,asinthemisrepresentationofthe
termsofthecontractorincompetenceofoneoftheparties.Thispracticemaybetraced
tothecaselawtraditionitself,wherenocodesarepresentthatactuallygivealegal
definitionofatermlike"contract."Hartthenmakesgreater,Wittgenstein-inspired
claimsfordefeasibility,especiallythatallmentalconceptsaredefeasibleinnature.
Thus,therearenodefiningcharacteristicsforintentionalactivityrather,specific
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intentionsarepresumedofhumanbeingsunlessotherwiseshowninbehavior.
Forourpurposes,Hart'sdefeasibilityconditionsareinterestingbecausetheyprovidean
alternativewayofthinkingaboutwhatitmeans"toapplya
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concept."Onthisview,misapplicationsmayhavemoreincommonthancorrect
applications,inthattheformercasesaredefinedbyspecificdefeasibilityconditions,
whilethelattercasessimplysharethefactthattheyhavenotbeendefeatedas
applicationsoftheconcept.Defeasibilityconditionsmaythusbethekeyto
understandinghowascientificparadigmcanbepedagogicallyconstrainingyetliberal
enoughtopermitinnovativescientificwork.Thehistorianofsciencesearchingforthe
defeasibilityconditionsforapplyingaparadigmaticconceptwouldideallyproceedtofind
twoapparentlysimilarsituationswhereaconceptisapplied,butinonecasetheuseis
takenasunproblematic,whileintheotheritistakenas"problematic,"eitherinthatthe
scientististakentohaveerredorthatheistakentohavemadearadicalmovewhich
challengeshowotherconceptsaresubsequentlyapplied.Articulatingthedifferencethat
allowedthefirstapplicationtopassunnoticedbutnotthesecondwouldamounttoa
codificationoftacitknowledge.Theprecisenatureofthiscodificationawaitsfurther
inquiry.Butifnegativefeedbackisindeedessentialtoscientificpractice,thensome
insightmaybegleanedfromphilosophiesoflaw,especiallyHansKelsen's(1949),that
attempttodefinealegalsystemasapatternforimposingsanctionsonlaw-breakers.
AndwhileKelsen'sapproachhasbeencriticizedfor,ineffect,reducinglegalsystemsto
decisionproceduresthatjudgesfollowuponrecognizinganillegality(Moore1978),it
maybeexactlytherightstartingpointformodelingthenormsgoverningascientific
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paradigm.
Wehavebeenproposingthatthehistoriancodifytacitknowledgethroughdefeasibility
conditions,ontheassumptionthatthenegativecasesareeasiertocharacterizethan
thepositiveones.Yetscientiststhemselvestendtouttermethodologicalrulesthattake
theformofahypotheticalimperative,flankedbyaceteris paribusclause.Thus,oneis
instructedtoapplyconceptsorextendtheoriesincertainways,grantingthatthe
appropriatebackgroundconditionsobtain.Inthearchetypalcaseofascientificlaw,the
forceofinsertingtheceteris paribusclauseistoindicatethatthebackgroundconditions
presupposedinafair,orideal,testofthelawaresonumerousandvariedthatoneis
betteroffsimplyassertingtheoutcomethatwouldbeexpectedinthefairtesthowever
improbableitsoccurrenceoutsideanexperimentalcontextthanspecifyingtheexpected
outcomeoftestingthelawunderlessthanidealconditions(Suppes1962).Inother
words,thepresenceoftheceteris paribusclausepresumesthatthepositivecaseis
easiertocharacterizethanthemanypossiblenegativeones,therebyinvertingthe
strategybehindspecifyingdefeasibilityconditions.
Whentransferredfromthestatementofscientificlawstothatofmethodologicalrules,
theidealtestcasebecomestheoptimallyrationalsciencethatoccursonlyduring
selectedperiodsinthehistoryofscience,withtherestofsciencedeviatingfromitin
waystoonumerousandvariedtobecodified.Ofcourse,onthisaccount,muchofthe
contentoftheruleswillbedeterminedbytheepisodescollectedtogetherasexemplary
bythemethodologist.Whateverresemblancestatementsofmethodologyhave
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bornetooneanotherinthepastwouldthenstemfromthesamecasesbeingcollected
together.Hart(1961)alsonotedthiskindofreasoninginthelegalsphereforeven
thoughjudgesdecidecasesonthebasisofwhetherachallengedpresumption
withstandsdefeasibilityclaims,thereasonstheyofferfortheirdecisionwillbestatedin
theformofarulesaidtobeexemplifiedinselectedinstancesfromthebodyofcase
law.Andasinthecaseofscientificmethodologicalrules,thejudgeismoreinterestedin
hisdecisionbeingtakenasaprecedentforsubsequentdecisionsthanasafaithful
recordofhowdecisionswererenderedinthepast,even though it is only by appealing to
history that his decision can have the desired impact.Consequently,Hartespousesa
principleofjudicial discretion,wherebythejudgeisundernoobligation,otherthan
logicalconsistency,tocollectcasestogetherinaparticularmannerinthecourseof
justifyinghisdecision.
Althoughmethodologicalpronouncementsseemtobesubjecttoamuchnarrowersense
of"discretion,"insofarastheexemplarycasesofscientificactivityaremorereadily
agreeduponthanthatofjudicialactivity,theupshotneverthelessremainsthesame.
Becausetacitknowledgeeffectivelydefinesthethresholdofscientificcompetence
(belowwhichdefeasibilityconditionsobtain),whilemethodologicalrulesdefinetheideal
casesofscientificcompetence(whoserarityisoffsetbyceteris paribusclauses),tacit
knowledgeunderdeterminesmethodology.Asaresult,methodologicaldisputeswould
seemtobebothinevitableandinsolublebyappealstothenatureoftacitknowledge.
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CHAPTER FIVE
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INCOMMENSURABILITY EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED


Hanson'sdeath,Feyerabend'sfallfromintellectualgrace,andKuhn'squickandeasy
concessionstotheoppositionhaveprovedadeadlycombinationforanyserious
considerationoftheincommensurabilitythesis.NoticethatIhavecarefullyomitted
"criticsofincommensurability"fromthisautopsy,sinceduetoeitheruncharitable
readingsorabitofincommensurabilityontheirownpart,thecriticshavesofarfailedto
seethepointofarguingforsuchaseeminglyperverseposition.Ishallattemptto
portraytwoversionsofincommensurability,ecologicalandtextual,bothofwhichtake
Kuhn'sStructure of Scientific Revolutionsastheir"inspiration."Followingtheconvention
ofKuhn'scritics,Ishallusethename"Kuhn"aswhatmaybedubbeda"rigidevocator,"
asopposedtoarigiddesignator,forthemerementionof"Kuhn"neverfailstoevoke
enoughstrongfeelingssoastoobscurewhateverinterestonewhatmighthavein
findingoutwhatheactuallysaid.Theaimofthischapterisneithertoofferknockdown
argumentsonbehalfofincommensurability,noreventoexplicatewhateverrelationthe
twoversionsofthethesismighthavetoeachother.Instead,Iaimtoarriveatasetof
instructionsforthinkingabouttheincommensurabilitythesis.Isitmerely,asKuhn's
criticshavesuggested,a(false)empirical hypothesisaboutthehistoryofscience?Or,is
thethesisbettertreatedasamethodological guidelineforreadingthehistoryof
science?

1. Ecological Incommensurability
Appropriatelyenough,boththepromiseandtheproblemoftheincommensurability
thesisaresummedupinthefamousduckrabbitillusion,alinedrawingthat,depending
onitsbackground,appearstoportrayeitheraduckorarabbit.Ontheonehand,Hanson
(1958),Feyerabend(1975),andKuhn(1970a)followWittgenstein(1958)inhighlighting
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thefactthattheratherincommensurableimagesoftheduckandtherabbitcannotbe
readoffthedrawingatthesametime,therebyforcingtheviewertoperforma"Gestaltswitch"ashegoesfromoneimagetotheother.InsofarastheseGestalt-switchesmay
beregardedassmall-scaleparadigmshifts,theyareliterallyshiftsinworldviewaswell.
Ontheotherhand,thecriticshighlightthefactthatthetwoincommensurableimages
aremerelytwowaysofreadingthesametextnamely,thelinedrawingthatmaybe
describedinsomelanguagesufficientlyneutraltoaduckviewerandarabbitviewerthat
eachcanexplaintotheotherwhatfeaturesofthedrawingcuedhisreading.Presumably,
theGestaltpsychologisthimselfadoptssuchastancetowardtheduckrabbitillusion.
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However,thecritics(Shapere1981,Kordig1971,Field1973,Kitcher1978)havebeen
moreconcernedwithhow"meanings"and/or"referents"arereadoffthetermsin
scientificdiscoursethanwithhowanimalimagesarereadoffGestaltfigures.
Nevertheless,thestrategyremainslargelyunchanged.Indeed,thereareevenversions
tosuitthetastesofscientificrealistsandinstrumentalists.Therealistproposesto
redescribethediscourseofthetwoincommensurablepartiessothatnotonlycanhe
determinewhattheyarereallytalkingaboutbutalsowhetherwhattheyaresaying
aboutitistrue.Letuscallthismovetowardwhatissignifiedinthediscourseofthe
incommensurablepartiesthesemioticascentstrategy.Itplaysonourhistorical
presumptionthatthemorerecentthetheorythebetteritrepresentsreality,andhence
thebetterpositionitplacesusforunderstandingwhatothershavebeenpreviously
arguingabouttonoavail.Andso,thepartiesareshowntohavebeen"really"talking
abouttheobservablepropertiesofsomeentitiescurrentlyrecognizedasexistingbya
communityofscientists.
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Incontrast,theinstrumentalistproposestoseek"lower"neutralgroundfortranslation
andevaluationoftwoincommensurabletheories.Heaimsatredescribingthediscourse
ofthetwotheoriesintermsofanobservationlanguagethatwouldsatisfybothsetsof
adherents.Asintheoriginalduckrabbitexample,theinstrumentalistwantstodetermine
whichperceptualcuesintheenvironment(or"lifeworld")commontothetwo
incommensurablepartiestriggeredsuchradicallydifferenttheoreticalresponses.Andso,
letuscallthismovetowarduncoveringtheotherwisesubliminalsignifiersthat
perceptuallycuethediscoursesoftheincommensurablepartiesthesemioticdescent
strategy.Evaluationinthiscasemaynotbesomuchanadjudicationoftruthclaims,as
therealistwouldhaveit,butrather,ajudgmentastowhichofthetwo
incommensurablepartiesrespondstosensorystimulationmorecloselytothewaywedo
comescloser,asitwere,tosharingourworldview.
Insofarastheyareinterestedinmotivatingtheemergenceofparticulartheories,
historiansofsciencearemorelikelytomakethesemioticdescent,whereasthe
normativeimpulsesofphilosophersofsciencepredisposethemtowardmakingthe
semioticascent.Butitmaybethatonecannotsemioticallyascendwithoutfirstmaking
asemioticdescent.Inotherwords,itmustbeknownwhatatthebottomofPriestley's
flaskstimulatedhisretina,beforeitisdecidedthat,regardlesswhathemayhave
thought,itwasdefinitelynotphlogiston.
Althoughthetwocriticalstrategiesjustoutlineddifferininterestingways,theyare
similarinseveralimportantrespects.Bothinvolveathoughtexperimentinwhichthe
historianorphilosopheractsasarbitratorbetweentwoincommensurableparties.Ifwe
alterthesituationsothatthehistorianorphilosopherishimselfoneofthe
incommensurableparties,thensomethinglikeQuine's(1960,ch.2)radicaltranslation
episodeinWord and Objecthasbeenapproximated.Thehistorianorphilosopherwould
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thenbeplayingthepartofananthropologisttryingtoreconstructthelanguageofa
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tribe(ofscientists)aboutwhichheknowslittle(excepthowtheydesignatethelogical
connectives)butwhichneverthelessiscooperativeenoughtoprovideanativespeaker
whowillnameobjectsastheanthropologistpointstothemandcorrectthe
anthropologistwheneverhemisnamesobjectsinthetriballanguage.Weshallhave
moretosayabouttheheuristicvalueoftheradicaltranslationepisodelater,butfornow
justnoticehowtherealistandtheinstrumentalistplayslightlydifferentvariationson
Quine'stheme.
Therealistwouldtrytodecode,say,aphlogistonchemist'sdiscourseinordertoshow
ultimatelywherehewentwronginanalyzingwhatisnowknowntobeoxygenand
nitrogen.Indeed,therealistwouldbeabletotellthathistranslationhassucceededby
hisabilitytothenpersuadethechemistin the chemist's own termstoabandontalkof
phlogiston.Suchacriterionofsuccessmayseemalittleparadoxical,since,itstipulates
thatatranslationhasbeeneffectedoncethetranslatedlanguageisrecognizedas
defectivebyitsnativespeaker.However,wemustnotforgetthattranslation,forthe
realist,isonlyameanstowardevaluatingclaimsmadeinthetranslatedlanguage.
Moreover,ifwesuppose(asphilosophers,justifiablyornot,tendtodo)thatitisamark
ofrationalityforsomeonetorelinquishtheirbeliefsuponbeingshowngoodgroundsfor
acceptingalternativeones,thentherealist'scriterionmakessense.Indeed,Kuhn(1981)
hascastGalileo'sexperimentsforshowingtheself-contradictorynatureofthe
Aristotelianconceptof"velocity"(whichconflatesthesensesof"averagespeed"and
"instantaneousspeed")somewhatinthislight.Butofcourse,unlikeourrealist,Galileo
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hadnotyetfullyworkedoutthealternativelanguageinwhichsuchconfusionswouldnot
arise.For,ratherthanbeingaradicaltranslator,Galileowasstillverymuchanative
speakerofAristotelianphysics.
Incontrast,theinstrumentalistseemstofittheintentoftheradicaltranslationepisode
moreclosely.However,thisisnottomakethetaskanyeasier,forreasonsofwhat
Quine(1969,chs.1-2)calls"theinscrutabilityofreference."Inbrief,evenifthe
anthropologistnevererrsinuttering"Gavagai"wheneverthenativepointstoarabbit,it
doesnotfollowthat"Gavagai"means"rabbit,"foritmayinsteadmean"rabbit-part"or
"rabbitlikespacetimeslice,"dependingonthetacitontologygoverningthenative's
language.Butunlesstheanthropologisthaswaysoftestingtheseotherpossible
referents,Ockham'sRazorwouldhavetheanthropologistpresumethatthenative's
ontologyisthesameashis.Returningtotheinstrumentalist,itishardtosaywhether
theinscrutabilityofreferencewouldbearealproblemforhimashetriestomakesense
ofhowthesensorystimulipresentintheeighteenth-centurylaboratorywereencodedby
thephlogistonchemist.Ontheonehand,wearetemptedtopulloutOckham'sRazor
onceagainanddeclarethat,unlesshehasreasontothinkotherwise,the
instrumentalistshouldsimplypresumethatthephlogistonchemistsubscribestothe
sametacitontologyashedoes.Yetontheotherhand,iftheGestaltpsychologistswere
rightinthinkingthatourperceptionistriggeredbysubliminalcontextualcuesthat
sensitizeaviewerto,say,
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theducklikefeaturesofanambiguouslinedrawingratherthanitsrabbitlikefeatures,
thenwemusttakeseriouslythepossibilitythatascientistexposedtoaneighteenthPRO version

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centuryenvironment,whichhousesitsflasksinRococcoarchitecture,wouldperceivethe
worldinasignificantlydifferentmannerfromascientistexposedtoatwentieth-century
environmentwhichcontextualizestheverysameflasksinBauhausbuildings.(Among
themanytwentieth-centuryresearchprogramstostudyworldviews,theArcadesproject
oftheFrankfurtcriticWalterBenjaminwasuniqueintakingthispossibilityseriously.
SeeMcCole[1985].)
WhatisbeingsuggestedhereisthatwemaybeabletoretainKuhn'soriginalrobust
senseofincommensurableworldviewsbypresumingthattheconfigurationofartifactsin
anindividual'senvironmentwilldeterminewhatheperceives.Suchasuggestion,
however,shouldnotbetakenasacounselofdespairfortheinstrumentalisttryingto
understandthephlogistonchemist.Instead,heissimplybeinginstructedtolookatthe
kindsofthingsthatthechemistmusthavelookedatwhentheterm"phlogiston"was
firstintroducedandused.Buttheinstrumentalist'staskbynomeansendshere,since
thethoughtexperimentdictatesthathecommunicatewiththephlogistonchemistto
makesurethatheisseeingthingsintheeighteenth-centuryway.Itwouldbe
misleading,though,tothink(asQuinetendstodoinhismorebehavioristmoments)
thatthiscommunicationamountstolittlemorethanconfirmingproposedtranslationsof
thephlogistonchemist'sutterances.Forthewholepointofthesemioticdescent
strategyistonegotiatealanguageinwhichbothpartiescandescribewhattheyare
seeing.Inotherwords,theinstrumentalistandthephlogistonchemistjointlyfabricate
anobservationlanguagethatwrenches,say,aflaskfromthedifferentartifactual
contextsinwhichitwouldnormallybeperceived,justastheduckviewerandtherabbit
viewercanfabricatealanguageoflinedrawingsforcommunicatinghowtheirperception
isbeingtriggeredbyacommonstimulus.
Thepointofworkingthroughtheradicaltranslationthoughtexperimentfortherealist
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andtheinstrumentalisthasbeennotmerelytoshowthatbothhaveplausiblestrategies
foreliminatingincommensurability,butmoreimportantly,toshowthatthosestrategies
succeedonlyifatleastoneoftheincommensurablepartiesrelinquisheshisworldview.
Thephlogistonchemist'sdiscourseissuccessfullytranslatedbytheinstrumentalistonly
ifheandthechemistcancommunicateinanartificiallanguagethattakesbothoutof
theirrespectiveworldviews.Itakeitthatsuchaconclusionwouldbetothelikingofthe
defendersofincommensurability,sinceitshowsjusthowdifficultandhowreconstructive
thetranslationtaskreallyisapointnotreadilybroughtoutbytheideaoftranslation
asafinishedlistofcorrespondencesbetweensyntacticitemsinthetwolanguages.We
shalleventuallyreturntothetwosensesoftranslationsuggestedhere,butfirst
somethingshouldbesaidabouttheseworldviewswhichareallegedlyso
incommensurable.
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SinceFredSuppe's(1977)introductiontoThe Structure of Scientific Theories,ithas


becomecommontosupposethattheincommensurabilitythesisisweddedtoa
worldviewapproachtoscientificactivity.Wehavesofartaken"worldview"initsmost
literalsenseasthewayinwhichpeopleview,orsee,theworld.However,thereisa
somewhatloosersenseofworldview(WeltanschauunginGerman)associatedwith
nineteenth-centuryandearlytwentieth-centuryGermanschoolsofhistoriography,
particularlythefollowersofWilhelmDilthey.Inthissense,themembersofaworldview
aresaidtohold,perhapsunconsciously,acoresetofbeliefsandattitudesthatcanbe
detectedinthevariousexpressivemediaoftheirculture,suchasart,philosophy,
literature,andscience.Thetaskofthehistorian,then,istoidentifythedifferent
expressionsoftheseconstantculturalforms.Sincevirtuallynooneintheculturecan
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thinkbeyondthecoresetofbeliefsbecausetheyappearself-evident,chancesarethat
thecoreismuchlessarticulatedthanitsimportancewouldseemtomerit.Onaccountof
thispresumedinscrutability,thehistorianmustreadtheculture'stexts"deeply"inorder
toreenactthethoughtprocessesoftheirauthors.Thismethod,generallycalled
hermeneutics,isoftenprescribedasthemeansforobtainingaccesstowhatKuhnand
othershavecharacterizedasthe"tacitknowledge"thatallowsascientisttobe
recognizedbyhiscolleaguesasoneoftheirown.
However,whiletacitknowledgemayindeedremainunarticulatedwithinascientific
community,itdoesnotfollowthatitconstitutessomesetofunconsciousbeliefsheldin
commonbyitsmembers.Aswesawinthelastchapter,Kuhntypicallydiscusses
paradigmsinthesenseoftacitknowledgeinpedagogicalcontexts,wherenovices
generallylearntoapplytextbookexamplescompetentlytonewcasesthroughthe
negativefeedbackofinstructors.Nooneeveractuallytellsthenovicewhatconstitutesa
competentperformanceinstead,itturnsouttobewhateverpassesthecommunity's
criticalscrutiny.Inthatcase,tacitknowledgeisrarely,ifever,articulatedbecausethere
isnopedagogicalneedtosaywhatisalreadyshowninpractice.
Anotherimportantaspectoftacitknowledgeisthatscientistslearntheproperwayof
talkingaboutwhattheyaredoing.Butitdoesnotfollowthattheyareadoptinga
commonsetofbeliefsintheprocess.Rather,weshouldsaythatcertainwaysoftalking
makeiteasiertoarticulatesomebeliefsandnotothers.Contrarytowhata
hermeneuticianmightsay,thereisnothingintheKuhnianconceptoftacitknowledge
thatprecludesthepossibilityof,say,Aristotleconceivingofinertia,thoughgiventhe
cumbersomelinguisticexpressionthatwouldbeinvolved,thepossibilitywouldbemost
unlikely.Indeed,theremaybeanadvantageinhavingthethoughtofascientific
communityunderdeterminedbyitslanguageinthatgenuinedisagreementamongits
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memberswouldthenbeallowed.Butunderdeterminationbyitselfdoesnotguarantee
thatwhateverdisagreementsareexpressedwillreflectdeep-seatedcognitive
differences.Infact,muchofwhatpassesasdifferencesofbeliefsmaybejustafailure
bytwopartiesto
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understandthesensorycuestowhicheachisresponding.Itwouldbeasif,oncethe
Gestaltpsychologistwalkedoutofthelab,theduckviewersandtherabbitviewerstook
theirmutuallyexclusiveperceptionstoindicatesomedeeperlogicalincompatibility,
whenactuallyeachviewerhasmerelybeentrainedtoregarddifferentfeaturesofthe
samelinedrawingassignificant.ItshouldcomeasnosurprisethatNielsBohr
characterizedthe"complementarity"ofthewaveandparticletheoriesoflightina
somewhatsimilarmanner,for,aswesawinthelastchapter,itwasinthecourseof
consideringthisandotherBohrianprinciplesthatFeyerabendfirstarrivedatthe
incommensurabilitythesis.
Tosumupourdiscussionsofar,muchofthesuspicionsurroundingthepossibilityof
incommensurableworldviewsmaybetracedtotheradicalsubjectivismassociatedwith
traditionalhermeneuticalapproachestothetopic.Moreover,theveryphilosophersmost
likelytoendorsetheincommensurabilitythesisnamely,thosewhoclaimthat
observationsaretheoryladenarealsotheonesmostlikelytothinkthat
incommensurabilityontheperceptuallevelimpliesincommensurabilityonsomedeeper
cognitivelevel.Indeed,theoriginalproponentoftheoryladenness,RussellHanson
(1958),tendedtoatreatascientifictheoryaslittlemorethanthelinguisticcodification
ofthescientist'sbeliefstructure.Inthatcase,toreturntotheduckrabbitillusion,the
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differencebetweenseeingtheduckandseeingtherabbitwouldbeattributedbya
philosopherlikeHansontoadifferenceinthebeliefsofthetwoindividualsthat
psychologicallypredisposesonetowardseeingtheduckandtheothertowardseeingthe
rabbit.Andwhileitmayindeedbetruethatone'sbeliefs,unconsciousorotherwise,
coloreverythingonesees,thisneednotbeanhypothesismadebythehistorianwho
wantstotakeseriouslytheincommensurabilitythesisinitsoriginalrobustform.
Itwouldbeworthwhile,atthispoint,toconsideranextendedandratherextreme
exampleofecologicalincommensurability,drawnfromPatrickHeelan's(1983)SpacePerception and the Philosophy of Science.Trainedoriginallyasaquantumphysicist,
Heelanisclearlyahermeneuticalphenomenologistinhisapproachtothephilosophyof
science,yetheresiststheradicalsubjectivismnormallyassociatedwiththatposition.
Heelanarguesthat,startinginthefifteenthcentury,certainartifactswereintroducedto
theEuropeanlifeworldwhichgraduallyrestructuredspatialperceptionsoastomakethe
emergenceofthescientificworldviewintheseventeenthcenturyanaturaloutcome.In
particular,hemaintainsthatwhereasEuropeansbefore1500tendedtoperceivespace
ashavingahyperbolicgeometry,afterthatdatetheygraduallycametoperceiveitas
havingaEuclideangeometry.OneofthemostsignificantfeaturesofHeelan'sthesisis
that,althoughitinvolvesarejectionofradicalsubjectivism,itstillimpliesaradical
relativismindeed,asweshallseebelow,onemuchmoreradicalthanhermeneuticians
havetraditionallyadvocated.However,toseehowsuchapositionispossible,wefirst
needtorecalltheoutlinesofDilthey'suncompletedlifeproject(Makkreel1975).
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Dilthey'shermeneuticalprogramcanbereadashavingtwoparts.Themorefamouspart
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consistedina"CritiqueofHistoricalReason,"which,likeKant'sCritique,would
systematicallylayout"categoriesoftheunderstanding"only,thistime,relativeto
varioushistoricalepochs.Thus,Diltheyenvisagedthatindifferentepochs,people
constructedthecausalorderdifferently,haddifferentviewsofhowpropertiesadheredto
substances,andsoforth.Thelessfamouspartconsistedindevelopingamethodthat
wouldallowthehistoriantomakesenseofthesedifferentepochs,namely,bytaking
advantageofthefactthat,despitethemanyformsthathumanexpressionhastaken,
theyhaveallbeenresponsestoarecurrentsetoflifeproblemsthatarisefromman's
needtosurviveinhisphysicalenvironment.Thus,theprocessofVerstehen,which
enabledthehistoriantotraverseincommensurableworldviews,wasgroundedinthe
biologicalunityofman.Biologismofthiskindwaswidespreadattheturnofthecentury,
appearing,forexample,inErnstMach'sexplanationforthegrowthofknowledge
(Munevar1981,ch.6).Itwassupportedbyaconceptionofanimalintelligenceinformed
byevolutionarytheory:namely,thattheadaptivenessofanorganismmustbejudged
relativetowhatitsnervoussystemcanpickupfromtheenvironmentandconstituteas
its"world."Diltheydeviatedfromthisdoctrineonlyinhisspeculationthathumanbeings
aredistinguishedbytherangeofworldviewsthattheycanconstructfromtheirbiological
endowment,which,inturn,makeshumanhistoryamoreinterestingendeavorthanthe
historyofotherorganisms.Inthetwentiethcentury,Dilthey'sbiologismwaspurgedof
itsscientistictrappingsandrepackagedintheformofLebensphilosophie(Schnaedelbach
1984,ch.5).
Noticethat,forDilthey,thediversityofworldviewsoccursatafairlyhighlevelof
cognition,namely,attheculturalequivalentsofKant'scategories.However,atthelevel
ofKant's"sensibility,"barespatialandtemporalperception,Diltheyisabelieverin
psychicunity,sincethatistiedmostcloselytoman'sunchangingbiologicalinheritance.
HeelandiffersfromDiltheyinrelativizingeventhislevelofcognitiontoculture.Dilthey
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wouldfindHeelan'sradicalrelativismdifficulttograsp,forifman'spsychicunitydoes
notrunasdeepasspatialperception,howcanwemakeanysenseofothercultures,
indeed,howcanwemakesenseofthemashumancultures?Thisquestionwouldtrouble
Diltheybecause,likemostphilosopherswhohavestruggledwiththeissueof"psychic
unityvs.culturaldiversity,"heassumesthatthescopeofapsychologicaluniversal
cannotincludethespecificationofenvironmentalconditions.Toputthepointless
abstractly,considertwocandidatesforapsychologicaluniversal:
(a)Itistrueofallhumanbeingsthat,nomattertheenvironment,they
perceivespaceashavingaEuclideanstructure.
(b)Itistrueofallhumanbeingsthat,iftheyareplacedincertain
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sortsofenvironments(tobespecified),thentheywillperceivespaceashaving
aEuclideanstructure.
Diltheycouldthinkofpsychologicaluniversalsonlyashavingtheformof(a).In
contrast,Heelanbelievesthatwhile,forexample,thebasicabilitytoperceivedepthand
directionisuniversalinsense(a),thegeometricstructureassumedbyourperceptionof
depthanddirectionisuniversalinsense(b),whichistosay,theverygeometryof
humanperceptionissensitivetochangesintheenvironment.Andso,ifthedistinction
between(a)and(b)isavalidone,and(b)-typeuniversalsrunasdeepasHeelanthinks,
thenitwouldseemthathumancognitionhasaninnatetendencytowardcultural
relativism!Anddespiteitsparadoxicality,thisconclusionhashadadistinguished,albeit
somewhatperipheral,lineageinthepsychologicalliterature(Segall,Campbell&
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Herskovitz1966Gibson1979).
ThislastpointisimportantbecauseitbringsoutthelackofsubjectivisminHeelan's
account.Hermeneuticians,Diltheyincluded,frequentlytalkaboutchangesinworldviews
asiftheywerealternativewaysofhallucinatingastructureforaworldwhose
environmentalcuesareinherentlyimpoverished.Onthisaccount,itwouldseemquite
appropriatetointroducesuchsubjectivistconsiderationsas"choice."However,this
realmofchoiceisneversaidtoextendtothesubject'sspatialperception,sincethat
wouldinvolvedeciding,presumablythroughanactofwill,toreorganizethemost
fundamentalpartsofone'sexperience,thepartsleastsusceptibletoanysystematic
consciouscontrol.NowHeelanlikestotalkaboutthedifferencebetweenhyperbolicand
Euclideanspatialperceptionasinvolvinga"culturalchoice"abouthowdistancesshould
bemeasured.This,Iwouldmaintain,isanunfortunateturnofphrase.For,asweshall
seeintheexaminationthatfollows,themostthatHeelanneedstomaintainisthatone
canindirectlychooseageometryforhisspatialperceptionbychangingtheconfiguration
ofartifactsthatcuehisperception.Andeventhismodeofchoiceassumesthatthe
personbothknowswhichconfigurationscuewhichgeometriesandcancoordinatethe
activitiesofothersinhisvicinitytomaintaintherequiredconfigurations.Needlessto
say,ourtalentsatsocialengineeringhaveyettoreachsuchgodlikeproportions!
ThedifferencebetweenhyperbolicandEuclideanspatialperceptioncanbeillustratedby
consideringwhathappenswheneachgeometryisimposedonourprimordialexperience
ofnearnessasvisualclarityanddistanceasvisualambiguity.Eachgeometrysuppliesa
"ruleofcongruence,"wherebydistancesareassignedtointervalsbycomparingthemto
astandardunitinterval.TheEuclideanruleofcongruenceiscapturedbythe"rigidruler"
whosephysicaldimensionsdonotchangeasitistransportedthroughspace,thereby
renderingtheviewer'slocationirrelevanttothemeasurementtask.Incontrast,the
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hyperbolicruleofcongruenceisdefinedsolelyintermsofthevisualestimationbya
viewerrelativetothesignificantobjectsinhis
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immediatevicinity.Onewayoflookingatthisdistinctionisintermsoftheoneregularly
drawninpsychophysicsbetweenunitsofphysicalstimulus(compareEuclidean)and
unitsofsensoryresponseorjust-noticeabledifferences(comparehyperbolic).Another
wayisintermsofthedistinctionbetweenfirst(hyperbolic)andthird(Euclidean)person
perspectives.
Whilebothgeometriesleadviewerstoassignroughlythesamemeasurementstonearby
objects,thehyperbolicviewertendstoestimatedistantobjectsascloserandflatter
thanhisEuclideancounterpart,resultinginthekindsof"distortion"seeninthepaintings
ofvanGoghandCezanne.Heelanmaintainsthatthesepictorialimagesappeardistorted
onlybecauseEuclideanperceptionistheculturalnorm.However,oncethecontextual
cuesforEuclideanperceptionareremoved,asinthecaseofopticalillusions,viewers
tendtoissueperceptualjudgmentsthatmorecloselyconformtoahyperbolicmetric.
Indeed,nativesofnon-Europeanculturespersistentlyissuehyperbolicperceptual
judgmentsevenwhenthecuesarepresent.Theseconsiderations,togetherwith
evidencedrawnfromancientandmedievalart,suggesttoHeelanthathyperbolic
perceptionwascommonevenamongEuropeansuntilartifactswereconstructedthat
allowedtheviewertocorrectforperceptual"distortions"resultingfromtheviewerbeing
ataparticularpointinspace.Acommonfeatureoftheseartifactsreflectedinthe
designofpost-Renaissancebuildings,streets,andpaintingsisaseriesofequally
spacedphysicalmarkers(suchascolumnsandlampposts),whichcuetheviewerto
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interpretwhatheseesaccordingtotheprinciplesofEuclideanpictorialperspectiveand
therebyeffectivelyimposeaCartesiancoordinatesystem(thatis,a"grid")onhis
perceptualhorizon.
PrecedentforHeelan'sprojectmaybefoundinGastonBachelard's(1985)NewScientific
Spiritof1934,whichattemptedtoaccountfortheemergenceofthescientificworldview
(fromGalileotoDalton)intermsofan"epistemologicalrupture,"namely,thetemporary
suspensionofone'snaturalattitudetotheworldthatresultswhenanewinstrumentof
perceptionisintroducedtothelifeworld.Theruptureisgraduallyclosedasthe
instrumentisintegratedinthelifeworld(especiallyonceatheoryisofferedforwhythe
instrumentworks),thenetresultbeingareconstitutionofone'sperceptualhorizon.
Bachelard'sbestexampleofthisprocessconcernsthetelescope,which,onceitbecame
"naturalized"intheEuropeanlifeworld,wastakentoprovideanaccesstotheworldas
immediateasthatprovidedbyone'sunaidedsenses.Inshort,thetelescopebecame
whatBachelardcallsaphenomenotechnique.Heelan'ssomewhatmoreilluminating
expressionisreadable technology:justasonedirectlyreadsthemeaningoffwords
withoutlingeringovertheirphysicalpresenceonthepage,sotoo(sayBachelardand
Heelan)onedirectlyseesthemoonwithoutreflectingonthefactthatthemainevidence
isatelescopicimage.
Bachelardwassotakenbytherelativeeasewithwhichseveralhundredyearsof
Aristotelianobjectionstomediatedperceptionwereovercomethatheregardedthe
opticaltheoryaccompanyingthetelescope'sintroductionassomethingakintoa
Freudiandefensemechanism.Inparticular,thetheory
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repressedtheprimordialintuitionofthetelescope'sartificialityinordertoallowthe
instrumenttobeusedunproblematically.Notsurprisingly,then,Bachelardianphilosophy
ofscienceaspracticedbyGeorgesCanguilhem(1978),LouisAlthusser(1970,part2),
andMichelFoucault(1975)hasbeendevotedprimarilytoapsychoanalyticstudyof
ecologicalincommensurabilities,inwhichepistemologicalrupturesfunctionastraumas
sustainedbytheWesterncollectiveunconscious.
DifficultiesforHeelanariseonceweconsiderwherehediffersfromBachelard.Unlike
Bachelard,Heelanismoreconcernedwiththeworldviewsoneithersideoftherupture
thanwiththeruptureitself.Inthissense,hejoinsDiltheyandtheearlyKarlMannheim
(1971)inpresentingatypologyofWeltanschauungen.Andlikethese"historicists,"
HeelannevergivesthereaderasenseofwhatBachelardwouldhavecalled"the
dialecticsofhistoricalchange."Forexample,thetelescopeplaysarelativelyslightrole
inHeelan'saccount,eventhoughtheissuesgeneratedbyitsintroductionwere
instrumentalingraftingEuclideanspatialperceptionontoscientificinquiry.AsAlexandre
Koyre(1964,ch.3)hasshowninFrom the Closed World to the Infinite Universe,Kepler
wasabletosupplymuchoftheopticaltheoryforGalileo'stelescopeandyetperceive
spaceintermsthatHeelanwouldconsiderlargelyhyperbolic.AndwhileHeelanreadily
admitsthatthehistoryofthetransitionfromhyperbolictoEuclideanspatialperception
hasyettobewritten,itisnotclearthatsuchahistorywouldentirelyvindicatehis
position.Inparticular,Heelanisvulnerabletoafallaciouslineofreasoning,alltoo
commonamongphenomenologists,thatattemptstoderivefreechoicefromhistorical
contingency.Inthiscase,hewantstousethefactthatEuclideanspatialperceptionhad
aclearhistoricalorigintoshowthatwecanalterourspatialperceptionatany
subsequentpointinhistory.
OnceHeelanhasshownthatanalternativetoEuclideanspatialperceptionexists,and
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thatitwasinfactdominantinpre-RenaissanceEurope,heconcludesthatweEuclidean
perceiversareinapositiontoadoptthatalternativegeometryformorethanjustsimple
Gestalt-styleexperiments.Indeed,Heelanbelieves(forreasonswhichwillnotbe
discussedhere)thatthetrendtoward"dehumanization"thathasattendedtheriseof
thescientificworldviewcanbestoppedbypartiallyreturningtoahyperbolicperception
ofspace.Thoughinteresting,theproposalremainsasunpersuasiveasany
conventionalistclaimthatweactuallydecideonwhatgeometrytouseforpurposes
otherthanconstructingproofsandotherformaloperations.Heelan'sproblemhereis
thathefollowsphenomenologicalusageindefiningthethingthatageometrystructures,
a"possibleworld,"notasalinguisticconstruct,butasanobjectofintrospection,which
istosay,anobjectthatexistsforconsciousnessundercertainspecifiedconditions.At
thispoint,itiseasytofallintothetrapofconcludingthatsuchobjectsofconsciousness
canthemselvesbeobjectsofconsciouscontrol.
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However,theconditionsunderwhichanobjectcanexistforaloneCartesian
consciousnessarenotthoseunderwhichitcanexistfora"collectiveconsciousness,"so
tospeak.Thestructureofacommunity'sspatialperceptionisnottheproductof
individualsdeliberatelyperformingphenomenologicalexperiments.Andifacommunity
canevenbesaidto"have"aspatialperception,itwouldbeasaresultoftheactivities
ofeveryindividualbeingcoordinatedinspace.Itwouldthenseemunlikelythatthe
relevantindividualscouldbemotivatedinthesamewaytoaltertheirspatialperception
insuchadeliberatemanner,notonlybecauseofthewidevarietyofintereststhose
individualswouldlikelyhavebut,moreimportantly,becausetheallegedbenefitsof
adoptingaEuclideanviewoftheworldaregenuinebenefitsonlyforindividualswhoare
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alreadywillingtoradicallyaltertheirpreferencestructure,thusreflectingthe
incommensurabilityofthehyperbolicandEuclideanworldviews.(Heelansuggestshow
valuesof"locality"canbetracedtoahyperbolicworldview,whilevaluesof"globality"
canbetracedtoaEuclideanone.)
Amorelikelyexplanationforthetransitioningeometrieswouldneedtoinvokesome
indirectcausalfactors,theso-calledinvisible hand.Forvariouspoliticalandeconomic
reasons,Europeanprincescommissionedtheengineeringprojectsfromwhichthemodern
theoriesofperspectiveandopticswereeventuallydrawn.Withtheinstitutionalriseof
science,thesetheories,inturn,cametobeenforcedastheEuropeanculturalnorm.
Thereisnoreasontothinkthattheinterestsoftheprinces,thetheorists,andthe
pedagoguescoincided,thoughtheiractivitieswereindividuallynecessaryandjointly
sufficientfortheemergenceoftheEuclideanperceptualhorizon.Furthermore,anew
geometryofspatialperceptionmaywellbeoneofthosestatesofaffairsthatcanarise
onlyastheunintendedconsequenceoftheactivitiesofmanyindividuals(Elster1984,
Fuller1985a).Indeed,theinvisiblehandaccountmayalsoexplainwhyindividual
philosophersandscientists,Kantmostnotably,haveperenniallyfounditimpossibleto
intendtheirwayoutofaEuclideanframework.
Letusfinallyconsidertheviabilityofecologicalincommensurabilityasaresearch
programinthehistoryofscience.Ratherthanexplaindifferentresponsestothesame
stimulusintermsofdifferentbackgroundbeliefs,thehistorianmaymakethesimpler
assumptionthatthetwoindividualshavelargelythesamepsychicmakeupbutthattheir
environmentsaresufficientlydissimilarsoastotriggersensorycuesleadingonetosee
aduckandtheotherarabbit.Inthatcase,thehistorianmayconfinehisstudyof
worldviewstothreeratherobjectivelydefinedareas:
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(c)thecanonicallanguageinwhichscientistsmustarticulatewhateverbeliefs
theyhappentohold
(d)theconfigurationofartifactscomprisingthesensoryenvironmentofthe
scientificcommunity
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(e)situationsinwhicheitheranoviceoranexpertisjudgedtohavemade
incompetentlinguisticorsensoryperformances(alongwithanyremarksthat
mayattendthejudgment)afaultyargumentandanillicitinferencewouldbe
examplesofincompetentlinguisticperformances,whilethemisuseof
experimentalapparatusandfailuretoattendtothe"significant"featuresof
one'sexperimentalsetupwouldbeexamplesofincompetentsensory
performances.
Amajorconsequenceofthisobjectifiedconstrualofworldviewsisthatthefriendsand
foesofincommensurabilitymaybereconciledatleasttentatively.Foes,suchasDonald
Davidson(1984),aregrantedthevalidityofsuchprinciplesofrationalityas"charity"and
"humanity,"whichpresumethat,ceterisparibus,allhumanbeingsaresufficientlysimilar
inhowtheyprocesslinguisticandsensorycuessoastoactinlargelythesamemanner
underthesamecircumstances.Thefriendsofincommensurabilityalsohavenotrouble
withacceptingtheseprinciples,justaslongas"thesamecircumstances"istakento
meanthesamewithrespecttothethreeaforementionedareasofhistoricalinquiry,so
thatscientistsofdifferentperiodsaredistinguishedonlybydifferentsensoryand
linguisticcues.Andso,justastheory-ladennessdoesnotbothertherationalistfollower
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ofDavidson,neithershoulditbothertheincommensurabilistfollowerofKuhn.
Sofarwehaveseenthattakeninitsrobustsense,incommensurabilityneednotimply
somedeepstructureofthoughtthatpreventsoneworldviewfromcomingtotermswith
another.Onthecontrary,wemayunderstandtheKuhnthesisascallingforashiftof
focusinthehistoryandphilosophyofsciencefromlargelymentalisticconcernsfor
"beliefs"and"meanings,"which(asPopper[Jarvie1984]hadalreadyrealized)
underpinnedmuchpositivisttalkof"theories,"tomoreobjectiveinquiriesintothe
sensoryandlinguisticcuesthatconstitutethenormativeboundariesofthescientific
community.Inclosingthissectionofthechapter,letmenotethat,inrunningtogether
hisviewswithFeyerabend's,Kuhn'scriticstendtoinjectmuchmoretalkofbeliefs,
meanings,andtheoriesthanKuhnhimselfwaseverinclinedtodo.Theyseemtotake
Kuhn'sreluctancetousethepositivistvocabularyaseitheragesturetowardthe
ineffablequalitiesoftacitknowledgeorthemarkofahistorian'shumilityinthefaceof
philosophicalissues,when in fact he may be challenging the legitimacy of pursuing
those very issues.

2. Textual Incommensurability
Atfirstglance,thesecondtypeofincommensurabilityseemssoimplausiblethatno
rationalbeingwouldeverthinkofespousingit,letalonerefutingit.However,likethe
skeptic'schallenge,theimplausibilityoftextualincommensurabilityismatchedonlyby
itsirrefutability.In
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essence,itisthenotoriousBabelThesisintroducedinthelastchapter.Itarisesfrom
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ratherhumbleconceptualorigins.Sincetherearenocommonlyacceptedmethodsfor
provingthatwehaveunderstoodwhatsomeonehassaid,andsincecommunicationis
essentialtoanysustainedhumanendeavor,weareforcedtopresumethatwehave
understoodourinterlocutoruntilamisunderstandinghasbeenbroughttoourattention.
Thisseemstobeareasonablestrategy,onethathassupportedmanyyearsof
successfulhumaninteraction.However,itrestsontheassumptionthatany
misunderstandingwouldbedetectedatsomepointinthediscourseand,furthermore,
thatitwouldbedetectedas a misunderstanding,thatis,astheresultofoneparty's
failuretohaveunderstoodtheotherparty.Butwecanimaginemisunderstandingsthat
persistforlongperiodsbecausethepartiesareusingmuchofthesamelanguage,yetto
meansystematicallydifferentthings.Thelongerthediscourseproceedsuncheckedin
thisway,themorethemisunderstandingsaccumulate,untilsome"crisis"emerges,
whichcausesabreakdownincommunication.However,thiscrisisisnotthendiagnosed
astheresultofcompoundedpriormisunderstandings,butratherasfollowingfromsome
deepconceptualproblemsthatnoneofthecurrentinterlocutorsseemabletosolveto
everyone'ssatisfaction.Knowingthelinguisticoriginofthecrisis,wewouldnotbe
surprisedtolearnthatthesedeepproblemsappeareitherasaninabilitytoapplya
concepttoananomalouscaseorasaparadoxwhosesolutionrequiresamorefinely
grainedlexicon.Intheend,thediscoursecommunityfragmentsintoschools,paradigms,
anddisciplinesquiteinkeepingwiththebiblicaltaleoftheTowerofBabel.Noticethat
forthisentirescenariotobetrue,nothing in the historical record would have to be
different.
WehavesofarpresentedtheBabelThesisasathoughtexperiment,butourintentionis
tosuggestthatitmayprovidethebestexplanationforwhatMichaelOakeshottand
RichardRorty(1979)havecalled"theconversationofmankind,"theseemingly
interminabledebatesthathavetranspiredforthelast2,500yearsintheWestoverthe
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naturesofTruth,Goodness,Beauty,andthelike.Whenconsideringthe
incommensurableaccountsthathavebeenproposedforunderstandingthenatureof
Beauty,W.B.Gallie(1957)referredtoBeautyas"anessentiallycontestedconcept."An
evenclearercaseofsuchaconceptisTruth,whichhasledphilosophersnotonlyto
contestawidevarietyofseeminglyunrelatedtheories(correspondence,coherence,
redundancy,andpragmatismtonametheleadingcontenders),butalsothemetaissue
ofwhetherthegoalofthesetheoriesshouldbetoprovideadefinitionoracriterionof
Truth(Haack1978,ch.7).Forallitsradicalness,theBabelThesisneverstrayedfarfrom
themindsofthepositivists,whowerequitewillingtoattributemanyhigher-order
conceptualdisputes(especiallytheonesassociatedwithempiricallyequivalentscientific
theories)toadifferenceinlanguageuseratherthanagenuinedifferenceinbeliefs.But
perhapsthemostflagrantendorsementoftheBabelThesismaybefoundinthewritings
ofthedeconstructionistsJacquesDerrida,HaroldBloom,PaulDeManwho,
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persuadedbyMarxistandFreudianclaims,haveshiftedtheburdenofprooftosomeone
whobelievesthatheunderstandshowevenhis ownlanguageisbeingused(Fuller
1983a).And,finally,inareporton"thestateofknowledge"intheWest,Jean-Francois
Lyotard(1984)hasobservedthatakeyfeatureofthe"postmodern"attitudeisthe
realizationboththattheBabelThesisisaninevitableoutcomeofknowledgeproduction
beingsodecentralizedincontemporarysocietyandthatthisradicalincommensurability
hastheunexpectedbenefitoffosteringinnovationatafasterratethaneverbefore.
DespitetherobustnessoftheBabelThesis'pedigree,weshouldnotlosesightofthe
factthatitisstillverymuchaminorityopinionaboutthenatureofknowledge
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production.Infact,analyticphilosophersoflanguage,suchasQuineandDavidson,
makeapointofarguingthatthethesismustbefalse,iftranslationistobepossibleat
all.Clearly,inordertomakesuchastrongclaim,thesephilosophersmusthavewaysof
talkingaboutthetransmissionofknowledgethatsystematicallypreventtheBabel
Thesisfrombeingexpressedasanintelligentalternative.WeshallexamineQuine's
radicaltranslationepisodewiththisthoughtinmind,inparticularfourofitsfeatures
thatindirectlyservetomaketheBabelThesislessplausible:first,howtheideaof
translationisconstruedsecond,howtheideaoflinguisticruleisconstruedthird,the
roleofspeechastheparadigmoflanguageusefourth,theimplicitaimsofconstructing
atranslation.
First,thetheoryoftranslationimplicitintheradicaltranslationepisodeisquiteunlike
theonepresumedintheactualpracticeoftranslators.
Indeed,thisimplicittheoryreflectsQuine'strainingasaformallogicianintheheydayof
logicalpositivism.Toseethedifferencewearesuggestinghere,considertwogeneral
strategiesforeffectingatranslation:
(T1)Thetranslatorrendersanalientextinsentencesthatarenearestin
meaningtoonesthatspeakersinhisownlanguagewouldnormallyuse,even
ifitmeanslosingsomeoftheambiguityornuanceinthealientext.
(T2)Thetranslatorrendersanalientextinsentencesthatarenearestin
meaningtoonesthat,thoughgrammaticallypossibleinhisownlanguage,
requireasuspensionofnormalusage,perhapsincludingtheintroductionof
neologistictermsanddistinctionsthatcapturesemanticsubtletiesinthealien
text.
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Inshort,then,translationproceedsin(T1)bythetranslatoradjustingthealien
languagetofithisown,whilein(T2)itproceedsbythetranslatoradjustinghisown
languagetofitthealienone.Quine'sepisodecanbeseenasacaseof(T1)inthatthe
anthropologisttranslatesthenativebyhavinghimsimplyrespondtospeciallyselected
testcasesthatreflectsemanticdistinctionsdrawnintheanthropologist'slanguage.
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Whentreatedasageneralaccountoftranslation,(T1)impliesthatasetofnoisesor
marksdoesnotconstituteameaningfulutteranceunlessitcanbetranslatedintoone's
ownlanguage.ThemodelofthispositionisWittgenstein's(1961)Tractatus,which
arguesthatthelimitsoftranslatabilitycannotberecognizedassuch:eitheroneisable
togiveacompleterenderingofthepropositionalcontentofanalientextinone'sown
languageoroneisforcedintosilence.Thehistoricalsourcesof(T1)areRusselland
Carnap,whogavethename"translation"tothetaskofisolatingthepropositional
contentofsentencesinnaturallanguagesandreproducingthatcontentinaformal
language.Andeventhoughthisprojectoftranslationchampionedbylogicalpositivism
wasabandonedthirtyyearsago,Quine(aswellasDavidson)continuestoprivilege
thetranslator'slanguageasthenonnegotiablebasisformakingsenseofthenative's
utterances.Quinemanagesthispointrathersubtlybyclaimingthatalllanguagesare
implicittheoriesofphysicalreality,withtheanthropologist'slanguagedifferingfromthe
native'sonlyintermsofitsrelativerichness.Thismovecommitsthenativesto,among
otherthings,havingmanyofthesameinterestsastheanthropologistinusinglanguage
(namely,theinterestsassociatedwithrepresentingreality).Thus,thefactthatthe
anthropologistneedstoforcethenativetorespondtospeciallydesignedsituationscan
beinterpretedasdemonstratingthatthenative'slanguageislessadequatetoitsown
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goalsthantheanthropologist'slanguage.
Moreover,theanthropologisthasathisdisposalarepertoireoflinguisticdistinctions
thatconcealthistacitevaluationwithoutcausinghimtoworrythathemightbe
misreadingwhatthenativehassaid.Thetwomostfrequentlyuseddistinctionsofthis
kindareprobablycognitive vs. emotiveandpropositional vs. performative.Anyaspectof
thenative'sutterancethattheanthropologistcannotreadilycheckagainstthesemantic
categoriesofhisownlanguagebecomesacandidateforthesecondhalfofeach
dichotomy.However,thesedistinctionsstarttolooksuspiciouslyethnocentric,onceit
seemsthatmostofwhatthenativesaysturnsouttobeemotiveorperformative
(Sperber1982).Indeed,theprincipleofcharityitselfmaybereadasacovertstatement
ofethnocentrism,sinceitinstructstheanthropologisttointerpretthenativeeitheras
sayingsomethingthattheanthropologistalreadyknows(andperhapscanarticulate
better)oraserringbecausethenativelackssomebackgroundknowledgethatthe
anthropologisthas.Inotherwords,charitydoesnotallowthepossibilitythatthe
anthropologistandthenativemayhavealegitimate,cognitivelybaseddisagreement.
Incontrast,(T2),thepracticingtranslator'simplicittheoryoftranslation,affordshimthe
opportunitytostrikeacriticalstancetowardhisownculture.Theopportunityarises
wheneverthetranslatorconfrontsfluentnativeexpressionsthatcanberenderedinhis
ownlanguageonlywithgreatdifficulty,aswitnessedinthenumberofneologismshe
mustconstruct.Moreover,theawkwardnessoftheseneologismsisreadily
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noticed,givingthetranslationadistinctlyalienquality,quiteunlikehowtheoriginal
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expressionmusthaveseemedtothenative.Forthephilosophicallymindedreader,a
mostvividexampleisHeidegger's(1962)attempt,inBeing and Time,torecapturein
GermanthemetaphysicaldistinctionsdrawnbytheancientGreeks,whowere,ofcourse,
noteworthyforengaginginadiscoursemuchmorepubliclyaccessiblethanHeidegger's
"faithful"rendition.Inthiscase,weseethatunlikethe(T1)translator,the(T2)
translatorrecognizesthelimitsoftranslatabilityin the very act of translationforthe
moreattentiveheistothesemanticdistinctionsdrawnintheoriginal(asHeidegger
was),themorehealsoemphasizesthe"otherness"ofthenativelanguageand,hence,
theinabilityofthenativelanguagetoserveafunctionoutsideitsoriginalcontext.To
putitbluntly,ifatranslationattemptstobetoo"close"totheoriginal,itendsup
defeatingtheoverallpurposeoftranslation,whichistorendertheforeignfamiliar.
EugeneNida(1964),perhapstheleadingtheoristamongpracticingtranslators(andan
influenceonbothQuineandKuhn),hasnotedthisirony,characterizingitintermsof
complementary"equivalences"betweenwhichthetranslatormuststrikeabalance.An
examplefromNida'sownfieldofexpertise,biblicaltranslation,willmakethepoint.
Biblicaltranslatorsaretypicallybesetbytwoconflictinggoals.Asthemostsignificant
historicaldocumentofearlyWesternculture,thebooksoftheBibleshouldberendered
inamannerthatissemanticallyfaithfultotheoriginalHebrew,Aramaic,andGreek.
Nidacallsthissortofequivalenceformal,andheassociatesitwithbiblical exegesis.
Yet,theBibleisalsothecanonicaltextforseveralmajorlivingfaiths,andsoagood
translationshouldalsorenderthe"spirit"oftheoriginalinawaythatmakesits
messageasrelevantnowasitwastwothousandyearsago.Nidacallsthissortof
equivalence(lackinginHeidegger'sapproach)dynamic,andheassociatesitwithbiblical
hermeneutics.Moreover,itisnoless"faithful"totheoriginalthanaformallyequivalent
translation.Indeed,inaimingfordynamicequivalence,thetranslatorwantstocapture
thefactthatwhenoriginallyuttered,thenativetextperformedaspecificsocialfunction
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foritsintendedaudience,asindicatedinthebehavioralresponsethattheaudience
subsequentlyproduced.Inordertoelicitasimilarresponseinourownculture,the
translationmayneedtodeviatesharplyfromtheoriginal,asinthecaseofthe
BroadwayplayWest Side StoryhavingthesamesortofpopularappealasShakespeare's
originalRomeo and Juliet.AmoreextremeexampleisE.V.Rieu'srenderingofthe
Homericepicsasmass-consumptionnovelswritteninseveralEnglishdialects.Indeed,
Quinehimselfseemstohaveunderstoodthedynamicequivalencesenseoftranslation
quitewell,sinceoneofhiscriteriaforanadequatetranslationisthatitelicitsthe
appropriatebehavioralresponse,regardlessofwhetherthenativewouldacceptthe
termsemployedbythetranslatorasformallyequivalenttohisown.
Clearly,then,tomaximizeonegoaloftranslationistominimizetheother,sinceformal
equivalencetendstoemphasizethedifferencebetween
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thetranslator'sandthenative'slanguages,whilethedynamictendstoemphasizetheir
similarity.Dependingontheirspecificgoals,translatorsresolvethistensioninavariety
ofways,butitshouldbenotedthatin each case some information contained in the
original is lost.Andwhilesomeofthislostinformationcanoftenberecoveredby
returningtotheoriginaltextandsettingnewtranslationgoals,forreasonsofeconomy
attemptsatrecoveryarerarelymade,andneversystematically.Thismeansthattoa
largeextent,theknowledgethatourculturehasgatheredandtransmittedoverthe
centurieshasbeencaptivetotheever-changingaimsoftranslators,which,inturn,is
thebasisforwhatevertruththereisintheBabelThesis.
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Infact,givenNida'sanalysis,wecanconstructtheBabelThesisasatradeoffthatthe
(T2)translatormustnegotiate.Ontheonehand,ifhebelievesthatphilosopherswho
havearguedaboutthenatureof,say,Truthoverthelasttwomilleniahavebeen
bewitchedbytheirlanguage,theninordertoexplaintheirlinguisticbehavior,hemust
suspendanassumptionthathewouldneversuspendinhisowncase,namely,thatthe
philosophersknowwhattheirwordsmean.Ontheotherhand,ifthetranslatorbelieves
thatthephilosophersareverymuchlikehimselfandthusnotsusceptibletodeep
semanticerrors,thentheBabelThesiscannotpossiblybecorrect.Wecanthus
summarizethedifferencebetweenthe(T1)and(T2)approachtotranslationinthe
followingmanner.WhereasQuine,Davidson,andother"charitable"(T1)translators
wouldclaimthatthelatteralternative,therouteofdynamicequivalence,istheonly
availableone,(T2)translatorsmaintainthatonealternativemustalwaysbetradedoff
againsttheother.
ThesecondwayinwhichtheradicaltranslationepisodeconspiresagainsttheBabel
Thesismaybecapturedbythefollowingquestion:Justhowarelinguisticrulestobe
characterized,regardlessofwhethertheyappearasagenerativegrammardesignedbya
computationallinguistinhisofficeoratranslationmanualconstructedbyan
anthropologistinthefield?Ineithersetting,therulesarenormallyconceivedofas
positivedirectivesforarrivingatsyntacticallyandsemanticallycorrectutterances.
However,inQuine'sepisode,theonlyevidencethattheanthropologisthasfornative
discoursebeinggovernedbysomeruleorotherarethenative'snegativeresponsesto
hisincorrectutterances.Quineisfullyawareofthisfactandplaysitupasthe
indeterminacy of translation thesis,which,ineffect,claimsthatnoamountofnegative
feedbackfromthenativewilleverbeenoughfortheanthropologisttodeterminewhat
positiveruleshehasbeenbreaking.Thusunderstood,Quine'sthesislocatesthe
"indeterminacy"intheepistemicgapbetweenthenative'spositiveunderstandingofthe
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rulesandtheanthropologist'sindirect,negativeunderstandingofthem.
Butsupposethatthelinguisticruleswerethemselvesinherentlyindirector,as
Wittgensteiniansliketoputit,"open-textured."Inotherwords,theanthropologistnever
seemstogetenoughevidenceforinferringthenativegrammaronlybecausetherules
themselvesarenothingmorethannegativedirectivesdefiningwhatcannotbemeantby
acertainexpressioninacertaincontext,butotherwiseleavingopenwhatcanbemeant.
Inthatcase,
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indeterminacyisnotmerelyaconsequenceoftheanthropologistnotbeinganative
speaker,butrather,afeaturebuiltintotheverystructureoflanguageitself,whose
constraintsonitsuserswouldbemoreilldefinedthannormallysupposed.Wewouldnot
besurprisedthenatthenativehimselfnotbeingabletoarticulatetherulesgoverning
hisowndiscourse,or,atleast,notbeingabletoarticulaterulesthatareconsistentwith
thejudgmentcallshewouldmakeonwhatcountsas"correctusage."Linguistsinfact
constantlyrunupagainstsuchdiscrepancieswhentestingthepsychologicalvalidityofa
grammar(Greene1972).Buttheideaoflinguisticrulesasnegativedirectiveswould
illuminatenotonlythesediscrepanciesbutalsothepragmaticsourcesofterms
imperceptiblyshiftingtheirmeaningsandreferentsovertime,asevidencedin
etymologies,whichhasbeenacornerstoneoftheincommensurabilitythesis.
Third,intheQuineepisode,sincethenativeisinthepresenceoftheanthropologist,he
cancorrectmistranslationsimmediatelyaftertheyoccur.Thisisonefeatureofspeech
asalinguisticmediumthatdistinguishesitfromwriting,whosecommunicativenessdoes
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notliewiththeauthorconstantlyattendinghistext.However,thereislittleactualfaceto-facecontactamongthepeoplerelevanttoeitherthemakingortherecordingofthe
historyofscience.Admittedly,thereismuchface-to-facecontactamongmembersofa
schoolofthoughtorascientificcommunityconfinedto,say,oneacademicinstitution.
Indeed,thisconstant,andlargelyspeechbased,interactionensurestheformationof
strongnormativeboundsonwhatcanbesaidanddone.Butsuchboundsdonot
normallyextendtootherinstitutions,theworkofwhosemembersisencounteredalmost
exclusivelythroughthewrittenmediaofjournalsandbooks.Inthatcase,membersof
onecommunityregularlytaketheirabilitytoincorporatetheworkofanothercommunity
intheirownresearchasevidencefortheirhavingunderstoodthenatureoftheother
community'sactivities.Thisishardlyafoolproofstrategyforthekindoftranslation
Quine'santhropologistwants.Yetthecurioushistoricaltrajectoriesoftentakenby
disciplinesmaybeexplainedinpartbythisfailuretodistinguishclearlybetween
understandingandusingsomeoneelse'swork.Aslongasthisdistinctionisnotmadeby
acommunityofresearchers,incommensurabilityremainsaviablepossibility.Thereis
moretosayonthismatter,butweshouldjustnoteherethatincommensurabilitymay
beintimatelytiedtowhatMaxWeber(andmorelatelyLyotard)hastakentobebethe
"rationalization"ofknowledgeinaliteratesocietyhavingacomplexdivisionofcognitive
labor.Inotherwords,astheboundariesofscientificcommunitiesbecomerestrictedto
narrowersubjectmatters,thescientistneedstoturntowrittenmediaforhisinformation
onawiderrangeoftopics,whichmayhavetheneteffectofproliferatinguncorrected
misunderstandings.Manysuchsociologicalhypotheseshavebeenproposedandtested
abouttheriseofbureaucracies,butonlyrecentlyhavetheybeenfruitfullyappliedtothe
disseminationofknowledgeinthenetworkofscientificcommunities
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(Collins1975,ch.9Whitley1986).Weshallhaveoccasiontoexaminetheseissuesin
moredetailinchapter9.
Thefourthandfinalfeatureoftheradicaltranslationepisodethatcastsdoubtonthe
incommensurabilitythesisconcernsthegoalsoftranslationitself,specificallywhetherall
attemptsattranslationhaveatleastonegoalincommon.However,aswassuggested
inourfirstobjectiontoQuine'sepisode,itisnotclearwhethertheepisodeorthethesis
isthelessplausible.Quineassumesthatthereissomeintuitivesenseinwhich
understandingsomeoneelse'sdiscoursecanbepursuedasanendinitsownright,
namely,astheprojectofsemantics.ThisassumptionaccountsforwhyQuine'sreaderis
nevertoldwhytheanthropologistwouldwanttotranslatethetriballanguageinthefirst
place,asidefrompreservingthecontentoftribalutterances(whichitselfmustbe
understoodintermsofpreservingthereference,notthesense,ofthenativeutterance).
However,anadequateunderstandingofanother'sdiscourseisusuallyameansforone's
owncognitiveends.Anddependingonthenatureoftheendsandtheconstraintsplaced
onhowtheymaybeachieved,varioustranslationsmaypassasanadequate
understanding.ThepointhereisanalogoustotheonemadebyBasvanFraassen(1980,
ch.5)aboutthenatureofexplanationinThe Scientific Image:justasthereisno
privilegedexplanationcalled"scientific"thatisthebestanswertoallrequestsforan
explanation,sotoothereisnoprivilegedtranslationcalled"semantic"thatisthebest
answertoallrequestsforatranslation(compareLePore1986,part6).
Onetypeofconstraintpeculiartorequestsfortranslationsisdictatedbytheprobability
thattheauthorofthetranslateddiscourse,orsuchsurrogatesasscholarsanddisciples,
willcriticizemisunderstandingsofwhathehassaid.Ontheonehand,ifwedonot
expectanopponentoroneofhisagenciestorespondtohowwehaverenderedhis
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positions,wewillcharacterizethemwithonlyasmuchfidelityaswillserveourpolemical
purposes.Forexample,Granger(1985)andSacksteder(1986)showthistohave
certainlybeenthecaseforkeywordsinAristotle.Thesameappliestoanauthorsuchas
Kuhn(!)whoseobscurediscoursemakesvirtuallyanyinterpretationlookreasonable.On
theotherhand,wewouldhavetotakemorecarewithfiguressuchasAristotleand
Newton.Butletusnowleavethestateofnatureofthe"HobbesianHermeneutician"and
turnbrieflytotheRomanoratorCicero,whoiscreditedwithoriginatingwhatanalytic
philosophers,atleast,generallytaketobetheonlytheoryoftranslation:namely,that
thesenseofthetranslatedlanguageshouldbepreservedinthetranslatinglanguage
(Bassnett-McGuire1980).ForweshallfindthatCicero'smotivationswerenotquiteas
theyseemtomodemeyes.
Cicerodidnotadvancethesense-preservingviewoftranslationinordertocurbthe
tendenciesofreaderssolelyinterestedintheuse-valueoftexts.Onthecontrary,he
heldthatasense-preservingtranslationofferedthemosteffectivemeansforpreserving
andtransmittingtheaccumulatedwisdomoftheGreeks.Inmoregeneralterms,then,
Cicerotookmaximumunderstandingasnecessaryformakingthemostuseofanother's
discourse.
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Thisisapropositionthatnoonetodaywouldholdasparticularlyrational,especially
oncewemeasurethetimeneededforfullyunderstandingwhatsomeonemeantagainst
thelikelypayoffofthisunderstandingforourownresearch.Butofcourse,Cicero
presumedtheview,strongevenduringtheScientificRevolution,thatintellectual
progressconsistsinshowinghowone'scurrentresearch,whetherspeculativeor
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empirical,illuminatessomeultimatesourceofknowledge,usuallysomeGreek,Hebrew,
orearlyChristiantext,whosemeaningremainedobscuredinthemistsofantiquity.A
keywedgeindividingwhatwenowcall"thesciences"from"thehumanities"occurredin
theeighteenthandnineteenthcenturies,whenthescienceslosttheCiceronian
sensibility,whichisresponsibleforourcurrentinabilitytoseeanyproblemsinourusing
someone'sideas(thatis,paraphrasesofhistext)evenifwecannotfullyseewhathe
hadintendedwhenhefirstarticulatedthem.
Moreover,ifyouthinkthatevenoutsideitsoriginalpracticalcontext,some"sense"can
bemadeofsense-preservingtranslation,thenthehistoryoftranslationtheorysincethe
lateseventeenthcenturyshouldmakeyouthinkagain.Forexample,JohnDryden,who
wasnotednotonlyforhispoetryandcriticismbutalsoforhistranslationsofVergil,
predatedNelsonGoodman's(1949)critiqueoftheideaofsimilarity(anditslinguistic
version,synonymy)bylikeningthetranslator'stasktothatoftheopen-airpainterof
nature:bothworkinamediumdifferentfromtheoriginalwithoutbeinggivenanycues
fromtheoriginalastohowitshouldberepresented.Dryden'sanalogysuggeststhatthe
differencebetweentwonaturallanguagesisasgreatasthedifferencebetweenathreedimensional"living"natureanditstwo-dimensionalrepresentationoncanvas.Itisironic
thatDrydenshouldhavemountedsuchapersuasiveattackontheideathatevery
utterancehasasensethatmayberenderedinanylanguage,sincehehimselfwasthe
firstmajordefenderandexemplarofa"clear,"non-LatinateprosestyleintheEnglish
language.PerhapsthebestexplanationforthisironyisthatDrydenhadastrong(T2)
senseoftranslation.
Onecommonliteraryconstrualofthesense-preservingthesisthathasescapedthe
noticeofanalyticphilosophersisthegenre-preservingtranslation,whichrequiresthat
thetranslatorcapturenotonlythe"content"oftheoriginalbutalsosomesenseofhow
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itssyntaxindicatedthekindofworkitwastoitsoriginalaudience.Totakesomesimple
examples:worksoriginallycomposedaspoemsshouldlooklikepoemsintranslation,
historiesshouldlooklikehistories,sciencelikescience.Sincewearefarfromageneral
theoryofstylisticscapableofdistinguishinghistories,sciences,andotherso-called
cognitivediscoursesfromoneanother,itisnotclearexactlywhatchangeswouldneed
tobemadeinactualtranslationpractices.However,E.D.Hirsch's(1967)Validity in
Interpretationtakesthefirststepsintherightdirection,backtoasystematic
Geisteswissenschaftenonthelatenineteenth-centurymodel.Inthemorerestricted
domainofthemetaphysicalandtheologicalaspectsofseventeenth-centuryscientific
discourse,Koyre's(1969)sophisticated
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stylisticssetthestageforwhatremainssomeofthebestworkbeingdoneinthe
historiographyofscience.
Thereductioofthestylisticstrategyiscapturedintheideathatnotonlyshouldthe
translatorrepresentthesyntacticfeaturesthatmadeatextaccessibletoitsoriginal
audiencebutalsothosefeaturesthatmakeitinaccessible,oratleastalien,toits
currentaudience.Informulatingthehermeneuticalenterprise,FriedrichSchleiermacher
arguedthattheonlywayinwhichthereaderisencouragedtoseekoutthetacit
presuppositions(andhenceunderlyingmeaning)ofapreviousdiscourseisthrougha
translationwhoseobscurityforcesthereadertoquestioneventhemostelementary
thoughtprocessesoftheauthor(Hirsch1967,ch.5).Themaximassumedhere,that
difficultexpression(bytheauthor,orhistranslator)begetsdeepthinking(bythe
reader),mayberepugnanttotheinstinctsofanalyticphilosophers.Nevertheless,we
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shouldnotlosesightofthefactthatSchleiermacher'scounselofobscuritywasfollowed
notonlyinGermany,butitalsoservedasthemajorcriterionofadequacyfortranslation
duringtheVictorianperiod,whichledtranslatorsandotherconveyorsofdistantcultures
(includingCarlyle,Browning,Pater,andFitzgerald)torenderthat"distance"stylistically
inanarchaic,stiltedEnglishprose.
NoticethatthehermeneuticalstrategyturnsQuine'sprincipleofcharityonitshead.For,
ratherthanminimizethenumberofsentencesinthetranslatedlanguagethatturnout
falseorstrange,Schleiermacherproposedtomaximizetheirnumber.Quinewould,no
doubt,respondbypointingoutthatthehermeneuticalstrategyactuallyremovesthe
mostcrucialcheckontheadequacyofatranslation,namely,thatitrenderstheauthor
rational.However,Schleiermacherwouldprobablythenrespondthatthe"rationality"of
humanbeingsliesnotintheirrecurrentperhapsevenuniversalpatternsofconduct,
butratherintheirabilitytorendermeaningfullargelyunrepeatableperhapseven
uniquesituations.Moreover,thisresponsewouldnotbemerelyafunctionof
Schleiermacher'ssusceptibilitytoRomanticism'semphasisontheindividual,butit
would,moreimportantly,reflectthemajoralternativetraditioninthehistoryof
rationality,startingwithAristotle'sdiscussionofjudicialdiscretion,whichlocatesthe
paradigmofreasoninthepracticalratherthanthetheoretical(Brown1978).
Thepoint,then,isthatevenifphilosopherssuchasQuineandDavidsonarecorrectin
regardingatheoryoftranslationasacoverttheoryofrationality,thatis,atbest,to
giveonlyafunctional,notasubstantive,definitionof"rationality."Inotherwords,the
analyticphilosophersshouldbetaken,notashavingarguedforanyparticulartheoryof
translationortheoryofrationality,butonlyforalogicallynecessaryconnectionbetween
thetwosortsoftheories,regardlessoftheirparticularcontent.Inthatcase,
incommensurabilityagainlooksplausible,ifonlybecausethe very idea of sensePRO version

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preserving translation has itself been subject to changes in senseandthe very idea of
rationality has itself been exemplified over the years by individuals who would not
consider each other rational.
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ButsupposewegrantQuinethattheoptimaltranslationstrategyistotaketheprinciple
ofcharityasaregulativeideal.Doesitthenfollowthatmisunderstandingswilltendto
beminimizedandincommensurabilityeliminated?Inarguingagainstthecoherenceof
construingconceptualschemesasself-contained,incommensurablediscourses,Davidson
(1984,ch.13)seemstopresumeanintuitiveanswerofyestothisquestion.However,
outsidetheartificialsettingofQuineanconcerns,theattempttominimizethenumberof
sentencesinthetranslatedlanguagethatturnoutfalseorstrangecouldbequiteeasily
seenasastrategyforco-optingtheauthor'sbeliefsintothetranslator'ssetofbeliefs
andsmoothingoverwhateverrealdifferencesremain.Inotherwords,theprincipleof
charitymightbedesignedtopromoteaformofWhigHistory,wherethehistorical
figureshavethechanceofeithergivinginchoateexpressiontoourcurrentbeliefsor
simplybeingdeemedirrational.
TheimpalatabilityofthesealternativeshasmovedMichelFoucaulttodevisean
historiographyofsciencethatdoesawaywiththeprincipleofcharityandpresumes
incommensurabilityasaregulativeidealofhistoricalinquiry(Hacking1979).Foucault's
strategy,roughly,hasbeentotaketheapparentstrangenessofpastdiscourseto
indicateagenuinebreakfromourowndiscourse.Theintentistomethodologicallycurb
thesovereigntythatweultimatelyexerciseoverhowthepastisinterpreted.Thebenefit
istomaintainadistinctionthatisoftenblurredinQuine-Davidson-typediscussionsof
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translation.FollowingGilbertRyle's(1949,p.130)distinction,wearepointingtothe
differencebetween"translate"asatask verband"translate"asanachievement verb.
The"achievement"referstothelistofsyntacticcorrespondencesconstitutingthe
translationmanualofQuine'santhropologist,whilethe"task"referstotheactivities
thatmustbeperformedinordertoachieveatranslation,aswellasthecriteria
indicatingthatthetranslationhasbeenachieved.
Aswehaveseen,translationasataskisaratherdifficultissueaboutwhich
incommensurabilityhasmuchtooffer.For,properlyunderstood,oursecondversionof
theincommensurabilitythesisdoesnotsaythattranslationscanneverbeachieved,but
ratherthatweshouldnotassumethatanystrategythataimsattranslationisipsofacto
likelytosucceed.Inthatcase,incommensurabilityisnotsomuchanempiricalhypothesis
aboutthehistoryofscienceasamethodologicaldirectiveforthehistoriographyof
science.
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CHAPTER SIX
THE INSCRUTABILITY OF SILENCE AND THE PROBLEM OF
KNOWLEDGE IN THE HUMAN SCIENCES
Theaimofthischapteristoidentifyandanalyze(but,alas,notsolve)an
epistemologicalproblem,perhapsthefundamentalone,thatbesetsanyonewhotriesto
obtainasystematicunderstandingofhumanbeingsandwishestorelyontheir
utterancesasevidence.Theproblemconcernsthe criteriological status of silence.More
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explicitly:Issilenceamarkofthefamiliarorthealien?Stillmoreexplicitly:Ifa
"concept"(thatis,abelief,desire,orotherintentionalstateusingtheconcept)familiar
tothehumanistismissingfrom"therecord"ofaculture,shouldheconcludethatthe
culturefoundtheconceptsofamiliarasnottorequiremention,orthattheculture
simplylackedtheconcept?Aswedealwiththisproblemwhichwemaycall,withall
duerespecttoQuine,the inscrutability of silence-itwillbecomeclearthatthefinal
verdicthasyettobedeliveredontheincommensurabilitythesis.Indeed,weshallsee
that,farfromrefutingthethesis,DonaldDavidson'stranscendentalargumentforthe
translatabilityofaliendiscoursesisquitecompatiblewithit.
Beforewebeginourinquiry,weshouldsaywhyweintendtouse"translation"and
"interpretation"interchangeably.Simplystated,thereasonisthatthereisnoagreement
astowhichtermisthemoreprimitive.Whereasanalyticphilosopherstendtoviewthe
constructionofatranslationmanualasapreconditionforinterpretingparticularalien
speakers,practitionersofthehumansciencestendtotreatinterpretationasalargely
prelinguisticunderstandingofanalienculturethatoftenneveradvancestothestageof
explicittranslation.Ifthereisonecleardifferenceinusagebetweenthetwoterms,itis
that"interpretations"aremoreopentodisagreementthan"translations,"muchas
"theories"aregenerallytakentobemorecontestablethan"observations."Indeed,the
analogysuggestedheremayrundeeper,sincejustasobservationstendtobeofatomic
sensations,translationstendtobeofrelativelysmall,well-definedunitsofdiscourse,
suchaswordsorsentences.Andsimilarly,boththeoriesandinterpretationstendtobe
ofmoreholisticentities:respectively,systemsofobjectsandcompletetexts.

1. Inscrutability and the Analytic Philosophy of Language


Forourfirstlookatsilence,letusconsideracaseadaptedfromPaulFeyerabend(1975,
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ch.17).TheHomericepicsmentionvariouspartsofthehumanbodywithoutever
mentioningthebodyasawhole.DoesthismeanthatthearchaicGreekshadnoconcept
ofthebodyquaunit,or,aswemightnormallythink,thattheyintendedtheconceptas
implicitlyunderstoodintheirdiscourse?Aquestionofthissortisfundamentaltothe
epistemology
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ofthehumansciencesinthatitforcesustojustifyamaximwithoutwhichno
systematicunderstandingofhumanbeingswouldseemtobepossible:namely,fortwo
speakersAandB,ifAsayssomethingthatBunderstandsasp,then,unlessBhas
reasontothinkotherwise,Amaybetakenasintendingallthatisnormallypresupposed
byp.Ofcourse,"normally"needsspecification,but,justgivenourexample,ifHomer
appearstobespeakingoflimbsandorgans,thenitisclearly"normal"fortheclassicist
tounderstandHomeraspresupposingatleastawholebodyofwhichthoselimbsand
organsareparts.Moreover,sinceitisdifficulttoimagineaninterpretationofHomerin
whichthepresuppositionturnsouttobemisattributed,theclassicistwouldfirstwantto
findevidence,suchasanomalousutterances,thatsuggestsanalternative
interpretation.Allthisseemstobesoundhumanisticpracticethatis,untilwetryto
justifyit.
AsPaulGrice(1957,1975),amongothers,havepointedout,Bisjustifiedinattributing
certain"implicitlyunderstood"presuppositionstoA,onlyifAisunderstoodas
addressingB.Itisimportanttoseewhythisisso,sincetheclassicistmaybefully
awarethatHomerisnotspecificallyaddressinghim,yetpersistinbelievingthatit
makessensetoattributetheconceptofbodyquaunit,allegingthattheconceptisa
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"primordialintuition"commontoallhumanbeings.Yetthisalonewouldnotexplainwhy
theconceptisneverarticulated,sinceprimordialintuitionsareoftendiscussedand
sometimesevenformallystudied.Indeed,ourownconceptofbodilywholenessisatopic
inthepsychologyofperception,namely,"proprioception."Incontrast,aGriceanaccount
couldexplainhowHomerpossessed yet never mentionedtheconceptofbodily
wholeness:towit,Homerwasaddressinganaudienceforwhommentionoftheconcept
wouldhavebeengratuitousthus,hewouldbeseenasobeyingtheQuantityMaximof
conversationalimplicature:namely,thatspeakersshouldsaynomoreandnolessthan
isneededtobeperfectlyunderstoodbytheirintendedaudiences.Andindeed,aGricean
accountwouldbetrue,wereHomeraddressingus,whichheclearlyisnot.Infact,as
MatthewArnoldfamouslypointedout,weknowlessaboutHomer'sintendedaudience
thanaboutHomerhimself(Newmark1981,ch.1).Andeveniftheclassicistknewthe
identityofHomer'saudience,sinceHomerhimselfwouldnotrecognizetheclassicistas
oneitsmembers,theclassicistendsupengagingtheHomerictextinanepistemicrole
ofaspectatortoanexchangebetweenHomerandhisaudienceinwhichnoneofthe
utterancesareintendedfortheclassicist.Inshort,hisroleisreducedtothatofan
eavesdropper.
Thus,theclassicistcannotjustifyhistakingsilenceasamarkofthefamiliarby
appealingtothestandardphilosophicalaccountofcommunicationrepresentedbyGrice.
ThisisnottosaythattheclassicistmustthereforeconcludethatHomerdidnothavea
conceptofbodilywholeness.Rather,theclassicist'sepistemicstancedoesnotpermit
himtodecidebetweenthetwointerpretations.AndwhiletheHomerexampleis
extreme,thesameproblemcanberefashionedforallcasesinwhichanauthordidnot
intendthehumanistinterpreteraspartofhisaudience.
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Besideshighlightingtheinscrutabilityofsilence,theaboveexamplefunctionsasakind
of"duck-rabbit"Gestaltfortheproblemsofinterpretationthathaverecentlyvexed
philosophersoflanguageandscience:Doestheinscrutabilityofsilenceillustratethe
indeterminacy of translationorthe incommensurability thesis?AsIanHacking(1975a,
chs.11-121982)hassuggestedonseveraloccasions,thesetwothesesoffercontrary
diagnosesofwhatcangowrongduringinterpretation.Ontheonehand,thehuman
scientistmayarriveatseveralincompatible,butequallyadequate,interpretationsofan
aliendiscourseontheotherhand,hemaybefacedwithnotevenoneadequate
interpretationofthealiendiscourse.And,interestingly,whilemostphilosophershave
foundtheformerthesis,indeterminacy,themorecompelling,mostpractitionersofthe
humansciences(especiallyliterarycriticsandanthropologists)seemtohavebeenpulled
towardthelatterthesis,incommensurability.Onthesurface,then,thesetwopositions
appealtoquitedivergentintuitionsaboutthenatureofinterpretation.However,we
shallnowarguethat,likethe"duck"and"rabbit"facesofthefamousGestalt,
indeterminacyandincommensurabilityarethemselvesjustcomplementarywaysof
interpretingtheinscrutabilityofsilence.
Firstnoticethedifferenceinthekindsofargumentsusedtojustifythetwocontrary
theses.FromreadingDavidson's(1984Rorty1972)articlesoninterpretation,it
becomesclearthattheindeterminacythesisisaconsequenceintendedornotofa
transcendental argumentforeverylanguagebeingtranslatableintoourown.Davidson
arguesbyaskingustoconceiveofasituationinwhichwecouldidentifysomecollection
ofsignsasalanguagewithoutatleasthavingimplicitlyinterpretedthem.Since
Davidsonbelievesthatsuchasituationisinconceivable,heconcludesthat
translatabilityisanecessaryconditionforourrecognizingthesignsasalanguage.
Beyondthatpoint,however,Davidsonisnotmuchconcernedwithwhichinterpretation
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weconferonthosesigns.Givenhisconceptoftranslatability,thisattitudemakessense,
sinceDavidsondoesnotoffertheinterpretermuchofachoice.Inparticular,hedefines
translatabiltyastheinterpreter'sabilitytoshowthatmostofthesentencesinanalien
discoursearetrueandthattherestareunderstandableerrors.Andso,evenwhenthe
alienspeakersoundshisstrangest,thehumanscientistmuststillopttointerprethim
eitherashavingfalsebeliefsforgedfromfamiliarconceptsusedfamiliarlyorashaving
truebeliefsforgedfromfamiliarconceptsusedidiosyncratically.
ButevenifDavidsonwereinterestedinresolvingthisindeterminacy,hisrelianceon
transcendentalargumentationwouldbeofnohelp.Thereason,simplyput,isthat
transcendentalargumentstypicallyestablishthatXmustbethecasewithout(and
perhapsinsteadof)establishinghowonewouldidentifyinstancesofXbeingthecase.
Forexample,whydoesaHumeanremainunimpressedafterhearingaKantian
transcendentallyarguethatourexperienceofthephysicalworldwouldbeinconceivable
ifeveryeventdidnothaveacause?Theanswer,ofcourse,isthatsuchanargument,
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evenifvalid,wouldnothelpusdeterminetheparticularcausesofparticularevents,
whichistheHumean'sproblem.Weseethenthatapositivetranscendentalargument
aboutthegeneralcasecauseperseisquitecompatiblewithaskepticalempiricist
argumentaboutcausesinactualcases.Notsurprisingly,weshallnowfindthatthe
incommensurabilitythesistypicallyappearsastheoutcomeofskepticalempiricist
argumentsaboutparticularcasesoffailedorimpededtranslationdrawnfromtheannals
ofnativeandscientificcultures.
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Toillustratetheincommensurabilist'sroleas"HumeanHermeneutician,"considerhow
PeterWinchreconcileshisviewthatnativeculturescanbeunderstoodonlyfromthe
inside(thatis,completetranslationintoone'sowndiscourseisimpossible)withhis
view(whichheshareswithDavidson)thattherearecross-culturalprinciplesof
interpretationandrationality:
IneverofcoursedeniedthatZandewitchcraftpracticesinvolveappealsto
whatwecanunderstandasstandardsofrationality.Suchappealsalsoinvolve
behaviorwhichwecanidentifyas"therecognitionofacontradiction."WhatI
wasarguing,though,wasthatweshouldbecautiousinhowweidentifythe
contradiction,whichmaynotbewhatitwouldbeifweapproachitwith
"scientific"preconceptions.[Winch1970,p.254]
Thekeywordshereare"recognition"and"identify."TheZandeandtheanthropologist
mayassenttoexactlythesameinferencerulesofdeduction,butmaketotallydifferent
judgmentcallsonwhetherornotparticularnaturallanguageargumentsarevalidby
thoserules.Failuretoseethispointstemsfromafailuretoappreciatetheinscrutability
ofsilence.Forexample,theanthropologistmayidentifyanargumentutteredbyaZande
speaker(assuming,probablycontrary-to-fact,that"arguing"isalegitimateZande
speechact)asinvalidsimplybecausehefailedtosupplythesuppressedpremisesthat
wouldbereadilysuppliedbythespeaker'sintendedaudience.Amuchlessstudiedbut
moreinterestingcasewouldinvolvetheanthropologist,muchtotheconsternationofthe
Zandeaudience,treatinganargumentutteredbyaZandespeakerasvalidonlybecause
hehadreadintotheargumentmorethanwaswarrantedbythespeaker'sactual
utterance.Ineithercase,whetheroutofparsimonyorcharity,theanthropologisthas
shownhisfailuretomasterhowtheZandelanguage(itsparticularsyntaxand
semantics,alongwithuniversalprinciplesofrationality,suchasdeductivelogic,that
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equipthelanguagetoconveytruths)isconvertedintotimelyandefficientpiecesof
discoursebyitsspeakers.Inshort,theanthropologisthasfailedatZandepragmatics.
Uponturningtothehistoryofscience,wefindThomasKuhnmakingthe
incommensurabilist'spoint.Inthefollowingpassage,hearguesthatevenifweallow
thepositivistsandPopperiansthatthegreatscientistshaveevaluatedtheoriesby
appealingtothesamecriteria,andevenifweallowthemthatthenatureofscience
itselfhangsontheuniversalityofthesecriteria,itstilldoesnotfollowthatthehistorian
willhaveenoughinformationtoretrodictparticularevaluationsmadebyparticular
scientists.
-142-

Moreover,itdoesnoteliminatethepossibilitythatscientistsfromtwodifferent
paradigmsmayapplythesamecriteriainradicallydifferentways:
Whenscientistsmustchoosebetweencompetingtheories,twomenfully
committedtothesamelistofcriteriaofchoicemayneverthelessreach
differentconclusions.Perhapstheyinterpretsimplicitydifferentlyorhave
differentconvictionsabouttherangeoffieldswithinwhichtheconsistency
criterionmustbemet.Orperhapstheyagreeaboutthesemattersbutdiffer
abouttherelativeweightstobeaccordedtotheseortoothercriteriawhen
severalaredeployedtogether.Withrespecttodivergencesofthissort,noset
ofchoicecriteriayetproposedisofanyuse.[Kuhn1977a,p.324]
Kuhn'slastsentencetipsusofftotheHumeanHermeneutician'sdissatisfactionwitha
Kantianapproachtointerpretation.Moreover,thefactorsthatKuhncitesasrendering
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theKantianapproachinadequateareofthekindwhose"presence"wouldbedifficultto
detectinaparticularscientist'stextpreciselybecausesuchfactorsallowhimto
economizeonwhatheneedstosaytohisintendedaudience.
Considerthefollowingexample.Ascientistaddressingthemembersofhisresearch
communityneednotexplicatethesenseof"simplicity"thatmakeshistheorythe
simplest,norexplicitlyarguethathistheoryisthebestbecauseitsatisfiesthe
"important"criteriasufficientlywelltocompensateforthetheory'sfailuretosatisfythe
"unimportant"criteria.ForKuhn,suchsilenceisjustifiedbecausethemembersofthe
researchcommunitywouldunderstandtheimportofatheoryreachingtheirforum(say,a
professionaljournal)asalicenseforthemtojudgethattheorybythevirtuescommonly
thoughttobeexhibitedbytheoriesconsidered"exemplary."Inthatcase,allthe
scientistneedstodoistoarticulatehistheoryinenoughdetailsothathisreadersare
providedwiththeevidencetheyneedforjudgingthathistheorydoesindeedexhibitthe
virtuesofacommonlyrecognizedexemplar.Andso,totakeanextremelysimplecase,if
oneofthevirtuesofanexemplaristhatitsargumentsaredeductivelyvalid,thenthe
scientistneedstoshowhisreadersthathisownargumentsarelikewisedeductively
valid.However,intheinterestofnotboringhisreaders,theargumentspresentedinhis
textarelikelytobeenthymematicandwouldalmostcertainlynotbeaccompaniedby
themetalinguisticremark,"Thiscountsasadeductivelyvalidargument."Yet,tothe
historianwhoisnotpartofthescientist'sintendedaudience,knowledgeoftheseboring
detailsiscrucialtopenetratingtheresearchcommunity'sdiscourse.Consequently,Kuhn
hasstressedthehistoricalvalueofstudyingelementarytextbooks,designedastheyare
toinitiatethenovicetothetacitconventionsofthecommunity.
HavingnotedthedifferencebetweentheKantianstrategyoftheindeterministandthe
Humeanstrategyoftheincommensurabilist,weshouldnotbesurprisedtofindHilary
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Putnam,oneofDavidson'spartisans,tryingtranscendentallytorefutethe
incommensurabilitythesis.After
-143-

endorsingDavidson'sstanceontranslatability,Putnamposesthefollowingproblem:
Onceitisconcededthatwecanfindatranslationschemewhich"works"inthe
caseofaseventeenthcenturytext,atleastinthecontextfixedbyour
interestsandtheusetowhichthetranslationwillbeput,whatsensedoesit
havein that contexttosaythatthetranslationdoesnot"really"capturethe
senseorreferenceoftheoriginal?[Putnam1982,p.116]
Putnamgoesontoclaimthat,unlessitsproponentscananswerthisquestion,the
incommensurabilitythesiswillhavebeenprovenvacuous.However,Putnam'squestionis
notnearlyasformidableasitseems,andmaybeansweredinthecourseofaddressing
anotherquestion:WhyareWhiggishinterpretationsandrationalreconstructionsofpast
scienceconsideredhistoricallysuspect?
Noticefirstthatsuchinterpretationsandreconstructionshavetheiruses,normallyin
introductorysciencetextsandinthenormativecounselofpositivistandPopperian
philosophersofscience.Inorderforatext,suchasNewton'sPrincipia Mathematica,to
becomecanonicalinaresearchcommunity,andthusapplicable(asanexemplar)in
variousresearchcontexts,itmustberemovedfromitsoriginalcontextofutterance.This
occursassuccessivescientistsimaginethemselvestobeNewton'sintendedaudience,
whichallowsthemtoattributepresuppositionstoNewtonthatmakeshistextusable.
Amongthesepresuppositionsmayevenbecounterfactualconditionalstotheeffectthat
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hadNewtonknownofsubsequentresearch,hewouldhavealteredsomeofhisoriginal
utterances.Indeed,theconstructionofsuchcounterfactualsisthehallmarkofImre
Lakatos'(1981)methodofrationalreconstruction.AndintheformofWhighistory,this
methodcanbeaveryeffectivepedagogicaldevice.Foreventhoughwemayknowthat
Principia Mathematicawasnotwrittenwithourcurrentinterestsinmind,westillhave
difficultyunderstandingitunlessconcernforsuchissuesisattributedtoNewton.
Yet,whatamountstoperfectlysoundpracticeinnatural scienceisofnousetothe
human scientist.Thereason,ofcourse,isthatthenaturalscientisthassystematically
substitutedhisowntacitpresuppositionsfortheonesthatwereinforcewhenNewton
addressedhisaudiencethreehundredyearsago.Asfarasthehumanscientistis
concerned,thissystematicsubstitutioninvolvesasmuchanalterationofthetextof
Principia Mathematicaaswouldbeinvolvedwerethescientisttosystematically
substitutehisownup-to-datesentencesforNewton'sseventeenth-centuryones.In
otherwords,justasthereisafactofthematterastowhatissaidinPrincipia
Mathematica,whichisdiscoveredinaratherdirectmannerbylookingattheoriginal
text,thereisalsoafactofthematterastowhatisnot saidinNewton'stextthoughit
isdiscoveredinaratherindirectmannerbyidentifyingthecommunicativecontextof
Newton'soriginalutterance.Andthoughthe"not-said"islesspalpablethanthe"said,"
itisnolessrealand
-144-

nolessindicativeofhow,why,when,andforwhomPrincipia Mathematicawaswritten.
Thus,theincommensurabilistshouldanswerPutnam'soriginalquestionbypointingout
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thatallinterpretationsseemtobecreatedequal,andalltextsseemequallypliableto
aninterpreter'sinterests,onlyifwesupposethattheonly"phenomena"thatthe
interpreterneedsto"save"aretheactualsentencesonthetext'spages.Inthatcase,
hecanfillinthesilences(or"whitespaces")ashepleases.However,iftheinterpreter
regardsthosesentencesasthemosteconomicalmeansofcommunicatingwithan
intendedaudience,thenhewillneedtoconsidertheexactnatureoftheomissionsfor
whilesuchinformationwouldhavebeenobvioustobothauthorandaudience,itmight
provequitealientoaninterpreterforwhomthetextwasnotintended.Infact,ifthe
interpreterisasindifferenttothecriteriologicalstatusofsilenceasPutnamseemsto
be,andhenceregardsthehumanscientist'sinterpretationas,inprinciple,nomore
adequatetoPrincipia Mathematicathanthenaturalscientist'sWhiggishone,thenhe
becomessusceptibletothesubtleformofincommensurabilitythatcomesfrom
systematicallymisunderstandingatext.
Letusretraceourstepsandmoveforwardabit.Weoriginallyclaimedthatthe
indeterminacyandincommensurabilitythesesarejustcomplementarywaysof
interpretingtheinscrutabilityofsilence.WethensawthatDavidsonbelievesthatthe
problemofinterpretationhasbeensolvedonceitisshownthatat least one
interpretationispossibleforanygiventext.Thisheshowsbytranscendentalargument.
However,wealsosawthattheincommensurabilists,echoingHume,believethatthe
problemofinterpretationonlystartsonceitseemsthatwecangonofurtherthanto
provideatranscendentalargument.Ineffect,theyhighlightDavidson'sfailuretoshow
thatanygiventexthasexactly oneinterpretation.NextwesawinthecasesofWinch
andKuhnthatincommensurabilityisaverysubtle,ifnotimpossible,problemtosolve.
Inanycase,itrequiresthatthehumanscientistempiricallyspecifythecommunicative
contextofthetextheaimstointerpret.AndaswejustsawinPutnam'sattemptto
refuteincommensurability,akeyreasonwhyDavidsonandhispartisansdonotexplicitly
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derivetheincommensurabilitythesisfromtheirownfailuretoovercomethe
indeterminacythesisisthattheyregardthesentencesofatextasthesoleobjectsof
interpretations,therebyneglectingthesilencesthatallowedthosesentencestofunction
asaneconomicalexpressionofthoughtwhenoriginallyuttered.Inshort,the
Davidsonianscommensensically,butfallaciously,equatetheunsaidwiththe
unspecified.
Buthowdidthiserrorarise?Aswesawinthelastchapter,oneobvioussourceisthe
wayinwhichtheproblemofinterpretationwasoriginallyposedinanalyticphilosophy,
namely,throughQuine's(1960,ch.2)radicaltranslationepisode.SinceQuinestipulated
thattheanthropologisthadtotranslatethenative'sdiscoursefromscratch,theepisode
wasnotpresentedasanespeciallycommunicativeone(eventhoughthenativehadto
haveatleastrecognizedtheanthropologistashisintendedaudiencewhenanswering
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"yes"or"no"tovariousanalytichypotheses).Quineenvisagedthetaskofradical
translationasoneofcorrelatingthenative'sutteranceswithwhatappearedtothe
anthropologistastheevidencewhichpromptedthoseutterances.LaterRichardGrandy
(1973)employedlargelythesamesetupasthebasisofageneraltheoryof
interpretation.Hismainexample(thatofmistakingwaterinamartiniglassfora
martini)involvesonenativespeakersilentlybutobservantlytryingtointerpretthe
utterancesofanother native speakerthatdonotseemtobewellgroundedinthe
availableevidence.Interestingly,Grandyneverexplainswhythefirstnativespeaker
couldn'tjustaskthesecondthemeaningofwhathesaid.
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Butperhapsthebestexampleofinterpretationbeingartificiallyseveredfrom
communicationisprovidedbyDavidsonhimself:
Ifyouseeaketchsailingbyandyourcompanionsays,"Lookatthehandsome
yawl,"youmaybefacedwithaproblemofinterpretation.Onenatural
possibilityisthatyourfriendhasmistakenaketchforayawl,andhasformed
afalsebelief.Butifhisvisionisgoodandhislineofsightfavorable,thenitis
evenmoreplausiblethathedoesnotusetheword"yawl"quiteasyoudo,and
hasmadenomistakeatallaboutthepositionofthejiggerofthepassing
yacht.Wedothissortofoffthecuffinterpretationallthetime,decidingin
favorofthereinterpretationofwordsinordertopreserveareasonabletheory
ofbelief.[Davidson1984,p.196]
Thelastsentenceisabitdisingenuous,sinceinsteadoftradingoffidiosyncraticword
useagainstfalsebeliefs,itwouldbeevenmoreplausiblefor"you"toaskyour
companionwhathemeantbycallingtheketchayawl.However,asDavidsonsetsthe
scene,youdonotactuallyaddressyourcompanionafterhemakeshispeculiarassertion,
thoughheprobablywouldnothavemadetheassertionwereyounotpresenttohearit.
Inotherwords,althoughyouareyourcompanion'sintendedaudience,andhence
targetedbyhimasapotentialrespondenttowhateverhesays,heisnotyourintended
audience.("You"seemtobetalkingtothereader.)
Whileitiseasytoseehowtheabovesetupwouldpermitseveralpossible
interpretationsofyourcompanion'sassertion,itisnotsoeasytoseewhythissetup
shouldbethebasisonwhichtodrawconclusionsaboutthenatureofinterpretation.
PerhapsQuine,Davidson,andGrandywouldarguethatsinceinterpretationisamore
primitiveconceptthancommunication,communicationcannotbepresupposedinany
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accountofthenatureofinterpretation.Thiswouldbeaninterestingresponse,ifonly
becausetheincommensurabilitythesisdeniesthepossibilityofinterpretation,unless
thecommunicativecontextofanutterancecanberecovered.Thus,itwouldbenatural
forFeyerabend,Kuhn,andWinchtoreacttoQuine'sradicaltranslationepisodeby
sayingthatitisnolongerrecognizableasanepisodeintranslation.Andhere,itwould
seem,theindeterministandincommensurabilisthavereachedagenuinepointof
disagreement.
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2. Inscrutability as a Neglected but Persistent Theme in the History


of the Human Sciences
Iftheinscrutabilityofsilenceisindeedthefundamentalepistemologicalproblemofthe
humansciences,whythenhasitgonerelativelyunnoticed?Ishallproposethree
reasons.
First,philosophershavetraditionallyregardednegativeattributesineffability,
nonexistence,privation,nothingnessaspointsatwhichtostop,notstart,inquiry.The
criteriologicalstatusofsilencewouldthusseemhopelesslyunapproachable.Onesource
ofthisattitudemaybeasortofanalogicalinferencethatphilosophersmakefromthe
indeterminatesenseofnegative statementstotheindeterminatesenseofsimplynot
stating.Forexample,justasnootherparticularcolorisimpliedinjustsayingthatthe
tableisnotred,likewise,itmightbethought,nootherparticularactionorthoughtis
impliedinnotsayinganythingatall.However,thisanalogyismisleadinginatleastone
respect,recentlyelucidatedbyBernardHarrison(1979,ch.7),whohastakenhiscue
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fromWittgenstein'sPhilosophical Remarks.Theanalogysuggeststhatthesenseofa
positivestatementismoredeterminatethanthesenseofanegativestatement.Yet,as
Harrisonobserves,thesenseof"Thetableisred"isdeterminateonlyontheassumption
thatwehavecorrectlyattributedtoitsutterertherangeofalternativeutterancesthat
heintendsnottomake.Ourcompetenceinmakingsuchattributionsseemsassured
untilweconsiderwhetherthespeakerwouldutter"Thetableisred"isthefaceof
certainambiguouslytable-ishandreddishthings(andtheambiguitymaybefunctional
ratherthanstructural,asinthecaseofaverytable-lookingobjectthatserveshardly
anyofthefunctionsofthetable).Doesheintendtoutterthestatementunderthose
circumstances?
Thereisnoreasontothinkthatquestionsofthiskindcannotbeanswered.Indeed,in
theheydayoflogicalpositivism,RudolfCarnap(1956,supp.D)andArneNaessdrafted
samplequestionnairesexpresslyforthispurpose.Allwearesuggesting,then,isthat
thesenseofmakingstatementsisnomoredeterminatethanthesenseofnotmaking
statements,sinceanyinterpretationofanutterancepresumesanaccountoftheutterer
intendsnottosay.Butsincesuchaccountstendtorepresentwhattheinterpreterwould
himselfintendunderthecircumstancestherebymakingsilencethemarkofthefamiliar
thevalueofarticulatingwhatisleftunsaidappearsnegligible.
Thesecondreasonwhytheinscrutabilityofsilencehasbeenundulyneglectedmaybe
tracedtoanessentialambiguityintheveryaimsofhumanisticinquiry.Despite
attemptstodistanceitselffromthenaturalsciences'exploitiveuseofitspast,
humanisticknowledgehasinfactrarelybeenpursuedforitsownsake,butratherasa
meanstoincreasethestorehouseof"practicalwisdom"(Aristotle'sphronesis).Andat
theturnofthecentury,theheightofthehumanities'prestigeintheGermanand
Americanuniversitysystems,practicalwisdomincludedsuchnormative
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-147-

projectsaslegitimatingnationalistideologies(Hofstadter&Metzger1955,ch.8).Inits
mostgeneralform,thenormativeprojectofthehumanitiesproceeds,roughly,by
identifyingandpreservingthegoodinourpast,whileimprovinguponoreliminatingthe
bad.
AnexampleofthehumanisticorientationjustdescribedisLarryLaudan's(1977,ch.7)
reactiontothesociologyofknowledge,whichaimstoexplainallbeliefsbothtrueand
false,rationalandirrationalaccordingtothesamekindsofcausalprinciples.Laudan's
"arationalityassumption"isatypicallyhumanisticmoveinsuggestingthatitisless
importanttogiveasystematicaccountofallbeliefsthantogiveasystematicaccountof
onlythosebeliefsheldrationally.Moreover,Laudanistypicallyhumanisticinthinking
thathisnormativeenterpriseisenhancedbyanaccurateaccountofthehistoryof
science.Consequently,hehastakenLakatosandotherPopperianstotaskfortheiruse
of"reconstructed"histories.Yet,ifan"accurateaccount"includesidentifyinga
scientist'sintendedaudience,thenitisnotclearhowthisrathermajorpieceofhistory
contributestophronesis,especiallyinlightofourearlierremarksontheutilityof
recontextualizingscientificutterances.
Ofcourse,sincethephilosopherdoesnotrequireacompletehistoricalaccountforhis
purposes,hecanarguethattheintendedaudienceofascientistisdispensable.Still,
whatremainsisnotsomuchanhistoricalaccountthatisaccuratewithinthe
philosopher's"selectionconstraints"onthedata,asanaccountinwhichbothselection
andreplacementoccurs.Inotherwords,thescientist'sintendedaudienceisnotmerely
eliminated,butanotheraudienceispresumedinitsplace,namely,thosesharingthe
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philosopher'sintuitionsaboutrationalityandinterpretation.Inanobvioussense,adding
thenewaudiencevitiatestheaccuracyofthephilosopher'shistory,yetLaudan,forone,
doesnotthinkthathishistoryisvitiatedenoughtobecalledinaccurate.Butthisbelief
onlyservestoobscurethecriteriologicalstatusofsilence.SinceLaudanpresumesthat
theaccuracyofhisaccountistestedsimplybyitscompatibilitywiththescientist's
utterances,hecannotdistinguishbetweenthesilencethatarisesfromcorrectly
attributingpresuppositionstothescientistandthesilencethatarisesfrom
systematicallymisunderstandingthescientist,assuggestedaboveinourdiscussionof
Putnam.
Thethird,andfinal,reasonthatwillbeofferedforthecriteriologicalstatusofsilence
notreceivingitsdueattentionturnsonphilosophicalattitudestothehumanitiesasa
formofinquiry.Inparticular,analyticphilosophershaverarelytreatedthehumanitiesas
havinganyuniqueepistemicproblems.OneimmediatelyrecallsthatCarlHempel's
(1965,ch.9)deductive-nomologicalmodelofexplanationwasfirstpresentedasamodel
ofhistorical,notphysical,explanation.Hempel'smainepistemicproblemswerethe
standardpositivistpuzzlesabouttheconfirmationofuniversalhypotheses.Moreover,
Hempel'sexamplesof"historical"explanation,drawnalmostexclusivelyfromthesocial
sciences,makeitclearthatby"history"hesimplymeantstatementsaboutthepasta
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categorywhichisbothmoreandlessinclusivethanthehypothesesthatareproposedin
thecourseofhumanisticinquiry.Notsurprisingly,positivistshaveregardedWilhelm
Dilthey'scandidateforthedistinctivehumanisticmethod,Verstehen,aseithera
heuristicforgeneratingsocialscientifichypothesesoraliterarydeviceforinducingthe
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readertoacceptthehistorian'spointofview(Nagel1968,chs.13-14).
Amoresubtleanalytic-philosophicaltendencyhasbeentoreducehumanisticinquirytoa
formofcommonsenseoreverydayinteraction.Forexample,Hempel'scriticshavegiven
ordinarylanguageanalysesofhow"cause"isusedinhistoricaldiscourse,which
emphasizeitsevent-specific(Scriven1958)andevaluative(Dray1957)character.Such
analysesaresupposedlyrelevanttothehumanitiesbecause,asStrawson(1959,p.11)
putit,ordinarylanguagecodifies"themassivecentralcoreofhumanthinkingwhichhas
nohistory."Presumably,thismeansthattheconceptsarticulatedinordinarylanguage
canactasalinguafrancabetweenepisodesinourhistory.Diltheyhimselfsuggestedas
muchinjustifyingVerstehenonthegroundsthattherehasbeenalimitedrangeoflife
problemsandsolutionsbornofaworldpopulatedbypersonsandthingswhichhave
confrontedallpeopleatalltimes.Inspiteoftheintuitiveappealofsuchdoctrines,they
seemtobebasedonthedubiousnotionthatadoptingsomeoneelse'spointofview
presupposesthattheotherpersonsharesatleastpartofourpointofviewagain,the
hermeneuticalideaoffusinghorizons.Admittedly,believingsuchanotionmayenhance
history'scontributiontophronesis,but,aswehaveseen,thatisquitedifferentfrom
enhancinghistoricalaccuracyperse,whichisattherootofsilencebeingsoinscrutable.
Perhapsthebestwaytograsptheuniqueepistemicproblemsofthehumanitiesisto
examinethemethodologicalconcernsofthehumanisticdisciplinesjustbeforetheriseof
thesocialsciences.Inthecaseofhistory,wemaycontrasttheconcernsofMaxWeber
andEmileDurkheimwiththoseoftheirrespectiveuniversitymentors,TheodorMommsen
andFusteldeCoulanges.Wewouldwanttoseewhichissuespresentinthewritingsof
thementors(circa1875)eitherdisappearormutateinthewritingsofthestudents(circa
1900).Onesuchissuethatbearsdirectlyonthecriteriologicalstatusofsilenceisthe
problem of objectivity.By1900EuropehadwitnessedaKantianrevivalwhichidentified
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theobjectivewiththenoumenal:Canthepastbeknownasitactuallyhappened,or
doestheinquirer'sownconceptsandvaluesnecessarilyvitiatehisunderstanding?Ifthe
latteristhecase,canmethodsbedevisedforidentifyingandeliminatingtheinevitable
distortions?Theproblemofobjectivityinthesocialsciencesisstilllargelyposedinthis
manner.However,in1875,objectivitywasamatterofcompensatingforthebiasesin
previoushistoricalaccountsofanera.Thisviewnicelycapturedthehumanist'sidealof
progressthroughsuccessivecommentaryandcritique.Inearliertimes,thehistorian
wouldimproveonhispredecessorsbybringingtolightfactsthatescapedtheirnotice
andthusbiasedtheiraccounts.Butbytheendofthenineteenthcentury,thearchival
approachseemedtohavevirtuallyexhaustedthe
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availablefacts,yetmanyomissionsandambiguitiesremainedinthehistoricalrecord.
Howwerethesesilencesandequivocationstobeinterpreted?MommsenandFustel
epitomizedtwoopposingapproaches,theformerregardinghistoryastraditionandthe
latterasantiquity.Notonlywastheirinfluencefeltbythefoundersofmodernsociology,
butalso(andmoredirectly)bytheauthorsofthetwoclassicmanualsonthehistorical
method:Mommsen'sstudentErnstBernheimwroteLehrbuch der Historischen Methode,
whileFustel'sstudentsCharlesLangloisandCharlesSeignoboswroteIntroduction Aux
Etudes Historiques.Inwhatfollows,itshouldbekeptinmindthatbothMommsenand
Fustelregardedthemselvesaspractitionersofadisciplinewhoseclaimto"science"was
its"rigorousmethodology"(Stem1956,chs.11-12).
BothMommsenandFustelcriticizedthetendencyofpasthistorianstomythologize
Romanwisdomashavingfoundedthemodernmodelofpolitics,republicanism.
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MommsenattemptedtodemythologizetheseaccountsbyshowingthatiftheRomans
arrivedatconclusionssimilartoourown,itwasonlybecausetheproblemsandsolutions
facingthemwerealsosimilar(Cassirer1950,ch.15).Verstehenwouldthusbedeployed
ininterpretingthesilences.However,FustelnotedthatoncetheRomansareseenas
partofourtradition,theirculturelosesitsownunityandbecomesinsteadanincomplete
versionofours,fullof"proto-institutions,""functionallyequivalentconcepts,"and
"inchoateexpressions."Andso,intryingtomaketheRomansseemmoreordinary,
Mommsensucceededinmakingitdifficulttoseehowtheycouldhaveexperiencedtheir
cultureasastableandintegratedwholeratherthanastheanticipationofsomefuture
socialsystem(Cassirer1950,ch.18).Notsurprisingly,suchgratuitousteleologizing
occurredasthehistorianfilledthegapsinthehistoricalrecord.Forexample,ifa
practiceofsubsequentimportseemedtohavearisenbyaccident,thentheutterancesof
itsdesignatedfounderswouldbefraughtwithpreconsciousawarenessofthefuture.In
contrast,FusteldemythologizedtheRomansby"defamiliarizing"them,throughwhathe
suggestivelytermed"theCartesianmethodofdoubt."Andso,toreturntotheprevious
example,Fustelwouldarguethatifthereisnoobviousrecordoftheintentionsweso
readilyattributetothe"founders,"thenweshouldassumethattheyhadnosuch
intentions.Moreover,thislackofevidenceshouldcauseustoquestiontheinterpretation
oftheevidencewedohavethatled,inthefirstplace,totheunwarrantedattribution.
Intakingsilence,notasanoccasionforimaginativelysupplementingthehistorical
record,butasafalsifyinginstanceofthestandinginterpretation,Fustel'sstrategyisa
clearancestorofthedeconstructivehistoriesofsciencerecentlywrittenbyFoucault
(1970)andHacking(1975b).Forexample,twofeaturesofFoucault'smethod,especially
evidentinThe Order of Things,markhimasadescendentofFustel.First,inorderto
controlforthesystematicmisunderstandingthatmayeasilyarisefromdealing
exclusivelywithfigureswhostillhavepracticalvalueforus,Foucaulttypicallyfocuseson
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personalities,quitefamousintheirowntime(suchas
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thephilologistFranzBoppandthebiologistGeorgesCuvier),whohavesincefalleninto
oblivion.Thesefiguresoftenappearveryold-fashioned,yettheircurrentlyesteemed
contemporariesundoubtedlyhadmoreincommonwiththemthanwithus.Asystematic
wayofachievingthiseffectwouldbetodivideone'sstudyofanhistoricalperiodin
proportiontothecitationsreceivedbyanauthorinthatperiodfromhiscontemporaries.
AsecondtellingfeatureofFoucault'smethodisthat,unlikeKuhn,whoexplainsthe
needforparadigmshiftsintermsoftheoldparadigm'sinabilitytoresolvestanding
anomalies,Foucaultnotoriouslyoffersnoaccountofwhyorhowoneepisteme(roughly,
"paradigm")replacesanother.Foucault'ssilencehereprobablyreflectsaconcernto
distinguishbetweenascientistwhointentionallysolvesaproblemwhichhasthe
unintendedconsequenceofcontributingtoaparadigmshiftandascientistwhosolvesa
problemasthemeansbywhichheintendstoeffectaparadigmshift.DespiteKuhn's
(1970a,ch.11)talkof"theinvisibilityofrevolutions,"hisaccountsoundstoointentiondriven,whichFoucualtwouldascribetoanartifactofthehistorian'shindsight,another
caseofgratuitousteleologizing.
Inhisownday,FusteldeCoulangeswascriticizedformakingthepastseemtooremote
tobeuseful.(ItshouldcomeasnosurprisethatFustel'sownresearchcenteredonsuch
topicsasthepaganreligionoftheancientGreeksandthepoliticalstructureofearly
medievalFrance,whereasMommsenwasthefounderofthestudyofGerman
constitutionallaw.)Butaswehavesuggested,hisantiquarianapproachappearstobe
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moresensitivetothecriteriologicalstatusofsilencethananapproach,likeMommsen's,
whichmoreeasilyconflatestheuseandtruthofhistory.Furthermore,Foucault's
deconstructivehistoryshowsthataFustelianstrategymaynotbesouselessafterall,
sinceitservesasamethodologicalreminderthatmanyofour"established"practices
andconceptsmayhavepedigreesmuchshorterthanwewouldliketothink.

3. Conjuring Up Inscrutability in Thought Experiments


Seeingthatourpurposeinthischapterhasbeentoidentifyandcontextualizebutnot
solvetheepistemologicalproblemofthehumansciences,itisonlyfittingthatweend
onaskepticalnote.Specifically,weshallpresentathreethoughtexperimentsaimedat
shatteringsomeratherentrenchedintuitionsthatmakethehumanist'staskseemeasier
thanitreallyis.Notsurprisingly,theseintuitionsarebornofafailuretoappreciatethe
inscrutabilityofsilence.Thefirstthoughtexperimentattemptstoshowthatthe
meaningofeventhemostcarefulwriterisboundtobetransformedbysuccessive
readers.Thesecondquestionsthecriteriathatthehumanistwouldtakeasindicativeof
hishavingcorrectlyinterpretedatext.Thethirdthoughtexperimentquestionsthe
techniquethathewoulduse,underthebestofcircumstances,forarrivingatthe
communicativecontextoftheutterance.
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Thefirstthoughtexperimentstartsbyimaginingadiscursivepracticeinwhichthe
meaningsoftechnicaltermsarestabilizedthroughexplicitdefinition.Astestimonyto
thesuccessofRichardRorty's(1979)debunkingefforts,thepracticesthatmostreadily
cometomindinthisregardareanalyticphilosophyoflanguageandepistemology.The
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aimofusingexplicitdefinitions,ofcourse,istofocusthereader'sattentiononjustthe
senseofthetermintendedbytheauthorandnootherthatthereadermayhave
previouslyrunacross.However,veryoftentheanalyticphilosopherexplicitlydefinesa
termwhosesensethereaderwouldhaveunderstoodasappropriate,evenwithoutthe
author'sdefinition,becausetheauthorintendseitherordinaryorsomecanonical
philosophicalusage.Underthosecircumstances,followingGrice'srulesofconversational
implicature,thereaderseemsforcedtomakeadecisionastohowtheauthorintends
Grice'sQuantityMaximtobetakeninhistext:Hastheauthortemporarilysuspended
theMaximinordertoconformtohisself-imposedstylisticdictates(which,because
theyinvolveexplicitdefinition,wouldforcehimtospellouttheobvious)?Or,hasthe
authorcontinuedtoobeytheMaxim,sothatwhatappearstothereaderasafamiliar
senseofthetermreallyinvolvessomesubtlevariationthatdemandsfurtherscrutiny?In
short,thereadermustdecidewhethertheanalyticphilosopherintendstohavehis
specificstylisticpracticeoverrulegeneraldiscursivepractice.Itisclearthatmoreexplicit
definitionwon'thelp,sincetherearenouniquesetofdefinitionsthatwouldeliminate
forallreaderstheauthor'sambiguousstancetowardtheQuantityMaxim.
Ifthehistoryofanalyticphilosophyoverthelasttwogenerationsisanyindication,it
wouldseemthatthereaderhasnormallyoptedfortheinterpretationthatimputesto
theauthorcontinuedobediencetotheQuantityMaxim.Atleast,thisconclusionwould
accountforthefactthatthelexiconofanalyticphilosophyconsistsalmostentirelyof
ordinarywordswhosesensesbecomemorediverseandsophisticatedasthetrailof
journalcommentarieslengthens.Twoconsequencesfollowfromthisobservation.First,
inattemptingtoadoptastylethatwouldpermittheprogressofphilosophythrough
conceptualclarification,theanalysthasunintentionallygeneratedanew"jargonof
authenticity,"toborrowAdorno's(1973)phraseforaphilosophicalstyle(suchas
Heidegger's)whichclaimstobringthereaderclosertoanextralinguistictruthbutonly
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succeedsinplacinghiminyetanotherhermeticallysealeduniverseofdiscourse.The
secondconsequenceofnoteisthatthisnewjargonhasresultedfromthereader
effectivelysubordinatingtheanalyticphilosopher'sspecificintention(whichmayindeed
bethroughprogressiveclarification)tothegeneralintentionalstructureofthe
communicativeact(whichobeystheQuantityMaxim).
Moreover,theunwittinggenerationofthisnewjargonparallelstheironicuseoftenput
toaso-calledrealisticsensedescriptioninordertodefamiliarizethereaderfromwhatis
described.Thispoint,firstmadebyViktorShklovsky(Lemon&Reis1965,ch.1)in"Art
asTechnique"and
-152-

subsequentlyemblematicofRussianFormalistcriticism,highlightsthefactthatthetext
hasaneconomyofitsown,intermsofwhichallextratextualelementsmustbe
transacted.Forexample,theeffectsofthiseconomyareespeciallystrikingwhenthe
informationcontainedinaninstantaneousglanceisconvertedintodiscursiveprose.Care
forthekindofdetailthatcouldberegisteredinaglancemaygenerateanexaggerated
responseinthereader:eitherasenseofthegrotesque(asinGogol'sextendedphysical
descriptions)orasenseofthebelabored(asinProust'sextendedpsychological
descriptions).Butinneithercasedoesthereader'sresponseinanywaydiminishthe
author'sclaimtorealism.Rather,thereader'sresponseissimplytheproductofthe
literaryauthor'sintendedrealism"refracted"throughthemediumofthetextmuchin
thesamewayasthereader'stendencytosophisticatetheanalytictextistheproductof
thephilosophicalauthor'sheightenedsenseofexplicitnessfilteredthroughtheQuantity
Maxim,whichthereaderpresumestheauthor'swritingtoobey.
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Tosetthestageforthesecondthoughtexperiment,recallthatoneofGalileo'smain
accomplishmentsinDialogues Concerning the Two Chief World-Systemswasto
demonstratethatAristotlehadtreatedtheconceptsofaverageandinstantaneous
velocityasthoughtheywereone.ButifGalileoweresuddenlytoappearinAristotle's
presence,wouldhebeabletoconvinceAristotlethathisconceptofvelocitywasbased
onsuchaconfusion?AlthoughitmighttakeawhileforAristotletocatchontothe
backgroundknowledgepresumedinGalileo'spresentation,ourintuitionsstrongly
suggestthat,ifGalileowerecleverenoughinhowhedesignedhisexperiments,
Aristotleshouldcometoseetheerrorsofhisways.Indeed,wemayfollowKuhn(1981)
inlikeningAristotle'snewfoundinsighttoaPiagetianchildwhohadjustbeen"shown"
theconservationofvolume.
ButwhatifAristotlebalkedatGalileo'smodeofpresentation?Afterall,Aristotlemight
thinkthatGalileo'seasyappealtobodiesmovinginavacuumdistortedthewaybodies
"naturally"move.Again,ourintuitionsdonotfindthisobstacleinsurmountable.Galileo
wouldbeabletoshowthathiswayleadstobetter(morepreciseandaccurate)solutions
toAristotle'sownproblems.ButwhatifAristotlecontinuedtoresistGalileo's
conclusions,arguingthathewasinterestedinageneral,largelyqualitativeaccountof
motionperse,notsimplyaquantitativeaccountoflocalmotion?Well,Aristotle'sown
distinctionwouldthenanswerhisobjection.Inotherwords,Galileo'spresentationwould
haveforcedAristotletodefinehisownprojectmoreclearly:inparticular,todistinguish
betweenwhathewastryingtodoandwhathewasnottryingtodo.If,atthispoint,
GalileoweretopressAristotletopassjudgmentonhispresentation,Aristotlewould
probablyadmitthatGalileohadprovenhispoint,givenhisbeliefs,evidence,andthe
problemthathewasinterestedinsolving.Moreover,Aristotlewouldadmitthatwhile
Galileohadnotsucceededinfalsifyinganyofhisoriginalbeliefs,hehadconvinced
Aristotlethathisownprojectneededmorecarefularticulation.
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Atfirstglance,thethoughtexperimentseemstovindicateDavidsonian
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reasoningaboutinterpretation.WhatmusthaveinitiallyappearedtoGalileoasa
bizarre,ifnotconfused,useofconceptsbyAristotlewasresolvedonceAristotlewas
madetodefinehisprojectintermsofGalileo's.AsDavidsonwouldhaveit,Aristotlehad
theoptionofeitherrevisinghisbeliefsinlightofGalileo'spresentationoradmittingto
anaimdifferentfrom,yetcompatiblewith,Galileo's.Butoncloserinspection,the
counterfactualnatureofthethoughtexperimentonlyservestorendertheactualhistory
moremysterious,andtherebytorendersuspecttheDavidsonianapproachto
interpretation.
IfourintuitionstellusthatAristotlewouldfeelcompelledtomakeconceptual
concessionsinlightofGalileo'spresentation,thenwhydidn'tAristotle(orhisintended
audience,forthatmatter,includingantagonists)gettheconceptofvelocitystraight
whenhewaspracticingnaturalphilosophyinfourth-centuryB.C.Athens?Tofindthis
questionfrivolousistooverlookthedifferencebetween,ontheonehand,assertingor
denyingatruthand,ontheotherhand,failingtoassertatruth.EversinceQuine,
analyticphilosophershavetakenthemainobstacletotranslationtobethatthe
translateeoftenseemstodenytruthsandassertfalsehoods.Inthethoughtexperiment,
AristotlewascastasoriginallydenyingaconceptualdistinctionthatGalileoandwe
assert.However,thiscastingispurelyanartifactofthethoughtexperiment,whichturns
anactofinterpretationintoan act of communication.Inhistoricalfact,Aristotledidnot
denyadistinctioninvelocitiesrather,hefailed to assertsuchadistinction.Itwould
nothaveevenmadesenseforAristotletodenyadistinctionthatnooneinhisintended
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audiencewasentertaining,letalonedefending.Itwouldlikewisebeseriously
misleadingfortoday'sinterpreterofAristotle'sPhysicstoconcludethatAristotle
"implicitlydenied"thedistinction,forthatwouldbetosuggestthatfourth-centuryB.C.
Athenianscommonlypresumedthatadistinctionbetweninstantaneousandaverage
velocitywasspuriouswhen,onceagain,nosuchthoughtislikelytohaveenteredtheir
minds.
Andso,assoonasthehumanscientistmakesthecriteriologicalstatusofsilence
problematic,andhencerefusestoassimilatefailure-to-asserttoeitherimplicitassertion
orimplicitdenial,theincommensurabilitythesisstartstolookmoreplausible.Infact,
thephilosophicalproblemraisedbyincommensurabilitymaybeusefullydefinedasthe
taskofreconcilingtworatherpolarized,thoughnotincompatible,intuitionsonlythe
firstofwhichhasbeenrecognizedbytheDavidsonianinterpreter:
(a)IfGalileowereinAristotle'spresence,thenitwouldberationalforAristotle
toconcedeatleastthathisconceptofvelocityrequiredsomeclarificationand
perhapseventhathehadbeenlaboringunderfalsebeliefsaboutthenatureof
motion.
(b)UnlessGalileo,orsomeonelikehim,wereinAristotle'spresence,
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therewouldbenoreasonforAristotletoclarifyhisconceptsorrevisehis
beliefsinthemannerthatGalileowouldhavehimdo.
Themethodologicalmoralofthisthoughtexperimentforthehumansciencesisclear.
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Themorereadilywecan"Davidsonize"analienauthor,suchasAristotle,byimagining
thestepswewouldtaketopersuadehimthathehasmadeaconceptualerror,themore
likelythatwehavemisinterpretedthatauthor'stext.Attheveryleast,wehavecreated
amysteryaboutthecommunicativecontextofthetext'soriginalutterance.Iftheerrors
arein principlesoeasilyremedied,thenwhyweretheyin factnotsoremedied?Itisnot
enoughtosaythatAristotlepursuedinterestsdifferentfromourownandthat,insome
sense,thoseinterests"prevented"himfromoriginallyseeingtheerrorsofhisways.For
howexactlydoesthepursuitofaqualitativesenseofmotionpreventonefrompursuing
thequantitativesenseofmotionthatGalileoandwenowrecommend?Althoughthetwo
pursuitsarecertainlydifferent,theyareneitherlogicallynorpracticallyincompatible.In
otherwords,thehumanistcannotsimplycitethecognitiveinterestsoffourth-century
B.C.Atheniansasanadequateexplanationfortheiroverlookingcertainconceptual
pointsthatwetaketobeobviousandeasilydemonstratedtorationalbeings(forrecall
thattheincommensurabilistendorsesintuition[a]aswellas[b]).Instead,thehumanist
mustshowhowAthenianinterestsconceptuallyexcludedourown.Buttheevidencefor
suchconceptualexclusionisboundtobeindirect,sincewehavealreadysupposedthat
ourdistinctioninvelocitiesnevercrossedtheAthenianmind,letaloneinrejection.By
"indirect"wemeantosuggestthattheevidencewouldpertaintofeaturesofAthenian
discourseoverwhichitsspeakersthoughttheyhadlittlechoicebuttoaccept,asinthe
caseofso-calledanalytictruths.PerhapsthenGalileo'sidealofthoroughly
mathematizedaccountofmotionwouldhavebeenconceptuallyoutofcourttoAristotle,
asitviolatedtheverydefinitionofmotion,mathematics,orsomeotherrelatedconcept.
ThatwouldcertainlyexplainwhysuchanidealneverattractedorrepelledtheAthenians.
Still,noneofthistellsagainstGalileo'sabilitytomakehispointtoAristotle.Whatwe
havedone,however,istoopenupthepossibilitythatAristotlewouldregardGalileo's
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Galileo'sveryattitudetowardAristotle!Inotherwords,Aristotlemayhavenotrouble
graspingGalileo'spoint,buthemayhavetroubleacceptingthepointasanythingmore
thanawininaGalileanlanguagegame.Inthatcase,Aristotlewouldbeunabletosee
howGalileocouldsincerelybelievethathisdistinctioninvelocitieshasanyimport
outsidetherulesofhisgame.
Nowontothethirdthoughtexperiment.Tosetthestagehere,considerthefeatureof
lexicalmeaningthatlinguists(Lyons1977,pp.305-311Halliday1982,pp.31-35)call
markedness.Takethelexicalopposition:good/bad.IfAhasnoideaofwhethertheplay
thatBsawlastnightwas
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goodorbad,whichlexemeisAmostlikelytoselectwhenasking,"Howwastheplay?"
OurintuitionsstronglysuggestthatAwouldselectgood.Inthatcase,goodisthe
unmarkedmemberoftheopposition,theitemthatwouldnormallybeusedin
interrogativecontexts,unlessfeaturesofthespecificcasemadeitsuseinappropriate.A
situationinwhichAwouldbemoreinclinedtoaskBhowbadtheplaywaswouldbeifA
hadalreadyreadabadreviewoftheplaybyacriticwhomBrespected.Linguistsare
dividedonthesourceofourstrongintuitionsaboutmarkedness,whichextendbeyond
theposingofquestionstothestatingoffactsandthepassingofjudgments.Perhaps
theunmarkedlexemeismerelymorewidelydistributedindiscoursethanitsmarked
counterpart,ormaybemarkednessreflectsadeepercognitivebiasbuiltintothe
language,suchthatEnglishspeakerspresumeapeformancetobegood,anindividualto
betall,andsoforth,untilotherwisedemonstrated.
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Insupportofthislatter,ratherspeculativehypothesis,imaginesomeonewho
consistentlyusedmarkedlexicalitemsinnormalcontexts.Suchanindividualwouldbe
perfectlycomprehensible,inthathewouldnothaveviolatedthesyntacticandsemantic
rulesofEnglish.Still,hewouldstrikeusashavingaratherstrangeviewofthings,a
viewthatpresumesthebad,theshort,andsoforth.Butunlesswewereexposedtothis
persononaregularbasis,wewouldalsoprobablynotcorrecthisanomalousutterances,
invokinginsteada"TactMaxim"thatpresumesthat,beingacompetentspeaker,hehas
good(albeitmysterious)reasonsforutteringashedoes(Leech1983,pp.104-130).
Nowconsideravariationontheabovetheme.Insteadofmarkingmembersoflexical
oppositions,weshallmarkmembersofpropositionaloppositions.Letusseehowthis
wouldwork.AnalienanthropologisthasdecidedtostudymodemEnglishculture.His
preparationforthetaskhasbeensocomprehensivethathecaneasilypassasafluent
Englishspeaker.Hethenminglesamongvariousprofessionals,mostnotably
philosophersandengineers.Inthecourseofconversingwithmembersofthetwo
professions,heaskseachthesamequestion:Doyoubelievethatchairsexist?Not
surprisingly,bothphilosophersandengineerssayyes.However,theirreactiontosucha
questionbeingposedisquitedifferent,thoughthisdifferenceisunlikelyevertoreach
theanthropologist'sears,largelyduetotheirobservanceoftheTactMaxim.The
philosopherstreatthequestionasquitenatural,sincemostphilosophersasaruletreat
everydenialofapropositionasunmarked.Inotherwords,theskepticispresumed
correct,anditisuptotheconstructivephilosophertoshouldertheburdenofproofin
refutinghim.Andfromthestandpointofpragmatics,toposeaquestionsuchastheone
posedbytheanthropologist,istogranttheaudiencethelicensetodoubtthat
proposition.Thus,thephilosophersmaywellbefooledintothinkingthatthe
anthropologistisoneoftheirown.However,theengineersarenotsoeasilyfooled.As
withmostcommonsensicalfolks,thereisnormallynoreasontograntone'saudiencethe
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licensetodoubtpropositionsconcerning"medium-sizeddrygoods,"suchaschairs.In
that
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case,theengineerswouldtaketheassertion"Chairsexist"asunmarked,withthe
burdenofproofshiftedtothosewhowishtodenytheassertion.Andso,the
anthropologist'squestion,whilecertainlycomprehensibleandanswerable,seems
unwarrantedtotheengineers,suggestingtothemthatastrangerisintheirmidst.
Iftheanthropologistnowreturnstohispeopleandreportsthatbothphilosophersand
engineersbelieveintheexistenceofchairs,itshouldbeclearthathewouldhave
missedaveryimportantbutdifficulttocapturedifferencebetweenhowphilosophers
andengineersholdthatverysamebelief.And,asshouldbeexpectedbynow,the
anthropologist'sfailurewouldbeduetoaconspiracyofsilence.Butinhiscase,wehave
doubleinscrutability.First,theanthropologistdidnotknowhowthephilosophersmarked
theirpropositionsbecausehedidnothavethepragmaticintuitionsoftheprofessional
speakers.Butsecond,andmoreinteresting,theanthropologist'svirtuallysuccessful
attemptat"goingnative"provedtobehismainobstacleintryingtodiscoverthetwo
markingsystems.SincetheanthropologistappearedtobearathercompetentEnglish
speaker,theengineersappliedtheTactMaximandpresumedthathehadsomereason
foraskinghispeculiarquestions.Fromtheanthropologist'sstandpoint,however,it
wouldhavebeenbetteriftheengineershadnotbeensocharitableintheirattributions.
Finally,consideramorerealisticversionofthisthoughtexperiment.Itmaywellbetrue
thatthesamepercentageofEnglishspeakerswouldassenttoabeliefinGodnowas
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threehundredyearsago.Still,wewouldwanttosaythatthe1988speakersdonothold
theirbeliefinthesamewayasthe1688speakersdid.Forexample,whereasthe
question"DoyoubelieveinGod?"wouldstrikethe1688speakersasstrangebecauseit
licensesdoubtwheredoubtisnotnormallylicensed,thesamequestionwouldstrikethe
1988speakersasreasonablyposedbecause"Godexists"ispreciselythesortof
propositionaboutwhichonenormallylicensesdoubt.Noticethatthisdifferencecannot
bereadilycastasathree-hundred-yearshiftinthe"degreeofbelief"withwhichone
assertshis ownbeliefinGod.Onthecontrary,thedifferenceinmarkednessisprimarily
ashiftinthedegreetowhichthespeakerwoulddeemreasonableotherswhodissented
fromhisbelief,whichhemaystillholdasferventlyasever.
Ifnothingelse,thispointshouldmakeuswaryoftextscollectedfromdiversecultures
andperiodsthatseemtotestifytothesamebeliefs.Forbeyondthissuperficial
similarity,thehumanistneedstodeterminehowtolerantofdissentintheirrespective
audienceswouldtheauthorsofthosetextsbe.Oneclueishowexplicittheinterpreter
findsanauthor'sjustificationofhisbelief.Outsidepedagogicalcontexts,amore
explicitlyjustifiedbeliefisprobablyonethattheauthorwouldnotnecessarilyexpecthis
audiencetohold,andsoherealizesthathemustshouldertheburdenofproofhimself
(seech.4).Inthatcase,oncethehumanistgaugesthedegreeofexplicitnesswith
whichabeliefisjustified(notaneasytask,admittedly,sinceone'ssenseof
explicitnessisrelativetoone'ssenseofexpressive
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economy),hecanthenbegintoreconstructtheauthor'sintendedaudience,whose
identityestablishesthecommunicativecontextthatwillfinallypermitthehumanistto
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decidewhetherthesilencesintheauthor'stextshouldbetakenasmarksofthefamiliar
orthealien.

4. Postscript: A Diagnosis of Davidsonism


Inthischapter,IhaveusedvariantsofDonaldDavidson'snameasanadjective
("Davidsonian")andaverb("Davidsonize").Nowweshalluseitasanameofa
sensibility,Davidsonism,whichisoblivioustotheinscrutabilityofsilence.Inthefirst
section,wediscussedDavidson'sapproachtotranslation,whichaimstorenderthe
beliefsexpressedinanaliendiscourseasclosetoourownaspossible.Indeed,
Davidsonbelievesthatifwedidnotrenderthealienbeliefsinasfamiliaramanneras
possible,itwouldnotbeclearthatwehadactuallyperformedatranslation.Giventhe
importanceofthispositionincontemporaryanalytic(and,increasingly,continental)
philosophy,itwouldbeworthwhiletostudythedetailsofDavidson'sargument:
Whymustourlanguageanylanguageincorporateordependuponalargely
correct,shared,viewofhowthingsare?Firstconsiderwhythosewhocan
understandoneanother'sspeechmustshareaviewoftheworld,whetheror
notthatviewiscorrect.Thereasonisthatwedamagetheintelligibilityofour
readingsoftheutterancesofotherswhenourmethodofreadingputsothers
intowhatwetaketobebroaderror.Wecanmakesenseofdifferencesall
right,butonlyagainstabackgroundofsharedbelief.Whatisshareddoesnot
ingeneralcallforcommentitistoodull,trite,orfamiliartostandnotice.But
withoutavastcommonground,thereisnoplacefordisputantstohavetheir
quarrel.Ofcourse,wecannomoreagreethandisagreewithsomeoneelse
withoutmuchmutualitybutperhapsthisisobvious.[Davidson1984,pp.199200]
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Theself-effacingmodestyofthispassageshouldnotdistractusfromthechainof
necessitationforgedbyitssentences.Theappearanceofsuchwordsas"must"and
"only,"aswellastheexpression"without...thereisno..."arethesignsthatDavidsonis
engagedinatranscendentalargument.Thebasicstructureofsuchanargumentisas
follows:
(P1)IfXwerefalse,thenYcouldnotbetrue.
(P2)ButYisclearlytrue.
(C)ThereforeXmustbetrue.
Now,inlightofwhatDavidsonsaysabove,wecansubstitutethefollowingpropositions
forXandY:
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(X)Wesharemostofthebeliefsofthepeopleweinterpret.
(Y)Ourinterpretationsarecorrectmostofthetime.
AndsowehaveDavidson'sargument.
Generallyspeaking,atranscendentalargumentwillbesuccessfulonlyifthetruthofYis
muchbetterestablishedthanthetruthofX,perhapseventothepointofcommanding
universalassent.ButthetruthofDavidson'sYseemsnomorecertainthanthetruthof
hisX,especiallygiventheconsiderationsthatIhaveraisedinthischapter.Carriedtoan
extreme,thedifficultiesinvolvedindecidingwhethertointerprettheunsaidas
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indicativeoffamiliarityorstrangenessarereflectedinthefactthatacompletelycorrect
andasystematicallydistortedunderstandingofatextcouldwellbeindistinguishable,
forallpracticalpurposes.Davidsonseemstobecapitalizingonthefactthatthemost
easilydetectedcasesofinterpretiveerrorarefairlylocalinnature.Butthereisno
reasontothinkthateaseofdetectionisareliableindicatorofeitherthefrequencyor
seriousnessofinterpretiveerrorsingeneral,whichiswhatDavidsonneedstomakehis
pointstick.Indeed,thealarmingregularitywithwhich"revisionist"interpretationsof
historygainscholarlycredibilitysuggeststhatmanylarge-scalemisunderstandingshave
beenperpetratedovertheyears.
SomuchforY.AsforX,itsstatusisevenmorecontroversial,forthereisabasic
problemwiththeintelligibilityofDavidson'sclaim.Howexactlydoesonecount"beliefs"
soastobeabletotellthatweandthealienagreeonmorethanwedisagree?However,
Davidsonmayarguethatweareallowinga"technicalpoint"toobscurethegeneral
intuitionatworkhere.Afterall,evenifwehavethegreatestofdifficultyinmaking
senseofwhatanalienhassaid,wehavestillalreadymadesenseofthefactthathe
hassaidsomethingthatwasintendedtobeunderstood,whichmeansthatheregards
us,atleastinprinciple,asinterpretersofhisdiscourse.Thosebrutefactsaboutthe
interpretivesituationalonepresupposethatweandthealiensharefairlyextensive
beliefsaboutthecoordinationofbodiesinspaceandtime,thedistinctionbetween
personsandordinaryphysicalobjects,andsoforth.Putinthisway,Davidson'sclaim
seemsratherpersuasive.Buthowexactlydoesonecharacterizethosecommonbeliefs?
Moretothepoint,cantheybecharacterizedsothatboththealienandwewouldassent
tothem?Likethefirst"technical"questionthatIasked,theselasttworequirethatthe
Davidsoniancomeupwithawayofindividuatingbeliefssothatboththealienandwe
wouldagreethatthosebeliefscanbeexpressedintheirrespectivelanguages.Aswe
shallnowsee,thisisataskthatiseasiersaidthandone.
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Anymetalanguagethatisproposedasexpressingthebeliefsthatwesupposedlyshare
withthealienwillbegthequestionunlessthealiencanassenttothetranslation
schemeproposedinthemetalanguage.Thefollowingcase,abstractedfromvariouscolor
perceptionexperimentsdonebyanthropologistsonnatives,illustrateshoweasilythe
questionmaybe
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begged(ColeandScribner1974,chs.3-4Rosch1973Anderson1980,ch.12).A
commonwayofoperationalizingtheSapir-WhorfHypothesisofLinguisticRelativityisto
saythatifalanguagedoesnothavetheword,thentheculturedoesnothavethe
concept.Colorperceptionisaparticularlygoodtestcase,sinceitinvolvesathought
processthatisbothcloselytiedtowell-definedbitsofevidenceand,inmostlanguages,
awell-definedsetofwords.Intheexperiments,theanthropologistpresentsthenative
witharicharrayofcolors,representingmanysubtlerdistinctionsthanthelanguageof
eitherpartycaneasilyexpress.Asitturnsout,thenativehaslittleproblemperforming
variousidentificationtasks,someofwhichrequirethatheremembersthepresented
colorforvariouslengthsoftime.TheanthropologistthenconcludesthattheSapir-Whorf
Hypothesishasbeenfalsified,atleastforcolorperception.Nowwhatcouldbewrong
withthisinterpretation?
Experimentsoftheabovekindtypicallyoverlooktheobviousfactthatthenativeuses
theprotocolsforidentifyingcolorsonlybecausetheanthropologistrequiresthisofhim
forpurposesoftheexperiment.The"only"hereisimportantbecause,aswassuggested
earlierintheAristotle/Galileothoughtexperiment,theinterestingquestionisnot
whetherthenativecouldeverlearntoidentifycolorsnotnormallyexpressedinhis
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language(theanswerisobviouslyyes),butwhetherhewouldeverbelikelytoidentify
thosecolorswithouttheinterventionofananthropologist.Afterall,linguisticrelativists
shouldhavenotroubleexplainingtheresultsofthecolorperceptionexperiments,
namely,thatthenativeswereabletoidentifyavastarrayofcolorsbecausetheywere
forcedtospeaktotheanthropologistinthelanguageoftheexperimentalprotocols.
Indeed,oftentheultimatereasonwhyexperimentsofthiskindarethoughttorefutethe
Sapir-WhorfHypothesisisthatlinguisticrelativistsareportrayedasbelievingnotonly
thatlanguagedeterminesthoughtbutthateachperson'sthoughtcanbedeterminedby
only onelanguage.Onthisinterpretation,then,thenativewouldbeexpectedto
continuethinkingintermsofhisfirstlanguageevenduringtheexperiments.However,
thelinguisticrelativistnormallyholdsthemoreplausibleviewthatthereis,asitwere,a
default language,intermsofwhichthenativewillnaturallythink,unlessheisforcedto
dootherwise(DeMey1982,ch.11).Atestforthisviewwouldinvolve,amongother
things,seeingwhetherthenativecontinuestoincorporatetheprotocolsinhisnatural
languageaftertheexperiment.Evidencefromavarietyofcognitivedomainssuggests
thatsubjectsgenerallydonotcarryovertheskillstheylearninonesituationtomake
senseofanother,ratherdifferentone,especiallyifthesubjectfoundtheoriginal
learningsituationartificialorforced,aswouldlikelybethecaseinthecolorperception
tests(Newell&Simon1972).
Andso,weseethattherealproblemoflinguisticrelativityisnotwhetherpeoplehave
theabilitytoconceiveofthingsnotnormallyexpressedintheirnativelanguagesbut
whethertheyhavetheneedtodoso.Moreover,ifpeopledonotwanttochangetheway
theythinkaboutthings,
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cantheanthropologistorphilosophercausethemtodosobyworkingsolelywithintheir
nativemodesofthinking?Or,isitalwaysnecessarytoconstrainthenative'sresponse
patternsinthemannerofexperimentalprotocols?Thesequestionsimplicitlychallengea
fundamentaltenetofDavidsonism,namely,thataperson'sbeliefs,desires,andother
intentionalstatesconstituteaconceptualsystem,aframeworkintegratedbythe
inferencerulesofdeductionandinduction.Thistenet,generallyknownasholism,
presumesthatthenative'sabilitytouseprotocolsforidentifyingtheotherwise
inexpressiblecolorswasrootedeitherinknowledgealreadypresentinhisconceptual
systemwhichhadneverbeenarticulatedorinknowledgerecentlyintegratedintohis
systemasaresultofhiscontactwiththeanthropologist.Inbothcases,theholist
expectsthat,unlesstherewasaprobleminhowthisknowledgewaslearnedorstored
bythenative,heshouldbeabletouseitagaininawiderangeofcircumstances
(Hallpike1979).
Theopposingviewsuggestedbyourquestions,sometimescalledmolecularism
(Dummett1976,ch.17)ormodularism(Fodor1983),deniesthatapersonpossesses
suchanintegratedconceptualscheme.Rather,themodularistbelievesthatknowledge
isnaturallycompartmentalizedor"indexed"(Knorr-Cetina1982)toparticularactivitiesor
situations.Forexample,AristotlemaygrantthatGalileo'sterrestrialmechanicsis
operativeinthecontrolledcircumstancesofhisexperiments,butwoulddenythatthe
Galileanprinciplescanbegeneralizedtoawiderbodyofphenomena.Likewise,anative
whodoesnothaveawordinhisownlanguagecorrespondingto"blue"inEnglishmay
easilylearnhowtousetheblue-protocolduringanexperimentbutcontinuetoregard
"blue"asatechnicaltermwithnowiderapplicabilitythanthelaboratory.
Oneofthemostinterestingfeaturesofthemodularistviewisthatitdissolvesafamous
diagnosticproblemfirstintroducedbyDonaldCampbell(1964).Onthebasisof
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experimentsonopticalillusionsthatpsychologistsandanthropologistsconductedon
membersofawiderangeofcultures,Campbellconcludedthat,unlesscarefulfollow-up
studiesaredone,therewasnoprincipledwayofdiagnosingradicalcross-cultural
differencesinperceptualresponses:theycouldbedueeithertogenuinedifferencesin
perception(perhapsduetolinguisticrelativity)orsimplytotheexperimenter'sfailureto
conveythepointoftheexperimenttothesubject.(Tohiscredit,Campbellrealizedthat
theproblemcouldalsoariseincasesofconvergentcross-culturalresponses:for
discussion,seeSegall1979,ch.3.)Onthemodularistview,thischoiceisdissolved,
sincecommunication failures of one sort of another are taken to be the primary cause of
radical conceptual differences.Campbellseesadiagnosticproblemhereprobably
becausehebelievesthatcommunicationfailurescanbeeasilyremediedbythe
experimentermakinghispointclearertothesubjects,inwhichcasethesubjectswillact
appropriatelyandmore(or"genuine")convergenceinthedatawillresult.Butonce
again,thisistosupposethattheexperimenterismerelygettingthesubjectstodo
somethingthattheywoulddonaturally
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undernormalcircumstancesandnot,aswehaveargued,persuading(or,insomeother
way,constraining)thesubjectstobehaveinaspecialwayforpurposesofthe
experiment.
Precedentsforourversionofmodularismmaybefoundinthesocialphenomenologist
AlfredSchutz's(1962,pp.207-259)thesisthatthelifeworldiscomposedofdiscrete
"spheresofrelevance,"anotionderivedfromWilliamJames'ideathatwelivein
"multiplerealities."Indeed,whenquestionedonthemotivationforintroducingthe
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incommensurabilitythesis,Kuhn(1970b,p.207)himselfpointedtothefactthata
bilingualspeakerhasaneasiertimeswitchingfromonelanguagetoanotherthan
actuallytranslatingbetweenthemaclearcaseofcompartmentalizationofespecially
largebodiesofknowledge,namely,entirelanguages.Kuhn'sremarksareparticularly
instructive,sincecommentators(evensupportiveones)havealltoooftenbeenwillingto
assimilatehisviewthattheunitsofcompartmentalizationarequitelarge(whole
languages)withtheQuineDavidsonviewthateverypartofourknowledgeisintegrated
intoonewhole.
Inconclusion,then,howarewetoassessDavidson'stranscendentalargument?Its
premisesarehardlyincontrovertible,and,aswehaveargued,maywellbefalse.Butthis
muchmaybesaidontheargument'sbehalf:itdoesexpresscertainpresumptionsthat
interpretersmakeaboutthestrategiesthatarelikelytoleadtosuccessful
interpretations.Ofcourse,thefactthatthesepresumptionsaremadefrequentlyand
unreflectivelydoesnotimplythattheyactuallyleadtosuccessfulinterpretations.More
likely,actingonthepresumptionshasconsequenceswhoseundesirabilityisverydifficult
todetect,preciselybecausetheyarenotexpected.Asituationofthissortprobablylurks
behindDavidson'spresumptionsaboutinterpretationhencetheinscrutabilityofsilence.
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APPENDIX A:
HOW TO DO SUBTLE THINGS WITH WORDS
THE INS AND OUTS OF CONCEPTUAL SCHEMING
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"Givemeaplaceonwhichtostand,andIwillmovetheworld"
Archimedes
Indeed,aplace.InthisappendixIproposetograntArchimedeshiswishbyintroducing
aplace logicforconceptualchange.Thetraditionofplacelogicsextendingfrom
Aristotle'sTopicstoChaimPerelman's"loci"andepitomizedbythe"methodsof
invention"devisedbytheRenaissancerhetoricianPeterRamushasbeenguidedbythe
ideathatcertainkindsofargumentswillbemorepersuasivethanothersinsofarasthey
appealtonormssharedbythespeaker(presumably)andhisaudience(Perelman&
Olbrechts-Tyteca1969,chs.21-25Ong1963).Theseargumentsarevaluablefora
speakertoknow,since,byinvokingthem,hemaybeabletobreakdowntheaudience's
resistancetowhatevercontroversialorperhapsevennovelproposalthatheisbringing
totheirattention.Forexample,alocuscommonlyinvokedbypoliticiansinordertoprod
theircitizenryintowaris"theextraordinarycircumstance."Boththespeakerand
audienceknowthatifthelabelisaccepted,anappropriatecourseofactionis
prescribed.Meanwhile,spokesmenforpacifismorappeasementmightappealtothe
locusof"temporarystraininrelations"andtrytoexplaintheapparentlyhostileactivities
oftheforeignstateasreallytheproductofmisspeakingsandmisunderstandings.
Thisexamplehighlightstherolethatlociplayindialecticalarguments:aroleanalogous
tothatplayedbynaturalkindcategoriesindemonstrativearguments.Following
Aristotelianusage,conclusion"demonstrated"fromitspremisesisfullydeterminedby
them,andthusincontrovertible.Itfollowsthatthetermsinsuchanargumentareused
univocallytorefertoobjectsthatfallunderdeterminatecategories.Incontrast,the
conclusionofadialecticalargumentisunderdeterminedbyitspremises,andthus
controversyensues.Likewise,theidentityofastateofaffairsreferredtoinsuchan
argumentisunderdetermined,andso,astheexampleshows,the"hawk"caninterpretit
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onewayandthe"dove"another.
Fortherelevanceofplacelogictoconceptualchange,weneedonlyreflectonKuhn's
(1970a,ch.7)claimthatthekeysignof"crisis"inascientificparadigm,andhenceof
theparadigmundergoingchange,isthatscientistsarelessconcernedwithaddingtothe
bodyofdatathanwithquestioningtheprinciplesonwhichthecurrentlyavailabledata
havebeeninterpreted.Aswesawinchapterfive,Kuhn'spreferredmetaphoristhe
"duckrabbit"Gestaltfigure,withthefigureitselfconstitutingthedatawhichmaybe
interpretedaseitheraduckorarabbit.AshiftinparadigmsislikenedtoaGestalt
switch,wherebytheviewerfixatesononeinterpretation,biasingtheambiguityofthe
actualfiguretowardthatinterpretation.
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Forallitsappropriateness,aplacelogicforconceptualchangehasbeenlonginthe
waiting,andifPopper(1970)istobebelievedKuhnhimselfislargelytoblame.One
obstaclehasbeenwhatPopperhasdubbed"TheMythoftheFramework,"which
presumesthatanindividualisnormallysoconstrainedbyhisownworldviewthatonlyby
aradicalshiftinconsciousness(which,bydefinition,isinconceivablewithinaworldview)
caneffectanysignificantconceptualchange.Admittedly,Kuhn'stalkof"conversion"as
themeansbywhichanewparadigmreplacesanoldoneconveysanirrationalimageof
suchchange,asdoesMichelFoucault's(1975)talkof"ruptures"betweenepistemes
(which,onhisownaccount,cannotevenbeexplained).Ithink,however,thatone
featureofthismythislargelycorrect:towit,thatonedoesnotintentionallybringabout
aconceptualchange,butratheraconceptualchangeissomethingthatisshown(in
historiesandtextbooks)tohavehappened,usuallyasthelong-termconsequenceofa
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collectionofshorter-rangeactivities.MostscientistswhowerepersuadedbyEinstein's
overLorentz'sinterpretationoftheMichelsonMorleyexperimentdidnotrealizethat
theywerewitnessingthebirthofanewparadigminphysics.Indeed,evenageneration
afterEinstein's1905SpecialRelativitypapers,thedistinguishedhistorianofphysics
EdmundWhittaker(1929)referredtohisowntimeas"TheAgeofPoincareandLorentz."
YetKuhn,liketheologiansbeforehim,takesthewide-ranging,yetunanticipated,
consequencesofaparticularconversionepisodetoimplythat,inprinciple,thecauseof
theconversionmustexceedthegraspof(atleast)theconverted'sintellect.The
narrativeflowofhistoriesofsciencehavealltoooftenfollowedthemodelofbiblical
tales,inwhichaneventwithmajorconsequences,suchasSaul'sconversionto
Christianity,isitselfportrayedashavingbeenexperiencedinamajorway,sayasSaul
did,bybeingknockedoffone'shorse.Furthermore,narrativedemandsseemtodictate
thattheunexpectednatureoftheconsequencesfollowingfromtheconversionepisode
beprefiguredinthehighlyimprobable,or"miraculous,"natureoftheepisodeitself.
Thus,Saulisnotmerelyknockedoffhishorseaneventofsomeprobabilitybutheis
confrontedbyamessengerfromGod.Likewise,historiesofsciencehavelefttoomuchof
theexplanatoryburdentobeshoulderedbythepersonalrevelationsofgreatscientists,
whoseinsightsaresoonrecognizedforwhattheyarebyawaitingpublic.AlthoughKuhn
andFoucaulthavesuccessfullyabandonedsuchnaivelyteleologicalaccountsof
conceptualchange,theyhaveyettofullyrecognizethat,whetheritbeinscienceor
religion,aconversionisultimatelyanexerciseinarathersubtleformofpersuasion,and
shouldbethusbeamenabletothekindofrhetoricalanalysisofferedbyaplacelogic.
Andso,ratherthanconcludingthatmajorconceptualchangeoccurssupernaturally,I
wouldsaythatitoccurssubliminallyintheactoflicensingafewseeminglyinnocuous
inferences.
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MarcDeMey(1982,ch.10)hasdonemuchofthespadeworknecessaryfor
understandingthedynamicsofsubliminalconceptualchange.For
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instance,hehasshownthatHarvey'sdiscoveryoftheblood'scirculationwastheresult
ofaGestaltswitchperformedonGalen'spictureoftheheart.DeMeymakessenseof
whathappenedbydrawingadistinctionbetweentheextenttowhichHarvey'scognitive
processingwasdrivenbyconceptordataandtheextenttowhichitwastop-downor
bottom-up.TheoriginalGestaltpsychologists,aswellasthehistoriansofsciencewho
haveappropriatedtheirwork,havegenerallycollapsedthesetwodimensions,soasto
producetwoseeminglyirreconcilableviewsofthescientist'sepistemicencounterwith
theworld:theempiricistview,whichequatesdata-drivenwithbottom-upprocessing,
thuspresentingthescientistasapassivereceptaclewhosetheoryautomatically
changesashisexperiencechangestherationalistview,whichequatesconcept-driven
withtop-downprocessing,thuspresentingthescientistasaconceptualschemerwho
moldsexperiencetomeethiscognitiveends.Whereasthepositivistsexemplifiedthe
empiricistview,Kuhnisaclearcaseoftherationalistview.DeMeynotes,however,that
theempiricistviewmakesresistancetoconceptualchangeunmotivated,whilethe
rationalistviewmakesopennesstosuchchangeequallyunmotivated.Thiswouldseem
toleavethesortofradicalconceptualchangeassociatedwithscientificrevolutions
withoutanygeneralexplanation,largelybecauseneitherviewpermitsaclear
articulationofthephenomenon.
DeMey'sownstrategyistotreatconcept-versusdata-drivenprocessingasconcerning
the direction of scientific discoveryandtop-downversusbottom-upprocessingas
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concerningthe direction of scientific pursuit(Laudan1977,ch.3).Consequently,


discoveryisconcept-drivenwhenthescientist'smodeloftheobjectunderstudy(which
mayperhapsbenothingmorethananextendedanalogy:seeHesse1963,Harre1970)
promptshimtoreinterprettheobject,whileitisdata-drivenwhentheobject(usuallyan
anomalousobservation)promptshimtoalterhismodelinsomeway.Inbothcases,
nothingisimpliedaboutwhetherthewholeoronlypartofthemodel/objectisaffected
bythediscoveryprocess.Forexample,thefactthatHarveywasledtohisdiscoveryby
studyingtheoverallmovementofthebloodaroundtheheartdoesnotnecessarilymean
thatitwasconcept-driven.Afterall,asarthistorianErnstGombrich(1979)hasnoted,if
one'svisualangleiswideenough,itispossibletoregistertheunityofanobjectasa
singledatum,whileitspartsremainperceptuallyundifferentiated.Now,whetherone
thenproceedstosituatetheobjectinanevenmorecomprehensivewholeorinstead
analyzestheobjectintoitspartsisamatterofcognitivepursuit,theformerbeing
bottom-upandthelattertop-down.Thus,itisentirelyconceivablethatHarvey's
achievementwasduetoacombinationofdata-drivenandtop-downprocessing,oneof
thepossibilitiesexcludedbythestandardempiricistandrationalistconflationof
cognitiveprocesses.
Giventherationalistandempiricistviewsjustsketched,wecanseehowradical
conceptualchangecouldbetakenashappeninginanunmotivated,andhence
"supernatural,"fashion.Anothersourceofthesupernaturaltheory'spersuasivenessisa
residueoftheAristotelianviewthatlikecausesbring
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aboutlikeeffects,whichmeansthatbigchangesmusthappeninabigway.Thisis
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perhapsnotasurprisingdiagnosistomakeofthescholasticdiscourseoftheologians,
butmoresurprisingtomakeofthediscourseofhistoriansofscience.Acaseinpoint,
though,istheoriginoftheso-calledScientificRevolutionoftheHighRenaissance(fora
surveyoftherelevanttheories,seeBullough[1970]).Attheturnofthiscentury,Pierre
Duhem(1954)proposedthatthekeyconceptsofmodemphysics,including
"acceleration"and"inertia,"werealreadyavailabletofourteenth-centurycommentators
onAristotlethatistosay,nearlythreecenturiesbeforeGalileohadbeennormally
creditedwithmakingthe"majorbreak"withAristotelianphysics.Morerecently,Alistair
Crombie(1967)hassupplementedDuhem'sthesisbyshowingthatthemedievalsalso
hadMill'scanonsofinductiveproofandevenconductedsomeprimitiveexperiments.
Nevertheless,theprevailingviewhasremainedthatGalileo'sworkconstitutedamajor
changeintheWesternworldviewthatcouldonlyhavearisenbydeliberatelyrenouncing
majormedievalconceptualcommitments,asdramatizedinGalileo'sencounterwiththe
PapalInquisition.Inotherwords,asalatter-dayscholasticmighthavetoldGalileo,the
causemustbeinproportiontotheeffect:ifGalileo'sworkhashadsignificant
consequences,thenitscausemustbeatleastassignificanthence,hisneedtobreak
withthepast.Intryingtocounterthislineofreasoning,Crombiehasarguedthatwhat
madethedifferencebetweenGalileoandhismedievalprecursorswassimplythat
Galileo,unlikethemedievals,hadaccesstosomeratherhighlydevelopedexamplesof
Greekexperimentalandmathematicalscience,onceTartagliatranslatedArchimedesinto
Italianin1543.Asitturnedout,ArchimedeshadbeentranslatedintoLatinasearlyas
1269,butthetranslationsweregenerallyavailableonlyinItaly,andnotinOxfordand
Paris,whereGalileo'smedievalprecursorswereworking(Grant1977,ch.2).Lackingsuch
examples,medievalscientificmethodremainedatalevelofgeneralitythatwasnot
conducivetothekindsofcomplexexperimentsthathadtobeperformedinordertosee
therevolutionaryimplicationsofthemedievalconcepts.
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TheimportofCrombie'sargumentthenisthatthedifferencebetweenthemedievaland
modernmindislessamatterof"temperaments"or"mentalities"andmoreoneofsuch
subtletiesascuesintheconceptualenvironment:ifthemedievalshadreadArchimedes,
theScientificRevolutionwouldhavehappenedthreecenturiesearlier.Thistalkof
"subtlecues"returnsustoKuhn'soriginalduckrabbitGestalt,themodelofradical
conceptualchange.ForwhileKuhnisrightthattheincommensurabilityoftheduckand
rabbitimagesofthefiguredemandsaradicalswitchbetweenperpsectives,hefailsto
mentionthatthepsychologistisabletomanipulatewhichimagethesubjectseesby
slightlyalteringthecontextualcuesgroundingthefigure.Inpresentingtherudimentsof
aplacelogicforconceptualchange,weareattemptingtocapturejusthowthosesubtle
cuesmaywork.
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Insteadof"loci,"aplacelogicforconceptualchangewouldstudyfulcra(pluralof
fulcrum),dialecticalsupportsuponwhichawould-beArchimedescansethisleversoas
topropelhisaudienceoutofoneconceptualspaceandintoanother.Aswithloci,fulcra
areidentifiedprimarilyinthetextsofarguments.Thispointneedstobeemphasized,if
wearetotakeseriouslytheideathatconceptualchangeislargelysubliminal.Justas
thepersuadedscientistsdidnotrealizetheultimateimportofEinstein'sinterpretation,
itisequallyunlikelythatEinsteinhimselfrealizedit.Largescaleconceptualchange
occursnotbecauseofwhattheauthorintendstoputintohistextbutbecauseofwhata
seriesofreadersgetoutofit.Ofcourse,theentirestorydoesnotrestontheonetext
alone,since,forvariousreasons,many"potentiallyrevolutionary"textsneverbecome
persuasive.Thispartofthestorybelongstothesociologyofknowledge.However,a
placelogicshouldbeabletospecifythefulcrapresentinatextthatwould be
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responsibleforagivenchange,wereagivenaudiencepresent.Andlikethemore
traditionalplacelogics,ourswouldhavepracticalimport,sinceknowledgeofthefulcra
makesformoreprovocativearguments.Weshallpresenthereonlytwoofthebroadest
distinctionsamongfulcra:(i)fulcraconcerningthespeaker'ssenseofhowaconceptual
changeoccurs(ii)fulcraconcerningwhetherdistinctionsshouldbedrawnorblurred.
Themostbasicfulcraaddressthespeaker'ssenseofwhatitmeanstoeffecta
conceptualchange,andso,notsurprisingly,theyinvolvepositingsomerelationbetween
threemetaphysicalelements:
(a)experiencewhatthespeakerandaudiencetakeasthenaturalattitude
towardtheworld
(b)theoryaconceptualscheme,thatis,thearticulationoftheconceptsthat
groundone'snaturalattitudetowardtheworld
(c)worldwhatexperienceandtheoryare"about"insomeultimatesense.
Amongtheseelementstwometaphysicalrelationsmaybederived,ascapturedbythe
followingtheses:
(M1)Experienceisthetheoryabouttheworldthatwecurrentlyaccept.
(M2)Theoryistheorganizationofexperiencethatconstitutesourworld.
Noticethatineachthesis,thethreepivotaltermsareusedsomewhatdifferently:(M1)
impliesthat"theory"isarepresentationoftheworldusedbyhumanbeingswho
cognitivelystandoutsidetheworldasspectators.(M2)impliesthat"theory"isthe
methodbywhichhumanagentsmove
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-167-

withintheworld,asintherulestoalanguagegame.Inthehistoryofphilosophy,(M1)
hasbeenassociatedwithvariousattemptstomaintaintheappearance-reality
distinction,while(M2)hasbeenassociatedwithantirealistattemptstoblurthe
distinction,suchasidealism,pragmatism,andphenomenology.(M1)and(M2)are
convenientlycontrastedintheirrespectiveattitudestowardthemind-bodyproblem,an
issuewheremuchofcontemporarydiscussionhascenteredonwhetherfindingsinthe
neuroscienceswouldprovideadequategroundsforchanginghowweconceiveofour
mentallife.Followingthecontrast,wewillbeabletoderivethefulcraonwhichthe
argumentsof(M1)and(M2)rely.
An(M1)metaphysicianwouldarguethatourordinarymentalconcepts,suchas"beliefs,"
"intentions,""desires,"and"pains,"donotofferauniqueaccesstoourmentallife
instead,theyconstituteatheoryforpredictingmentalbehavior(asmeasured,say,by
verbalreports)thatmustbetestedagainstwhateverrivalmaybeofferedbythe
neurosciences.Iftheneuroscientifictheoryprovestobeabetterpredictor,thenwe
shouldrelinquishourordinarymentalconceptsandconcludethat,say,whatweusedto
regardas"pain"ismoreaccuratelyrepresentedintermsofaspecificfiringofneurons.
Incontrast,an(M2)metaphysicianwouldarguethatitisnotsomuchthattheordinary
andscientifictheoriesarecompetingtoexplainthesame"factofthematter,"but
rather,theyaredescriptionsofwhatisexperiencedatdifferent,yetcompatible,levels
ofreality.Thedifferencebetweentheselevelscanbedemonstratedinthemeansby
whichonecomestoknowthatheisexperiencingapain(throughselfconsciousness)
vis-a-vishowhecomestoknowthatheisexperiencingacertainneuralarrangement
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(throughanelectroencephalogram).Andso,whileno"crucialexperiment"canbe
performedtoshowwhethertheordinaryorthescientificaccountofthemindiscorrect,
theremaybevarioussociologicalreasons(havingtodowithwhichaccountholds
cognitiveauthority)forclaiming,say,thattheEEGisamore"proper"approachtothe
mindthanthedeliveriesofintrospection,andsoshouldsupersedeintrospectionin
practice.Butsuchreasonswouldobviouslyinvolveappealstohowtheworldought to be
ratherthantohowitis.
Aswesearchforthefulcratacitlyemployedby(M1)and(M2),firstnoticethatthe(M1)
metaphysicianmarksoffaconceptualchangebymovingfromtheassertionthatpains
existtoanassertionthatsomethinghappenstopeoplewhichgetcalled"pains."The
merementionofthewordinthelattercaseimpliesthatpainsassuchdonotreally
exist,althoughtheword"pains"maybeauseful,albeitoblique,wayofreferringtowhat
reallydoesexist,namely,aspecificfiringofneurons.Obliquereferencealsooccursin
metaphoricalutterance,wherethemetaphorisatentativecharacterizationofsome
aspectofrealitythatawaitsmoreliteraldescription.Andso,wecannowstatethe
fulcrumimplicitin(M1)asfollows:
(F1)Conceptualchangeoccurswhenanutterancepassesbetweenmere
mentionandactualuse.
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Forhispart,the(M2)metaphysicianmarksoffaconceptualchangebynotinghowthe
licenseformakingcertaininferencesgetsextendedorretracted.Aclaimbecomes
unassertibleeitherwhennocircumstancesareprescribedforassertingit,orwhen
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circumstancesareprescribedfornotassertingit.MuchofFoucault'sworkdealswithhow
socialinstitutionsblurthedistinctionbetweenthesetwopossibilities:roughly,the
unwarrantedversusthe irrational.Andso,atimemayindeedcomewhenintrospection
fallsintodisusebecausepeoplebecomemoreinterestedsolelyinpredictingbehavior,at
whichtheneurosciencesareadmittedlymorereliable.Butunlike(M1),(M2)wouldnot
therebybeconcedingthefalsityofintrospectionandthetruthoftheneurosciences,but
ratheritwouldberecognizingthatthekindofworldinwhichintrospectionserveda
purpose(andwasthusemployableunderspecifiablecircumstances)wouldhave
disappeared.Introspectionwouldthenbeunassertibleinthesenseof"unwarranted,"
butnotnecessarilyinthesenseof"irrational,"thoughsociologicallyitmaybejusta
shortstepfromonetotheother.Thus,wemaycharacterize(M2)'sfulcrumasfollows:
(F2)Conceptualchangeoccurswhentheassertibilityconditionsofanutterance
isaltered.
Afulcrummayalsobeidentifiedaseitheranacutenessoranobtusenessstrategy.An
acutenessstrategydrawsdistinctions,whileanobtusenessstrategyeliminatesthem.
SinceSocratesstartedtodefinehistermsbydivision,philosophershaveperennially
supposedthatclarityofthoughtisattainedthroughtheanalysisofterms.Itisinthis
spiritthatHartryField(1973)hasproposedatheoryofscientificprogressbasedonthe
ideaof"denotationalrefinement,"whichattemptstoaccountfortheoftenradical
differenceintermusebetweenparadigmswithouthavingtoembraceKuhn'srelativism.
Forexample,afterspecialrelativityshowedthatanobject'smassisaffectedbyits
speed,thepost-EinsteinphysicistfoundhimselfunabletoevaluateNewtonian
assertionsusingtheterm"mass"withoutfurtherclarifyingthehowtermwasusedin
eachcase,soastomatchhisownfiner-grainedunderstanding(namely,byspecifying
thespeedoftheobject).Dependingonhoweachassertionisclarified(sometimesthe
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contextoftheoriginalutterancewillbesufficient,sometimesnot),itmayturnouttobe
trueorfalse.Progressisthusmeasuredintermsofthenumberofdistinctionsamodern
candrawthathisprecursorcouldnot.Thegeneralacutenessstrategyshouldthenbe
clear:
(AS)Foranysetofobjectsthataresaidtobe"essentially"thesame(thatis,
fallunderthesameconcept),therewillalwaysbesomepropertythatonly
somemembersofthissetwillhave.Fromtherearguethatthedifference
betweenobjectshavingandlackingthispropertyismoresignificantthanthe
"superficial"resemblancethey
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beartooneanother,regardlesshow"essential"thisresemblancewasinitially
saidtobe.
Althoughacutenessstrategiesareespeciallyprizedbypedagogues,obtuseness
strategiesarearguablythemorepersuasivefulcra.Majorconceptualchangerequiresa
subversionof"presuppositions,"whichmaybedefinedasthosepropositionswhosetruth
mustbepresumedinordertoeitherassertordenycertainotherpropositions(van
Fraassen1968).Inamorerhetoricalvein,presuppositionsarethetacitagreementsthat
makeovertdisagreementpossible.Andso,asuremeansforsubvertingapresupposition
istodenythesenseofthedisputeordistinctionthatitallegedlygrounds.Quine's
(1953,ch.2)"TwoDogmasofEmpiricism,"generallyregardedasthemostinfluential
philosophyjournalarticleofthiscentury,adoptsastrategyofsheerobtuseness.In
particular,Quinecannotseethepointofsharplydistinguishingtruthsaboutlanguage
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fromtruthsabouttheworld,sincethecurrentstateofempiricalknowledgehadbya
linguisticcommunitywillbearonwhichtermsareintroducedintousageandhow
susceptiblethetermsarelikelytobetochangesinthecommunity'sknowledgebase.
Thus,theonlydifferencethatQuinecanseebetweenthetwokindsof"truth"isthatthe
"truthsoflanguage,"whichconstitutethecorelogicalconceptsofthecommunity,donot
admitofeasyempiricalrefutation.However,thisdifferenceisitselfonlyoneofdegree,
forQuinecanenvisageasituationwheretheapplicabilityofquantummechanics,say,is
sufficientlypervasivetowarrantachangeintherulesofdeductivelogic.Thus,the
obtusenessstrategymaybedefinedasfollows:
(OS)Forany"difference"thatissaidtoexistbetweentwosetsofobjects,the
primafaciereasonforthinkingthatsuchadifferenceisrealisprobablysome
correspondingverbaldistinction.Fromtherearguethatthedifferencegoesnot
deeperthanthat,andthatproponentsofthedistinctionhaveconfusedwhat
Carnap(1934)calledtheformalandmaterialmodesofspeech:theremaybea
formaldistinction,butnomaterialdifferenceismadebyit.
Ifsuccessful,anobtusenessstrategycanleaveonewonderinghowone'spredecessors
couldhaveputsomuchstockinsuchpointlessdistinctions.Thisisoftenasignthatthe
distinctionwasindeedveryentrenched,suchthat,onceadopted,nooneeverhadneed
todefenditagain.Butoverthecourseofgenerations,peoplecametoforgetwhythe
distinctionwasinitiallydrawnandtosubstitutereasonssuitabletotheirownlocal
cognitivetasks.Inthatcase,anappealtoobtusenessmayironicallyworkbytakingthe
tacitqualityofdeep-seatedpresuppositionsasasignthattheycouldnotbedefended,
weretheyexplicitlychallenged.
Theironictwist,however,isthatthepresuppositionmayturnouttobeindefensibleonly
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becausediscrepancies(andhenceincommensurabilities)havedevelopedoveritsexact
meaning.Andso,whereasHume'sandKant's
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originalmotivationfordrawingadistinctionbetweentruthsoflanguage("analytic")and
truthsoftheworld("synthetic")mayhavepresupposedarathereighteenth-century
divisionofthecognitivefacultiesintothe"rational"andthe"sensory,"thiswascertainly
notthemainreasonforretainingthedistinctionbythetimeQuinewrote"TwoDogmas."
Infact,thereweremany,ratherincompatiblereasons,spanningtheentiregamutof
positionsinthephilosophyoflanguage.Thisalonesuggestedthattherealproblemlay
ingettingagreementonastatementofthedistinctionthathadtobedefendedrather
thaninactuallyprovidingthedefense.Butsinceanagreementonthedistinctionwas
notforthcoming,Quinerefusedtodivideandtherebyconquered.
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PART THREE
ISSUES IN THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF
KNOWLEDGE
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CHAPTER SEVEN
THE DEMARCATION OF SCIENCE:
A PROBLEM WHOSE DEMISE HAS BEEN GREATLY
EXAGGERATED
LarryLaudanhasrecentlyarguedthatthedemarcationofsciencefromnon-scienceisa
pseudoproblemwhichshouldbereplacedbythemoremodesttaskofdetermining
whetherandwhyparticularbeliefsareepistemicallywarrantedorheuristicallyfertile.In
response,ThomasGierynhasrejectedthisexerciseinphilosophicalself-restraint,
arguingthatthescientificcommunityitselftakesmeasurestodistinguishitselffrom
otherswhocompeteforcognitiveauthorityanditsattendantpoliticalandeconomic
benefits.Asaresult,rhetoricalstrategiesdevelop"boundarywork"Gieryncallsthem
whichareproperobjectsofsociologicalstudy.Inthischapter,IshallarguethatLaudan
iswrongtothinkthatthereisnothingatstakeindemarcatingsciencefromnonscience,
butIshallalsoarguethattheimportanceofthedemarcationproblemhasnotbeenfully
appreciatedbyGieryn.Mycritiquewillrevealabasicconfusionthatneedstobe
dispelledbeforethefullsignificanceofdemarcatingsciencefromnonsciencecanbe
seen:namely,thefailuretodistinguishtherelativelyconstantsocialroleplayedby
whateverhasbeencalled"science"fromthehistoricallyvariablesocialpracticesthat
haveplayedtheroleofscience.Inaddition,Ishallclaimthatthisconfusionisitselfone
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ofthekeywaysinwhichasocialpracticeretainsitsstatusasscience.

1. Laudan and Gieryn on the Demarcation Problem


Laudan's(1983)historyofabortiveeffortsatsolvingthedemarcationproblemmaybe
reconstructedastwogeneralargumentsforrejectingtheprojectaltogether.First,he
attemptstodiscreditthemotivesofthephilosopherswhohaveproposedcriteriafor
demarcatingsciencefromnonscience.Aristotle,Camap,andPopperdidnotmerelytryto
arriveataprocedurefordecidingwhichbeliefsandpracticeswarrantourassentmore
tellingly,eachphilosopherdesignedhisprocedurewithaneyetowardexcludingspecific
beliefsandpracticeswhichhefoundatthetimetocommandmorecognitiveauthority
thanweretheirdue.Thus,Aristotle'scriteriaruledoutHippocraticmedicine,Carnap's
ruledoutBergsonianmetaphysics,andPopper'sexcludedMarxismandFreudianism.In
fact,thecriteriaproposedbythesephilosophersdolittlemorethanexcludethe
undesirablecases,since,asLaudanshows,theywouldalsoallowclearcasesof
nonsciencetopassasscience.However,thislogicaldeficiencydidnotconcernthe
demarcatorsatthetimebecausenoonehadbeenclaimingascientificstatusforthe
clearnonsciences.Andso,giventhemakeshiftcharacterthatthecriteriahavehad,
Laudanconcludesthat,ratherthan
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claimingtoknowtheuniversallydefiningfeaturesofscience,itwouldbemorehonestof
philosopherstoattackparticularpretenderstocognitiveauthorityonthebasisoftheir
specificconceptualandempiricalinadequacies.LaudanseesAdolfGrunbaum's(1984)
muchpublicizedcritiqueofpsychoanalysisasanexemplarofthiskindofactivity.
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Laudan'ssecondargumentagainstthelegitimacyofthedemarcationproblemturnson
theresultsofphilosophicalattemptsatproposingcriteriasensitivetothehistoryof
science.Themainproblemfacingallsuchattemptsisaccountingforhowcertain
disciplinesseemtohaveachievedandlost(andsometimeslaterregained)thestatusof
scienceovertime.Asanexample(whosehistoricalvaliditywillsimplybepresumed
here),Laudancontraststhescientificstatusofastrologywiththeunscientificstatusof
astronomyduringtheMiddleAges,roleswhichwerefinallyreversedintheseventeenth
century.Admittedly,priortoselectingdemarcationcriteria,contrastsofthiskindare
somewhatimpressionistic,butthepointisclearenough:evenasetofcriteriawhich
managedtopickouteverycurrentscienceandtoleaveouteverycurrentnonscience
wouldhavedifficultymaintainingthistrackrecordfortheentirehistoryofscience.
Laudaniscruciallysilentonwhetherthisisduetothenatureofscienceitselfchanging
overtimeorsimplytothepracticeof,say,astronomyandastrologychanging.
Nevertheless,whenphilosophershavetriedtoincorporatebothcontemporaryand
historicalconsiderationsintotheircriteria,theresultshavebeenlikePopper's
falsifiabilitycriterionmoreaimedatmakinganydisciplineinthelongrunyieldreliable
knowledgeclaimsthanatidentifyingcurrentdisciplineswhoseknowledgeclaims
commandourassentnow.Andso,giventheirdemonstrateduselessness,Laudandubs
demarcationcriteria"toothlesswonders."
Forourpurposes,Laudan'spositionisopentoonecentralobjection.Itfailstorecognize
thatdemarcationcriteriarespondtoaproblemthatrunsdeeperthanpolitical
expedienceorevenhistoricalunderstandinginfact,itistheveryproblemthatLaudan
wouldseereplacetheoneofdemarcation:namely,howtodeterminewhichbeliefsare
epistemicallywarranted.Since,atanygivenmoment,therearemoreclaimsvyingforour
assentthancouldpossiblybetested,weneedawayofpresortingtheclaimsintothe
"plausible"andthe"implausible,"sothatthelimitedresourcesallottedfortestingcan
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thenbefocusedonjusttheplausibleclaims,theoneswiththehighestpriorprobability
(howeverthatismeasured)offinallyearningourassent.Thesignsofplausibilityare
readilydetectedfromthelanguageoftheclaims(itscompetentuseofjargon),the
credentialsoftheclaimant,andsoforth.Theyareissuedbythepracticeswhichfunction
asscienceinthesociety.Inshort,demarcationcriteriaprovideaninstitutionalmeans
forachievingcognitiveeconomy,whichis,inturn,anecessaryalbeitfalliblecondition
forgrantingepistemicwarrant(formoreonthisgeneralstrategy,seeSimon[1981],ch.
6).However,thisfunctionisboundtobelostonsomeonelikeLaudanwhoassumesthat
thesocialroleofscienceisnothingmorethanthesumofitshistoricalplayers.Inthat
case,thediversityofthe
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playersobscurestheircommonstakeinpassingthedemarcationcriterion.Butformore
onthestakes,weneednowtoturntoGieryn.
InsomerecentarticlesGieryn(1983a,1983b)hastracedthemovesmadebythe
scientificcommunityinVictorianEngland,especiallybyJohnTyndall,todemarcateitself
fromtheological,philosophical,andtechnologicalrivals.Tyndall'sboundarywork
happenstobeofmorethanhistoricalinterestsincewestillrelyonit,atleast
intuitively,whentryingtodefinescience.Forexample,hisexemplarofthescientistis
the"experimentalphysicist,"whosevirtueswereepitomizedinTyndall'sdaybyMichael
Faraday.Tyndallalsobroughttogether,probablyforthefirsttime,threenowfamiliar
argumentsforthecognitiveauthorityofscience:(i)scientificknowledgeisnecessaryfor
technologicalprogress(ii)scienceisunemotional,unbiased,andunpersuadedby
appealstotheauthorityoftradition(iii)sciencepursuesknowledgeforitsownsake.
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GierynhasaclearsenseofthebeneficialsocialconsequencescallthemtheBaconian
Virtuesforadisciplinewhichpassesthedemarcationcriterionandearnsthetitleof
"science":itacquirestheauthoritytopromulgatetruthfulandreliableknowledge,control
overeducationandcredentials,accesstomoneyandmanpower,andthekindofpolitical
cloutthatcomesfrompossessingknowledgethatisessentialyetesoteric.Followingthe
"socio-logic"offunctionalism,asGierynseemstodo,theroleofsciencewouldthen
simplybedefinedasthemaintenanceoftheseconsequences.Inthatcase,thesocial
benefitsgainedbypassingthedemarcationcriterionmayremainrelativelyconstantover
time,whilewhatittakestopassthecriterionmayvary,asdothecastofwould-be
scientistsandtheirrespectivepublicsvary.Thus,aspirantstotheroleofscientistare
continuallynegotiating"theritesofpassage,"whichwillindirectlybiastheoddsinfavor
ofcertainactorsoccupyingcognitivecenterstageatagiventime.Butpriortoanactual
negotiation,nooneknowsforsurewhethertheologians,philosophers,engineers,and/or
experimentalphysicistswillgetthechancetoplayscientist.
Ihavejustpresenteda"purified"versionofGieryn'sthesis,oneinwhichthedistinction
betweenthescienceroleandthewould-beroleplayersisclearlymade.However,Gieryn
himselfvacillatesbetweenthisformulationandafuzzierone,whicharebelow
summarized,respectively,as(A)and(B):
(A)Tyndallmanagedtosecureforexperimentalphysicsexclusiverightstoplay
theroleofscience,whichhadbeencontestedbyideologuesforphilosophy,
theology,andtechnology.
(B)Tyndallmanagedtosecurecognitiveauthorityforsciencebycuttinginto
theauthoritypreviouslyheldbyphilosophy,theology,andtechnology.
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Themaindifferencebetween(A)and(B)isthatin(B)theroleofsciencehasbeen
conflatedwithacurrentroleplayer,experimentalphysics.Thisdifferencehasimportant
consequencesforhowonewritesthehistoryofscienceespeciallyforhowoneidentifies
itssubjectmatter.Butbeforeidentifyingthoseconsequences,afewwordsshouldbe
saidabouttheconsiderationsfromrecentanalyticphilosophyoflanguagethatinform
theabovedistinction.Thereferentof"science"canbeidentifiedintwoways,
correspondingto(A)and(B):
(a)intermsofthesocialpracticesthatsatisfythedefinitionof"science"
(namely,practicespossessingtheBaconianVirtues),regardlessofwhethera
particularindividualwouldcallthosepractices"science"
(b)intermsofthesocialpracticesthataparticularindividualwouldidentifyas
satisfyingthedefinitionof"science."
In(a)"science"referstoallthedisciplinesthathaveplayedthesocialroleentitledto
theBaconianVirtues,whilein(b)"science"referstoonlythedisciplinesthataparticular
historianorhistoricalagentwouldtakeasplayingthatrole.Thedistinctiondrawn
between(a)and(b)allowsustoarticulatetheveryrealpossibilitythatTyndall,say,
wouldbecorrectinusing"science"torefer,insense(b),toexperimentalphysicsbut
incorrectinusingthewordtorefer,insense(a),toexperimentalphysics(sincebefore
Newton"science"wouldnothaveprimarilyreferredtoexperimentalphysics).Inshort,
Tyndall's(a)-usagewouldmarkhimasacompetentVictorianspeaker,buthis(b)-usage
wouldequallymarkhimashavingapresentistbiastowardhistory.Thisdistinctionis
centralto"realist"approachestothetheoryofreference,championedbyKeith
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Donnellan,SaulKripke,andHilaryPutnam(Schwartz1977).FollowingKripke's(1977)
coinage,wewouldsaythat(a)involvessemantic reference,while(b)involvesspeaker's
reference.

2. The Two Histories of Science: Of Role and Player


LetusnowturntotheimplicationsthatthesetworeadingsofGieryn'sthesishasforthe
historiographyofscience.Ontheonehand,itispossibletodowhatvirtuallyall
historiesofsciencehavedone,namely,toidentifytheobjectofthehistoryintermsof
thecurrentplayersandthenprojectbackward.Thisisthesemanticstrategybehindthe
wordingof(B).Inthatcase,formerplayersofthesciencerole,suchastheology,enter
intothehistoryonlywhentheiractivitiescanbeshowntohavecontributedtothe
ascendencyofthecurrentroleplayers.Thus,includedinthiscategoryarenotonlythe
Whighistorieswhichtakebriefnegativesideglancesattheology(aswellasphilosophy
andtechnology),butalsothehistories
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whichhavefollowedPierreDuhem'sleadinrehabilitatingthescientificimageoftheHigh
MiddleAges,sincetheytypicallystressonlythefeaturesofscholasticdiscoursewhich
issuedintheprototypesofsuchmodernphysicalconceptsasinertia.Andso,from
readingCrombie's(1967)monumentalaccountof"medievalandearlymodernscience,"
onecouldeasilyconcludethattheOxfordandParistheologianswereconcernedmore
withdemonstratingtheexistenceofinductionthantheexistenceofGod.
Ahistoriographythatidentifiesthesciencerolewiththecurrentroleplayerstendsto
haveacuriousnarrativestructureforthefartherbackintimethatthehistorianreaches
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foranticipationsoftheclaimsandpracticesmadebycurrentplayers,themoreelusive
thetrailbecomesandthemorelikelyhewillbeforcedtoconcludethattherootsof
modemsciencearetobefoundinsuchdisparate"nonsciences"astheology,astrology,
alchemy,technology,philosophy,andpolitics.Ofthesedisciplinesthehistorianisthen
inclinedtoask,"Howweretheyabletogetasfarastheydid,yetfallfarshortinso
manyotherrespects?"Answerstothisquestion,evenwhenintendedassympathetic
criticismofthenonsciences,serveindirectlytoheightentheheroiceffortsofsomeone
likeNewton,who"finally"pulledtogethertheseinsightsfromtheiroriginalseatsof
"cognitiveauthority"intoareal"science."
WhilemyaccountofthishistoriographymayseemtocaricatureitsWhiggishelement,
neverthelessitcannotbedeniedthateventhemostcircumspecthistorianstendto
portraythepractitionersofthenonsciencesasformingrelativelyself-contained
traditions,whiletheindividualsdesignatedas"scientists"appeartobeunconfinedby
suchinstitutionaldistinctions,"open"(asPopperwouldsay)totheideasandtechniques
ofanytradition,justaslongastheyadvancethecauseofknowledgegrowth(Horton
1970).Indeed,theonlyplacethatastudyofinstitutionswouldhaveinahistoryof
sciencefeaturing(B)-likesentenceswouldbeinaccountingforthedelaythatthecurrent
scienceplayersexperiencedinaccedingtothesciencerole.Thus,onewayofreading
Gieryn'sboundaryworkthesisisasrecountingoneofthelastepisodesofinstitutional
resistancetoscience'sclaimtosupremecognitiveauthority.
However,analternativeandmoreinterestinghistoriographyissuggestedbythe(A)
readingofGieryn'sthesis.Herethescienceroleisclearlydistinguishedfromtherival
players,theimpliedhistorybeingoftheroleratherthanofitsplayers.Noonehasyet
writtenthishistory,whichwouldeffectivelytracethebattlesthathavebeenwagedover
rightstothetitleof"science"andsuchcognatesasepisteme,scientia,and
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Wissenschaft.Suchahistorywouldhaveaconstantfocus,namely,thesocialbenefits
thatGierynhasidentifiedasfollowingfromplayingthesciencerole.Itwouldalsohave
twomainhistoricalvariables,whichjointlytracethecareerofthedemarcationcriterion:
(c)thestrategiesthattherivaldisciplineshavehadtodeployintheirattempts
atearningthetitleofscience
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(d)thestrategiesthatthesuccessfuldisciplineshavehadtodeployinorderto
maintaintheirtitleofscience.
Althoughweshalllaterdiscussthesehistoriographicalvariables,fornowweshall
examinetheconstantfocusofthisenterprisemoreclosely.
Onewayofexplicatingthe"constantfocus,"whichrecallstheprecedinganalysisofthe
referentof"science,"isbyobservingthatwhilehistoricalfigures(bothscientistsand
theirhistorians)haveintendedawidevarietyofdisciplineswhenusing"science"orone
ofitscognates,theyhaveattributedroughlythesamepropertiesofthosedisciplines,
namely,possessionoftheBaconianVirtues.InKripke'sterms,thespeakerreferenceof
"science"haschanged,whileitssemanticreferencehasremainedthesame.Moreover,it
shouldbenotedthatthevarietyinthespeakerreferencetendstogoundetected
because"science"anditscognatesattachdirectlytotheroleandonlyindirectlytothe
roleplayers.Forexample,ifwecouldnotidentifywhatspeakershadinmindwhenthey
said"science,"itwouldbeeasytoconcludethatwhenathirteenth-centuryscholastic
describedscientia,anineteenth-centuryPrussiancharacterizedWissenschaft,anda
twentiethcenturylogicalpositivistspokeof"science,"theyhadroughlythesame
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disciplinesinmind.Infact,ofcourse,despiteacertainamountofoverlap,eachspeaker
wouldidentifyadifferentdisciplineasparadigmaticofthesciencerole:theology,
philology,andmechanics,respectively.Yet,allwouldagreethatwhateverplayedthe
sciencerolewasentitledtothesociocognitivebenefitsoftheBaconianVirtues.
Now,itmightbethoughtthatIhaveoverstatedthecasefortherebeingacontinuous
historyofthesciencerole,insofaras,say,thepositivistcouldarguethatpredictionand
controlareintrinsictowhathecalls"science,"whilethemedievalscholasticorthe
Prussianphilologistalwayshadtorelyonpoliticstoenforcethe"laws"ofwhatthey
called"science."Tworesponsesarepossibletothisobjection.First,intheirheydayas
playersofthesciencerole,suchhumanisticdisciplinesastheologyandphilologyhad,in
theartofrhetoric,ananaloguetotheprediction-and-controlfeaturesoftoday'snatural
sciences.Indeed,forallofrhetoric'smanyphilosophicaldetractorsoverthecenturies,
noneofthemhasevercomplainedthatrhetoricaltechniquesformanipulatingbeliefand
actiondonotwork,butratherthatthetechniquesworkonlyiftheaudienceisnotaware
thatitisbeingsomanipulated.Thereason,ofcourse,isthattheefficacyofrhetoric
restslargelyonthefactthatlogicallyunskilledpeoplearesusceptibletoendorsing
fallaciousarguments.Startingintheseventeenthcentury,itbecamecommontocontrast
thedeceptivenatureofrhetoric'sefficacywiththemoreexplicit,andhence
philosophicallymoreacceptable,natureofexperimentalefficacy.Notsurprisingly,then,
rhetoricdeclinedasrapidlyasexperimentalnaturalphilosophygainedcredibility(Ong
1963).Butevenifweconfineourselvestotheexperimentallybasedsciences,thereisa
secondreasonwhythedistinctivenessoftheirpredictionandcontrolfeatures
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shouldnotbeexaggerated:namely,becauseadiscipline'sabilitytodemonstratecontrol
overarangeofphenomenadependsonitshavingsociallyprotectedspaces,suchas
laboratories,wherepractitionersofthedisciplinecanfreelyimplementceteris paribus
clauses,whichexcludefactorsthatcouldinterferewiththedemonstrationofaproposed
"law"(Rip1982,Apel1984).
Onestrikingconsequenceoffocusingonthehistoryofthescienceroleisthat
protagonistsotherthanthelikesofNewtonwouldbefeatured.Forexample,two
individualswhowouldfigureprominentlyinthenewhistorybutdonotintheoldare
AlbertusMagnus,whosettheprecedentformedievaltheologiansincorporatingremarks
onnaturalhistoryintheirbiblicalcommentaries(Weisheipl1978),andDenisDiderot,
whofirstfullyrealizedthatacceptingNewtonianmechanicsas"queenofthesciences"
wouldprobablyundermineonceandforallthepossibilityofunifiedknowledgeonthe
modelofAristotle(Prigogine&Stengers1984).ThecareersofAlbertandDiderothelp
marktheshiftingboundarybetweenscienceandnonscience:Albert'scareermarkedthe
expansionoftheboundary,therebylayingtheinstitutionalgroundworkforthe
"scientific"interestinmechanicsthattheOxfordandParisclericsshowedduringthe
fourteenthcenturyontheotherhand,Diderot'scareermarkedacontractionofthe
terraincoveredbyscience,aformalrecognitionthatakeycontingentofAristotelians
thestudentsof"life"and"mind"whobythenineteenthcenturywerereadilyidentified
as"vitalists"hadbecomedisinheritedonceNewtonianmechanicsgainedexclusive
rightstothesciencerole.
Ofcourse,noneoftheaboveistosaythattheseventeenthcentury,theheightofthe
ScientificRevolution,wouldentirelyloseinterest.Butevenheretherelativesignificance
ofthecharacterswouldchange.Aninterestingstudyincontrast,fromourstandpointof
thechangingplayersofthesciencerole,wouldbePierreGassendiandChristiaan
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Huygens.Gassendidefendedthemechanicalandatomisticworldviewalmostentirely
withinthemodelofscholasticdisputation,explicatingthetextsofLucretiusandother
ancientEpicureansandavoiding,forthemostpart,anyreferencetoconcrete
experiments.Huygens,ontheotherhand,despitehisCartesiansympathies,eschewed
metaphysicalargumentsinhisstudiesofluminousandpendularmotions,referringonly
totheperformanceandinterpretationofexperiments.Typicalhistoriesofsciencecast
GassendiandHuygensascoprotagonistsintheScientificRevolution,butfailtoexplain
theirratherdistinctfates:Gassendihasbecomea"minorphilosopher,"whileHuygens
hasturnedouttobea"majorscientist."Itwouldseemthatifthereisa"cunningof
reason"tothemovementofhistory,thenseventeenth-centurynaturalphilosopherswere
transformedintoeither"scientists"or"philosophers,"dependingonwheretheystoodon
thecognitivevalueofexperimentation.Thus,antiexperimentalistslikeHobbesand
Descartes,whochastiseGalileoforfailingtoderivethelawoffallingbodiesexclusively
fromfirstprinciples,arenowadays"philosophers,"whileexperimentalists
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likeRobertBoyleandIsaacNewtonare"scientists"(Shapin&Schaffer1985).

3. Science and Its Kindred Roles


Sincearoleisdefinedintermsofitsfunctionalinterdependencewithotherroles,a
historyofthesciencerolewouldneedtoconsidertherelationofsciencetootherroles.
Ideally,onewouldwanttomapoutalltherolerelationsforanentiresocietyoverlong
expansesoftime.However,intheshortterm,thereareasmallclusterofroles,whose
relationtothescienceroleisintimateenoughtosatisfyeventhestaunchest
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"internalist"historianofscience.Togetattheseroles(which,recall,remainrelatively
constantastheirplayerschange),wemaystartbypresumingthatatmosttimesthere
isonedisciplinewhichhasan"exemplary"statusasscience.Itmaynotbetheonly
playerofthescienceroleatthetime,buttheotherplayersarenormallyconsidered
imitatorsofthisexemplar.Forexample,Tyndall'smorefamousboundarycoworker,
ThomasHenryHuxley("Darwin'sBulldog"),arguedforthescientificstatusofhisown
discipline,physiology,onaccountofitsmethodologicalresemblancetoexperimental
physics.Suchattemptsbyotherdisciplinestomodeltheexemplarwewillcall
reductionist,atermthatisnormally(butneednotbe)reservedforwhentheexemplaris
physics.Thisistobedistinguishedfromattemptsbytheexemplaritself(oroneofits
successfulimitators)tobringotherdisciplinesintoconformitywithitsimage,asinthe
recentforaysofethologistsandsociobiologistsintoanthropology(Rosenberg1980).
Theseattemptsmaybecalledeliminationistinthattheirultimatepurposeisto
eliminatetheneedforthelessscientificdiscipline(forasophisticateddiscussion,see
McCauley[1986]).
Moreover,therearedisciplineswhichtryunsuccessfullytoimitatethescientific
exemplarthesearecoveredbytheroleofpseudoscience,whichnowadaysconstitutea
familiarlitany:Creationism,psychokinesis,extrasensoryperception,UFO-logy,astrology,
etc.Thesedisciplinesclaimtoabidebythemethodsmostemblematicofthecurrent
holderofthesciencerole,onlytobeunmaskedbyamuckrakingsciencepopularizerlike
MartinGardneror(whensubtletyisinorder)StephenGould.Then,therearethe
disciplineswhichmakenoclaimsonthesciencerole,andinfactdefinethemselves
explicitlyagainstthecurrentscienceplayers.Suchistheroleofantiscience,whose
currentplayerstendtobepastplayersofthescienceroleortheirdescendantsthesocalled"disinherited"alludedtoearlier.Thus,wefindtheologians,humanists,and
vitalistsoftenjoiningforcesagainstthesocio-cognitiveauthorityofnaturalscienceand
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itsalliesonsuchissuesasvivisectionandnuclearenergy.Astestimonytotheir
historicallybackward-lookingperspectiveonthehistoryofscience,antiscientistsare
oftenseenas"romantic"(Nowotny1979).Moreover,somepseudosciencesmaybe
illuminatinglycastasantisciences.Acasein
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pointistheleadingpopulistmovementagainstDarwinianevolution,Creationistscience,
beingathrowbacktocatastrophistbiologyandgeology,whosecognitiveauthorityhad
peakedby1830.
Thecastofcharactersinthehistoryofthesciencerolewouldnotbecompletewithout
cryptoscience,thatis,adisciplinewhoseactivitiesarebythepractitioners'own
accountsnotscientific,butwhichneverthelessseemtooutsidersasconformingtoa
currentmodelofscience.Cryptoscienceisarolethatperhapsalldisciplinesplayat
somepointinordertodefendtheirboundariesfromoutsideattackandtoenhancetheir
mystiqueascultivatorsofesotericknowledge.Thehistoryofmagicisaninstructive
case.WhentheologiansplayedthepartofscientistsintheMiddleAges,manymagicians
triedtopreservetheirdisciplinebyclaimingnottobeinvolvedindivination,atopic
aboutwhichonlytheologianscouldspeakwithauthorityhowever,thisdidnotstop
ThomasAquinasfromscrutinizingmagicalpracticesandconcludingthatthemagicians
indeedhadprofaneknowledgeofdivinationsincetheyneededtoinfluencedivine
sourcesinordertointerveneinnature(Hansen1978).Eventoday,thoughitplaysthe
roleofpseudosciencewithrespecttothenaturalsciences,magicretainsits
cryptoscientificstatus.Reflectingtheshiftinexemplarsofthescienceroleandthe
continualneedtodistancethemselvesfromit,magiciansnowtendtoemphasizethe
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inexplicabilityoftheirfeatswhenregardedinexclusivelynaturalisticterms.Butscientific
criticsthenobservethatthesefeatsarejusttheresultofmagicianscovertlyrelyingon
basicpsychologicalprinciplestomanipulatetheperceptionoftheiraudiences
cryptoscienceexposedyetagain.
Anothercaseofcryptosciencelurksbehindthesharplynegativereactionofnatural
scienceideologuesto,say,DerekPrice's(1964)callfora"scienceofscience"orDavid
Bloor's(1976)reflexivityprinciplewhichundergirds"TheStrongProgramintheSociology
ofKnowledge."Bothproposalsarebasedontheideathatthescientists'veryown
behaviorissubjecttothesamekindoflawlikeregularitieswhichtheyfindexhibitedin
thebehaviorofnaturalobjects.Amongthestrongestopponentsofthisideahavebeen
Popper(1957)andFriedrichvonHayek(1973),whotracethecognitivesuccessofthe
naturalsciencestotheir(allegedly)near-perfectapproximationofafreeenterprise
system.Asintheeconomicsphere,theseneoclassicistsarguethattoregulatesucha
spontaneouslyoccurringsystemwouldbetoruinitsfertilityandroutinizeiscreativity.
Indeed,PopperandvonHayekhavedocumentedingreatdetailthedisastrous
consequencesofpolicymakersusuallysocialistsofsomesortthinkingthattheyhave
ascientificunderstandingofhowsciencedevelops.
However,thisdefenseoflaissez-fairescientificcapitalismhasbeenmetwithchargesof
cryptosciencebyateamofhistoriansandphilosophersofscienceassociatedwith
JuergenHabermasduringhisdirectorshipoftheMaxPlanckInstituteatStarnberginthe
1970s.Theteam,whogounderthenameof"Finalizationists,"pointoutthattoclaim
thatscienceworksbestwhensociallyunconstrainedistoobscurethefactthatthis"lack
of
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constraint"isitselfaproductofsocialconstraint,albeitonewhosepowersourceis
carefullyhiddenfrompublicview(Schaefer1984).Forexample,akeystipulationinthe
chartergrantedtothefoundersofthefirstmodernautonomousscientificbody,the
RoyalSocietyofGreatBritain,wasthattheyscaledownFrancisBacon'svisionofa"New
Atlantis"byrefusingtoextendtheirexperimentalstudiesto"religion,morals,and
politics,"theresultsofwhichcouldeasilyhavesubversiveimplicationsforthestatus
quo.TheFinalizationistsbelievethatpoliticalcircumspectionofthiskind,ratherthan
anymetaphysicaldistinctionbetweenNaturandGeist,hasusuallymotivatedthe
widespreadviewthathumanbeingsincludingscientistsarenotproperobjectsof
naturalscientificinquiry.
Interestingly,cryptosciencemayalsobefoundamongideologuesforthesocialsciences,
especiallysuchpositivisticfollowersofRobertMertonasBernardBarber(1952),who
wishtounderminethecriticalfunctionthatasociologyofknowledgecouldperformasa
resultofidentifyingthesocialintereststhatbenefitfromtheacceptanceofclaimsto
socialscientificknowledge.Itshouldbenotedthatinboththenaturalandsocial
scientificcases,cryptoscienceemergesasaprohibitiononanyreflexiveapplicationof
thescientificmethod,largelyforfearthatreflexivitywoulddestroythelegitimacyofthe
scienceinquestion.Aswehavesuggested,thenaturalscienceideologuealsohasthe
morespecificworrythatifascientistcouldindeedbestudiedasanotherregularly
occurringnaturalphenomenon,thenthedeterminismimplicitinthisviewpointwould
destroythefreespiritofinquiry,notonlyintermsofhowthescientistwouldstartto
regardhimselfbutalsointermsofhowpolicymakersarelikelytotreatthescientist.In
contrast,whilethesocialscienceideologuedoesnotworrythatallsocietiesmightbe
determinedbythesamesetoflaws,heisstillconcernedthatifeachsocietyissubject
toits ownlawsespeciallyoneswhichcorrelateacceptedknowledgeclaimswiththe
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socialinterestsbenefittingfromtheiracceptancethentheuniversalvalidityofsocial
scientificclaimswouldbesubverted.Inshort,then,reflexivitywouldseemtothreaten
thenaturalscientist'smotivationfordoinganythingandthecross-culturalefficacyof
whateverthesocialscientistdid.
However,thefearsexpressedbybothideologuesarelargelyungrounded.Ontheone
hand,theevidenceofquantummechanics,statisticalthermodynamics,andevolutionary
biologysuggeststhatuniversaldeterminismisfalse.Andevenifitweretrue,itis
unlikelythatwecouldeverhaveasexactanunderstandingofthelawsgoverningthe
behaviorofnaturalscientistsasthelawsofclassicalmechanics,ifonlybecauseof
interactioneffectsbetweentheinquirerandtheinquired(vonWright1971).Atthevery
least,then,residualignoranceofthedeterministicprocesseswouldalwaysgiveusthe
illusionoffreedom,withoutcompellingtheconclusionthathumanbeings,evennatural
scientists,areentirelyunpredictable(Dennett1984).Ontheotherhand,bothnatural
andsocialscientificknowledgeclaimsclearlyhavespecificsocialorigins,andyetwedo
notseesuchoriginsasunderminingthevalidityofthenaturalscientific
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claims.So,whyshouldthevalidityofsocialscientificclaimsbeespeciallyvulnerable?
Moreover,wecanevencountenanceapossibilitythatwouldnormallyberaisedonlyby
sociologistsespousingaradicalrelativism:namely,thattheremustbesomeunderlying
culturalunityamongsocietiesthatacceptagivenknowledgeclaimasvalid,aunitythat
wasparticularlywellexhibitedbythesocietyoriginatingtheclaim.Forinthisradical
case,wecanstillwonderwhetheranythingmorethananaccidentofhistorywasbehind
onecultureratherthansomeotheroriginatingtheclaiminquestion.
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Asthepreviousremarkssuggest,theepistemologicaldeepstructureofcryptoscienceis
informedbyacertainkindofrelativism,namely,arelativismthatrespectsthelocal
sovereigntyofculturesanddisciplinesinadjudicatingknowledgeclaims,andthat
recognizes"natural"limitstotheapplicabilityofcertainconceptsandmethodsbeyond
theiroriginaldisciplinaryandculturalcontexts.Indeed,theconnectionbetween
cryptoscienceandrelativismhasbeenmademostexplicitbyHarryCollins(1985)who
argues,againstSteveWoolgar(1983)andthemoreradicalsocialconstructivists,that
thesociologyofsciencewouldloseitsdisciplinaryfocusifitincludeditselfasoneofthe
sciencesunderinvestigation.Inlargepart,Collinsismovedtothispositionbecauseof
hisownresearchfindings,namely,that"empiricalgeneralizations"inthenatural
sciencesaremoretextualrhetoricthanexperimentalreplication.Ifthesociologyof
scienceislikewiseascience,thenitsgeneralizationsshouldalsohavethesame
rhetoricalstatus.Butofcourse,confirmationofthispredictionwouldonlyserveto
undermineCollins'originalthesis.Andso,presumably,Collinswouldbecryptoscientific
onlyabouthishomediscipline,butnotabouttheotherdisciplinestowhichhewantsto
applythesociologicalmethod(Mulkay1984).

4. Conflating Role and Player as an Historiographical Strategy


Intermsofthetwohistoricalvariablesidentifiedearlier,itisnotclearwhetherGieryn
intendshisworkasacontributiontothestudyof(c)or(d),sincethatdependson
whetherhethinksthatTyndall'srhetoricalvictoriesmarkedtheorigin(c)orsimplythe
continuation(d)ofexperimentalphysics'exclusiverights(atleastvis-a-vistechnology,
philosophy,andtheology)tothesciencerole.Inanycase,(d)deservescloserattention
thanithasyetreceived.Weshallconcludebymakingacontributionto(d)thattakes
intoaccountwhathasbeensaidsofarabouttheconflationofthesciencerolewiththe
roleplayersforasubtlebutcrucialwaybywhichadisciplinemaintainsitsholdoverthe
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scienceroleisbyinducingsuchaconflationintheprocessof"managingitspast."By
thislastexpression,Iamreferringtotheinevitableproblemofdecidingwhattorecord
ofwhatisobserved,andthenwhattopreserveofwhatisrecorded.Ifonesimplytried
torecordandpreserveeverything,therewouldneverbetimeforanythingelse.Because
ofitsgreatersignificanceandlongerduration,aninstitution
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facestheproblemmoreacutelythananindividualbutitalsohasstrategiesfor
managingitspastwhichareready-madetoextenditslife.Iftheinstitutionisa
disciplineanditsinterestisinmaintainingthesciencerole,thenitengagesinwhat
Marxistscallareificationofitshistory.
AsMarxfirstobserved,perhapsthemostdeceptive(andtherefore,inakeysense,
"ideological")featureofclassicalpoliticaleconomywasitsclaimtobeingascienceof
humannature.Thepoliticaleconomistssupportedthisclaimbyportrayingcapitalismas
man'sinnateegoismbroughttoselfconsciousness.Forexample,anunreflectivegrasp
ofDavidRicardo's"ironlawofwages"whichplacedthe"naturalwage"ofalaborerat
thesubsistencelevel(thatis,justenoughtomakeitinhisinteresttoreturntowork
thenextday)wastakentohavebeenresponsibleforwhateversuccessprecapitalist
economieshadatresourcemanagement.However,Ricardo'slawalsohadtheeffectof
licensingandevenpromoting,inthenameof"scientificmanagement,"theviewthatthe
currentlyprevailinghorrorsoftheworkplacewerepermanentfixturesofthehuman
condition.Still,politicaleconomyhadtremendouscloutinnineteenth-centuryEurope,
largelybecauseitwasabletoportrayallpreviouseconomiesaseitherpotentially
capitalistic(insofaraspasteconomicagentsweremotivatedprimarilybyself-interest)
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orsimplyabortive.
Moreover,sincethepoliticaleconomistshad,ineffect,inventedeconomichistoryasa
fieldofinquiry,theyhadpresumptiveauthorityoveralltheevidenceandtoolsof
analysishence,thelaboriouseffortsissuinginanunfinished,threevolumeDas
KapitalthatMarxhadtoundergoinordertocontesttheirhistoriography.Andso,aside
frommanifestlyexplaining(andlatentlyjustifying)capitalistpractices,thepolitical
economistsalsotriedtoshowthatinsofarasAristotle,themedievals,andotherswho
spokeof"economy"werecorrect,theyanticipatedthepoliticaleconomistsotherwise,
theearlierthinkersweresimplywrongorirrelevant.Marxcalledthiskindofpastmanagement"reification"becausethepoliticaleconomistshadrenderedhistorystatic,
"thing-like,"byremovingalltheelementswhichmadethenineteenth-centuryeconomic
situationfundamentallydifferentfromtheearliersituationswithwhichcontinuitywas
nowbeingclaimed.
OnewayoflookingattheMarxistcritiqueofpoliticaleconomyisasfinallydistinguishing
thesciencerolefromtheroleplayer,whoseconflationhadallowedpoliticaleconomists
tolayclaimtobeingthescientificculminationoftwothousandyearsofeconomictheory
andpractice.WithintheMarxisttradition,thestudyofthisconflation,orreification,has
sincemovedintwodirectionsthoughstillnotfarbeyondthescopeofMarx'soriginal
critique.
Ontheonehand,thosefollowingGeorgLukacs(1971,pp.83-222)havestressedthe
Whiggishelementsofreification,wherebythesignificanceoftheactionsofearlier
economistsoreconomicagentsisidentifiedsolelyintermsoftheirconsequencesfor
contemporarytheoristsandpractitioners.Indeed,Lukacsobservedthatthisprocess
beginsinthepresent,asthe
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-186-

bourgeoisconsumertendstoevaluateproducersexclusivelyintermsofthedesirability
ofthegoodstheyproducewhethertheybeindustrialorculturalinnature.Asaresult,
itbecomesdifficultfortheconsumertothinkoftheproducerexceptassomeonewho
worksforhim.Likewise,thehistorianmaynotbeabletomakesenseofanhistorical
figureunlessheattributestohimgoalswhichcouldonlybefullyrealizedinthe
historian'stime.Forexample,pottedhistoriesofcapitalisteconomicsoftencite
Aristotle'sdiscussionofoikonomiainthePoliticsastheoriginofthefield.The
historiansthendownplayAristotle'salmostexclusiveconcernwithmanagingthe
resourcesofahouseholdbypointingtothetechnologicallylimitedhorizonsofthe
Greekstheideabeingthatiftheyhadourmeansofproduction,transportation,and
communication,theytoowouldhavefocusedonmarketeconomics.
Ontheotherhand,thosefollowingTheodorAdorno(1973)havestudiedthesystematic
cancellationofdifferencesbetweenparticularhistoricalsituationwhich,iffullyrecorded,
wouldremovetheillusionoflong-termcontinuitythatpropsupthepoliticaleconomists'
claimtocodifyingapersistentfeatureofhumanexistence.Adornoappropriatelycalled
hiscriticalstance"nonidentitythinking,"incontradistinctiontothe"identitythinking"of
Hegel,whosuggestedthathistory'sspecial"cunning"liesinitsselectingoutthe
essentialfromnonessentialfeaturesofactionssoastomaketheessentialparts
availabletofutureagentsfortheirownuse(perhapsinwaysagainstthedesignsofthe
originalagent)andtocondemnthenonessentialpartstooblivion.Andso,toreturnto
ourexample,inordertoturnAristotleintoanunwittinglegitimatorofcapitalist
economics,historianseitheroutofdesignorignoranceneglectAristotle'sown
referencestotheprimitivenessofthemarketplaceandtheGreekmetaphysical
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preferenceforself-sustainingform(likeahousehold)overendlessgrowthandinstability
(likeamarket).Itwould,then,bethetaskofAdorno'snonidentitythinkertoovercome
reificationbyarticulatingtheseneglecteddifferences.
Theargumentinthischaptermaybesummarizedasposingaphilosophicalproblem,
employinganhistoricalmethod,andreachingasociologicalsolution.Thephilosophical
problemisthefamiliaroneofwhataretheinvariantfeaturesofscience:Arethereany
universallyapplicablewaysofdemarcatingsciencefromnonscience?Recently,
philosophersofsciencesuchasLaudanhavedespairedoffindingananswertothis
question.YetifLaudan'spositivesuggestionsweretakenseriously,theautonomyof
"thephilosophyofscience"wouldbethrownintodoubt,sincethetaskofjudging
epistemicmeritsonabelief-by-belief,ratherthanadiscipline-by-discipline,basisis
nothingshortofaretreattoclassicalepistemology.WhatLaudanhasforgotten,
however,isthat"science"primarilypicksouttheinstitutionalcharacterofsomeofour
epistemicpursuits.Butheretoowemustbecareful.Theinstitutionalfeaturesofscience
wefoundinthischaptertobehistoricallyinvariant,theso-calledBaconianVirtues,are
thesocialbenefitsenjoyedbyadisciplinedeemedscientific.Howonemanages
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tobecomeandremainsuchadisciplinetheusualtopicsofmethodologicaldiscussions
inthephilosophyofsciencedochangeovertime,therebypartiallyjustifyingLaudan's
despair.Still,thereisakindofconstancyevenamidstthesechanges,asthecurrent
playersofthescience-role"reify"theirhistoriesbyfusingtheimageoftheirdiscipline
withthatofscience,namely,toextendtheMarxistcritiqueofpoliticaleconomytoany
disciplinethatwouldlayclaimtothesciencerole.
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5. New Demarcation Criteria for Science


Themostnaturalwayofendingthischapterisbyshowinghowtheforegoing
considerationscontributetoasetofdemarcationcriteriaforscience.Withthatinmind,
considerthefollowing:
Disciplinesthatfunctionas"science"foragivensocialordertypicallyhavethese
characteristics:
(1) They exhibit the duality of objectivity.
(1a)Thescientistisanonreflexivesubject,thatis,hedoesnotapplyhis
methodstohimselfundernormalcircumstances(physicistsmaking
observationsabovethequantumleveldonotmeasurethemassandvelocityof
theireyeballmotionspsychologistsdonotmonitortheirownattitudestoward
theirsubjectshistoriansdonottreatthemselvesashistoricalagents).This
permitsobjectivityinthesenseof"personaldetachment."
(1b)Thescientist'sdataarethemselvesobjectivelydetachedfromthe
scientist,thatis,thescientistmustadmitthatpredictionsareoccasionally
thwartedtoconveythesensethatheisnotsimplyconjuringupthedataat
will.Whereas(1a)ensuresthatthescience'sdomainofinquiryisboundedand
controllable,notgeneratingendlessinterferencefromthescientisthimself,
(1b)ensuresthatthedomainhasnotyetbeenexhausted.
(2)Scientists exercise power without force,thatis,thescientist'spower
arisesfrompersuadingothersthatheknowsaboutwaysofcontrollingthem
thattheythemselvesdonotknow.
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(2a)Thisappliestothescientist'sexternalrelations,asinhisabilityto
persuadepoliticiansandmembersofsubordinatedisciplines.
(2b)Thisalsoappliestohisinternalrelations,asinhisabilitytopersuadehis
experimentalsubjectsoftherightnessofhisaccountoftheirbehavior.
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(3)Sciences control the recording of their past, which tends toward the
perfection of reification.
(3a)L-Reification(forLukacs)appliestothehistoryofthescience'sexternal
relations.ItenablestheWhighistoriantoobjectifythesubjectivityofearlier
inquirersbyidentifyingtheiractionssolelybytheirconsequencesforthe
dominantscience.
(3b)A-Reification(forAdorno)appliestothehistoryofthescience'sinternal
relations.Itenablesthehistorianoflaboratorylifetoignorethedifferencesin
contextbetweencasestakenatvarioustimesinordertoarriveatthe
appropriategeneralization.
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CHAPTER EIGHT
DISCIPLINARY BOUNDARIES:
A CONCEPTUAL MAP OF THE FIELD
1. The Boundedness, Autonomy, and Purity of Disciplines
Forourpurposes,adisciplineis"bounded"byitsprocedureforadjudicatingknowledge
claims.Thisprocedureconsistsofanargumentation formatthatrestricts(i)wordusage,
(ii)borrowingspermittedfromotherdisciplines,and(iii)appropriatecontextsof
justification/discovery(forexample,someclaimsmaybegroundedon"reasonalone,"
someonunaidedperception,someontechnicallyaidedperception).Adisciplinethatis
fullyboundedisautonomous:itcontrolsitsownacademicdepartment,programof
research,historicallineage,andsoforth.T.S.Eliot(1948)coinedthetermautotelicto
expressaratherstrongsenseofautonomy,namely,whenadisciplinenotonlycontrols
itsownaffairsbutseesthoseaffairsasworthpursuingfortheirownsake.
AlthoughEliotwasspecificallyinterestedindistinguishingartfromartcriticism(onlyart
isautotelic),hisconceptappliesequallytothehumanitiesandthesciences.For
example,wemaydistinguishdegreesofdisciplinarypurityaccordingtohowone
understandstheideaofadisciplinebeingpracticed"foritsownsake"or"anendin
itself":
(a)Holier Than Thou:Thediscipline'sinternaljustificationofitsownpractice
(suchasitsexclusiverightsoversome"naturalkind"orotherwell-defined
domainofobjects)issufficientforcontinuingthatpractice.Thereisnoneed
forexternaljustification,suchasthesocialbenefitspromisedbythe
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discipline'spractice.
(b)Holy of Holies:Thediscipline'sveryperformanceofitspracticeisselfjustifyingwithouthavingrecoursetoeitherinternalorexternalformsof
justification.
Herearesomeexamplesofeachfromthenaturalsciences:
(a1)Itisenoughofareasonfordoingexperimentalsciencethatitisdesigned
togetatthetruthhence,itneedsnofurtherjustification,say,intermsofits
technologicalbyproducts.
(b1)Theverydoingofsciencetheexperienceofexperimentingand
calculatingisitsownjustification.Polanyi(1957)describesthissortof
scientist,whotreatshisworkaestheticallyandhencedoesnotcarewhether
heultimatelygetstherightresults.
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Now,herearesomeanalogousexamplesfromliterarycriticism:
(a2)Itisenoughofareasonfordoingcriticismthatitisdesignedtoidentify
goodworksofart,regardlessofwhetherthecriticismhasanypracticalimpact
inchangingartoreventastes.
(b2)Theverydoingofcriticismtheexperienceofcreativelymisreadingtexts
andconstructingconceitsandpunsthatonlytheeruditecandecipherisits
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ownjustification.Thisattitudeisassociatedwiththemore"playful"followers
ofDerrida(1976).
MatthewArnold(1972)istobecreditedwiththeinsightthatdisciplinescanremain
boundedwithoutbeingfullyautotelic.Arnoldjustifiedthepursuitofcriticismas
necessaryforaproperappreciationofart.Inthenineteenthcenturyandearlier,artwas
generallyseenasasourceofhighlyrefinedformsofsensorygratification.Thus,Arnold
arguedthatthepublichadtobetaughthowtoregardart"distinterestedly,"orforits
ownsake.Consequently,criticismoccupiedtheuniquepositionofbeingthemeansby
whichsomethingelse,art,canbetreatedasanend in itself.However,asDavidhazi
(1986)haspointedout,criticismhaslargelyfailedinitspublicmission,yetthis
dysfunctionalityhascoincidedwiththeriseofcriticismasanacademicdisciplinepursued
foritsownsake.Thissuggeststhatbythetimeitbecameclear,intheearlytwentieth
century,thatcriticismhadfailedonArnoldianterms,ithadaccumulatedalargeenough
bodyofitsownliteraturetojustifyitscontinuation.Anothercaseinwhich
dysfunctionalitymadeadisciplinemoreautotelicmaywellbenaturalhistory,whichfirst
gainedepistemiclegitimacyasbeingtherecordofdivinemessagestoman.However,by
theScientificRevolution,itwasnolongerbelievedthatnaturalhistoryfunctionedin
suchacommunicativecapacity.Butbythenabodyofknowledgehadalreadydeveloped
thatwasworthyofpursuitinitsownright(Foucault1970,ch.2).
Aninterestingpictureofdisciplinaryformationisimpliedbytheaboveaccountthatgoes
againstthemoreorthodoxaccountofferedinKuhn(1970a).OnKuhn'sview,fieldsof
studybecomedisciplines(or"paradigms")onceawiderangeofpreviouslyunrelated
phenomenaaregatheredtogetherunderasetofunifyingprinciples,whichcanbe
verifiedthroughdifferentbutconvergingmethods.Inaddition,onceaparadigmis
formed,thedirectioninwhichresearchshouldproceedisclear.Newton'ssynthesisof
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terrestrialandcelestialmechanicsunderonesetoflawsisthetypicalexample.In
contrast,theviewimpliedintheprecedingaccountofthehistoryofcriticismisthat
disciplinesformnotbystakingoutacleardomainforitself,butratherbysuccessively
failingtocontrolsomeotherbodyofknowledge.Wecanimaginethesuccessive
instrumentalfailuresofcriticismThe Retreat to Purityrunningasfollows(eachstage
probablycorrespondstoapositionactuallytakeninthehistoryofcriticismseeHirsch
[1976],chs.7-8):
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(c)Criticismaimstopreparetheaudiencetoreceivegreatartworksoncethey
aremade(andhencepreventsbadtastefromeverarising).
(d)Failingthat(becausebadtastearises),criticismaimstochangebadtaste
togood.
(e)Failingthat(becauseithasnorealinfluence),criticismaimssimplyto
identifygoodandbadtasteinartworks.
(f)Failingthat(becausecriticscannotagreeonwhatisgoodtaste),criticism
aimstorecordthehistoryofattemptsatidentifyinggoodandbadtaste,and
showhowtheattemptshaveneglectedtoseetheessentiallycontestednature
of"goodtaste."(Atthispoint,criticsspendmoretimetalkingabouteachother
thanaboutartists.)
(g)Failingthat(becausecriticscannotagreeonwhattheirdisputesare
about),criticismtakesonapoeticquality,doneprimarilybecauseofthe
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experienceonegetsfromdoingit.

2. Three Techniques for Detecting Disciplinary Boundaries


First, examine disciplines that adjudicate "ostensively similar" knowledge claims(Jones
1983,p.132).Forexample,philosophers(especiallyepistemologists)appeartoargue
aboutclaimsthatarealsocontestedbylinguists,psychologists,sociologists,and
sometimesevenphysicists.Yetphilosophy'sargumentationformatisquitedifferent
fromtheformatsoftheseotherdisciplines.Failuretonotethisfacthasledtopremature
reportsofphilosophy'sobsolescence.Inhonorofafamousrecentcase(Rorty1979),we
shalldubthisoversightThe Rorty Fallacy.Itisremediedbyusingadiscipline's
argumentationformattoinfertheattitudethatoneissupposedtoadopttoagiven
proposition(Fuller1982).Anotherwayofdistinguishingdisciplinesunderthese
circumstancesistodeterminethebackgroundknowledgeimplicitintheceteris paribus
clausepresupposedinafairtestoftheclaim.Forexample,manyofthesocialsciences
seemtotestthesameclaims,yethavegreatdifficultyinpoolingtheirresults,largely
becausetheirceteris paribusclausescontainradicallydifferentconceptionsofthe
humanbeing,whicharesimplypresupposedbutneverdirectlyputtoany"crucial
experiment."Indeed,asweshalllatersee,itisonlyashortstepfromrivaltheoriesthat
coverroughlythesamedomain,butpresupposeincommensurableceteris paribus
clauses,toentirelydiscretedisciplines.
Second,examine the metascience implicit in a discipline's argumentation format.When
theclaimsofonedisciplineconflictwiththoseofanother,whichdisciplineyieldstothe
other'scognitiveauthority?Theanswer,
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whichrevealsthebalanceofcognitivepowerbetweenthetwodisciplines,shouldbe
expectedtochangeovertime,asinthecaseofnaturaltheologyvis-a-visnatural
philosophyfromtheMiddleAgestothenineteenthcentury.Whenthecognitive
resourcesofonedisciplineareinsufficienttosolveoneofitsownproblems,whichother
discipline"justoutside"itsboundaryisinvokedforhelp?Whenthevalidityofclaimsin
onedisciplineischallenged,thevalidityofclaimsinwhichotherdisciplinesismost
threatened?Notonlyshouldtheanswerstothesequestionsbeexpectedtochangeover
time,buttheyarealsolikelytobeasymmetrical.
Forexample,classicalpoliticaleconomy'smodelreasonerwasoriginallydrawnfromthe
rationalegoistpsychologythencurrentintheeighteenthcenturyyetoncepsychology
surrenderedthemodel(intheearlytwentiethcentury)economicsalsodidnot
immediatelyfollowsuit.Whereasthemodelwascompletelyunderminedinpsychology
oncethesignificanceofunconsciousirrationalfactorsonbehaviorwasappreciated,
economistshavesofarattackedthemodellargelyonpracticalgrounds,especiallyin
termsoftheeconomist'sinabilitytopredictrealeconomicbehavior(Simon1976).And
whilegrantingthatcriticism,neoclassicaleconomistsstillbelievethateveninpractical
situations,theonlyproblemswiththemodelaredueto"interference"effects.Aneffort
hasbeenmadetodrawattentionto(andperhapscriticize)thefactthateconomics
benefittedfromaparticularpsychologicalmodelwhenitwaswarrantedwithoutsuffering
theconsequencesafterthemodellostitswarrant.Thus,Willard(1983,p.269)has
arguedthatinterdisciplinaryborrowingshouldbetreatedlikeanyothercaseof
borrowing,namely,thatit"incursobligations."Thus,economicsshould havegivenup
therationalegoistmodelimmediatelyafterpsychologydidorsuffertheconsequences.
Third, examine the strategies used to synthesize the research of two or more
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disciplines.Oftenametalanguageisconstructedforreducingtheclaimsofthetwo
disciplinestosome"commonground"thatmainlytakesintoaccountthesynthesizer's
intendedaudience.Ifthesynthesizerreliesonthelexiconsoftheoriginaldisciplinesat
all,itwillbeoftenbymetaphoricallyextendingwordusage,perhapssomuchsothatthe
extensionswouldbedeemedtooambiguousbyintradisciplinarystandards.Andso,
unlessthesynthesisitselfspawnsanewdiscipline,itisunlikelytoaffectday-to-day
workingsoftheoriginaltwo.Thereis,however,one"intrinsicallysynthetic"discipline,
pedagogy,whoserecentBritishtheoristshavecometorealizethatwhilediscliplinary
boundariesmaybethe"grownup"solutiontotheproblemofknowledge,theideaof
educationpresupposesthatchildrencanbetaughtthedistinctivemethodsofallthe
disciplines(Degenhardt1982).Nevertheless,moretypicalofthefateofsynthesesare
thecheckeredattemptsatfusingcognitivepsychologyandneurophysiologyviaartificial
intelligenceinto"cognitivescience,"whichisarguablyabranchofphilosophy(Haugeland
1981,Churchland1984).
Theexampleofcognitivesciencealsosuggeststhattwodisciplinesseparatedbya
boundaryneednotbelimitedtomutuallyexclusivedomains
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ofinquiry(Darden&Maull1977).Instead,theymaycross-classifythesamegeneral
subjectmatter.WeshallfollowJerryFodor(1981,ch.5)incallingthisphenomenon
orthogonality.Forexample,cognitivepsychologyandneurophysiologyareorthogonal
disciplines:reportsofaparticulartypeofmentalstatedonotalwayscorrespondto
reportsofthesametypeofbrainstate,yeteachreportofamentalstatecorrespondsto
areportofsometypeofbrainstate.Andso,despitethefactthatbothdisciplinesstudy
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thethoughtprocessesofthehumanorganism,lawsinterrelatingtypesofmentalstates
donotappearaslawswhentranslatedintotheneurophysiologist'sdiscourse.Thisisa
keyreasonwhythetwodisciplinescannotsimply"buildon"eachother'swork.
Interestingly,thesamesituationholdsforsuchincommensurabledomainsasphlogiston
chemistryandoxygenchemistry.Inthatcase,thoughnotallreportsofphlogiston
correspondtoreportsofthesamesubstanceinoxygenchemistry,eachreportof
phlogistoncorrespondstoareportofsomesubstanceinoxygenchemistry(Kitcher
1978).Indeed,orthogonalitysimplyisincommensurability,butwithouttheconnotation
thatonlyoneofthetwodisciplinescansurviveinthelongrun.Butevenherethe
differencemayboildowntooneofhistoricalperspective:twodisciplinesthatappear
merelyorthogonalnowmaylaterbeshowntohavebeenincommensurable.Itshould
comeasnosurprise,then,arecentschoolofmetapsychologists,eliminative materialists
havepreemptedhistorybyarguingthatonlythefamiliarityofcognitivepsychology's
theoreticaldiscourse(whichreferstobeliefs,desires,andotherintentionalentities)
keepsitfrombeingreplacedbythescientificallymorepromisingneurophysiology
(Churchland1979).Ifsuchclaimsaregenerallycorrect,thendisciplinaryboundaries
manybeseenasfaultlinesthatconcealfuturescientificrevolutions(McCauley1986).

3. Are Disciplinary Boundaries Necessary for the Growth of


Knowledge?
Hereisathoughtexperimenttotestyourintuitionsonthisissue.Supposeyouwere
givenourcurrentcorpusofknowledgeandwereaskedtodesignthemostefficient
divisionofcognitivelaborthatwouldhaveproducedthecorpus.Howdifferentwould
yourdesignbefromthedisciplinaryboundariesdrawnintheactualcourseofhistory?
Startbytreatingthisasaprobleminbureaucraticmanagement.Youwouldthenwantto
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eliminatetaskredundancybyhavingeachdepartmentofknowledgeworkonadiscrete
domain,withtheresearchofseveralsuchdepartmentscoordinatedatahigherlevelin
theorganization.Moreover,youwouldwantperfectcommunicationflow,withtheworkof
thelowerdepartmentsinformedby,yetcorrectiveof,theworkofthehigherones.Ifyou
findthissystematicstrategyattractive,thenyouprobablythinkthatdisciplinary
boundariesareinprincipledispensable,for,aswehaveseen,disciplinesoftencrossclassify
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thesamesubjectmatterandimpedeanymutuallyusefulsynthesis.(Whitley
[1986]isanentiretheoryofdisciplinesbasedonthisthoughtexperiment.)
However,historytellsagainstthesystematicapproach.Itsidealhierarchyofdomains
socialgroupsthataresuccessivelydecomposedintomulticellularorganisms,cells,
molecules,atoms,elementaryparticlesoverlooksthatmanykeyobjectsofknowledge
havebeenproductsoforthogonality,includingthatemergententity"man"(contra
Oppenheim&Putnam1958).Indeed,anthropologyisnotmerelyapartofprimatology,
butthelinguisticandtechnicalreorganizationofallbioevolutionaryphenomena.
Evidenceofthisreorganizationmaybeseeninthatwhileman'sgeneticsimilarityto
apesseemstobestexplainourintelligence,man'secologicalsimilaritytowolvesmust
beinvokedtoaccountforoursociability(Graham1981,chs.6-7).Thus,twofeatures
traditionallythoughtbyanthropologiststodevelopconcommitantly,cognitiveandsocial
structures,appearunrelatedfromabioevolutionarystandpoint.Thispointismademore
generallybythetendencyofsociobiologiststodrawnonanassortmentofspeciesfrom
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variousbranchesoftheevolutionarytreeantstoapesinordertomodelthefullrange
ofhumanphenomena(Rosenberg1980).
Still,thesystematistneednotbedeterredatthispoint.Hecansimplyarguethatthese
"products"oforthogonalityarereallyproblemsthathavearisenduetofailuresof
communicationandcoordinationhence,anthropologistscontinuetopracticetheirtrade
onlyfromignoranceofsociobiology.Weshallcallanextremeversionofthisresponse
Boundary Berkeleyism,afterBishopGeorgeBerkeley,theeighteenth-centuryradical
empiricist.Itholdsthatboundariesarisesolelybecauseadiscipline'sactivityistypically
notmonitoredbyotherdisciplinesorthepublic,whichallowsahermetic"insider's"
discoursetodevelop.However,once"outsiders"enterthisdiscoursesay,whena
biologylabisinvadedbysociologiststheboundariesdissolveastheinsidersaccount
fortheirworkintermsquitefamiliartotheoutsiders(Latour1981).
Admittedly,failurestomeetthesystematist'sidealmaybebydesign,sincedisciplines
activelysetupboundariestoexpand,protect,andmonopolizetheircognitiveauthority
(Gieryn1983b).Andevenifnotbydesign,theremaybemoreofsuchfailuresnowthan
everbefore,astheexpertiseoftheaverageresearcherdecreasesandhisneedtorely
ontheunquestionedauthorityofotherexpertsincreases(Friedson1984).Yetthe
systematistmaygenerallyagreewiththeeliminativematerialistthatthese
sociopoliticalobstacleswillbeovercomeinthelongrun.Indeed,hemayfacilitate
mattersbypursuingapolicyofreductionism(Neurath1983),whichcallsforthe
constructionof,sotospeak,aninterdisciplinaryEsperanto.Butonwhatshallthis
Esperantobebased?Thelogicalpositivistsweretornbetweenanauthoritariananda
democraticsolution:theformersolution,physicalism,wouldhavethelowerdisciplines
recasttheirclaimsintermsofthecognitiveauthoritydelegatedtothembythe
executivediscipline,physicsthelattersolution,phenomenalism,would
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forceallthedisciplinestorecasttheirclaimsintermsofaneutralmediumofcognitive
exchange(asin"sensedata"),whichthepositivistswouldprovideintheformofa
theory of evidence.

4. When Disciplines Collide: The Bernard Principle


Ineithercase,wouldtheresultlookanythinglikethedeepstructureofknowledge
growth?Thereisreasontothinknot(Feyerabend1981a,ch.4),whichmaymeanthat
disciplinaryboundariesare,afterall,necessaryforthegrowthofknowledge.Astrategy
thatrecognizesthispossibiltyisencyclopedic,sonamedfortheveryembodimentof
cross-classifiedknowledge,firstproposedin1751byDiderotandd'Alembertwithmany
oftheaboveconcernsinmind(Darnton1984,ch.5).Inparticular,theEncyclopedists
heldthattheorthogonalityofdisciplinarydomainsfosteredthegrowthofknowledgeby
permittingonedisciplinetoproblematizetheresearchofanotherdiscipline,thereby
ensuringthatthehighestcriticalstandardsweremaintainedbyeveryone,asituation
thatdidnotobtainwhentheologywas"queenofthesciences."Infact,Diderotwasso
aversetothesystematist'sidealthathesuspectedNewton'smathematicalphysicsof
tryingtoreplacetheologyintheroleofcognitivedespot(Prigogine&Stengers1984,ch.
3).
Onceadiscipline'sdomainofinquiryhasbeen"stakedout"(Cambrosio&Keating1983),
itspractitionersmustdefineandmaintainthe"normal"stateofobjectsinthedomain.
Thisinvolvesexperimentalandtextualtechniquesforforegroundingtheproblematic
claimsunderstudyagainstabackgroundofclaimsthatarestipulatedtobe
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unproblematic.Theneedforavacuuminwhichtodemonstratethelawsofmotionis
perhapsthemostfamousofthesenormalstates.Philosophershavereferredtothis
activityas"fillingintheceteris paribusclause,"whoserecognizedfunctionistoprotect
theclaimsthatareproblematizedbyadisciplinefrombeingtooeasilyfalsifiedby
extradisciplinaryconsiderations(Lakatos1970).However,philosophershavegenerally
overlookedthefactthatinordertofillinsuchaclause,objectsandprocessesmayneed
tobeobscuredthatmighthaveotherwisebeentheconcernofotherdisciplines.The
termontological gerrymandering(Woolgar&Pawluch1984)nicelycapturesthis
phenomenon.
ConsiderClaudeBernard'sdemarcationofexperimentalmedicinefromtherestof
biology.Bernarddefinedthenormalstateofanorganismintermsofitsmilieu interieur,
theequilibrationoftheorganism'sbloodandlymphflow.Forexample,arisein
temperatureinamammal'smilieu exterieurleadstovasodilation,whichallowssome
heattoescapefromitsbody,therebyrestoringnormalbodytemperature.Diseaseis
simplythefailuretomakesuchhomeostaticadjustments,asjudgedbyaphysicianupon
seeingtheorganismfunctioninthenewmilieuexterieur(Canguilhem1978,pp.2945).
ItwouldseemthatBernardhaddrawntheboundaryaroundhisdisciplineverytightly
perhapstootightly.Nineteenth-centuryFrance
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wasslowtoacceptmicrobiologyandevolutionarybiology,andtheautonomyofBernard's
disciplinemaybepartlytoblame(Mendelsohn1964).First,Bernarddefineddiseasefrom
thepatient'sstandpoint,organicdisequilibrium,ratherthanfromthestandpointofa
pathogenicagent.Second,experimentalmedicinehadnoconceptualplacefora
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disequilibriumthatcouldnotinprinciplebemedicallycorrected,suchasanorganism's
inabilitytoadapttoaradicallynewmilieuexterieur.Thus,microbesandnatural
selection,respectively,weredisallowed.Itis,therefore,fittingthatwelabelthethesis
thatadisciplinaryboundarycanbedrawnonlyattheriskofexcludingotherpossible
disciplinesthe Bernard Principle.
TheBernardPrincipleassumesmanyforms,whichareparticularlywellillustratedinthe
variousattemptstostakeoutthefoundationaldisciplineofthehumansciences.
Considertheseseveneasilyoverlookedcases:
(1)Descartesforeclosedthepossibilityofasociologyofknowledgewhenhe
declaredatthestartoftheMeditationsthatonemustentirelywithdrawfrom
dailylifeinordertoconsiderthenatureofthings.Virtuallyallprevious
philosophershadrecommendedarestrictedinstitutionalsetting,suchasa
school.
(2)Classicalpoliticaleconomy,insearchofaunifiedtheoryofvalue,followed
theNewtonianstrategyofreducingthedifferentkindsofvalueinobjectsto
theirlowestcommondenominator,namely,commodityvalue.Asaresult,the
disciplinecouldnotinprincipledistinguishbetweenthevalueofhumanlabor
andthevalueofaproductofhumanlabor,whichimpliedthatpolitical
economyhadtakenthe"human"outofthehumansciences.Moreover,asMarx
saw,thealienationoflaborundercapitalismthreatenedtoremoveall
remindersthatsuchadistinctionneededtobemade(Althusser1970).
(3)JohnStuartMill'sA System of Logicwasintendedtolaythegroundworkfor
the"moralsciences"(R.Brown1984,ch.8).Thatthebookdid,especiallyafter
itwastranslatedintoGermanin1849andreadbyWilhelmWundt,who
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foundedexperimentalpsychologyasadiscipline.Mill'sLogicalso
unintentionallyrenderedthedisciplineofhistory,andlaterallthehumanities,
problematic.History,aspracticedbyRankeandNiebuhr,claimedtostudythe
pastinitsspecificity.However,Mill'sempiricistepistemologydidnotpermit
thispossibility:eitheroneknowsthepastinitsgenerality(byinduction,the
psychologist'sway)oroneknowsthepresentinitsspecificity(bydirect
acquaintance,theordinaryway).VerstehenwasWilhelmDilthey'sattemptat
bridgingthisdifficulty.ButnoticethattheGeisteswissenschaften(theGerman
translationof"moralsciences")wouldnothaveappearedproblematic,had
Mill'sradicalempiricismnotbeenpresumedunproblematicbylatenineteenth
centuryGermanmethodologists(Fuller1983b).
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(4)Inordertodrawaclearboundarybetweenpsychologyandphysics,Wundt
trainedsubjectstoreportonlytheir"sensations"andnotthephysicalobjects
"inferred"fromthem,whichfigureinordinaryaccountsofexperiencehence,in
avisionexperiment,onewouldreporta"red-round-shiny-presence"insteadof
an"apple."Thisstricturealsoservedtopreventpsychologyfromstudying
highermentalprocesses.Wundtjustifiedthemoveonthegroundsthat
reliableresultscouldnotbeensuredforthehigherprocesses.Nevertheless,
theWuerzburgSchoolperformedtheforbiddenexperimentsandwerepromptly
accusedofcommitting"stimuluserror"andpracticing(mere)philosophical
introspection(Boring1950,ch.18).Ina1913reviewofthecuriousdifficulties
encounteredbyWundtintrainingsubjectstoissueproperreports,Wolfgang
Koehler(1971,ch.1)concludedthatWundtwassoconcernedwithprotecting
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thescientificautonomyofpsychologythathemissedthepointofallhis
difficulties,whichwasthatthedistinctionbetweenrawsensationsand
cognitivemeaningisanempiricistphilosophicalmythwhosesurvivalwasdue
entirelytothe"artificiality"ofWundt'sowntechnique.SoonthereafterKoehler
andMaxWertheimerspearheadedtheGestaltmovement.
(5)Althoughbehavioristaccountsarenotoriousforavoidinganyreferenceto
mentalprocessesnotaccessibletotheexperimenter,ithasgonerelatively
unnoticedthatbehavioristexperimentsaretypicallydesignedtominimizethe
appearanceoftraditional"outwardsigns"ofmentalprocess.Forexample,
EdwardThorndikeoperationalizedanimalintelligenceasafunctionoflearning
rate,theaimbeingtolowerthetimetakenbyananimaltosolvethe"puzzle
box,"aprototypeoftheSkinnerBox.Hesupposedthatonceplacedinthebox,
theanimalwouldknowwhatwasexpectedofit.Consequently,anyofits
behaviorsthatdidnotimmediatelycontributetoasolutionwerecountedas
errors.However,inThorndike'sday,thetwomainpowersoftheactivemind
weretakentobecreativityanddeliberation,whoseoutwardsignswere,
respectively,spontaneityandhesitation.Bothwereassociatedwith,as
WilliamJamesputit,a"facilityofnervousdischargefromsenseorgansto
motorresponse"(Boring1950,ch.21).Inshort,thetrulyintelligentanimal
couldnotbesetinitsways,asThorndike'slawsofautomaticresponsewould
surelymakeit.Thepostulationofanactivemindrestedonaviewofthe
animalasalwaysbeinginasituationthatmayberenderedintelligibleinmany
differentways.Infact,thisviewespeciallysuitednonhumananimals,which
wereneverexpectedtohaveunderstoodwhattheexperimenterhadplanned
forthem.Thus,ananimal'sinitialfumblingsinthepuzzleboxshouldbe
regardedasattemptsatdefiningtheproblemratherthanasfailuresat
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providingasolution.Interestingly,Koehler(1971,chs.10-11)wasalsobehind
thiscritiqueofbehaviorism,from
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whichheconcludedthatpsychologycouldnotcontinuetobethe"scienceof
mind,"unlessitrelinquishestheefficiencyaimsofinstrumentalconditioning.
YetbehaviorismremainedtheparadigmofacademicpsychologyintheU.S.for
fortyyears,preciselybecauseJ.B.Watsonwasoriginallyabletoconvincehis
colleaguesthatthedisciplinecouldexhibitcumulativegrowthifitconducted
researchwhoseresultswouldbeunaffectedbywhichevertheoryof
introspectionorneurophysiologyturnedouttobecorrect.Indeed,Watson
arguedthat,ifnothingelse,therangeofmentalcontentsthathadbeen
reportedbyintrospectionistsprovedthatsubjectscouldbeverballyconditioned
inanynumberofways(Fuller1986).Andwiththatbegantheeraof"black
box"thinkinginpsychology.
(6)Freud'savowedaimindeclaringsanitytobethelimitingcaseofneurosis
wastomakeallpsychologicalphenomenanotmerelypathologiesfairgame
forthepsychoanalyst.Moreinterestingly,sinceallsanepeoplearevirtual
neurotics,theself-reportsmadeduringWundt'scontrolledintrospectioncannot
bepresumedunproblematic,butmustfirstbedecodedforrepressedmessages
fromtheunconscious.ThislineofreasoningjustifiedFreud'sdismissalof
experimentalpsychologyaspseudo-scientific.Andalthoughasimilarcharge
wouldlaterbeleviedagainstpsychoanalysis,attheturnofthecenturyit
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contributedtothefalloftheintrospectiveparadigm.However,Freudalso
refashionedcertainintrospectiontechniquesforhisownends,largelythrough
theinfluenceofCarlJung,astudentoftheWundtianpsychopathologistEmil
Kraepelin.Forexample,Jungintroducedfreeassociation,whichKraepelinhad
usedasadiagnostictoolforidentifyingfixationsbycountinghowoftenthe
samewordappearedinasubject'ssetofresponses.Psychoanalysis
supplementedthemethod,againstWundtianstrictures,bydrawinginferences
aboutthesignificanceoftherepeatedwords(Maher&Maher1979,pp.566
573).
(7)SensitivetotheattemptsbySechenov,Pavlov,andBechterevto
"naturalize"thestudyofman,theschoolofcriticsknownas"theRussian
Formalists"soughttoground"literaryscience"onamethodologydesignedto
breakthelawsofclassicalconditioningoflinguisticreflexesandtoextinguish
suchreflexesoncetheyhadbeenconditioned.Theexemplarofthisprocessof
"defamiliarization"wasdifficultSymbolistpoetry,whosesyntacticambiguity
forcedonetoreconsiderhisnormalreadinghabits.TheFormalistswere
philosophicallyinfluencedbyErnstMach(andhenceroundlycondemnedby
LenininMaterialism and Empirio-Criticism),whichledthemtoregardthe
literaryscientistasatechnicianmuchinthesame
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wayasthe"reflexologist"regardedhimselfthedifferencebeing,ofcourse,
thattheliteraryscientistdevelopstechniquesforsystematically undermining
theeffectsofreflexology(Lemon&Reis1965).Thisunabashedly"neopositivist
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aesthetic"legitimatedseveralmodernarttrends,mostnotablySurrealism's
subversionofperspective.AftertheBolshevikRevolution,theformalists
emigratedtoPrague,andeventuallytoParis,whereoneoftheirnumber,
RomanJakobson,startedtheStructuralistmovementinlinguisticsandliterary
criticism(Merquior1986).

5. Disciplinary Ambivalence: Popperian and Foucauldian Versions


RobertMerton(1976)introducedtheconceptofsociological ambivalencetocapturethe
factthatsocialrolesoftenservemultiplefunctionswhoseperformancecannotbejointly
maximized.Moreover,societydoesnotusuallyofferanyready-maderulesformakingthe
necessarytradeoffs,whichleavestheroleoccupantinastateoftension.Forexample,
thescientistissupposedtobothexpeditetheflowofknowledgeandnotrushintoprint.
Buthowcanhe"expedite"withoutalso"rushing"?WhileMertontendstosupposethat
allscientistsexperiencethesamekindsofambivalence,afiner-grainedanalysisofthe
conceptmightrevealthateachdisciplinehasacharacteristicwayofresolvingits
ambivalences,which,inturn,becomethebasisonwhichitscognitivestatusis
evaluatedbyotherdisciplinesandthepublicatlarge.ThisthesisofDisciplinary
Ambivalencemaybeillustratedbyconsideringthemultiplelinguisticfunctions
performedbythediscoursesofdisciplines.Ourmodel,adaptedfromPopper(1972,pp.
119-121),specifiesfoursuchfunctions,eachassociatedwithavirtueofdisciplinary
discourse:
(j)Thevirtueofsignallingisefficiency.Adisciplineaimstoconveythemost
(new)informationperunitofdiscourseexpended.
(k)Thevirtueofexpressingissurveyability(Wright1980).Adisciplineaimsto
makeeachstepofitsreasoningevidentinitsdiscourse.
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makeeachstepofitsreasoningevidentinitsdiscourse.
(1)Thevirtueofdescribingisaccuracy.Adisciplineaimstomaximizethetotal
amountoftruthconveyedinitsdiscourse.
(m)Thevirtueofcriticizingisprecision.Adisciplineaimstomaximizethetotal
amounterroreliminatedfromitsdiscourse.
Weshallcalltheambivalencethatarisesbetween(j)and(k)Foucauldian,afterthe
mostfamousrecentstudentofdisciplinesasthemeansbywhichknowledgeisusedto
controlnatureandculture(Smart1983).Foucauldian
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ambivalencehaslittleinterestedanalyticphilosophersofscience,withtheexceptionof
StephenToulmin(1972)andtheLakatosianYehudaElkana(1982).Incontrast,the
ambivalencethatarisesbetween(1)and(m)hasbeenvirtuallythesoleconcernof
analyticphilosophers.WeshallcallitPopperianafterthephilosopherwhotooka
particularresolutionofthisambivalencenamely,maximizingtheprecisionof
hypothesesattheriskoftheiraccuracyasthecriterionfordemarcating"science"from
otherdisciplines(Popper1972,pp.193).Asweshallnowsee,boththeFoucauldianand
Popperianspeciesareneededforprovidingaframeworkcapableofchartingthehistory
ofDisciplinaryAmbivalence.Butfirstletusexploretheconsiderationsinvolvedineach
ambivalence.
Foucauldian Ambivalence.PaulGrice'srulesofconversationalimplicature,especiallythe
QuantityMaxim,forceatrade-offbetweenefficiencyandsurveyability(Leech1983,pp.
84-89).Foranygivendiscipline,themostefficientdiscoursewouldconveyonlynew
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informationrelativetotheintendedaudience.However,thismovewouldalsominimize
surveyabilitybymakingthediscipline'sdiscourseaccessibleonlytoinsiders.Still,the
disciplinemightnotatfirstregardthishermeticismassuchaloss,forifitsdiscourse
alsoexhibitsameasureofaccuracyandprecision,theninsiderswill,ineffect,have
knowledgeoversomedomain,thesourceofwhichwouldremainamysterytooutsiders
unabletosurveythediscipline'sreasoning.Thisisthecultofexpertise,associatedwith
theprofessionalizationofknowledge(Collins1975,ch.9).Furthermore,iftheinsiders
areexpertsonsomethingthataffectsthebehavioroftheoutsiders,thentheformal
definitionofinstitutionalpowerhasbeensatisfied(Crozier1964).
Yetthepromiseofpowerisnotenoughtodispeltheambivalence.Somedegreeof
surveyabilityisnecessaryforintroducingnovicesintoadiscipline.Infact,anothersuch
pedagogicalfunctionisalsorelevanttomaturepractitioners.Forifeachstepinone's
reasoningismadeexplicit,thenerrors,misunderstandings,anddisagreementscanbe
localizedandtreatedastheyoccur.Butthisdependsoncompletesurveyability,whichis
impracticable,sincemembersofthesamedisciplinegenerallyworkindisparate
communitieswithonlytheelusivemediumofprintconnectingthem(Collins1974).If
uncheckedfortoolong,incompletesurveyabilitymayleadtodeepmisunderstandings
betweensuchcommunities,engendering"schools"andperhapsevenKuhnian
incommensurability,whichisoftenfollowedbytheformationofnewdisciplines(Mulkay,
Gilbert&Woolgar1975,p.198).Thus,whileastrategyofmaximizingefficiency
promisespoweroutsideadiscipline,astrategyofminimizingofsurveyability
adumbratesinstabilitywithinthatdiscipline.
Popperian Ambivalence.ThereissomethingparadoxicalaboutPopper'sfalsifiability
thesisthatinstillstheambivalencebearinghisname.Thethesisimpliesthata
disciplinebecomesscientificonceitsmembersrealizethateliminatingerrorsis,inthe
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longrun,themosteffectivemeansofaccumulatingtruthsindeed,moreeffectivethan
simplytryingto
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accumulatetruthsintheshortrun.Furthermore,theshort-andlong-runpursuitsoftruth
areincompatibletheshortrunbeingguidedbyaccuracyandthelongrunbyprecision.
Accuracydemandsthatadisciplineissueclaimsthatarehighlyprobablegiventhe
currentknowledgebase,whileprecisiondemandsthatitissuehighlyimprobable(high
risk)claimsthatultimatelyturnouttobetrue.
Consideraclaimthathasjustbeenshownfalse.Howdoesthedisciplinecorrectthe
error?Theeasiestwayofincreasingtheclaim'sprobabilityisbyspecificallyexcluding
thefalsifyingcasesay,byappendinganadhochypothesisorbynimblyrewordingthe
originalclaim.Inbothcases,thedisciplinehasadjusteditsdiscourse,moretodescribe
pastencounterswiththeworldthantoanticipatefutureones.Whilesome(Skorupski
1976,pp.205-223)havetakenthisdoggedpursuitofaccuracyasemblematicofthe
subrationalmind,others(Bloor1979)havepointedoutthatnotevenmathematicians
areimmunetoitscharms.Incontrast,Popperwouldhavethedisciplinereplacethe
originalfalseclaimwithoneequallyvulnerabletofalsification.Andifthatclaimturns
outtobecorroborated,thenthedisciplinewouldbeadvisedtomakeitevenmore
vulnerablebyplacingfurtherconstraintsonthepossiblesituationsthatwill
subsequentlycountascorroborations.Thus,whereasthepursuitofaccuracyencourages
consensus(andperhapsevenstagnation)inadiscipline,thepursuitofprecision
promotesdivisivenessasitsmembersundermineeachother'sclaimsinthecourseof
circumscribingtheirtruthcontent.ButcontraPopper,thedoggedpursuitofprecisionis
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moreagamblethanaguaranteeforultimatetruth.Whatprecisiondoesguaranteeisa
quickturnoverinclaims,whichmayleadtothediscipline'sdemise,ifsomefairly
uncontestedtruthsarenotcollectedalongtheway(Mulkay,Gilbert&Woolgar1975,p.
195).
CananhistoricaltrendbediscernedintheresolutionofDisciplinaryAmbivalence?Ifwe
lookatthefullpanoramicsweepoforganizedknowledgeintheWest(say,fromthepreSocraticstothepresent),thetrendhasbeentoaccordhighcognitivestatusto
disciplineswhosediscoursesmaximizeefficiencyandprecisionattheexpenseof
surveyabilityandaccuracy.Moreover,thiscognitivestatushasbeen"accorded"notonly
throughtheplauditsdispensedbyphilosophicalkibitzersbutalsothroughtheallocation
ofeconomicandpoliticalresources.Thefactssurroundingthistrendarebynowfamiliar
tosociologists:theincreaseddivisionofcognitivelabor,theincreasedfrequencywith
whichdisciplinescomeandgo,theincreasedtechnicalcontroloverwell-defined
domains,theincreasedstoreofundigestibleinformation.
Ofcourse,eventothemostWhiggisheyes,thepanoramicsweepofourcognitive
developmentpresentsseveralslowdownsandsetbacksalongtheway.Oneofthese
seemstohaveapermanentplaceinthesocialstructureofknowledgenamely,folk
wisdomwhich,regardlessofcontent,resolvesDisciplinaryAmbivalenceinamanner
diametricallyopposedtothetrend,bymaximizingsurveyabilityandaccuracy.A
discipline(oritswayward
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practitioners)whosediscourseheadsinthisdirectionisthusengagedin
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"popularization."
AmoreinterestingdeviantresolutionofDisciplinaryAmbivalenceistomaximize
surveyabilityandprecisioninone'sdisciplinarydiscourse.Thisistheimageofscienceas
"conjecturesandrefutations"onwhichPopperandmostanalyticphilosophershave
fixated.Whatevermaybeitsnormativestatus,asasociologicalphenomenonthisimage
hasbeenlimitedtotheAthenianpolityandscholasticdisputation.Althoughitiswell
knownthattheAtheniancitizenrywereentertainedbypublicdebate,lessknownisthe
factthatscholasticsweresimilarlyamusedbydisputation.Infact,thereisreasonto
believethat,atleastforThomasAquinas,theprimaryconcernincomposinga
disputationasaseriesofobjectionsfollowedbyresponseswastoheightenthe
suspenseofthelecturer'sdialecticalfate.Moreover,inordertomakethelecturer'stask
seemasformidableaspossible,trivialandimportantargumentswerethrowntogether
indiscriminatelysoastopadthenumberofopeningobjections(McInerny1983,p.261).
Thenetresultwashighdrama,indeed,butalsoaratherineffectivewayofgauging
cognitiveprogress,aswasobservedbythoseotherwiseopposedideologuesofthe
ScientificRevolution,BaconandDescartes(Fuller1985b).
Nodoubtsuchunmitigatedenthusiasmfordialecticshasalsocontributedto
scholasticism'sconfusinglegacy.Butmostimportantly,sincescholasticismhasmore
closelyapproximated,onalargescale,the"upagainst-all-odds"attitudetoinquiry
thananyotherdiscipline,itsfatesuggeststhataprovisoneedstobeaddedtothe
Popperianimperative:namely,thatadiscipline'spractitionersshouldnotgetsocaught
upintheactivityoffalsificationthattheylosesightoffalsification'slongtermgoalof
truth,or,inananti-Kantianspirit,falsificationshouldalwaysbeameansandneveran
endinitself.
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ThelastpossibledeviantresolutionofDisciplinaryAmbivalenceremainsthesubjectof
muchcontroversy,asdocumentedinAdorno(1976).Maximizeefficiencyandaccuracyin
one'sdiscourse:sogoestheimperativeofthehermeneuticaldisciplinestheology,
jurisprudence,comparativeliterature,aswellasseveralcontinentalEuropeanschoolsof
history,philosophy,andevensociology(Baldamus1976,pp.18-29).Sinceourtermsfor
thelinguisticvirtuesseemtoobscuremorethanilluminateinthiscase,letusconsidera
pieceofhermeneuticaldiscourse,thebrocard(Tourtoulon1922,pp.310).
Abrocardisanaphorismthatoftenintroducesajudge'sdecisionincivillawcountries.
Thedecisionitselftakestheformofacommentaryonthebrocard,duringwhichthecase
underconsiderationisshowntoexemplifythejudge'sinterpretation.Brocardsare
designedtobeusedrepeatedlyforvariouscasesbyvariousjudges,theoveralleffect
beingtolendcontinuitytothelegaltradition.Theyarethusshortandmemorable,but
alsosomewhatoracular,sincetheirintendedrangeofapplicationiswide.Indeed,
brocardsaregenerallywordedsothatcontradictorypropositionscanbereadoffthem.
Andso,sinceagivenbrocardisapplicableonvirtuallyanyoccasion
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underdifferentinterpretationsitisquiteliterallyneverwrong(hence,brocards
maximizeaccuracy).Furthermore,abrocarddoesnotbecomelessinformativewith
repeateduse,sinceitisalwaysdifficulttopredicthowthejudgewillusehisdiscretion
tointerpretagivenbrocardinagivencase(hence,brocardsmaximizeefficiency).Take,
forinstance,The end never justifies the means.Thereis,ofcourse,thestandard
Kantianreadingofthisbrocard,butacleverjudgecanalsodivineanultra-Machiavellian
readingfromit:towit,theendaloneneverjustifiesthemeansusedforachievingit,
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sincethemeansshouldalsohavesomedesirablebypoducts.
However,thecostofhermeneuticaldiscourseishigh.Likethediscourseofthenatural
sciences,hermeneuticsishardlysurveyableonasystematicbasisbutunlikenatural
scientificdiscourse,itsystematicallyavoidsconfrontingerrorbytryingtoaccommodate
allinterpretations.Asaresult,hermeneuticaldiscourseisincapableofregistering
cognitivechange.Thisfeaturehasclearreactionarymethodologicalandideological
consequences,asPopper(1972,pp.183)andHabermas(McCarthy1978,pp.169-187),
respectively,havenoted.Curiously,theologyhasbeentheonehermeneuticaldiscipline
mostsensitivetotheproblemofmakingprogressinitsinquiries.Inthefieldof
redaction criticism,liberalProtestanttheologianshavesuggestedcriteriaforourcoming
toagreaterunderstandingofChrist'smessage.Inthelatenineteenthcentury,Adolfvon
HarnackproposedthatChrist'smessageiswhateverisdistinctiveabouttheGospels,
onceitssimilaritieswithothertextsoftheperiodhavebeendiscounted(Pauck1965).
Fiftyyearslater,RudolfBultmannproposedthatChrist'smessageiswhateverthe
Gospelshaveincommonwiththecanonicaltextsoftheothermajorreligioustraditions
(Macquarrie1965).Thus,theologicalprogressistied,inHarnack'scase,tofindingsin
literaryarchaeology,while,inBultmann'scase,itistiedtofindingsincomparative
religion.
Nevertheless,thecognitivedegradationofhermeneuticshasbeenlonginthemaking.
Perhapsbecausemanyhermeneuticianstodaydefinetheirownactivityashaving
emotiveorpragmaticimportinstead ofcognitiveimport,itisoftenforgottenthatthe
revivalofclassicallearningknownastheRenaissancewaslargelya"Hermeneutical
Revolution"(Yates1968).Cognitive"progress"thenconsistedofclarifyingone's
understandingofthewisdomcontainedinancienttexts.Thesetextswerethoughttobe
wisepreciselybecauseoftheirauthors'temporalproximitytotheCreation.Indeed,
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Natureitselfwasregardedasabookthatcouldbe"cross-referenced"withthecanonical
texts(Gadamer1975,p.160).Moreover,thiswastheattitudetakenbytheseventeenth
century'sgreatestnaturalhistorian,RobertHooke,anditwasprevalentwellintothe
nineteenthcenturyintheworkoftheNaturphilosophen.Thepointhereisthatwhile
"hermeneutics"isnowadaysusedexclusivelytocharacterizethemethodologyofthe
humanities,thetermprimarilyidentifiesonegeneralwayofdisciplinizingthediscourse
ofone'sinquiry,whichhasappliedtowhatwenowcall"sciences"astothehumanities.
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Interestingly,thehermeneuticalsenseofcognitiveprogressalsolegitimatedthe
Ciceroniantheoryoftranslation,whichwestillaccepttoday,albeitratheruncritically:
thatatranslationshouldpreservethecontentoftheoriginaltext.(Whynotaim,
instead,topreservetheresponsethatthetextelicitedfromitsoriginalaudience?This
questionwastreatedinchapterfive.)EvenduringtheScientificRevolution,nolessthan
IsaacNewtoncanbefoundtojustifyhisharmoniousworld-systemasanexplicationof
theprisca sapientiaoftheearlyGreeksandHebrews(McGuire&Rattansi1966).
However,theprecedentforregardinghermeneuticalknowledgeasbotholdandobsolete
hadalreadybeenset.InanattempttointegratetherecentlyrecoveredAristotelian
corpusintothescholasticcurriculum,AquinasarguedthatAristotle'snaturalscientific
methodfullyarticulatedreliableroutestoknowledgethathadonlybeeninchoately
expressedbythemorehermeneuticalliberalarts(McInerny1983,pp.258).
Whenandwhydidthebalanceofcognitivepowerweighdecisivelyagainst
hermeneutics?Theanswerstotheselittleexaminedquestionsarefarfromclear.Butan
importantkeyliesinaninterdisciplinaryhistoryofthetheoryandpracticeoftranslation,
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whichhassofarbeensubjecttopurely"internalist"treatments(Bassnett-McGuire
1980).Inparticular,onewouldwanttoseeunderwhatconditionstranslatorsstartedto
challengetheintuitionthatmaximumunderstandingisnecessaryformakingmaximum
useofatext.Forwhatprobablyseparatespractitionersofthe"sciences"fromthoseof
the"arts"isthescientist'ssensethatthetimeandeffortspentininterpretinghis
precursorsistimeandefforttaken awayfromcontributingtothegrowthofknowledge.
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CHAPTER NINE
THE ELUSIVENESS OF CONSENSUS IN SCIENCE
ConsiderLarryLaudan's(1984)recentstatementoftherolethatconsensusplaysin
scientificvalidation:
Whatmakesthebroaddegreeofagreementinscienceevenmoreperplexingis
thefactthatthetheoriesaroundwhichconsensusformsdothemselvesrapidly
comeandgo.Thehighdegreeofagreement,whichcharacterizessciencemight
besurprisingifscience,likesomemonasticreligions,hadsettleduponabody
ofdoctrinewhichwastobeitspermanentdogma.Consensus,oncereachedin
thosecircumstances,couldwellbeexpectedtosustainitselfforalongperiod
oftime.Butscienceoffersustheremarkablespectreofadisciplineinwhich
olderviewsonmanycentralissuesarequiterapidlyandfrequentlydisplaced
bynewerones,andwherenonethelessmostmembersofthescientific
communitywillunhesitatinglychangehorsesinmidstreamtoembraceapoint
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ofviewwhichmayevenhavebeenmootedadecadeearlier.[p.4]
LaudanthengoesontoshowthatKuhnhadnotedtheabovephenomenon,butlosthis
trainofthoughtalongthewaytoanexplanation.Inparticular,Kuhnofferedreasonsfor
thinkingthatastableconsensuscouldneverforminscience,reasonswhichallturnedon
theself-reinforcingcharacterofone'sownparadigm(forexample,one'sowntheories
meetone'sowncriteriaoftheorychoice,whilenooneelse'stheoriesdohence,
incommensurability).Inthatcase,thestandardpositivist(themostwell-confirmed
theorysurvives)andPopperian(theleastfalsifiedyetmostfalsifiabletheorysurvives)
accountsoftheorychoice,whichrelyonrationalstandardsmutuallyacceptabletoall
scientists,willnotapply.AsLaudanpointsout,thisleavesKuhnfewoptionsfor
explainingconsensusformation,whichresultsinwhatLaudantakestobean
unsatisfactorystateofaffairs:
Wehavetowait,[Kuhn]says,fortheoldergenerationtodieoffbeforethe
newparadigmestablisheshegemony(theso-calledPlanckPrinciple).But,even
iftrue,thisprovidesnoanswertothecentralquestion,foritfailstoexplain(if
itbeso)whytheyoungerscientistsareabletoagreethatoneparticularrival
totheorthodoxyispreferabletoothers.Afterall,transitionalperiodsofcrisis
are,forKuhn,typifiedbytheexistenceofamultitudeofnewparadigms,each
vyingfortheallegianceoftherelevantscientificpractitioners.Evenifwe
assume(withKuhn)thatyoungerscientistsaremoreopentonoveltythan
theirelders,westillhavenoexplanationforthefactthatthe"youngTurks"
aresooftenabletoagreeaboutwhichdarkhorsetoback.Youngadvocatesof
rivalparadigmsshould,ifKuhnisrightaboutincommensurabilityofbeliefsand
incompatibilityofstandards,haveallthesamedifficultiestheireldersdoin
reachingagreementabouttherespectivemeritsofcompetingparadigms.[p.
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18]
LikePopper,Laudanisstruckbythe"fact"thatsciencemanagestosteerthemiddle
coursebetweenpermanentdissensus(asinphilosophy)and
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permanentconsensus(asinreligion)and,insodoing,allowsagenuinegrowthof
knowledgetooccur.AlsolikePopper,Laudanbelievesthatweshouldtreatthisalleged
historicalfactaboutscienceasbeingtheresultofthewayinwhichthescientific
enterprisemaintainsitselfovertime.Inthatcase,wearetopresumethatourhistorical
inquiryintothenatureofscience'scognitivesuccesswilldeliverananswerthatcanbe
extrapolatedbeyondthehistoricalcasesconsideredinordertoserveasaprocedureor
"method"bothformaintainingscience'scognitivesuccessandformakingthe
cognitivelylesssuccessfuldisciplinesmoresuccessful.Popperandthepositivistsfailed
atthistaskbecausethemethodstheysuggested(inductivelogicsofonesortor
another)weresufficientlyremovedor"abstracted"fromthepracticesofspecific
scientificdisciplinestomakeitalltooeasyforscientiststocometoagreementonthe
relativeacceptabilityofanysetoftheories.Kuhn,ontheotherhand,failedbecause,as
Laudannotes,heproposedthattherelevantproceduresweresospecifictoparticular
disciplinesthatconsensuswouldbevirtuallyunachievableonthegloballevelwhich
typicallyinterestsphilosophers.
GivenLaudan'saims,thelastthinghewouldwanttolearnisthatconsensusformation
islargelyanaccidentalphenomenon,theresultofastatisticaldriftinallegiances,in
whichthereasonsinvokedbytheindividualscientistsmayhavelittletodowitheach
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other.Adiscoveryofthiskind,whichwouldamounttoan"invisiblehandexplanation"
(Ullmann-Margalit1978)ofscience'scognitivesuccess,wouldobviouslybedifficultto
implementdeliberatelyasapieceofrationalsciencepolicy.Itshouldcomeasno
surprisethenthatLaudanneveractuallysayswhyanappealtothePlanckPrinciple
wouldbeinsufficienttoexplainconsensusformationexcepttostigmatizeitasan
"external"factor,whichistosay,outsideofwhatheimplicitlytakestobethedesign
featuresofscience.Weshallnowarguethatthereisnothingintrinsicallyinadequate
aboutthekindofstatisticaldriftexplanationthatKuhngivesforconsensusformationin
science.Moreover,ifLaudan'sconceptionofconsensusinscienceisasdifferentfrom
Kuhn'sasheclaimsittobe,then,historicallyatleast,theburdenofproofwouldseem
torestonLaudan,and not Kuhn,toshowthataninterestingproblemhasfailedtobe
solved.

1. Two Pure Types of Consensus and Four Mixed Ones


Wecanimaginetwogroupsofindividuals,AandB,whocometoagreementinthe
followingmanner:
(a)Acomestoagreementbyeachindividualdecidingbyhimselftodothe
samething.
(b)Bcomestoagreementbyacollectivedecisiontodothesamething.
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Letussaythattheagreementconcernstheacceptability(or"assertibility,"ifyouwill)of
thesentenceswhichconstituteaparticularscientifictheory.IngroupA,eachindividual
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assentstothesentencesforhisownreasons,perhapssimilartothoseinvokedbyother
individuals,butperhapsnot.SinceingroupAthepresenceoftheotherindividualsdoes
notbindagivendeliberatorinanyway,thereasonsprivatelyinvokedbythedeliberator
maybeconsideredtotallyunreasonablebyalltherest.Anditmaybethatuponcloser
examination(soastosaveDonaldDavidson'smaximthatseemingirrationalitiesarethe
productoffaultycontextualizationsbytheinterpreter),thedeliberator'sstrange
reasoningscanbeexplainedasaneccentricreadingoftheagreeduponsentences.Since
thedeliberatorneednotmakehisreasonspublictotheothermembersofthegroup,he
maybeexpectedintheshortrun,atleast,tosuffernorecriminations.However,should
hedecidetousethesentenceswhichhehassoeccentricallyinterpretedaspartofthe
justificationofsomeequallyeccentricviewpoint,thendebateisboundtobreakout,and
somemeasureofdissensuswillensue.Whethertheeccentricmanagestoswaythe
otherstohisviewpointisanopenquestion,sincenothinginthewayinwhichgroupA
formedbindsitsmembersindefinitelytothesentencesoriginallyagreedupon.Theymay
driftawayfromendorsingthesentencesfordifferentreasonsatdifferenttimes.Andso,
fromthestandpointofanoutsiderwhoonlyknowsthesentenceswhichgroupAhad
agreeduponbutnotanyofthereasons,dissensuswouldthusappearunpredictable.
Incontrast,groupBisnotnearlysoopentothissortofinstability,sinceitsmembers
thrashouttheirreasonsinthepresenceofoneanotherbeforereachingagreement.The
needtopresentone'sreasonsasbeingofthekindthatallthememberswouldfind
reasonableencourageseachdeliberatortoaimforcommonlyacceptedusage,standards
ofevidence,andsenseofrelevance.Andso,oncegroupBreachesconsensus,itis
presumedthattheyhavedonesoforthesamereasons,whichmeansthatacompetent
disturbancetheconsensuscouldariseonlyundercircumstancesthat,atleastin
principle,couldbeagreeduponbyall.Andevenifitsmembersfailtoanticipatean
anomaly,theywillunanimouslyagreetothefactthatitwarrantsadissolutionofthe
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consensusandaresumptionofthedebate.Andso,forgroupB,bothconsensusand
dissensusarewelldefinedandbinding.
LetuscallgroupAanaccidental consensus,sincethefactthateveryoneinthegroup
assentstothesamesetofsentencesisaccidentaltothefactthateachindividualhas.
Forexample,thereasonswhymostofmycolleagueshaveendorsedaparticulartheory
maybeunrelatedtothereasonswhyIhaveaswell.Thesereasonsmaybe"unrelated"
eitherinthesenseofbeingdifferentfromoneanotherorinthesenseofbeingreached
throughindependentmeans.GroupBisanessential consensus,sincethefactthatthe
entiregrouphasassentedtothissetofsentencesisessentialtothefactthateach
individualhas.Anotherwayofputtingthedistinctionisthat,inanessentialconsensus,
onecan,inprinciple,specifyanetworkofpersuasion
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amongalltheindividualsinthegroupthatissuesintheircollectivedecision,whileno
suchnetworkcanbespecifiedinanaccidentalconsensus.
Theparadigmofanaccidentalconsensusisthekindofagreementthatpollstersfindin
thecourseofsurveyingpublicopinion.Althoughthepollsterpresumesthateveryone
surveyedunderstandsthequestioninthesameway,heusuallydoesnotcheck.And
indeed,studiesshowthatbyparaphrasingaquestiononewayinsteadofanother,the
extentofconsensusmaybemanipulated.Thissuggeststhatthedegreeofagreement
onwhatthequestionmeansisneverparticularlydeep(Deutscher1968).Why?One
reasonisthattheindividualssurveyeddonotgenerallyinteractwitheachotheroreven
thepollsterbeforehandinordertonegotiatetheexactmeaningofthequestion.And
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whenthequestionconcernsanissueonwhichtheindividualswilleventuallyhaveto
makeabindingchoice,suchasapresidentialelection,thispollingprocedureis
deliberatelyused,sincepollstersareinterestedinthevarying"perceptions"ofa
candidatethatmaybethesourceofmanyunrelatedandevenincompatiblereasonsfora
collectionofinterestgroupseithersupportingoropposinghim.Needlesstosay,the
massmedia,whichpresentissuestoindividualsinrelativeisolationfromeachother(for
example,throughanindividualnewspaperortelevision),fosterthisphenomenonof
accidentalconsensus.
Beforejumpingtotheconclusionthatconsensusisthemarkofsomethinglike
"objectivity"inscience,wemustmakesurethattheconsensusinquestionisnotmerely
accidentalintheabovesense.Justaspublicopinionpollsterscanfabricateconsensus
byphrasingtheirquestionssufficientlyvaguelyorabstractly,orbypreselectingthe
groupofeligiblerespondents(eveniftheyrandomizetheindividualsselectedwithin
thatgroup),sotoohistoriansofsciencecanconstructaconvergenceofopinionsona
particularpoint.Inbothcases,onceafiner-grainedquestionisasked,disagreement
arises.Weshallsoondelveintothismatteratgreaterlength,butfornowletussuggest
onephenomenon,muchdiscussedbyhistoriansandsociologistsofscience,whichmay
wellbetheproductofanaccidentalconsensusformation:namely,multiple(or
simultaneous)discoveries.(Lamb[1984]isthefirstextendedphilosophicalstudyofthis
phenomenon.)
Amultiplediscoveryoccurswhenseveralscientists,whootherwisehavelittleornothing
todowitheachother'sresearch,seemtoarriveatroughlythesamediscoveryatroughly
thesametime.Sincethescientistswereclearlynotincollusionwithoneanother,andin
factmaybefromnationalordisciplinarytraditionsofquiteopposingmakeups,itis
arguedthatthisphenomenonpointstotheobjectivityoftheknowledgeclaiminvolved
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inthediscovery.Theenergyconservationprincipleisusuallytakentobetheparadigm
caseofadiscoveryofthiskind,asithadbeenproposedindependentlybyCarnot,Joule,
Helmholtz,Mayer,andRumfordaroundthelate1830s.Thesescientistsrepresent
severalnationaltraditionsBritish,French,Germanaswellasseveralcontextsin
whichscientificresearchwasdonemetaphysical,interdisciplinary,experimental,
technological.Butthe"multiplicity"ofthisdiscoverymaysimplybeas
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Kuhn(1977a,ch.4)hassuggestedtheresultofhistorians,followingthepollster,
findingconsensusbystatingtheprincipleabstractlyenough.Thisis,afterall,howthe
conservationprincipleisnormallystated:"workandheataremutuallyconvertible"or
"thenetenergyaddedtoasystemequalsthenetchangeofenergywithinthesystem."
Thehistorianwouldhaveastakeinproceedingthisway,sincetheprincipleisthe
foundationofcontemporarythermodynamictheory.
Incontrast,sincewenolongerbelievethatlighttravelsthroughanaethermedium,the
consensusovertheexistenceofanaetherinthenineteenthcenturyisportrayedasthe
productofdivergentconceptionstravelingunderthesameconfusingterm.Moreover,in
thesocialsciences,multiplediscoveryisquitefrequent(examplesincludetheoriginof
thefollowingconceptsbypsychologistsandsociologistsaround1900:thedivisionof
labor,theunconscious,thedistinctionbetween"community"and"society"),butthereit
isnormallyattributedtothefailureofcommunicationbetweenresearchprogramswhose
membershavehadlargelythesametrainingandbackgroundinformation.However,
ratherthanpoolingtheircollectivecognitiveresources,andtherebyminimizingthe
redundancyofeffortimpliedbymultiplediscovery,socialscientistsaretypically
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overcomebyideologicaldifferenceswhichpreventthemfromtakinganactiveinterestin
(orperhapsevengeneratinghostilitytoward)eachother'sresearch.ThefailureofEmile
DurkheimandMaxWebertoappreciateeachother'sworkisastrikingcaseinpoint.This
sortofmultiplediscoveryisthenusedtoexplainthe lack of progressinthesocial
sciences?Whycouldn'tthesamebesaidaboutthestatusoftheenergyconservation
principleasamultiplediscovery?
Tomakemattersevenmorecomplicated,considerthatmultiplediscoveryismorelikely
thanevertobeseenasamarkofobjectivity,insofarasnaturalscientistssee
themselvesashavinggoodcommunicationlinkswitheachother.Consequently,afailure
incommunicationwouldnotstrikethemasaviableexplanationofthemultiple
discovery.However,eventhoughscientistsareabletoaccessmoreinformationthan
everbefore,thereisalsomoreinformationtobeaccessed,whichmeansthatscientists
caneasilyhaveafalseimpressionofjusthowwellinformedtheyreallyare.
Turningnowtotheessentialconsensus,itsparadigmcaseisPeirce'sidealscientific
community,whichanticipatesthePopperianvisionoftheenvironmentinwhichthe
methodofconjecturesandrefutationsisideallydeployed.(AsHaskell[1984]pointsout,
Peirce,likePopperafterhim,drewhismodeloftheidealscientificcommunityfromthe
capitalistmarketplace.)AlthoughPeirce'sscientistsareveryego-involvedintheir
conjecturing(Peirceimagineseachofthemtobecompetingforhavinghisname
attachedtotheultimateexplanationoftheuniverse),andhencepronetodivisiveness,
neverthelesstheyalsorealizethattheiregoscannotbegratifiedunlesstheyhave
persuadedtheirfellowsintermsthathavecommunalclout.Thisleadstobothintense
competitionandintensecommunicationamongthescientists,whichensuresthat
whateveragreement
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isfinallyreachedwillbeforreasonsthatareunderstoodandacceptedbyall.
Asthetitleofthissectionsuggests,"accidental"and"essential"aretwopuretypesof
consensus.Theyare"pure"inthesensethattheymakenoassumptionsaboutthe
cognitivestateoftheindividualsinvolved,asidefromtheirhavingabeliefaboutthe
patternofsocialinteractionthatisnecessaryforjustifyingtheirbeliefs.Inanaccidental
consensus,theindividualsbelievethatnosocialinteractionisnecessary,whichexplains
whyonceindividualsareshownthattheyhaveinterpreted,say,asurveyquestionin
differentways,theyfeelnoneedtoconvergeonasinglereadingorresponsehence,
publicopinionfragmentsjustaseasilyasitsolidifies.Incontrast,eachmemberofan
essentialconsensusrecognizesthatheneedstodefendhisbelieftotherestofthe
groupbeforeheisacceptedasjustifiedinhisbelieftheneedfortotalsocialinteraction
thusmotivatestheconvergenceofopinioninthelongrun,asPeirceobserved.However,
wecanimaginesomewhatmorecomplicatedsituations,whichimputerichercognitive
statestotheindividuals,therebycreating"mixed"typesofconsensus.
Near-Essential Consensus:Theremayagroupofindividuals,eachofwhomrecognizes
thathemustconvincetheothermembersinordertobeacceptedashavingajustified
beliefbutalsosomeofthemembersbelievethattherelevantcontextofjustification
extendstootherindividualsoutsidethisgroup.(Indeed,theremaybelittleagreement
amongthemembersastotheidentityofthese"otherindividuals.")Ahypotheticalcase
ofsuchanear-essentialconsensuswouldbeagroupofEnglishbiologists,circa1870,
eachofwhomrecognizesthathemustjustifyhisbeliefabout"theoriginofspecies"to
therestofthebiologistsbut,inaddition,someofthesebiologiststhinkthattheir
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beliefmustalsopassmusterbythejustificatorystandardsofnaturaltheology.Inthat
case,thefollowingdialecticalimpassemayarisewithinthegroupthatbreaksdownthe
consensus.Everyoneagreesthatifthedesignfeaturesofdivinecreationneednotbe
explainedbyanacceptableaccountoftheoriginofspecies,thenDarwin'stheoryis
clearlythemostjustifiablybelieved.However,someofthebiologiststhetheologically
sensitiveonesbelievethatsuchfeaturesdoindeedneedtobeexplained,whichmakes
themunabletoacceptDarwinism(fortherelevanthistory,seeYoung1985).
Near-Accidental Consensus:Asinthecaseoftheaccidentalconsensus,themembersof
thissortofgroupdonotbelievethatacertainpatternofsocialinteractionisnecessary
fortheirbeliefstobejustified.However,unlikeanaccidentalconsensus,theoverall
coherenceofthegroup'sactivitieswouldnotbejeopardizedbythememberslearning
thattheyinfactdisagreemorethantheythought.Theremaybetworeasonsforthis
situationarising:
(c)Themechanismbywhichagroup'sbeliefsareselected,atleastinthelong
term,liesoutsideanycontextofjustificationthatmembersofthegroupare
likelytorecognize.Anexampleofsuchaselection
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mechanismwouldbethethePlanckPrincipleinitsmostextreme(andleast
plausible)form:nomatterhowcontestedaparticularbeliefmaycurrentlybe,
itwillneverthelesstriumphintheendifthemajorityofyoungergroup
memberssupportityet,thefactthatthisbelieftendstoattracttheyounger
memberswouldnotberecognizedbyanyoneinthegroupasbeingagood
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reasonforsupportingit.
(d)Thereisa"functionaldifferentiation"ofgroupdissensusthatservesto
promotethegroup'soverallgoals.Inotherwords,agroupmayconsistof
subgroupsthatcannotagreeonissuesasbasicastherelativeimportanceof
theothersubgroups'activitiesforthegroup'soverallgoalsstill,theremaybe
discernible"progress"towardthegroup'sgoals,ifthesubgroupsdonotdraw
fromthesamepoolofmaterialresourcesandhencedonotneedtocompete.
Anexampleofthissituationwouldbearatheridealizeddivisionofcognitive
laborintoacademicdisciplines,especiallybetweenthe"sciences"and
"humanities."Scientistsmaybeskepticalofthevalueoftheworkdonebythe
humanists,butaslongastheydonotdrawfromthesamepooloffunds,these
irreconcilabledifferencesdonotaffecttheoverallgaininknowledgeproduced
bythecollectiveactivitiesofthetwocamps.
Withrespectto(d),MichaelPolanyi(1957,pp.7-9)hassuggestedthatthefunctional
differentiationofgroupdissensusbeganwhenmathematicsandphysicsstartedtohave
separatehistories,reflectingthedifferentdirectionsinwhichdevelopmentsfrom
Newton'sPrincipia Mathematicawent.Physicistssoontookarealistattitudetoward
theirownpursuitsandaninstrumentalistattitudetowardmathematics,while
mathematicianstendedtoberealistsabouttheirownactivitiesandinstrumentalists
aboutthoseofthephysicist.Thus,physicistsandmathematiciansdidnotregardeach
otherasmakingclaimstoknowledgeofreality:physicistssawmathematiciansas
conceptualandcomputationalfacilitators(LagrangeandLaplace'selegantreformulation
ofNewtonianmechanicsisanexample),whilemathematicianssawphysicistsasapplied
mathematiciansandmakersofconcretemodelsofmathematicaltruths(Einstein's
appropriationofRiemanniangeometryasthemodelofgeneralrelativityisanexample).
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Thistrendcontinuedastheknowledgesystemgraduallybecamedividedintostillmore
specializeddisciplines,whichaccountsfortheriseofinstrumentalismasageneral
philosophyofscience(namely,toaccountforeveryone'sresearchbutone'sown).The
lessontolearnhere,onceagain,isthatdisciplinescanhavemutuallydebunking
attitudestowardoneanotherwhichneverthelessturnouttobemutuallysupportingat
thelevelofdailypractice.
Procedurally Enforced Consensus:Thissituationobtainsinanygroupactivitywherethe
meansofsocialinteractionishighlyconstrained,say,byatechnicallanguageinwhich
allclaimsmustbeexpressed.Theseconstraintsservetopreventanypotentially
debilitatingdisagreementsfromarising.Forexample,a"well-constructed"discipline
(institutionallyspeaking)will
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minimizetheopportunitiesfordisputesoverworldview(Whitley1986).Andinsofaras
historiansofsciencerelyonthelinguisticbehaviorofscientistsastheirprimarysource
ofevidence,theycontributetoessentializingwhatmayjustbeanaccidentalconsensus,
sincethediscourseofscientistsrevealsmanycommonidioms,whichatfacevalue
indicatemanycommonbeliefs.However,indiscussingthemultifariousreceptionof
Newtonbelow,wesuggestthatprocedurallyenforcedconsensusmayfoster
incommensurability(inthesenseofsystematicmiscommunication),onthegroundsthat
evenifthepractitionersofadisciplinecannotexpresstheirpersonalideologiesand
interestswithintheofficialidiom,theydrawonthoseextradisciplinaryfactorsas
backgroundcontextto(mis)interprettheutterancesoftheircolleagues.However,the
incommensurabilitybecomesevidentonlyoncethedisciplinarymatrixbreaksdownand
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theprocedurallyenforcedconsensusisnolongerineffect.
Suboptimal Essential Consensus:Asuboptimallyfunctioningessentialconsensus
produceswhatsocialpsychologistElisabethNoelle-Neumann(1982)calls,afterAlexis
DeTocqueville,the spiral of silence.Anessentialconsensusfunctionsoptimallywhen
eachmemberofagroupknowsthejustificatorystandardsandcurrentbeliefsofallthe
othermembers,especiallyaschangescomeaboutastheresultofsocialinteraction.
However,eveninthebestdesignedessentialconsensus,perfectinformationofthiskind
isunlikelytobereadilyavailable,ifonlybecausenoteveryoneisconstantlymakinghis
viewsheard.Whatmoreoftenhappensisthatthosewhoarriveatabeliefwhichthey
taketobejustifiableengagetheothermembersinapublicdefensethosewhoeither
agreewithastandingbelieforhavenostrongviewssimplyremainsilent.However,if
thepublicforumispresumedtobeademocraticone(thatis,equallyaccessibletoall),
asPeirce'sidealscientificcommunityis,thenthereisastrongtemptationtotakethe
morehighlyvisible(oraudible)positionsastheonesmostrepresentativeofgroup
opinion.Forexample,ifaparticularbeliefiseitherdefendedorattackedfrequently,
memberstendtopresume(soNoelleNeumann'sresearchsuggests)thatthebeliefhas
arelativelylargefollowing,when,ofcourse,itmayjusthaveafewveryarticulate
spokesmen.
Ademocraticsetupisespeciallypronetoafaultyinferenceofthiskindbecauseits
membershavenoprimafaciereasonforthinkingthatanyoneisholdingbackonwhat
theyreallybelieve.Asaresult,thesilentmembersofthegroup,whomightotherwise
benoncommittal,starttomovetowardwhattheytaketobethetrendoftherest.
Tocqueville(1955)firstdrewattentiontothisphenomenon,whichhetooktobethe
sourceofthe"sixthsense"thatpeoplehavebeentraditionallythoughttohaveabout
theopinionsofothers.Heusesthespiralofsilencetoexplaintherapiddeclineofthe
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clergyinFranceaftertheRevolutionof1789.Thereasonwasnotthatmostpeoplehad
beenconvincedbythesecularidealsoftherevolution,butrather,thatthe
revolutionarieshadbeensovocalintheirattacksoftheChurch,andtheChurchitselfso
silent(sinceitbelieved,quitecorrectlybut
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inexpediently,thatitssupportersvastlyoutnumbereditsattackers),thatcitizensbegan
tothinkthatmostoftheirfellowshadstrayedfromthefaith,andthusbegantosee
suchanattitudeaspubliclylicensed.
Intryingtoidentifythesourcesandextentofconsensusanddissensusamong
scientists,thehistorianisaneasytargetforthespiralofsilence,sincetheonlyviews
onwhichhetypicallyfeelssafetocommentaretheonesthatareactuallyexpressed.
Butifindeedallthebeliefsexpressedarenotnecessarilyall,orevenmost,ofthe
beliefsheld,thensomeembarrassinginterpretiveproblemsarise.Forexample,much
philosophicalargumentthroughoutthecenturieshasbeenaddressedtosilencing"the
skeptic,"asifhehadmanyfollowers(orevenjustmanyindividualswhofoundhis
argumentspersuasive).However,trackingdownactualskepticsturnsouttobevery
elusive.Theeffectsofthisparticularspiralofsilencecanbeseeninthebehaviorof
contemporaryepistemologists,mostofwhomadmitthattheir fieldtakestheskeptic's
challengetobeimportant,thoughthey personallydonotfinditnearlysoformidable.An
evenmoretellingcasemaybetheoriginsofthemostrecentrevolutioninthehuman
sciences,theso-calledCognitiveRevolutionassociatedwiththeimportationofNoam
Chomsky'sgenerativelinguisticsintoexperimentalpsychology.Wecandolittlemore
herethanobservethatwhatturnedouttobethedecisiveeventintherevolution,
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Chomsky'sdevastating1959reviewofB.F.Skinner'sVerbal Behavior,wasmetbyno
responsefromthebehavioristcamp.AlthoughSkinnerlaterexplainedthatsince
Chomskyhadclearlynotkeptupwiththelatestdevelopmentsinbehaviorallinguistics
andthatChomsky'sowntheorywasanextensionoftheworkofZelligHarris,aleading
behaviorallinguist,Skinnersawnoneedtoreply.However,thoseonthedialectical
sidelinessawthemattermuchdifferently,namelythatSkinnercould notanswer
Chomsky'scritique,whichpermittedtheCognitiveRevolutiontoproceedinsilence(Zuriff
1985,ch.7).
Inconcludingthisexaminationofthetypesofconsensus,weshallbrieflyreconsiderthe
thesisproposedatthestartofthispaperaboutthedifferencebetweenLaudanandKuhn
ontheroleofconsensusformationinscience.Thiswillgiveusatasteofthe
elusivenessofthisrole,whichwillbestudiedingreaterdetailinthenextsection.Our
reconsiderationisframedbythefollowingquestion:DoesLaudanoverplaytheextentto
whichKuhn'saccountofscientificprogressismerelyresultofan"invisiblehand"
mechanism,arationalitythatisdisplayedonlyonthemacro,butnotthemicrolevel,of
thehistoryofscience?
Kuhn(1970a)makesapointofstressingthevarietyofargumentsthattendtomove
membersofthescientificcommunityinwhat,fromthehistorian'sstandpoint,appearsto
bethesamedirection:
Becausescientistsarereasonablemen,oneoranotherargumentwill
ultimatelypersuademanyofthem.Butthereisnosingleargumentthatcanor
shouldpersuadethemall.Ratherthanasinglegroupconversion,whatoccurs
isanincreasingshiftinthedistributionofprofessionalallegiances.[p.158]
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Kuhnisheredescribingtheformationofwhatwehavecalledanaccidentalconsensus.
Laudan(1984)wishestomaskoverthisbrutefactwithaselfstyled"reticulated"theory
ofscientificjustification,wherebyscientistsareabletoresolvetheirdisputesover
factual,methodological,oraxiologicalpointsbecause,atanygivenmoment,onlyoneof
thesepointsiscontended,whileagreementispresumedontheothertwo.Laudan's
approachhere,reminiscentofdebateforums,isoneofessentialconsensusformation.
Andthisapproachwouldwork,ifallthescientistsLaudanwishedtoincludeaspartof
the"debate"onagivenpointactuallyconstitutedthemselves(through,say,a
communicationnetwork)asacommonaudience,whichwas,inturn,recognizedasthe
finalarbiterofanargument'svalidity.Butthequestion,ofcourse,iswhetherthe
approachdoeswork.
Perhapsthebestwayofaddressingthisquestion,inbriefcompass,isbyindicatingthe
controversialnatureofLaudan'shistoricalinterpretations.Forexample(Laudan,pp.5659),inthemid-eighteenthcentury,scientiststookNewton's"hypothesesnonfingo"to
heartandattackedthefollowinghereticaltheoriesforpostulatingunobservedentities:
Hartley'sneurophysiologyofaetherealfluids,Lesage'sultramundaneparticleexplanation
ofgravity,andBoscovitch'salternatelychargedmass-points.However,Laudanclaims
thatsincethesehereticsagreedwiththescientificestablishmentonwhatcountedasa
goodtheory,namely,Newtonianmechanics,theywereabletoresolvetheir
methdologicalandaxiologicaldisagreements.Infact,thehereticsmanagedtoshowthat
whileNewtonwasexplicitlyaninductivist,implicitly(thatis,inpractice)hewasa
hypothetico-deductivist.SosaysLaudan.
Fromthestandpointofthenextsection,theinterestingfeatureofLaudan'saccountis
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thathesupportsitexclusivelybycitingtheheretics'appealstoNewton'sauthorityand
theirreinterpretationoftheNewtoniancorpustolegitimatetheirownscientificpractice.
ButdoesLaudan'sevidencereallyimplythatconsensushadbeenreachedonsomething
assubstantiveastheexemplarofagoodscientifictheoryordoesitwarrant,rather,
theweakerclaimthatconsensushadbeenreachedonthecanonicallanguageinterms
ofwhichallclaimstoscientificlegitimacyhadtobenegotiated?Aswillbecomeclear,I
argueforthelatteroption.

2. The Elusive Object of Consensus in Science


LetusassumethatgroupAandgroupB(asdefinedabove)representfundamentally
differentsituationsinscience.EachgroupBshouldberegardedascomposedofactual
humanbeingswhohaveregularinteractionaboutscientificmatters,invirtueofbeing
partofthesameuniversitydepartment,schoolofthought,researchfacility,or"invisible
college"(Crane1972).Thevariousunits,thevariousgroupBs,are,inturn,themembers
ofagroupA.Thus,weareenvisagingasituationinwhichan
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accidentalconsensusiscomposedofacollectionofessentialconsensuses.Inthinking
thatthereismoretoconsensusformationinsciencethanKuhnmakesout,LaudansoI
shallarguemistakenlyassumesthattheglobalgroupAsituationsjustdescribed
operatelikethemorelocalgroupBsituations.Weshalltakeasourexamplethe
agreementfromdiversequartersontheacceptanceofNewtonianmechanics,a"preanalyticintuition"whichLaudan(1977,pp.158-163)claimsthatthehistorianhasabout
thestateofsciencein1800.
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Thefirstproblemfacinganyattempttoexplainconsensusinscienceistospecifyexactly
whatthepartiesaresupposedtohaveagreedto.Laudanexacerbatesanunfortunate
tendencyamongphilosophersofsciencetoidentifytheobjectsofconsensusas
"theories,""methods,"andsometimeseven"metaphysics."Withinthedisciplineof
philosophy,thesetermscanbemademoreorlessprecise.Forexample,someonemay
wanttoaxiomatizeaspecificscientifictheory.Whilehewill,ofcourse,takesomecare
toensurethattheaxiomsandpropositionsderivablefromthembearsomeresemblance
towhathas,atsomepoint,goneunderthenameof,say,"Newtonianmechanics,"the
axiomatizerwillnotbetooconcernedaboutwhetherparticularscientistswouldhave
everassentedtoalltheaxiomsandpropositionsofwhichhistheoryisconstructed.Such
isthenatureofrationalreconstruction.Oncetheaxiomatizationiscomplete,heandhis
fellowaxiomatizerscanunambiguouslyrefertoitwhenevertheywanttosaysomething
aboutNewtonianmechanics,withouteverhavingtoopenahistorybook(oraphysics
book,forthatmatter).AndthecontextsinwhichtheywouldlikelyrefertoNewtonian
mechanicswouldensurethattheyarenotmissinganythingbynotknowingthehistory
orthephysics:forexample,"DoesNewtonianmechanicslogicallysubsumeGalileo's
Law?"However,oncetheaxiomatizerventuresbeyondthispreciseandformalsenseof
"theory"andclaimsthatitwasrationalataparticulartimeforaparticulargroupof
scientiststoacceptNewtonianmechanics,heonlybegsthequestioninpresumingthat
therewasexactly oneNewtonianmechanicswhichallofthemdecidedtoaccept.For
howwouldthephilosopherofscienceidentifythisonetheory?
Admittedly,historiansofscienceoftenmentionthenamesofsuchtheoriesas
"Newtonianmechanics,""Darwinianbiology,"and"phlogistonchemistry."However,they
tendtousethenamesasaconvenientwayofindividuatingcampsofscientists,often
simplyonthebasisofthefactthatthesescientistseitherhaveappropriatedthelabels
forthemselvesormorelikelyhavehadthelabelsfoisteduponthembytheirrivals.
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Andperhapseveryscientistwouldpresumethattheotherscientistsinhiscampadhered
tothesamecoretenets.Thecommonalityoflabelshasnormallybeenenoughto
dissuadethescientistsfromdelvingintothematter,unitedastheyseemedtobe
againstacommonfoe.Consequently,itisnotunusualforahistoriantoexaminethe
microstructureofascientificcamponlytofindthatthescientistsmusthavebeen
presumingofeachotherquite
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differentcoretenetsafactthatmaysurfaceonlymuchlaterininternaldisagreements
(Gilbert&Mulkay1984,ch.6).
Anastutescientist,suchasHeinrichHertz(1899),maybeawareofthistendency.At
theturnofthecentury,HertzidentifiedthreeversionsofNewtonianmechanics,each
groundedonaslightlydifferentsetofprinciplesbutwithmajordifferencesinresearch
orientation.Allthreeidentifiedspace,time,andmatterasprimitives,buttwoversions
proposedafourthprimitive.Whiletheclassical"textbook"accountaddedforce,thethen
fashionableenergeticistaccountaddedenergy.Hertzobservedthatbothforceand
energywereunnecessaryadditions:ontheonehand,(centrifugal)force,beingnothing
morethaninertia,isderivablefromspace,time,andmatteraloneontheotherhand,
treating(potential)energyasasubstanceisacontradictioninterms.Butifthis
diagnosisiscorrect,howwasitpossiblefortheoreticaldebateinlatenineteenth-century
physicstocenteronthesearchforthefourthprimitive?Hertzsuggeststhattheentire
debatewasorchestratedbyphilosophicallymindedphysicists,suchasHelmholtz,who
wantedtoshowthattheirownparticularworldviewwasimpliedbyabodyofknowledge,
"Newtonianmechanics,"whichostensiblyhaduniversalassent.
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Inshort,thenamesoftheoriesfunctionforthehistorianofsciencemuchasthenames
ofideologiesdoforthehistorianofpolitics.Ofcourse,manyhistoriansstudyparticular
classicaltexts,suchasPrincipia MathematicaandOn the Origin of Species,andthey
mayusetheterms"Newtonianmechanics"and"Darwinianbiology"torefertothem.
However,philosophersofsciencedonotmeanthetermsinthatsenseeitherthatis,
whenLaudanwonderswhetheritwasrationaltoacceptNewtonianmechanicsin1800,
heispresumablynotwonderingwhetheritwasrationalforscientiststohaveassented
tothesentencescomposingPrincipia MathematicaasNewtonintendedthem.What,
then,isthenatureofLaudan'squery?
ThereisonewayofinterpretingLaudan'squerythatisnotintrinsicallyproblematic,but
whichLaudanhimselfwouldprobablynotfindattractive.Perhapsby"Newtonian
mechanics,"LaudanmeanstheobjectinhabitingPopper's(1972)WorldThreethatis
imperfectlyrepresentedbyPrincipia MathematicaandLaplace'sCelestial Mechanics,
whichwerethemselvesoriginallyproductsofWorldTwo(minds)thatwerethen
embodiedinWorldOne(asbooks).ItistheobjectthatKoyre(1969)andother
historianshaveidentifiedas"theNewtonianworldview."Inotherwords,thescientistsin
1800arepurportedtohave(rationally)agreedtothe"essence"ofNewtonianmechanics,
whichcanbeidentified,viaa"causaltheoryofreference"(Putnam1984)linking
Newton's1687textwithLaplace's1799text(andothertextsaswell).
Noticethatsuchanagreementisdifferentfromagreeingtotheessenceofwhat
Newtonianmechanicspurportstobearepresentationoftherealphysicalstructureof
theuniverse.ThislattersortofconsensusistheonethatHilaryPutnamidentifiesas
necessaryforensuringthatthescientists
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areonajointinquirytowardtheTruth.However,Laudantheinstrumentalistisunlikely
toembracetheideathattheoriesthemselveshaveessencesquiteapartfromthe
essencesoftheirobjects.FortoacceptthisMeinongianpropositionwouldbeto
countenancethefollowingquestion:Doescomingtomoreadequaterepresentationsof
Newtonianmechanics(however,wemightcometodothat)necessarilyinvolvealso
comingtomoreadequaterepresentationsofwhatNewtonianmechanicsrepresents
(namely,physicalreality)?Wedonotmeantocastaspersionsonthevalidityofthe
question.Indeed,socialhistorians,whooftenwanttoportrayagroupofscientistsas
pursuingatheoryonideologicalgrounds,regardlessofitsrepresentationaladequacy,
wouldfindourmetaphysicaldistinctionhelpful.Inthatcontext,wewouldsuggestthat
ourquestionmaybeansweredasfollows:TheessenceofNewtonianmechanicsisa
Lakatosiancontraption,repleteinheuristicsandbelts,thatrendersNewtonian
mechanicsinvulnerabletoallpossiblefalsifications.Thus,theanswertoourquestionis
"no."AbetterrepresentationofNewtonianmechanicsonethatcapturestheNewtonian
worldviewmoreexactlyisnotnecessarilyabetterrepresentationofwhatNewtonian
mechanicsrepresents,physicalreality.ThisisalessonthatLakatos(Hacking1981b)
learnedfromHenriPoincare(1965,pp.98-100).Intheend,though,despitetheir
intrinsicinterest,thesemetaphysicalissuesareexactlythesortthatmostphilosophers
ofsciencehaveavoidedsincetheadventofpositivism.
OnedeceptivelysimplewayofidentifyingtheobjectofconsensusthatLaudanand
otherscall"Newtonianmechanics"isbylistingexactlythosesentencesinPrincipia
Mathematica(andotherrelatedworks)thatalltherelevantscientistswouldhaveagreed
to.AsKuhn(1977b)haspointedout,themostlikelycandidatesentenceswouldbe
mathematicaloneswhichhecalls"symbolicgeneralizations"sincecomputational
virtuescanbelessambiguouslyshowntoscientistswhowouldreadilydisagreeonthe
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interpretationofsentencesinanaturallanguage.However,toestablishthatthe
scientistshaveagreeduponacertainmathematicalformalisminwhichtodocelestial
mechanicsishardlyenoughtoshowthattheyhavedecidedtopursuesomethingin
common.Theremustbesomesignificantuniformityofinterpretationaswell.Butthisis
wherethescientistsaremostlikelytoturnphilosophicaland,hence,divisive.Should
Newton'sLawsbeinterpretedasself-evidenttruths,empiricallyfalsifiablehypotheses,
definitionsadoptedsolelyforcomputationalconvenience,partialinstructionsfor
constructingamechanicalmodeloftheuniverse,orrepresentationsofhowthingsreally
are?(Buchdahl[1951]reviewsthemeritsoftheseoptions.)AlthoughmosteighteenthcenturyscientistsatleastincontinentalEuropeinterpretedNewtonianmechanics
instrumentally,contrarytoNewton'sownrealisttendencies,philosophersofscience
generally(andLaudaninparticular)wouldwanttodistinguishaconsensusoveratheory
fromaconsensusoveramethodology,howevermutuallysupportingthedeliberationson
thesetwomattersmayhavebeenhistorically.
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PerhapsthissituationmaybesalvagedforLaudanbytreatingthevarious
interpretationsasthebasesofdifferentreasonsforacceptingNewtonianmechanics.For
example,someonewhobelievedthatNewton'sLawswereempiricallyfalsifiable
hypotheseswouldnowbetakentohaveendorsedthoseLawsbecausetheybest
survivedthestiffestexperimentaltests.Inthatcase,theagreementonthe
acceptabilityofNewtonianmechanicscouldoccurforseveralreasons,eachonebringing
outastrengththatthescientistsawinthetheoryasheinterpretedit.Thus,aslongas
eachscientistcouldcitegroundsthatweregoodbythemethodologythroughwhichhe
understoodthetheory,theagreementwouldberational.Inthisway,theoretical
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consensuscouldbesustainedinspiteofmethodologicalpluralism.
However,onemaywonderwhetherthistechniquedoestoomuchviolencetothe
historicalrecordtoberegardedaspayinganythingmorethanlipservicetowhatactually
happened.Itwouldprobablybequiteeasytoshowthateachoftherelevantscientists
hadatleastonegoodreasonrelativetohismethodologyfordecidingtoaccept
Newtonianmechanics.Infact,letusimaginetheextremecasewhichcaricaturesthe
actualsituationinthelateeighteenthcenturyofallthescientistsendorsingatleast
thecomputationalinterpretationofNewtonianmechanics.Unfortunately,eachofthese
scientistsprobablyhadother,perhapsidiosyncraticandcertainlynotuniversallyinvoked,
reasonsforacceptingthetheory.DivergentconceptionsofnatureandGodwouldbea
goodstartingpoint.(Andforthesakeofargument,letusconfineoursearchforreasons
tothosethatwouldhavebeenintrospectivelyavailabletothereasoningscientist.)But
whileeachscientistislikelytohaveconceivedofhisparticularsetofreasonsasone
package(thatis,alogicalconjunction),thephilosopherofsciencepicksoutonlythe
reasonsthatsuitshisinterests(namely,theonesthattheyallshareincommon).In
otherwords,thephilosophertreatseachscientist'ssetofreasonsasalogical
disjunction.
Inclaimingthatthelogicalstructureofthescientists'reasonsisconjunctiveratherthan
disjunctive,weareappealingtoageneralprincipleofpragmatics,alongthelinesof
Grice'smaximsofconversationalimplicature:namely,thataconjunctivestructureis
presumedtobethenormunlessthespeakerindicatesotherwise.Forexample,whenan
individualofferssomereasonsforassertingaclaim,hemayintendthathisaudience
acceptwhicheverreasonstheywish(thatis,alogicaldisjunction),justaslongasthey
agreewithhisclaim.Suchsituationsareinfactcommonwhentheindividualthinksthat
speakinghismindandpersuadinghisaudiencearetworadicallydistinctactivities,and
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heneedstopersuadeanaudiencewithwidelydivergentbeliefs.Underthese
circumstanceswewouldbeinclinedtosaythatthespeakerisinsincere,thoughperhaps
rhetoricallyastute.Still,iftheindividualdoessucceedinconvincinghisaudience,itwill
probablybepreciselybecausetheaudienceunderstood himasadheringtothe
conversationalnorm,andthusspeakinghismind.Inthatcase,themembersofthe
audiencewouldhavereadhis"apparently"divergentlinesofreasoning
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charitablyasreinforcingtheparticularargumentsthateachmemberhappenedtohave
foundespeciallypersuasive.
Doesthephilosopher'ssubtleshiftinthelogicalstructureofthescientist'sreasons,
fromconjunctiontodisjunction,countasdoingviolencetothehistoricalrecord?In
particular,doestheshiftobscuretheanswertowhetherthescientistshadrationally
decidedtoacceptNewtonianmechanics?Considerananalogoussituation,oneinwhich
ahighschoolscienceteacherevaluatesthelabreportsofagroupofstudents,allof
whomhavereachedthesameconclusionasaresultofperforminganexperiment.The
teacherexpectsthestudentstohavedefendedtheirconclusionsbyatleastcitingsome
standardobservationsandprinciples.Letussaythattheyhavealldoneatleastthat,
sinceitwasarelativelysimpleexperiment.However,theteachernormallylooksfor
morethanamerecoincidenceofinscriptionsbeforedeterminingwhowillandwillnot
passthelab(andbyhowmuch).Theextrasentencesappearingoneachstudent'spage
willbethefinalarbiterhere,fortheteachercanthenusethosesentencestojudge
whetheragivenstudenthasunderstood(thatis,correctlyinterpreted)whatheandthe
otherstudentshavewrittenincommon.Inotherwords,theteachertreatseach
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student'sreasonsasalogicalconjunction,andthustheystandorfalltogether.Inthat
case,toawardfullmarkstoastudentwhohasreproducedthedesiredsentencesalong
withsomeapparentlyirrelevantorerroneousmaterialwouldbeundulycharitable,since
itwouldinvolvemisinterpretingthestudentashavingspecificallyintendedtheteacher's
answer,wheninfactheintendedsomethingmuchmorediffuseandperhapseven
incoherent.
Iftheaboveanalogyisapt,thenthephilosopherofscience,inhispersonaofthehigh
schoolteacher,wouldbepracticingbadpedagogytopassallthescientistswhoagreed
toNewtonianmechanicsas"rational"simplybecausetheycanbefoundtomouththe
samewordsatsomepointwhichwenowcanreadilyinterpretasappropriatetohave
uttered.Ofcourse,itmayhappenthataparticulargroupofscientistsdidmorethanjust
mouththeminimumnumberofwordsnecessaryfora"rational"decision.These
scientistswouldbelikethestudentswhoworkedontheirlabreportstogether,andthus
hadtojustifymostofthemovesintheirreasoningtooneanother.Onesuchgroup
wouldobviouslyformanessentialconsensus,thoughprobablyonlyanaccidental
consensuswhentakenwiththerestofthescientists.

3. Consensus Rigging by Disciplinary Realignment


Wheredoesthisleaveus?OnereasonwhyKuhnmaynothavefeltcompelledtopose
Laudan'squestionaboutconsensusformationinscienceisthat,unlikeLaudan,Kuhn
wantsthephilosophertohavearelativelyclearsenseofhowhewouldidentify
"theories"and"methods"whenreadingthehistoryofscience.Mostoften,Kuhn(1977b)
seemstomeanby"theory"asetofscientificallyuninterpretedstringssyntacticallywell
formedbysome
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grammar,so-calledsymbolicgeneralizations.Usually,thesestringsaremathematical
(notsurprisingly,givenhisheavyrelianceonthehistoryofphysics),butintheless
formalisticlifeandhumansciences,thestringsmaybeentirelylinguistic.Inthe
linguisticcases,thewordswouldreceivesomeratherordinaryinterpretation,which
wouldbeinsufficientforpursuingresearch.Sinceveryfewlinguisticallyexpressed
theoriesare"systematic"inthesensethatmathematicallyexpressedonesare(thatis,
explicitlydeductiveinstructure),itisperhapsbettertoregardthelinguisticstringsasa
"canonicaltext,"thesuggestionbeingthattheremaybeseveraldifferentreading
canons,dependingonone'sresearchprogram(Masterman1970).
Inthedisciplineswheretheoriestendtobeexpressedsolelyinnaturallanguages,two
scientistswouldsharethesametheoryiftheyrecognizeeachotherasengagedinthe
samedisciplinarydiscourse(regardlessofwhateachmightmeanbywhathesaid).For
example,thesentence,"Theunconsciouscausestherepressionofinfantiledesires,"
utteredbymembersofmanydifferentschoolsofpsychology(forexample,Freudian
psychoanalysisandtheMiller-DollardbehavioristreformulationofFreud),maybederived
fromotherrelatedsentencesandmaybeusedtoderivestillothersentences.Moreover,
allthepsychologistsutteringthissentencewouldmakesurethatappropriatetermsare
oneithersideofthe"causes."However,disagreementarisesoncewewishtosay
anythingmoreaboutthissentence,namely,itsinterpretation.Theschoolsof
interpretationgenerallyfocusonthe"linguisticfunction"(Popper1972,pp.119-122)
thatthesentenceperformsintheirrespectiveresearchprograms,andthiswouldbethe
sourceofthekindsofdebatesthatphilosophersofsciencearemostlikelytocall
"methodological."
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WeearliernotedsomepossibleinterpretationsoftheformalismofNewtonian
mechanics,and,likewise,theFreudiansentencemaybesubjectedtovarious
instrumentalistandrealistreadings.WhereasFreudandhisimmediatedisciplesseemto
havethoughtthatthetermsin"Theunconsciouscausestherepressionofinfantile
desires"haverealreferentsinhumanbeings,MillerandDollardtiedeachofthetermsto
specificexperimentaloperationsthatcouldbeperformedonrats.TheseYale
behavioristsadoptedFreudian"theory"(thatis,intheKuhniansenseoftheFreudian
wayoftalkingaboutthings)simplybecauseitslexicalrichnesscaptured(atleastin
name)manyoftheaspectsofanorganism'saffectivelifethatcouldnotbeadequately
expressedinClarkHull'sdrive-reductiontheory,inspiteofthelatter'sexplicitly
hypothetico-deductiveformulation.Althoughitistruethatduringthe1950sthe
psychoanalystsandtheYalebehaviorists(aswellasNeo-Freudiananthropologists)had
allagreedtoaKuhniansenseof"Freudiantheory,"itwouldbeseriouslymisleadingto
concludethatthisinvolveda"rationalconsensus."Rather,Freudiantheoryisbetterseen
asaversatilelinguistictoolthathappenedtobeavailabletoservediverseresearch
interestsatthetime.Thebestwaytoseethispointistoconsidertheconditionsunder
whicheachoftheprogramswouldrelinquishFreudiantheory:thedie-hardrealistsin
psychoanalysiswouldprobablynever
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(which,forPopperandthepositivists,wouldcountthemasholdingthetheory
"metaphysically"),thebehavioristswoulddosoassoonasaricherand/ormoreeasily
operationalizedtechnicallanguagehaddeveloped,andsoforth(Miller1959).Inshort,
sinceatheoryisamultifunctionaltool,itmayalsobemultidysfunctional.Butcanthe
samebesamebesaidofNewtonianmechanics,which,afterall,isLaudan'sown
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exampleandcertainlyatheoryaroundwhichphilosophersaremorelikelytofinda
consensus"rational"?
ThecaseofNewtonianmechanicsismoredifficulttoestablish,ifonlybecausewemust
contendwithovertwocenturiesofWhighistory.However,agoodplacetostartwould
bewiththeeighteenth-centuryFrenchscientificandphilosophicalcommunity,thelargest
andmostprestigiousinEurope,whichendorsedNewtonianmechanicswithonlythe
greatestreluctance.Usuallythisreluctanceisattributedtothemathematicalinelegance
withwhichNewtonoriginallyformulatedhismechanics,whichmadeastronomical
computationsdifficult.Asthehistoryisnormallytold,onceLaplace'sCelestial Mechanics
startedtoappearin1799,dissentwassilenced,andso,notsurprisingly,Laudan
chooses1800astheyearbywhichrationalconsensushademergedoverNewtonian
mechanics.
ButrecentlyIlyaPrigoginehasattemptedtotellthehistorysomewhatdifferently,ina
bookthathasbeenespeciallyinfluentialamongFrenchphilosophersofscience
(Prigogine&Stengers1984).Asheseesit,theconcernoverthecomputationaladequacy
ofNewtonianmechanicswasmerelyapretextfordeeperproblemsthattheFrenchhad
withthetheory.Inparticular,theEncyclopedistsDiderotandd'Alembertweretroubled
bywhattheLakatosianscallthe"KuhnLoss"involvedintheNewtoniansynthesis.Kuhn
Lossdescribesthefeatureofparadigmchangethatpreventsitfrombeingunequivocally
progressive,namely,aretractionofpartoftheoldknowledgebase.Acrucialdifference
betweenGalileoandthefourteenth-centuryParisiannaturalphilosophersNicholasof
OresmeandJohnBuridanwasthatGalileoaspiredtoaccountforonlywhatthe
Aristotelianscalled"localmotion,"oneofAristotle'sfourtypesofmotion.The
NewtoniansynthesismadeGalileo'sbreakhistoricallyirreversible,sincethe
mathematicalpowerofNewton'stheoryfaroutweigheditsrathermetaphysicallylimited
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treatmentofmotionasthechangeofbodiesintimeandspace.However,the
EncyclopedistsremaineddisturbedbythisKuhnLoss,especiallythedifficultiesitspelled
foraccommodatingthe"generationandcorruption"aspectoftheoldAristoteliantheory
ofmotiontoNewton'sstaticpictureoftheuniverse(forexample,Newton'sLawsof
Motionarereversibleintime).
Aslargelyearth-boundandhistoricallyorientedtheorists,theEncyclopediststookthe
explanationofsuchthermodynamicphenomenaasheatandlifeasthecornerstoneof
anyadequatephysicaltheory.SinceNewtonianmechanicsseemedtomakesuch
phenomenamoremysteriousthantheyalreadywere,itwasonlyamarriageof
computationalconveniencethatweddedtheFrenchtothetheory.Indeed,Prigogine
(1984,pp.62-68)
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suggeststhattheextensiverefinementandtestingofNewtonianmechanicsinwhichthe
Frenchdominatedthroughouttheeighteenthcenturywasbornfromtheintenttofalsify
it.Acrucialyearhereis1747,whend'Alembert,Euler,andClairaultallthoughttheyhad
shownthatNewton'sformulaforgravitationalattractioncouldnotaccountforthe
moon'sorbit.Sincethislookedlikeadefinitiverefutation,d'Alembertintypical
EnlightenmentfashionadvertisedforasuccessortoNewtonianmechanics.However,
twoyearslatertheircalculationswereshowntobeinerror.
Itiseasytoconcludethatsincenomorerefutationswereforthcoming,andthenext
generationofscientistsledbyLagrangeandLaplaceclearedupanydoubtsthat
remainedaboutthecomputationaladequacyofNewtonianmechanics,rationalconsensus
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hadbeenachieved.Moreover,asPrigoginepointsout,bytheendoftheeighteenth
century,claimsthatNewtonhaddiscoveredtherealstructureoftheuniversewereas
numerousinFranceasinNewton'snativeEngland.Discounting,forthesakeof
argument,ourearlierobjectionthateachoftherelevantintellectualsprobablybacked
theirclaimbyacombinationofreasonsthatwouldnothavebeenmutuallyacceptable
(oracceptabletous,forthatmatter),wouldthisjointprofessionofrealismconstitutea
rationalconsensusoverNewtonianmechanics?No,forPrigogine'saccountofthegradual
emergenceofthermodynamicssuggestsstillanotherreasonforquestioningthe
consensus,thoughadmittedlyitisonethatmustbeteasedoutofPrigogine'sown
ambivalencetothesuccessofNewtonianmechanics(since,afterall,Prigoginemaintains
thatitsoverwhelmingsuccessatleastinWhiggishretrospectimpededtheriseofhis
owndiscipline,thermodynamics).
Togetatthisnewobjection,letusstartbyaskingwhichgroupsofindividualswould
andwouldnotberelevantfordeterminingwhetherarationalconsensusexistedover
Newtonianmechanicsin1800.Theobviousplacetoturnwouldbetothedisciplinary
boundariesofthetime:Whowerethephysicistsandwhowerenot?Unfortunately,the
rigiddisciplinaryboundariesthatwetodayassociatewithacademicdepartmentsdidnot
emergeuntilwellintonineteenthcentury.Philosophersofscienceoftenforgetthis
crucialfact,whichcontributestotheeasewithwhichtheyareabletodetachthe
"scientific"fromthe"philosophical,""theological,"and"political"reasonsthata"natural
philosopher"givesforendorsingaparticulartheory.Whilethisdistinctionmaybeclear
tous,itwasnotsocleartothem.Indeed,itmayhavebeenthesubjectofcontroversy.
Herewearespecificallyinterestedinwhetherchemistryandbiologyweresoeasily
detachablefromphysicsinthelateeighteenthcentury.
Prigogine(1984,pp.79-85)notesthatDiderotcitedGeorgStahl'sphlogistonchemistry
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andvitalistbiologyaspromisinglinesofinquirythatcouldwelloverturnNewtonian
mechanicsinthelongrun.AlthoughphilosophersofscienceWhiggishlyfocusonStahl's
ill-fatedphlogistonastheprecursorofscientificchemistry,heconceivedofhisresearch
programasoneanti-Newtonianpackage.AmongStahl'slastingcontributionswasto
stresstheroleof"organization"inchemicalandbiologicalphenomena,
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whichcametobethebasisofnineteenth-centuryargumentsforthe"emergent"and
"organic"characteroflifeforms.Giventhehindsightoftoday'sdisciplinaryboundaries,it
wouldbeeasytoplaceStahl'sprogramonthelosingsideofseveralmajortheoretical
debatesinchemistryandbiologyandtoexcludetheprogramfromdebatesover
Newtonianmechanics.Indeed,in1800,avocalcommunityofanti-Newtoniansinfluenced
byStahlwaspresentinGermanytheNaturphilosophen(includingSchelling,Hegel,and
Goethe)whom,forpresumablytheseWhiggishreasons,Laudandoesnotconsider
relevantfordeterminingwhethertherewasarationalconsensusoverNewtonian
mechanics.
ButperhapswehavenotbeensufficientlycharitableinpresentingLaudan'sreasons.
OnetraditionalreasonwhyLaudanmaynothavewantedtotreattheNaturphilosophen
asaseriousgroupofanti-Newtoniansisthattheirsubstantivecontributionstoscience
amountedtolittlemorethancriticismof,admittedly,glaringholesinNewton'sworldsystem.Andmostofthecriticismwasitselfonapriorimetaphysicalconsiderations
abouttheorganicnatureofreality.Inthisregard,theNaturphilosophenareperhaps
bettercomparedtocontemporaryCreationistbiologists,whoserealstock-in-tradeisto
highlighttheinadequaciesoftheNeo-Darwiniansynthesis,despitetheidlegestures
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towardadivineexplanationgroundedonbiblicalexegesis.Inotherwords,wasthe
researchtraditionofNaturphilosophiearticulatedinawaythatcouldpositivelydirect
empiricalscientificresearch?
AccordingtoL.PearceWilliams(1967),theanswerisyes,especiallyinthedevelopment
ofelectromagneticfieldtheory.AfterreadingSchelling,HansChristiaanOerstedwas
convertedtotheideathatelectricitywasaforceandnotaspecialformofmatter,as
theNewtonianshadmaintained.Oerstedconcludedthatitshouldbepossibleto
electricallyinducemagnetism,sinceallthatwouldbeinvolvedwouldbeaconversionof
forces.Heeventuallydemonstratedthiseffectbythesimpleexperimentofbringinga
compassnearanelectricallychargedwireandnotingthemovementoftheneedle.Soon
afterward,theNewtonianAmpereobservedthatnoonehadthoughtofperformingsuch
asimpleexperimentearlierbecausescientistshadbeenconvincedthatCoulombhad
proventhatelectricityandmagnetismweretwoseparatefluids,similaronlyinbeing
governedbyNewton'sinversesquarelaw.
WemaysuggestonefinalreasonwhyLaudanmaynotwanttoincludethe
Naturphilosophen.AgeneralfeatureofLaudan'sconceptionofscientificrationalityis
thatconsensusformsoveratheorywhichsolvesmoreempiricalproblemsthanit
generatesconceptualproblems.Inthatcase,theguidingassumptionofboththe
EncyclopedistsandtheNaturphilosophenwasthatNewtonianmechanicshadfailedby
Laudan'scriteria,sinceitlostthecosmicunityepitomizedbyAristotle'stheoryofmotion
andgained"mere"computationalefficiencyinitsstead.Regardlessofhowheevaluates
thecontributionsthatStahl'sfollowersmadetosolvingtheconceptualproblemof
cosmicunity,LaudanneverexplainswhysuchamajorKuhnLossshouldnotweigh
heavily(andnegatively)inourcost-benefitanalysis
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ofNewtonianmechanics'problem-solvingeffectiveness.Itisinthiscriticalspiritthatwe
shouldthustakeFeyerabend's(1975,ch.12)occasionalpronouncementsthatmodern
sciencehasdevolvedfromthescienceoftheclassicalGreeks.

4. Implications for the Historiography of Science


Nowwheredowestand?Westartedwiththeobservation,frequentlymadeby
philosophersandsociologistsbutespeciallyhighlightedbyLaudan,thatscienceis
distinguishedbyitsrapidconsensusformationanddissolution.UnlikeKuhn,Laudan
suggestsa"rational"explanationforhowdisputesaremanagedinscience.Wehave
calledintoquestionwhetheranysuch"design"accountofscienceisinfactneeded.As
wehaveseen,whatLaudanwouldcallarationalconsensusrevealsitselfhistoricallyto
beamuchmoresuperficialphenomenonthanhesuggestsperhapsmerelyan
agreementtotalkinacertainwayortousecertainequationsinone'scalculations.And
iftheconsensusisrelativelysuperficial,thenitisfundamentallyunstable,andforthat
reasonaloneitwouldtendtoformanddissolvequickly,muchliketheconsensusesthat
pollstersfindintheelectorate.Thus,Laudan's"rationalconsensus"oughttobean
essentialconsensus,wherebytheactualinteractionofalltherelevantpartieswould
leadtoamutualunderstandingnotonlyaboutthephysicalobject(s)ofagreement(one
sortoftextratherthananother:the"theory"),butalsoabouttheaspect(s)underwhich
thatobjectistoberegarded(thelinguisticfunctionperformedbythetext:the
interpretationor"method").Thislatterfeaturewouldinclude,amongotherthings,an
agreementovertheconditionsforrelinquishingagiventext-plus-interpretation,and
therebyexplainrapidconsensusdissolution.
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Andwhilethekindofessentialconsensusjustdescribedexistsinlocalizedpockets(for
example,aresearchteamatauniversity),itisunlikelytoexistastheimpressiveglobal
phenomenonthatLaudansuggests.Onthegloballevel,thereislessmutualmonitoring
andhencemoreopportunityfordifferencesininterpretationofthesametexttoarise.
Thisbecomesthebasisoftheunjustlymalignedincommensurability thesis.Butnotice
herethatwehaveshiftedthebasisofthethesis.Normally,incommensurabilityis
allegedbetweentwofullyinterpretedtheoriesthatseemtodividetheworlddifferently,
suchthattokensofthesametypeidentifiedinonetheorydonotappearintranslation
astokensofthesametypeidentifiedintheothertheory.Inthatcase,asPhilipKitcher
(1978)haspointedout,theobvioussolutionistoclaimthatthereisonlytokentoken
correspondencebetweenthetwotheories.Forexample,althoughinstancesof
"phlogiston"donotalwaysrefertoinstancesofthesamesubstanceidentifiedinmodern
chemicaltheory,theydorefertoinstancesofsomesubstancethatcanbeidentifiedin
modernchemicaltheory.
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However,toresolvetheincommensurabilitybetweenthetwochemistriesinthismanner
istomuddle"theoretical"and"methodological"considerations(inourKuhniansenseof
thisdistinction)bysupposingthatthelinguisticfunctioncommontoallscientific
theoriesissomethinglike"representation"or"reference."Andwhileitiseasyforthe
philosophertoretrospectivelyregardalltheoriesasattemptsatrevealingthestructure
oftheuniverseorsomepartofit,thiswouldbetocommitthemallwhatLaudan(1984,
ch.5)hascalled"intentionalrealism."Thiscommitmentwould,ofcourse,involvea
grossdistortionofthehistoryofscience,sincethemethodologicaldisputesthereinshow
thatthetextofatheorymaybeputtomanyusesasidefrom,orinsteadof,
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representingreality.Andso,theappropriateobjectaboutwhichincommensurable
interpretationsariseisacanonicaltext,not"theworld,"whateverthatmightbe.The
incommensurableinterpretationsaredifferentlinguisticfunctionsthatthesametext
mayperformrepresentational,instrumental,hypothetical,andsoforth.
Incommensurability,inoursense,maybedetectedamongthevariousinterpretationsof
Newtonianmechanicsofferedintheeighteenthcentury.Aswehaveseen,eventhe
consensusonthecomputationaladequacyofthetheory,whichallegedlyunitedNewton's
EnglishsupportersandStahl'sFrenchsupporters,turnedouttobemoresuperficialthan
itfirstseemed:thelattergroupsawthecomputationaladequacyofNewton'stheoryas
anobstacletobeovercomeratherthantobebuilton.Asweshallnowsee,the
controversyovertheexistenceofchemicalforcesmakesthispointmorevividly,forhere
incommensurabilitycanbeseentofluorishbetweenscientificcommunitieswhohad
definedthemselvesaswholeheartedlyproNewtonian(Guerlac1965).
FirstrecallthatamongthemoststrikingfeaturesofNewton'smethodologywasits
admittedlyuneasyacceptanceofbothmathematizationandexperimentationasroutes
toknowledge.Thisdistinguisheditfrom,ontheonehand,themathematicalbut
antiexperimentalCartesianmethodand,ontheotherhand,theexperimentalbut
antimathematicalBaconianmethod.AlthoughI.B.Cohen(1981)iscorrectthatthis
alliancehasatleastbeenstrongenoughasa"style"tocolorthelastthreehundred
yearsofscientificpractice,interpretationsofthispracticehaveoftentendedtoward
eithertheCartesianortheBaconianextreme.
Forexample,aprofessedFrenchdefenderoftheNewtoniancause,Maupertuis,didboth
mathematicsandexperiments,mostnotablyinthecaseofcalculatingtheearth'sshape
onthebasisofNewton'shypothesisthattheforceofgravitywasweakerattheequator
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thanatthepoles,andthentravelingtoPeruandLaplandtochecktheresults.However,
liketheotherFrenchNewtonians,theresultsoftheexperimentswerealwaystreatedas
measurementstobecheckedagainsttheoriginalmathematicalcomputations,neveras
evidencefortheexistenceofparticularentities,astheBaconiansideofNewtonwould
haveit.Thus,asformulatedbytheFrenchNewtonians,theproblemofchemicalforces
wouldbesolvedbythediscoveryofinverse
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squarelawsatthevariouslevelsofnature,withthemetaphysicalstatusoftheseforces
leftopenand,inanycase,notexperimentallydecidable.This"proto-positivism"ofthe
FrenchNewtoniansexplainshowtheywereabletoworksowellwiththeanti-Newtonian
DiderotinconstructingtheEncyclopedia.
Ontheotherhand,Newton'sfollowersinmedicine,manyofwhomweretrainedby
HermannBoerhaave(orthroughoneofhistextbooks),stressedtheappropriatenessof
drawingmetaphysicalinferencesfromexperimentalresults,whichledthemtodevelop
accountsofchemicalforcesintermsofaether-likefluidsofsubtleparticleshaving
varyingdensitieswhichrepelledeachotherandlargerbodiesaswell.Boerhaavehad
calledtheultimateaether"fire,"anditturnedoutbeespeciallyinfluentialonthe
ScottishphysicianJosephBlack,whounderstoodhistheoryofspecificandlatentheats
asanelaborationofBoerhaave'sspeculations.This,inturn,wastakentosupporta
generallyStahlianviewofchemicalforces.
Indeed,afterexaminingtheinstabilityoftheNewtonianconsensusontheissueof
chemicalforces,ArnoldThackray(1970compareSchofield1970)hasarguedthatthe
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supposedlyunitedpursuitoftheNewtonianresearchprogramintheeighteenthcentury
actuallyhadlongtermanti-Newtonianimplicationsforthedevelopmentofchemistryin
thenineteenthcentury.Havingsaidthis,however,itmustbeadmittedthatthe
eighteenthcenturyhasbeentraditionallyportrayedasagradualconvergenceofopinion
ontheacceptabilityofNewtonianmechanics.Onthebasisofourearlierdiscussion,even
beforelookingcloselyatthehistory,therearethreereasonswhythispictureisboundto
bemisleading.
The Latency of Imcommensurability:Untilphilosophers,orscientistsintheguiseof
philosophers,getintotheactoftryingtolegislatemethodologicalrulesforevery
researchcommunity,methodologicaldifferencesthesourceofincommensurabilitycan
remainhiddenasdifferentcommunitiesperformlinguisticfunctionsappropriatetotheir
respectiveresearchprogramsonthesametheory.Moreover,thislatencyeffectislikely
tohavebeencommonthroughtheentirehistoryofscience,duringwhich,fordifferent
reasons,majorresearchhasusuallybeenconductedinsecrecy.BeforetheScientific
Revolution,scholarssawthemselvesprimarilyaspreservingandtransmittingabodyof
knowledgethatcouldbeappreciatedbyasmallgroupofsimilarlylearnedindividuals.
Thus,Copernicuswashardlyuniqueinthinkingthattheheliocentrictheoryofthe
universeshouldnotbepublicized,forthefearofdisruptingthemasses.Afterthe
ScientificRevolution,despiteanofficialideologyofopenness,researchlikelytohavean
impactonthegeneralpublichasusuallybeensuppressedinthenameofpublicstability,
whilethepossibilityofdiscovering"new"knowledgehasledtomuchsecretresearch
punctuatedbyprioritydisputes(Boorstin1983,pp.408-418).Withallthese
opportunitiesformiscommunication,intentionalorotherwise,weshouldexpecta
widespreadincidenceofincommensurability.
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Letuslookatanexampleofthisphenomenondrawnfromourearlierdiscussion.
Eighteenth-centuryEnglishandFrenchscientists,say,cancommunicatewithoutany
troubleaboutthelatestrefinementmadeonthemathematicalfeaturesofNewtonian
mechanicsjustaslongastheydonotinquireofoneanotherintothedeeperquestion
ofwhyeachwouldbeinterestedinsuchinformation.Forinthatcase,theEnglishman
wouldconfesshisinterestinfine-tuningtheworldsystemsoastomoreadequately
representthewaythingsreallyare,whiletheFrenchmanwouldadmithisstakeinseeing
theonlyredeemingfeatureoftheworldsystem,itscomputationaladequacy,subverted
asquicklyaspossible.Againstthispoint,agliblogicianmayarguethatinfactthe
Englishman'sandFrenchman'susesofNewtonianmechanicsare"commensurable"ina
veryordinarysense:namely,theEnglishmanaimstoverifywhattheFrenchmanaimsto
falsify.Tokeepsuchfacileremarksatbay,wemustnotethatmanyoftheFrench
scientistsregardedNewtonianmechanicsastheAristoteliansregardedPtolemaic
astronomyasapurelypredictiveinstrument,whichmayworkwellornot,butwhich
couldnotbe"true"or"false."Again,thedifferenceinlinguisticfunctionshasnotbeen
observedbythelogician.
Disjoining the Reasons:EachscientistprobablyendorsedNewtonianmechanicsfora
combinationofreasonsthataremisleadinglyregardedasasetofalternativesfrom
whichthephilosophermaychoosetheoneshefindsretrospectivelyrational.Thisshiftin
thelogicalstructureofthescientist'sreasoningismisleadingnotbecausetherewould
benooverlapamongthereasonsofferedbyallthescientisits(fortherewouldbe,
especiallyamongthoseinregularinteractionwithoneanother)butbecausethe
overlappingreasons,whileperhapsnecessary,wouldcertainlynothavebeensufficient
tomotivateallthescientiststhataresaidtohaveformedarationalconsensus.
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Deciding Who is Eligible:Itismuchtooeasyforthephilosophertocircumscribewhich


individualswereinretrospectrelevantforachievingarationalconsensus,sothat
persistentdisagreementssuchastheonewenotedbetweentheStahliansandthe
Newtonianscanbeeliminated.TopreventthisWhiggishmaneuver,thephilosopher
shouldberestrictedtocircumscribingtherelevantindividualswithinthedisciplinary
boundariesineffectatthetimeoftheallegedconsensus.
Atthispoint,letusdisposeonepossibleobjectiontothewayinwhichwehave
criticizedconsensualisminthephilosophyofscience.Aradicalretrospectiverationalist,
suchasLakatos,mightarguethatthehistoryofscienceisreallylittlemorethana
Rorschachinkblottestforthephilosopher'ssenseofscientificrationality.Inthatcase,
thephilosophersimplyreadsthehistoryforepisodesthatintuitivelystrikehimas
paradigmcasesofrationaltheorychoice,andthenanalyzestheseepisodestoattaina
moreprecisesenseofthebasisforhisintuitiveresponse.Indeed,uponanalyzinghis
intuitions,Lakatosdecidedthateventhebetterepisodesneededtobetidiedupbefore
appearingfullyrational.Thus,itshouldcomeasnosurprisethatphilosophers
misrepresentthehistoryofscienceinallkindsofways,includingtheoneswehave
cited.Unlessweweretoarguethe
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difficultandratherHegeliancasethateveryepisodeinthehistoryofsciencehas
involvedoptimallyrationaldecisionmaking(perhapsunbeknownsttothereasoneratthe
time,butknowabletothephilosophicalhistorianwhoadoptsthelongtermperspective
oftheCunningofReason),itwouldseemthatacompletelyaccuratehistoryofscienceis
notnecessaryforthephilosopher'staskofdesigningatheoryofscientificrationality.In
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short,onecannotderivethephilosopher'sought-statementsaboutscientificdecision
makingfromthehistorian'sis-statementsaboutsuchdecisionmaking.
Thisobjectionismetbyfirstpointingoutthateventhoughthehistorian'sstatements
donotentailthephilosopher's,philosophicalstatementsaboutscientificdecision
makingdoseemtopresupposestatementsabouthistoricalpossibility.Whereasthe
objectionwasformulatedintermsofHume'smoralinjunction,"is"does not imply
"ought,"itmaynowberebuttedintermsofanaturalizedversionofKant'scorresponding
injunction:"ought"implies"can."Thatis,astatementabouthowscientistsoughtto
reachaconsensusoverwhichtheorytoacceptimpliesastatementaboutatleastone
historicalcaseinwhichtheproposednormwasoperative.Ifnohistoricalcasecan
withstandthekindsofcriticismthatwehavejustraisedagainsttheallegedconsensus
overNewtonianmechanics,thenthatisgoodgroundsforconcludingthattheproposed
normishistoricallyimpossible(compareBartley1984,pp.199-202).Inthatcase,we
mightwantthentoarguethatoncethegroupofscientistsrelevantforaparticular
decisionreachesacertainnumberandaresufficientlydispersed,itbecomes
impracticabletosupposethatthegroupcouldreachwhatwehavecalledan"essential
consensus"asdeepaswouldbenecessarytosupportLaudan'sthesisfortheintensive
interactionrequiredofthescientistssimplycouldnotoccur.Thus,thenaturalistic
philosopherofsciencewouldbeadvisedtostudythe"phenomenologicalgeography"of
scientificinteractions,thatis,theeffectsofthatthespatiotemporaldistancesbetween
scientistshaveontheirabilitytoregulatetheirownactivities(Collins1981,Giddens
1984).
Lessextremebutjustasskepticalofthecritiquewehavebeenlaunchingistheclaim
implicitintheworksofvirtuallyallphilosophersofsciencethatthehistoryofscience
maybe"selectivelyread"withoutactuallybeingmisread.Forexample,Popperians,with
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theirglobalviewofthehistoryofscience,claimthattheydonotneedanaccountofthe
actualeventsinasfineadetailastheprofessionalhistorianislikelytoprovide.
However,inlightofourdiscussionofthelogicalstructureofthereasoningofscientists,
itshouldbeclearthat"selectivereading"maysimplyinvolvemisreadingwhatthe
scientisttookandwhatmostofus,inasimilarsituation,wouldtakeforgranted
abouttheinterdependencyofhisreasonsinjustifyingatheorychoice.Althoughtheterm
"misreading"isnormallyreservedforinterpretationsthatcontradictsomethingexplicitly
said,ourcritiqueofLaudansuggeststhatthetermshouldalsobeextendedtocover
casesinwhichthetacitpresuppositionsof"conversationalimplicature"andother
pragmaticfeaturesofthescientist'sdiscoursearecontradicted.Ifauthors
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calculatewhattheyneedtosayinordertoconveythemaximuminformationtotheir
intendedreadership,thenitfollowsthatalltextspresupposeamissing"subtext"that,
wereitarticulated,wouldspecifytheknowledgecommontotheauthorandhisintended
readers.Despiteitstacitstatus(largelyintheinterestofeconomizingexpression,as
discussedinch.6),thesubtextisneverthelessjustasdeterminateinmeaningasthe
wordswhichactuallyappearonthepage.
Pendingrefutation,ourownpositionisthatofthedeconstructionist,whoholdsthata
selectivereadingismerelyasubtlerformofsheermisreading.Thedifferencebetween
thedeconstructionistand,say,theLakatosianisthattheLakatosianthinkshehasa
choiceastowhetherandtowhatextentheneedstorelyonanhistoricalaccountin
ordertoderivehistheoryofscientificrationality.Incontrast,thedeconstructionist
thinksthatnochoiceistobehad,sincemisreadingisinevitable,atleastgiventheway
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inwhichhistorytendstobewrittennamely,withoutmuchconcernforthepragmaticsof
theoriginalutterances.However,ourinevitablemiswritingofhistoryisnormally
concealedfromviewbyacomplexnetworkofrationalizationstrategies.Forasenseof
howthesestrategieswork,considerthefollowingbriefdeconstructionoftheWhig
historyonwhichLaudanreliesforhisaccountofscientificrationality.
InarguingthatNewtonianmechanicssolvedmoreproblemsthanitcaused,Laudanis
implicitlysuggestingthatby1800theWesternscientificcommunityhadcommitteditself
(thatis,itssocioeconomicandintellectualresources)to"localmotion"asakindof
motionwhosestudymaybepursuedinitsownrightwithoutanyconcernfortheother
kindsofmotionidentifiedbyAristotle.Anotherwayofputtingthisisthat,atthatpoint,
physicsbecomestheautonomousandcognitivelydominantdisciplinewerecognize
today.Werewenotthebeneficiariesofthiscommitment,thetrade-offimplicitly
requiredwouldappearsomewhatlessthanreasonable,sincecomputationaladequacy
hadbeenboughtatthecostofcosmicunity.However,measureshavesincebeentaken
toensurethatthiscostisnotnoticed:forexample,thefragmentationofthesciences
andtheattendantrewritingofhistoryneededtoshowthatsuchadivisionofcognitive
laborwasinevitable,theunequivocalidentificationofthecognitivelydevelopedwiththe
mathematized,andsoforth.Oncethesetacticshavebeendeployed,sourgrapes(Elster
1984)aboutanyalternativehistoryofscienceeasilysetsin.Considerthishypothetical
account:
Ofcourse,itpaidforphysicstosplitofffromtheothersciences.Justlookat
theevidence.Eventothisday,theotherformsofAristotelianmotionhavenot
beenaswellquantifiedasphysicalmotion.Hadwewaitedfor"TheLoyal
Opposition"(ofEncyclopedists,Naturphilosophen,andotherfriendsofStahl)to
reasserttheAristoteliansynthesis,wewouldneverbewherewearetoday.
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Trueenoughjustaslongaswedonotwonderwhetherthestandardofscientific
progressmighthavebeendifferenthadwe"waited"fortheLoyal
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OppositiontoreassertAristotle.Thatwewereoptimallyrationalfornothavingwaited
canbeshown,ifthecostofrelinquishingtheNewtonianhistoricaltrajectoryismadeto
appearhighandthebenefittobederivedfromfollowingthroughontheAristotelian
trajectoryismadetoappearlow.Onewayofdoingthiswouldbebyarguingthatat best
theLoyalOppositionwouldhavehadtomeetthemathematicalstandardsofourphysics
tobeequallyprogressive,whileat worsttheLoyalOppositionwouldhavefallenbelow
thestandardandthusbelessprogressivethanourphysics(Fuller1985a,ch.2).The
possibilitythatareassertionofAristotlewouldyieldbenefitsthatarenotparticularly
wellexemplifiedinoursciencegoesunmentioned.Andso,wereweeventoagreewith
Laudanandtherestthatarationalconsensusinthedeep,essentialsenseoccurredover
Newtonianmechanics,itwouldhavetobeseenasariskyventure,justgivenitsimplicit
renunciationoftheAristotelianideal.However,inretrospectandthrough
historiographicalrationalization,thisriskhasbeenreinterpretedasthenaturalcourseof
events,sinceneitherourcognitiveendsnorthemeansformeasuringourdistancefrom
thoseendsisanylongerAristotelian.
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CHAPTER TEN
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FROM MORAL PSYCHOLOGY TO COGNITIVE SOCIOLOGY:


MAKING SENSE OF THE FORMAN THESIS
TheFormanThesisthatphysicistsadoptedquantumindeterminisminresponsetothe
culturalmilieuofWeimarGermanyistypicalofmanyhistoricalclaimsdisputedby
philosophersandsociologistsofscienceinthatittendstobetreatedasaclaim,notso
muchabouttheinfluenceofsocialfactorsintheproductionofknowledge,asaboutthe
mentalstatesoftheparticipatingscientists.Consequently,muchhasbeensaidabout
empiricallyunresolvableissuesconcerningthe"rationality"ofthescientists'intentions,
asifthescientiststhemselveshadastrictsenseofthedistinctionbetweenintellectual
andsocialfactors.Thishasallbeentothedistinctdisadvantageofsocialhistoriansand
theirphilosophicaldefenders,asepitomizedinwhatIcalltheStrong Objection to the
Sociology of Science.Tocounterthisobjection,thesocialhistorianneedstoexplain
thosefeaturesofagivenhistoricalcontextwhichtherelevantindividualsareleast likely
toregardassocio-historicallyvariable.Iproposeahistoriographicalstrategyrootedin
Marx'stheoryofreificationandapproximatedbyPierreBourdieuandMichelFoucault.

1. The Social Historian in the Grip of Moral Psychology


FromthefirstfewpagesofForman(1971),itwouldappearthatintellectualisthistoryof
scienceisabouttobedealtalethalblowbysocialhistory.Afterobservingthat
intellectualistslikeMaxJammer"explain"theacceptanceofquantumindeterminacyin
the1920ssimplybypointingtotheavailabilityofindeterministideasinEuropeoverthe
previoushalfcentury,Formanremarksthatsuch"explanations"areentirelyahistorical,
fortheyexplainneither(i)whyphysicistshadnotacceptedthoseideasearlier,nor(ii)
whytheyhappenedtoacceptthemwhentheyfinallydid.Jammerandtherestseemto
assumethatthehistorianonlyneedstoshowthattheindeterminacythesiswas
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reasonableinlightoftheevidenceandtheoriesavailable.ButasFormanpointsout,this
hardlyexplainswhyindeterminacywasacceptedratherthansomeotherequally
reasonablealternative.Moreover,theintellectualistsmaybeguiltyofsuperimposing
clear-cuttheoreticalalternativesonasituationwherenoneexistedpriortotheneedto
makeadecision.ThiswouldcertainlyexplainwhyFormanandothersocialhistorians
typicallyignoreordownplaythe"evidence"thatintellectualistssay"test"alternative
"theories"forthesocialhistorianwouldtaketheitemsinscarequotesashavingaclear
senseonlyinretrospect,especiallytothepartieswhose"theory"survivedthe"test"of
"evidence."Inshort,Formantakesseriouslythepossibilitythatonlythe
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presenceof"external"socialpressureforcedthescientiststoidentifydistincttheories
fromwhichachoicecouldthenbemade.
Indeed,themoralofForman'spapermaybethatifhistorianssticktothetypical
strategiesoftheintellectualist,theywillremainunabletoexplainwhyscientistsever
feeltheneedtostopdebateandagreetopursueaparticulartheory.Afterall,
philosophers,whoareostensiblyrationalinquirers,donotseemtoplacesuchapremium
onconsensus.Butthenphilosophersdonotneedtomarshalthekindsofmaterialand
socialresourcesthatscientistsneedforcontinuingtheirinquiries.Aradicalextensionof
thislineofthinking(whichunfortunatelycannotbepursuedhere)isthattherationality
ofthescientistliesnotinhowheselectstheories,butinhowheselectstheoccasions
for selecting theories,ideallyinordertomaximizethelikelihoodthatanytheoryhe
selectsonthatoccasionwillprolonghisresearchinfruitfuldirections(forevidencefrom
actualscientificpractice,seeKnorr-Cetina[1982]).Incontrast,intellectualhistorians
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andtheirphilosophicalbackerssimplypresumethatthemomentoftheorychoicewas
rationallyselected,theonlyquestionsforthembeingwhethertherighttheorywas
chosenatthattimeandfortherightreasons.Yetthepotentialtolaytheempirical
foundationsofanormativesociologyofsciencewassomehowlostintheexecutionof
theFormanThesis.However,thisfailureisnotpeculiartoForman,butindicativeof
deepseatedproblemsinhowthepartisansofintellectualandsocialhistoryofscience
havearguedaboutthesignificanceofcasestudies.
ForasenseofthesweepingandprovocativecharacteroftheFormanThesisandthe
evidencemusteredinitssupport,letusconsiderthefollowingremarksbyitsauthor:
Thepossibilityofthecrisisoftheoldquantumtheorywasdependentuponthe
physicists'owncravingforcrises,arisingfromparticipationin,andadaptation
to,theWeimarintellectualmilieu.InsupportofthisgeneralinterpretationI
illustratedandemphasizedthefactthattheprogramofdispensingwith
causalityinphysicswas,ontheonehand,advancedquitesuddenlyafter1918
and,ontheotherhand,thatitachievedaverysubstantialfollowingamong
Germanphysicistsbeforeitwas"justified"bytheadventofafundamentally
acausalquantummechanics.Icontended,moreover,thatthescientificcontext
andcontent...pointinescapablytotheconclusionthatsubstantiveproblemsin
atomicphysicsplayedonlyasecondaryroleinthegenesisofthisacausal
persuasion,thatthemostimportantfactorwasthesocial-intellectualpressure
exerteduponthephysicistsasmembersoftheGermanacademiccommunity.
[Forman1971,pp.62,110]
NoticeattheoutsetthatFormanadherestothereceiveddistinctionbetween"internal"
(intellectual)and"external"(social)historiesofscience,though,significantly,he
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restrictsthescopeofinternalhistorytophysicsproper,andrelegatescontemporary
debatesinotherdisciplines(especiallyphilosophy)andthegeneralintellectualculture
toanundifferentiatedrealmof"socio-intellectualpressure."Thisunusualrestrictionon
thescopeof
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internalhistoryjustifiesForman'sratherliberaluseofphilosophicaltexts(includingMach
andReichenbach)indefenseofhisthesis.Itmayalsoleadonetowonderwhether
Formanisonlyapseudosocialhistorian,since,forthemostpart,hedrawsonthesame
kindofevidenceasanintellectualhistorianofthesameperiodwould.
However,whereastheintellectualistwouldtracethesuddenriseoftalkof
indeterminismtothemeritofcontemporaryargumentsmadeinarelativelyopenforum
ofinquiryandcriticism,Formantracesittothephysicists'needtoadapttowhatthey
perceivedtobethedominantcurrentofthoughtatthetime.AndalthoughForman
clearlybelievesintheauthenticityofthephysicists'conversiontoindeterminism,itis
alsoclear(atleasttoForman)thathadtheynotmadetheconversion,thefutureof
physicsasasociallyorganizedformofinquirywouldhavebeenjeopardized.Indeed,
onlyatthispointdoesheintroduceevidencethattheintellectualhistorianwouldnot
normallyconsider,namely,theWeimarpolicystatementsoneducationandresearch
priorities(pp.19-29).Therefore,evenifFormanisonlyapseudosocialhistorianasfaras
selectionofevidenceisconcerned,heseemstobeatruesocialhistorianwhenitcomes
tothesortsofpurposesforwhichheusesthatevidence.
Butoncloserinspectiondoeseventhisturnouttobetrue?TheFormanThesis
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ostensiblyisconcernedwiththerolethatsocialfactorsplayedinforcinganotherwise
indecisivegroupofphysiciststoselectaparticularaccountofquantumphenomena.Yet
muchofForman'spaper(andthesourceofsubsequentcriticismofit)isdevotedto
makingthemoredifficultcasethatthephysiciststhemselveshadaclearsenseofthe
differencebetweentheintellectualandsocialfactorsoperatingintheirwork,andthat
theyalsobelievedthatsocialfactorscould"genuinely"solveproblemsofintellectual
origin.Thisisadifficultcaseforallparties,largelybecauseitinvolvespenetratingnot
thesociologyofscience,butthepsychologyofthescientists.
Forexample,whileFormanprovidesevidencethatmanyphysicistssuddenlyafter1918
endorsedsomeformofindeterminism,andeventhattheyusedsomeofthesame
Spengler-inspiredanticausalityrhetoricthatwaswidespreadinthegeneralcultureofthe
time,heprovidesnoevidencethatthephysicists'talkofindeterminismwasacalculated
responsetothepopulartalk.IftheFormanThesisdidnotdependonthepresenceof
thisevidentiallink,itsabsencewouldnotbesurprising.ForasBourdieu(1977)and
Foucault(1979)haveobserved,theuseoflanguageissociallyeffectiveonlywhenit
servestorestrictaccesstoadomainofobjectsofgeneralinterest.Thus,theesoteric
languagesoftheprofessionstheology,medicine,law,andpsychiatrybestowontheir
speakersacredibilityandlegitimacyintheeyesofnonspeakers.Conversely,ifthe
SpenglerianidiomiscommontomanysectorsofWeimarsociety,thenwhileitmightbe
expectedthatphysicistswouldalsocometoemploytheidiom,simplythefactthatthey
dosoisunlikelyaddtothecredibility,legitimacy,orevenpopularityofthephysicists.
However,Forman(1971,p.103)alsoargues,in
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aBourdieu-Foucaultfashion,thatoneofthewaysinwhichthephysicists,especially
ArnoldSommerfeld,triedtoconsolidatetheircloutwasbyclaimingthattheycould
provideexplanationswhereSpenglerandotherpopularizerscouldonlyoffermetaphors.
Fortheirpart,intellectualhistorianswouldalsofindthepervasiveSpenglerianidiom
unexceptional,treatingitastheytendtodoallstrictlylinguisticphenomenaasabit
ofperiod"noise,"eminentlytranslatableintoanidiommoreconducivetoevaluatingits
"cognitivecontent"inlightofthetheoreticalandempiricalknowledgeofthetime.We
shalllaterconsideranalternativeassessmentofthesignificanceoflinguisticevidence
fortheFormanThesis,onestressingitskeytotheobjective,ratherthanthesubjective,
featuresofWeimarphysics.Butfornow,weseethatattemptsatdrawinginferences
abouttheintentionsoftheWeimarphysicistsfromtheiruseoflanguageare
inconclusiveatbest.YetthedebateovertheFormanThesishasbeenconductedon
preciselythispsychologisticplane.ConsiderthatthebulkofthedebateovertheForman
Thesishascenteredonthefollowingtwopoints:
(a)Wouldthephysicistshaveendorsedquantumindeterminacy,hadthe
culturalmilieunotbeenespeciallyconducivetosuchabelief?Did
considerationsraisedbySpenglerandotherpopular"philosophersoflife"really
causethephysiciststochangetheirmindsaboutindeterminacy?
(b)Wouldthephysicistshaveespousedindeterminacyhaditnotservedtheir
interests?Inotherwords,weretheysincereintheiraccommodationtothe
culturalmilieu?
TheitalicizedwordsappearintheglossesofbothfriendsandfoesoftheFormanThesis,
and,indeed,inForman'sownglossesatthebeginningandendofhispaper.Theyinvite
thepotentialcritictoseewhetherForman'sevidencemostlypublicaddressesofthe
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physicists,withsomecorrespondenceandexcerptsfromtheprefacesofcurrentbooks
licensescertaininferencesaboutthepsychologyoftherelevantphysicists.Thus,Forman
sometimescastshisownthesisasanattempttoshowthatthequestionsraisedin(a)
aretobeansweredintheaffirmative.Inturn,hischiefcriticamonghistorians,John
Hendry(1980),triestodemonstratethatinspiteoftheirsensitivitytothecultural
milieu,thephysicistssincerelythoughtthat"life-philosophical"considerationswere
irrelevanttoscientificdebates.AndkibitzingfromEdinburgh,BarryBarnes(1974,p.
111)andDavidBloor(1982)havetakentheFormanThesistoimplythatscientists,like
ordinaryhumanbeings,willpubliclyadvancebeliefsthatbestsuittheirinterests.Very
quickly,then,thedebateoverthesocialoriginsofquantumindeterminacyhas
evaporatedintoadisputeoverthemoralpsychologyoftheWeimarphysicists.
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Avividillustrationofthislastpointistobefoundinthemostsympathetictreatmentto
dateoftheFormanThesisbyaphilosopherofsciencewithstrongintellectualist
leanings,AndrewLugg.Insteadofeitherdenyinganyroleto"socialfactors"inthe
causationofscientificbeliefsorrelegatingsuchfactorstothecausationofunjustified
beliefs,Lugghasdistinguishedtwosensesinwhichscientificbeliefsmaybe"caused."
InevaluatingtheFormanThesis,AndrewLugg(1984)wouldhaveusseparatewhat
determinedtheWeimarphysiciststobelieveinquantumindeterminacy(asopposedto
quantumdeterminism,orsomeothertheoreticalpossibility)fromwhatoccasionedthem
tohavesuchabeliefwhentheydid(andnotearlierorlater).Luggarguesthatthe
FormanThesispertainsonlytocausationinthe"occasioned"sense,aconclusionin
accordancewithForman'sownremarksaboutwhyheundertookthestudyofWeimar
physics.Oncethispointismade,wecangrantitsvalue,saysLugg,yetseeitas
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differentfromthepointthatintellectualhistoriansnormallytrytomakeaboutthe
theoreticalandempiricalreasonsthatdeterminedatheorychoice.
ButLuggthenadvancesafurtherclaim,onethatpertainsnottoconceptualdistinctions
availabletothehistorian,buttopsychologicaldistinctionsavailabletothehistorical
agents.Hesaysthatsocialpressuresmayforcescientiststochooseaparticulartheory
withoutthosepressuresactuallybeingpartofthereasonforselectingthetheory.Thus,
theFormanThesiscanbeseen"assuggestingthatthephysicists'recognitionofthe
antimechanismandanti-determinismthenbeingadvocatedresultedinappreciating
morefullythepossibilityofcoherentlyintroducingindeterminismintophysics"(Lugg
1984,p.187).Asmyitalicsshow,thisisclearlyaclaimaboutthementalstatesofthe
Weimarphysicists.Butwhatexactlydoesitsay?Considerthreepossibleinterpretations,
eachentailingadifferentmoralappraisalofthephysicists:
(c)Thesocialmilieuexertedanunconsciouspressureonthescientiststo
decideonthenatureofquantummechanics,whichwasconsciouslydonefor
methodologicallysoundreasons.Thus,thescientistsappeartohavebeen
amoraldecisionmakers.
(d)Thescientists,fullyawareofthepressurefromthesocialmilieu,
neverthelessdidnotallowthatpressuretoentertheirdeliberationsabout
theorychoice.Thus,thescientistsappeartohavebeenmoraldecisionmakers.
(e)Thescientistsfullyrealizedthatthesocialmilieuwaspressuringthemto
makeadecision,yettheyalsorealizedthatpubliclyacknowledgingthisfactas
motivatingtheirconsiderationswouldunderminetheircredibility.Thus,the
scientistsappeartohavebeenimmoraldecisionmakers.
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-237-

ItisunlikelythatanintellectualistlikeLuggwouldwanttoadmit(c)asaglossofhis
claim,sinceitportraysthescientistsaslaboringunderfalseconsciousness,withthe
"goodreasons"theyofferfortheirtheorychoicebecominglittlemorethanaformofselfdeception,epiphenomenalontherealsocialsourcesoftheirbehavior.Asaresult,an
acceptanceof(c)wouldmakeitdifficulttomaketheusualattributionsof"rationality"to
scientists,sincetheywouldbeshownnottohavemadeagenuinelyunconstrained
choice.
Incontrast,(d)presentsthescientistsinanideallyrationallightfromthestandpointof
theintellectualhistorian.However,itpresupposesthatthescientiststhemselveshada
clearsenseofthehistorian'sdistinctionbetweenintellectualandsocialfactorsinthe
causationofscientificbeliefs,aswellasoftheinappropriatenessofthesocialfactors,
nomatterhowpervasivetheymightbe.EvengrantingthisWhiggishpresupposition,we
areleftwiththestrikingcoincidencethatquantumindeterminacywasacceptedexactly
atthemomentwhensocialpressureseemedtohavebeenthestrongest,since(d)would
havepredictedthatthisfactwouldplaynorolewhatsoeverintheirdeliberations.
Finally,(e)wouldhavethescientistsengageinwhatErvingGoffman(1959)hascalled
"impressionmanagement,"wherebythetheorychoiceofthescientistsisportrayedas
calculatedtohaveaspecificeffectontheintendedaudience,regardlessofwhetherthis
representsthescientists'realbeliefs.Thus,inordertoconsolidatetheirflaggingsocial
status,thescientistswouldbeseenasarticulatingonlythosefeaturesofthecurrent
physicswhichdovetailedwiththeculturalmilieu,andsuppressinganydoubtsor
difficultiesthatmightbereadasconflictingwiththatmilieu.Allofthisisdone
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deliberately.Yetsinceitisalsoalldonebymanipulatingthediscourseofphysics,the
lieisdifficulttocatch.
Barnes(1982)hastriedtorescue(e)frommakingthescientistsappeartoounsavoryby
arguingthatsincetheoriesarealwaysunderdeterminedbytheevidenceanyway,wecan
neverreasonablyspeakofascientistadvancingonetheoryinfullknowledgethat
anotheris"really"bettersupported.Unfortunately,asinthecaseof(d),weareagain
facedwiththestrikingcoincidenceofwhenandhowtheunderdeterminationhappensto
getresolved.Afterall,iftheorychoicesareindeedunderdetermined,whynotpublicize
thatfactonceatheoryisfinallyselected,andtherebyallowdebatetocontinue?Such
opennesswouldclearlymeetPopperianstandardsofintellectualintegrity.Butasit
stands,byclosingtheirranks,thescientistsmakeitseemthatthechoicemadewasthe
onlyonethatcouldhaverationallybeenmade.WeseethenthatdespiteLugg's
sensitiveattemptatintegratingtheintellectualandsocialhistoricalfeaturesofscience,
itremainsfortheintellectualhistoriantomakehisversionofthescientist
psychologicallycredibleandforthesocialhistoriantomakehisversionmorally
appealing.
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2. Toward Cognitive Sociology and the Problem of Objectivity


Butultimately,theproblemwithinterpretingtheFormanThesisasbeingaboutthe
mentalstatesofagroupofphysicistsisthatevenifitisresolvedinthesocial
historian'sfavor,itwillremainoflittleconsequencetothekindsofclaimsnormally
advancedbyphilosophersofscienceanddefendedwithevidenceprovidedbyintellectual
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historians.Atbest,Formanwillhaveestablishedthatsocialcausationoperatesatthe
subjectivelevel:thatis,particularscientistsadoptparticularbeliefstosuittheir
particularinterests.Thesignificanceofthisconclusioncanthenbeeasilyunderminedby
arguingthatitgoesnowaytowardexplaininghowsubsequentscientists,includingmany
ofourown,havemanagedtosustainabeliefinindeterminacyoutsidetheWeimar
milieu.Thefactthattheselaterscientistshavebeenmovedbyquitedifferentinterests
underquitedifferentcircumstancessuggeststhatsomething"transsocial,"sotospeak,
mustunderliethevalidityofquantumindeterminacy.Indeed,theintellectualistmight
evengosofarastoclaimthatthemoresociallydeterminedtheoriginaladoptionof
quantumindeterminacyturnsouttohavebeen,thelesslikelythatitscontinued
acceptancecanbeexplainedinsocialterms.Wereonestilltoinsistonasocial
explanation,hewouldbesaddledwiththequestionofhowquantumindeterminacycan
bemadetoservesuchdiverseinterests.Perhaps,theintellectualistwouldthensuggest,
onlyatheorythat"reallyworks"canbemadetoserveanysocialinterest.Ifthatisthe
case,thensocialinterestsplaynorolewhatsoeverinlegitimatingquantum
indeterminacy.Needlesstosay,thisresponsewouldreducethecognitiveimportofthe
socialhistoryofsciencetomereepiphenomena.Forfuturereference,letuscallthis
argumenttheStrong Objection to the Sociology of Science,orSOSS.Forthoughithas
beenunderplayedintheliterature(anexceptionisLaudan[1984a]),itisnevertheless
thestiffestformofskepticismthatthesocialhistorianislikelytomeetfroman
intellectualhistorian.
Inordertoposeaseriouschallengetophilosophersandtheirintellectualistdefenders,
Formanmustbetakenastryingtoshowthatthescientists'ownsenseofobjectivity
wassociallygenerated.Inotherwords,withallduerespecttoBarnesandBloor,the
casetoproveisnotthatthequestionofdeterminismatthequantumlevelwasopen
enoughfromtheobjectivestandpointoftheoreticalandempiricalsupporttopermitthe
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scientists'socialintereststocastthedecidingvoteinfavorofindeterminism.Rather,
theobjectivestandpointitself,includingthescientists'sensethatitisextrasocialin
origin,mustbeexplainedastheproductofsocialpractices.Clearly,therelevantsocial
practicesmusthaveaspecialproperty,namely,thattheyconcealtheirownsocial
nature,suchthatindividualsengagedinthosepracticesareledtothinkthattheyarein
directcontactwithanextrasocialrealityoratleastarealitythatrequiresrelatively
littlesocialmediation.Onceidentified,thesesocialpracticesshouldalsobeableto
accountfortheintuitivestrengthofSOSSasanargumentagainstthepossibilityof
explainingtheobjectivityofsciencein
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exclusivelysociologicalterms.Thisisatallandtrickyordertomeet,butageneral
strategyformeetingitcanbeproposed.
First,somethingneedstobesaidaboutthe phenomenology of objectivity.Underwhat
circumstancesdoesoneexperiencesomethingasbeingbeyondone'sconsciouscontrol?
ThiswastheproblemfacedbytheGermanidealistsafterKantwhorealizedthatthey
hadtoaccountnotonlyforhowthemindgeneratesrealitybutalsoforhowthatreality
appearstothemindassomethingnotgeneratedbyit.Inshort,whataccountsforthe
"externality"ofexternalreality?Thegeneralidealiststrategyforansweringthis
question,especiallyinthehandsofFichteandHegel,hasbeentodistinguishtheextent
towhichtheminddeterminesthe worldfromtheextenttowhichtheminddetermines
itself.Incontrasttothefirstsortof"determinism,"whichiscomplete(andhencethe
metaphysicalbasisofidealism),thesecondsortof"determinism"isincomplete,
implyingthatthemindcannotpredictorcontrolallofitsownactivity.Thepartofthe
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mindthatcannotbesocontrolledthatresiststheeffortsofitsownwillandintellect
isthemetaphysicalbasisofmatter,whosemainphenomenalpropertyis,not
surprisingly,"inertness."Whatthemindfailstocontrol,then,isnottheworldassome
independententitybutthemind'sownsubsequentthoughts,whichare,inturn,
constitutiveofaworldthatappearsindependent.Thus,ifthemindwereabletocontrol
thecourseofitsownactivityperfectly,thentherewouldnotevenbeanapparent
differencebetweenthemindandarealityexternaltoit.Indeed,whenFichteandHegel
spokeofthehistoryofmankindas"theprogressiveself-realizationofreason,"theend
theyhadinmindwasman'sabilitytofreelychoosehiscourseofaction,invirtueof
knowinghowhissubsequentactionswouldbeconstrainedbyselectingeachofthe
availableoptions.
Thephenomenologyofobjectivityhasalsobeenstudiedwithinthephilosophyof
science,thoughlesscentrally,byQuineandPopper.Heretheissueinvolvesreconciling
abeliefthatsciencehassomesortofaccesstoultimaterealitywithabeliefthatthe
scientisthasvirtuallyfreereininselectingatheory,whichneverthelessishisonly
accesstothatreality.Asbefittingadeepmetaphysicalquestion,answershavebeenall
toobrief:Quine(1960)speaksofthescientistsensingthe"recalcitrance"ofdata,which
servesasthestimulusforrevisinghistheory,whilePopper(1963)appealsto
"falsification"asabrutefactofpersonalexperienceinawaythatrecallsSamuel
Johnson'smannerof"refuting"Berkeley'sidealismbykickingastone.Moreover,postPopperians,suchasKuhn,Lakatos,andBloor(1979),havebeenjustascryptic,saying
muchaboutthescientifictreatmentofanomalous resultsbutlittleaboutthe
phenomenonofanomalousnessitself.ThispointisespeciallytellinginthecaseofBloor,
whofollowsMaryDouglasinclassifyingculturesbytheirhandlingofanomalies.Foreven
ifBloor(1983,ch.7)hasconvincinglyshownthatanomaliesarealways"socially
constructed"tosatisfytheneedsofaparticularculture,hehasyettoexplainwhy,in
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thefirstplace,didthesocietyseeitselfashavingto"adapt"toananomaloussituation.
Noticethatthephenomenonsuggested
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bythephilosophersofscienceascriterialofobjectivityanomalousnessissimply
anotherexpressionofwhattheGermanidealistsoriginallyidentified,namely,thelackof
cognitivecontrolovertheworldthatoneexperienceswhenhisintentionsand/or
expectations(inthiscase,scientificpredictions)arethwarted,whichthenserveto
constrainwhatonesubsequentlyintendsandexpects.
Inturningtothesocialhistorianofscienceandhisphilosophicalbackers,wemaynow
poseananalogousproblemonlyheretherelevant"mind"iscollectiveratherthan
individualinnature.Thegeneralstrategyweoffer(inpartborrowedfromHegel(see
Schneider[1971])involvesattendingtothefactthatnotonlyisanindividualnormally
unabletoanticipatealltheconsequencesofactingonhisintentions,butthatthis
incapacityiscompoundedbythesimultaneousactivityofmanyindividualsand,overa
periodoftime,theactivityofstillotherindividualswhodrawontheoriginalindividual's
efforts.NoticethatIdonotdenythatindividualshaveintereststowardwhichtheir
actionsareoriented.Indeed,Iadmitthatregardingindividualsinthiswaycanleadto
anappreciationoftherangeofpossibleactionsthattheindividualssawattheir
disposal.However,despiteMaxWeber'sclaimsforit,thisapproachofferslittleinsight
intowhytheindividualssawtheirpossibilitiesforactionasconfinedtothatparticular
rangeand nothing beyond it,whytheywouldconsideranythingoutsidethatrangeas
merefancy.Yetonlybyaddressingaquestionofthissortwillwegainaccesstothe
featuresoftheindividual'sexperiencethattheytooktobeobjective,andhencelimiting
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ontheirpossibilitiesforaction.Thenwecansearchforthesociallygeneratedsourceof
thisexperience.Asapointofdepartureforthisinquiry,considerthefollowing"brute
facts"ofsocialaction:
(f)Althoughanindividualmustengageinagivenpracticeasameanstohis
ownend,whetherthisendisactuallybroughtaboutwilldepend,inlargepart,
onhowhisactions(thatis,themeansheuses)arereceivedbyother
individualswhose(atleastimplicit)cooperationheneedstoinsurehis
success.Theircooperation,inturn,hingesonwhethertheindividual'sactions
displaytheappropriatecompetence,whichmayitselfbequiteincidentaltothe
individual'soriginalaim.
(g)Althoughtheindividualengagesinthepracticeasameanstohisown
ends,heisrarelyabletogaugethefullrangeofeffectsthathisactionshasin
thelongrun,largelybecausehisactionsleaveamaterialresiduethatbecomes
availablefortheuseofotherindividuals,whomaypursueendswhichentail
subvertingtheoutcomeintendedbytheoriginalindividual.
Arguably,allsocialpractices,especiallywhenregardedfromanhistoricalstandpoint,
exhibitthesetwocharacteristics.Stillitisinstructiveforour
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purposestomentionthembecausetheymakeitdifficulttocontinuethinkingof
individualssimplyasagentswhofreelyusetheavailablesocialresourcesastheysee
fit.Asweearliersaw,suchaconceptionliesbehindboththestandardintellectualand
socialhistoricalaccountsofscience.Ontheonehand,theintellectualhistorianemploys
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thevoluntaristpremisenegatively,asameansofshowingthatthescientistshadthe
strengthofwilltoresistthetemptationsoftheculturalmilieuandtoengage,instead,
inKantianfeatsofself-legislatedmethodicaltheoryappraisal.Ontheotherhand,the
socialhistorianputsthepremisetopositiveworkbyportrayingthescientistsasordinary
moralconsequentialists,sometimesutilitariansometimesMachiavellian,whoplayout
thegameofsciencetotheirmaximumadvantage.Indicativeofthefreedomnormally,
albeitimplicitly,attributedtoscientistsinmosthistoricalaccountsistheeasewith
whichtheiractionsaresusceptibletothesekindsofcrypto-ethicalevaluations.
Inlightoftheprecedingremarks,therecentdebatebetweenLaudan(1981)andBloor
(1984)overtheneedforan"arationalityassumption"inwritingthehistoryofscience
canbeseenasreallyconcernedwith"rationality"inWeber's(1954)senseof
comprehensiveactionorientations.Laudanwouldbetakenasmaintainingthatscientific
activityshouldbeexplainedinpurelyvalue-rational(wertrational)terms-thatis,as
followingfromasteadfastadherencetothedictatesofthescientificmethodunlessit
hasbeenshownthatthescientistshavereachedlessthanexemplaryconclusions.In
thatcase,ends-rational(zweckrational)considerationsstarttoplayanexplanatoryrole,
asthe"arational"scientistsareseentofollowthescientificmethod,notasanendin
itself,butonlyaslongasitfacilitatescertainextrascientificinterests.Forhispart,Bloor
wouldthenappeartobeclaimingthatactualscientificpracticedoesnotdifferin
principlefromtheotherformsofends-rationalactivitycharacteristicofmodernWestern
societies.
OnceweseetherecentrationalitydebatesfromthisWeberianperspective,itbecomes
clearthatforalltheirlatentappealstooneoranothermoralpsychology,neitherLaudan
norBloorbringsusanyclosertounderstandingtheobjectivefeaturesofscience.The
reason,Isubmit,isthatbothphilosophicaldefendersofthealternativehistoriographies
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ofsciencefocusexclusivelyonthesubjectivecharacterofscientificactivityspecifically,
thescientist'sself-understandingoftherangeofpossibleactionsathisdisposal,the
choicefromwhichcanthenbeevaluatedforitsconformitytothepreferredmodelof
rationalaction.
Atfirstglance,thiscritiquedoesnotseemtoapplytoLaudanandtheintellectualists,
who,afterall,werecreditedwithlaunchingthefirstobjectivistsalvoagainstForman.
However,wemustcarefullysortoutthepositiveandnegativeclaimsintheirattack.The
negativeclaimthatquantummechanics"reallyworks"regardlessofaphysicist's
particularsocialinterestsislogicallyindependentofthepositiveclaimthatquantum
mechanics"reallyworks"becauseitwas(andcontinuestobe)theproductof
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methodologicallysoundpractices.AsFeyerabend,Hacking,andotherrealistsofanantimethodologicalbentfrequentlypointout,whilethenegativeclaimmaywellbetrue,the
positiveclaimiftestedagainsttheactualpracticesofscientistsisprobablyfalse.Yet
itisthelatterclaim,theoneaboutmethodology,thatconstitutesthecoreofthe
intellectualist'sthesis.Thus,itseemsthattheintellectualhistorianofsciencecanuse
SOSSagainstthesocialhistorianonlyonpainofhavingitusedagainsthimselfaswell.
Incontrast,(f)and(g)suggestwaysoftalkingaboutindividualsinsocialsituations
withoutimputingtothemasenseoffreedomthatobscuresmorethanilluminatesin
understandingtheobjectivecharacteroftheiractions.DrawingonPierreBourdieu's
(1981)theoryofthecirculationofsymboliccapital,wemaynowofferthefollowingdual
characterizationofanindividualengagedinasocialpractice.Ontheonehand,thereare
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featuresoftheindividual'spracticewhichreenactthepracticesofearlierindividuals.We
maythinkofthesefeaturesasparticipatinginthe"livinghistory"oftheculture,withthe
individualactingasthebeareroftradition.Thus,the"competence"thattheaudience
ascribestotheindividualin(f),whichearnshimtheircooperation,isbasedonenough
ofhispracticebeingrecognizablytraditional.Thisdisplayofcompetenceconstitutesthe
individual'scontributiontowhatisreproducedoftheculture.Ontheotherhand,there
arefeaturesoftheindividual'spractice,includingitsmaterialconsequences,whichhis
successorswillhaveattheirdisposalwhentheypursuetheirownends.Hisparticular
actionsmaythusbeseenashavingtheeffectofextending,restricting,orsimply
sustainingthepracticeofwhichtheactionsareaninstance.Thesefeatures,highlighted
in(g),maybethoughtofasconstitutingthe"objectivehistoricalpossibility"(Weber
1964)foractioninthecultureatagivenmoment.Andso,wemaysaythatthe
individualhereiscontributingtowhatisreproducibleintheculture.
Whilethereislikelytobeconsiderableoverlapbetweenwhatisreproducedand
reproducibleinasociety,ofmoreinteresttothestudentofhistoricalchangeistheoften
subtledifferencesbetweenthetwo.OneofBourdieu'sownexamplesisthegradual
stylizationofthemedievalcustomofremovingone'shelmetasadeclarationofpeaceful
intentionsintothemodemcustomofremovingone'shatasamatterofpoliteness.It
wouldbeintheseusuallysmall,butsometimeslarge,changesinpracticethatthe
intellectualandsocialhistorianwouldtendtolocatethefreeagencyoftheindividual.
However,ourBourdieu-inspireddistinctionbetween(f)and(g)aimstocounteractthis
tendencybytreatinganindividual'sawarenessthathehasacertainrangeofpossible
actionsathisdisposalnormallyanecessaryconditionforascribingfreewilltothat
individual(Dennett1984,p.36)asaneffectoftheactions(orpotentialactions)of
others,ratherthanasthecauseofhisownaction.Thus,wearerecommendingaswitch
inhistoricalperspectivecomparabletothereversalofforegroundandbackgroundinan
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image,emphasizingthefactthatagentsareforcedtomakechoices.
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3. Implications for Rewriting the Forman Thesis


WecanapplytheseBourdieuanconsiderationstothepresentcaseinthefollowing
manner.InsteadofseeingtheWeimarscientistsasmakinganunconstrainedchoice
fromasetofseeminglyself-generatedpossibilities,weproposetoseethescientistsas
maneuveringwithinapossibilityspaceconstrainedbyacombinationofunanticipated
consequencesoftheactivitiesofpreviousscientists(the reproducible)andtheirown
imperfectanticipationsofhowcontemporarieswillreacttowhattheydo(the
reproduced).TheresultisadualexplanationforwhytheGermanphysicistsofthe1920s
feltcompelledtoagreeonanindeterministinterpretationofquantummechanics.Onthe
onehand,inaligningscientificdeterminismwiththeGermanwareffortduringWorldWar
I,Germanphysicistshadfailedtoanticipatehowtheirdiscoursewouldbeappropriated
againstthenextgenerationofphysicists,onceitturnedoutthatGermanylostthewar.
Ontheotherhand,asrecipientsofthediscourseofdeterminism,thephysicistsofthe
1920sfailedtocontaintheeffectsofthisill-fatedhistoricallink(thatis,theywere
unabletodefineapurescientificsenseof"determinism"thatescapedanyassociation
withtheearlierwareffort),largelybecausetheynolongerhadtheauthoritytocontrol
howthediscoursewasappropriatedbymoversofpublicopinion,suchasOswald
Spengler,whosemessagewaspatentlyantiscientific.Inshort,oncethediscourseof
scientificdeterminismwasbroughtintothepublicsphereduringWorldWarI,itwas
theretostay,andthustohauntthenextgenerationofphysicists.
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However,atthispoint,wehaveonlyproposedastrategyforstudyingthecausesof
whatindividualstaketobetheobjectivefeaturesoftheirsocialenvironment.Wenow
needtosuggestafurtherstrategyforstudyingthoseobjectivefeatureswhichthe
individualismostlikelytoconsiderasbeingnon-socialinorigin.ForwhileBourdieu's
reproductionanalysisoffersmanyinsightsintothemaintenanceandtransformationof
socialstructures,includinghowtheygainacharacterofpermanenceandexternalityto
theindividualswhoseactionsreproducethematagivenmoment,itoffersrelatively
littleinsightintowhysomesocialstructureswouldnotappeartotheindividualsas
beingsocialinorigin.Foraswehaveclaimed,thisisthekeytounderstandingthe
peculiarobjectivitythatcognitiveinstitutions,suchasmodernnaturalscience,seemto
have.
Marxfacedourquestionsquarelywithrespecttothewidespreadnineteenth-century
beliefthatthecapitalistfreemarketwasthe"natural"economicorderwhichwouldresult
whenthesocialartificesoffeudalismandmercantilismwereremoved.Marx'sanswerlay
inthetheoryofreificationspecifically,thattheclassicalpoliticaleconomists,either
throughagenuineorwillfulforgettingofhistory,presentedthebarelycentury-old
Europeaneconomyasconstitutiveofatimelesshumannature,whoselawshadonly
been"discovered"bythepoliticaleconomists(Thompson1984,p.131).Anddespitethe
conspiratorialtoneinwhichsomeMarxistshavedescribedtheoriginsofthis
phenomenon,reificationis
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probablybestseenasaninevitablefeatureofhowasocietyincorporatesitspast.As
longasaperfectchronicleiseconomicallyunfeasible,therewillalwaysbethekindof
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gapsinthehistoricalrecordthatlicensesclaimsoflong-termcontinuitiesinsocial
practices,eventhoughinfactmajor,butunrecorded,changeshaveoccurred.
NowadaysonlyaneoclassicisteconomictheoristlikeFriedrichvonHayek(1985)would
continuetodisputeMarxonthereifiednatureofcapitalism'stranssocialobjectivity.In
contrast,weareclearlyfarfromthepointwhenanaccountofnaturalscienceasthe
productofreificationwouldgouncontested.Butthisdoesnotmeantherehasinfact
beenmuchdebateonthetopic.Rather,wefindtherelativelyundisputedgeneralclaim
thattheoriginofaparticularscientificbeliefortheoryisirrelevanttoitsvalidity.
Indeed,byjointlyendorsingthisclaim,historiansandphilosophersofsciencemanageto
respecttheboundarybetweentheirtwodisciplines,which,inturn,hashadtheeffectof
discouraginghistoriansfromstudyingthereproductionpatternsofscientificpractices.
Afterall,ifaparticularscientifictheoryisvalidsogoesthereasoningbehindSOSS
nothingofcognitiveinterestshouldresultfromrepeatedtestingsofthetheoryat
variousmomentsinhistory.Andso,whilePolanyi(1957)andKuhn(1970a)havegiven
classicaccountsofthetransmissionofscientificexpertisefrommastertonovice,neither
hasundertakentheBourdieuantaskofstudyingthelong-termeffectsofthe
transmissionprocess-say,throughseveralgenerationsofscientistsonthecharacterof
theexpertisetransmitted.Evenatthelevelofintroductorytextbooks,althoughthe
inscribedsentencesandformulaemayremainunchangedoverthecourseofmany
editions,theirintendedapplicationsandtestabilityconditionsmaysubtlyshift.
However,theseprojectsawaitfuturehistorians.Asitstandsnow,wehavenohard
evidenceforanempiricalpreconditionofSOSS'sintelligibility,namely,thatthetheoryof
quantumindeterminacyacceptedbytheWeimarphysicists(say)is,intherelevant
respects,the same theoryofquantumindeterminacythatmostphysiciststoday
espouse."Therelevantrespects"is,ofcourse,animportantqualification,forinthelast
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sixtyyearsthecharacterofquantummechanicshasundergonemajorchangeatboththe
theoreticalandexperimentallevels.YetSOSSpresupposesthatcertaingeneral
principles,suchastheindeterminacyofquantumphenomena,haveremainedsufficiently
intactoverthatperiod,suchthatthelikesofBohrandHeisenbergwouldrecognize
today'squantummechanicsasacorrectedversionofthequantummechanicsthatthey
originated,andnotassomeessentiallydifferenttheorywhichbearsonlyasuperficial
resemblancetotheirown.
Onceagain,philosophersofsciencehavenotbeentoohelpfulintryingtojustifySOSS's
presumptionoftheory-identityovertime.Undoubtedly,onereasonisthattheycontinue
tobemoreconcernedwiththecognitivedifferencebetweentwoopposingtheories
supportedbythesamebodyofevidence(asinthecaseofQuine'sunderdetermination
thesisorHume'sandGoodman'sproblemofinduction)thanwiththecognitivedifference
betweentwoquitedifferentbodiesofevidencewhichareusedtosupportwhatare
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apparentlytwoversionsofthesametheory,say,atdifferentmomentsinitshistory
(Fuller[1984]foroneofthefewattemptsinthephilosophyoflanguagetocapturethe
latterconcern,seeBarwise&Perry(1983),whoattributeittothe"efficiency"of
language).Andwhereasthefirstconcernisrelevanttotheissuesfacedbythe
physicistswhowerecomparingdeterministandindeterministinterpretationsofquantum
phenomenainthe1920s,thesecondismoregermanetothehistorianofphysicswho
wantstocomparethedata-theoryrelationsintheoriginalquantummechanicswiththe
morecomplexversionsthattodaytravelunderthename"quantummechanics."Still,
despitetheneglectedstateofdiscussiononthismatter,philosophicaldefendersof
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SOSSsimplypresumethat,otherthingsbeingequal,atheoryislikelytoretainits
identitythroughnumerouslinguisticformulationsandexperimentalvariations.Werewe
studyingany othersocialinstitution,thispresumptionwouldclearlynotbemade.
MichelFoucault's(1975)archaeologicalapproachsuggestsanexplanationforour
willingnesstopresumethattheproductsofscientificandotherintellectualpractices
haveanextrasocialobjectivity.Mostcrucially,theseproductsarelinguisticincharacter.
Giventherelativeimmaterialityandversatilityoflinguisticartifacts,theirreproduction
patterns(or"dispersion")cannotbeeasilytracedthroughoutanentiresocietyoverany
greatlengthoftime.Asaresult,historiansareatpainstolocateeitheraclearoriginof
aparticularwordorexpression,orprecisemomentsmarkingchangesinusage(thatis,
differencesbetweenthereproducedandreproduciblefeaturesofthewordorexpression).
TheneteffectistolendcredibilitytothevariousPlatonicentitiesthatarethestock-intradeoftheintellectualists:ideas,concepts,meaningsallessentiallyahistorical
entitieswhichmaytakeseverallinguisticembodimentsthroughhistory.Thus,most
intellectualhistoriansconsideritnaivetosearchforthe"absolute"originsofideas,
largelybecauseanyallegedly"original"useofawordorexpressionislikelytohave
undiscoveredhistoricalantecedents.Notsurprisingly,though,Foucaultcriticizesthis
attitudeonthegroundsthatitiseasilygeneralizabletotheclaimthatthecognitive
contentofawordorexpressionexistsregardlessofwhethertheoriginisever
discovered.Andoncethisgeneralizationislicensed,philosophersandintellectual
historiansfeelemboldenedtoclaim,forinstance,thatWesternculturehasperennially
faced"theproblemofman,"despitethefactthat"anthropology,"definedasthestudyof
thisproblem,hadtowaitforKant'scoinagein1795.Perhapsthesamemaybesaid,on
amuchsmallerscale,fortheconstancyof"theproblemofquantum"andits
indeterministicsolutionoverthelastcenturyorso.
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WemayseeFoucault'sarchaeologicalstrategyasofferingacounterparttoMarx'stheory
ofreification,onlyforsocialpracticeswhosehistoricaltracesaremoreelusiveand,
hence,moreeasilythoughttobeahistorical.Forexample,wewouldbeabletoaccount
fortheconfidencewithwhichtheWeimarphysiciststhoughttheywerecontributingtoa
solutiontoPlanck'sblackbodyradiationproblemortryingtoreplaceBohr'sorbitalmodel
of
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theatom.Atfirstglance,thisconfidencewouldseemtobenothingmorethanpartof
theeverydayunreflectiveawarenessoftheworkingphysicist.Yetitisessentialto
understandingthesenseofobjectivitythatthephysicistattachestohiswork.Andon
closerinspection,wecanexplainthephysicist'sconfidenceastheproductofsuperficial
similaritiesbetweenthereproducedandthereproduciblefeaturesofhisdiscursive
practices.Inshort,wewouldneedtocomparethepatternsofreadingandwritingamong
theWeimarphysicists.Arethereundetectedyetsignificantchangesmadeinthe
portionsoftheirreadingmaterialsreproducedintheirowntextswhichledthemto
believethattheyweredealingwiththesameoldproblems,wheninfacttheyhadsubtly
transformedthem?Anddothesemisreadingsinvolveintegratingmaterialfromother
texts,suchasSpengler'sDecline of the West(touseForman'sprimecandidate),which
wereavailableatthetimebutnotearlier?
Butperhapsthemostinterestingquestionthatmightbeaskedaboutthereproduction
patternsofscientificdiscourseiswhetherthesurfacesimilaritiesbetweenlinguistic
expressionstendtoreproducewhatwenowdiagnose(Whiggishlyorotherwise)asa
"conceptualconfusion."TheparadigmofstudiesofthiskindisHacking's(1975b)account
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oftheemergenceof"credibility"and"frequency"ascompetingwaysofcharacterizingthe
conceptofprobability.Hacking'smainevidenceforthisconceptbeingconfusedisthat
thealternativecharacterizationsareincommensurable:onthecredibilityreading,
probabilitiesaredispositionstowager,whereasonthefrequencyreading,probabilities
arepropensitiestobehaveacertainwayunderidealconditions.Forourpurposeshere,a
goodcaseofconceptualconfusioninthissenseisthefailureoftheWeimarphysicists
andthegeneralintellctualpublictodistinguishclearlythepossibilityof"determining"
(bymeasuring)aquantumparticle'smomentumandpositionfromthepossibilityof
therebeinglaws"determining"(causally)suchaparticle'smomentumandpositionat
anygivenmoment.(WeshouldnotethatalthoughFormanprovidesnearlyallthe
evidenceneededtoshowthatthedeterminismdebatesweresubjecttothesortsof
conceptualconfusionsdiscussedbelow,hehimselfislargelyoblivioustothem.Forthe
originalsources,seeKockelmans[1968],part2.)
Forman(1971,pp.63-107)beginshisaccountofthedebatesoverdeterminisminthe
thirdquarterofthenineteenthcentury,withtheNeoKantianrevivalandtheriseof
Machianpositivism.Atthistime,physicistsstartedtoincorporatetermslike
"indeterminate"and"indeterminism,"whichKanthadintroducedasabackhandedwayof
speakingaboutreality"undetermined"byourconceptualframework.ErnstMach
continuedtounderstandthetermsinthisstrictlyepistemologicalfashion,namely,as
notattributinganypropertiestorealityexceptourignoranceofitsstructure.Heargued,
inKantianfashion,thatsciencemustpresupposethatrealityhasacausalstructure,
eventhoughithasnowayofshowingthatthepresuppositionistrue.
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However,confusionquicklysetinwiththedevelopmentofstatisticalthermodynamics,
whichsuggestedtoCharlesSandersPeirceandothersthatreality as suchmaybe
indeterminate,inthesenseofbeingsubjectonlytoprobabilisticlaws.Thissuggestion
wassupportedbyastrongalternativetraditionofmetaphysicalindeterminisminFrance
thathadbegunwithPierreGassendi'scommentariesonLucretiusintheseventeenth
centuryandcontinuedinPeirce'stimebytheeconomistCharlesCournotandDurkheim's
philosophicalmentorEmileBoutroux.TheFrenchtraditionhadbeensustainedlargelyby
philosophicalargumentswhichpurportedtoshowthattheworldseemsorderedbecause
ourmindsaregrossinstruments,sensitiveonlytouniformityinthefaceofdiversity.The
metaphysicalindeterministsbelievedthateventhestabilityofourimmediatesensations
wasduemoretoaninsensitivitytochangeonthepartofourperceptualsystemthanto
somerealuniformitythatithadperceived.(Formoreonthisneglectedtradition,see
Mandelbaum[1987],ch.4.)
Peirceacceptedmanyofthesepoints,whichhethenproceededtoruntogetherwith
scientificargumentsfirstsuggestedbytheMaxwell'sdemonhypothesis,namely,thatit
maybeimpossibleto"determine"fullythemotionsofparticlesinaclosedsystem
(especiallyiftheparticlesaresmallenough)becauseinthecourseofmakinghis
measurements,thephysicistmustinterferewiththemovingparticles.(Thequantum
physicistsweretolaterassociatetheseargumentswithBohr'sformulationofthe
ComplementarityPrinciple.)Noticethatthephysicist'sinabilityto"determine"motions
oftheparticlesisnotquitethesameasthemetaphysician'sinability:whereasthe
physicist'sproblemliesinhisstatusasa(massive)interveningvariable,the
metaphysician'sproblemliesinamoretrenchantcognitiveinadequacythatwouldvitiate
hisattemptsto"determine"natureatanydimension.However,bythe1920sthetwo
sortsofargumentshadbecomelinkedtogether,therebyrenderingindeterminisma
thesiswithapplicationwellbeyondthelevelofquantumphenomena.
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Finally,thedifferencebetweenForman'sandHendry'sresponsetothedeterminism
debatesisinstructiveasakeytotheirtacitphilosophiesofscience.WhereasForman,in
Kuhnianfashion,reportsuncriticallythephysicists'fusedusageof"determinism,"Hendry
(1980,p.316),followingLakatos,imputestothephysicistsaclear,albeitoftenimplicit,
understandingofthetwosensesof"determinism."Fromourstandpoint,both
approachesmissthemark,sincetheypresentthephysicists'usagemoreasareflection
andfacilitatoroftheirthoughtthanasanimpedimentorconstraint.InForman'scase,
theemphasisisplacedsolelyontheculturalcapitalthatthephysicistscanmakeofa
highlyundifferentiatedconceptof"indeterminacy,"whileHendryseemstosuggestthat
thephysicistshadanuancedunderstandingof"indeterminacy"butchose(nodoubt,for
reasonsofeconomy)nevertospelloutallthenuances.Onceagain,wefindthe
historiansstressingthesubjectiveovertheobjectivefeaturesofscientific
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practice,despitethefactthatthephysiciststhemselvesfoundthequantumdebates
sufficientlyconfusingtocauseEinsteintofretovertheprospectthathiscolleagues
wouldendupconvincingthepublicthatelectronshadfreewill(Forman1971,p.110).
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APPENDIX B:
HAVING THEM CHANGE AGAINST THEIR WILL
POLICY SIMULATIONS OF OBJECTIVITY
Howshouldwegoabouttryingtoacquireknowledge,giventhattheworld,independent
ofourintentions,imposescertainconstraintsonwhatwedo?Toaddressthisquestion
istoengageinapolicy simulation of objectivity.Whileitisclearthatpolicy-oriented
socialscientistswouldhaveaninterestinansweringsuchaquestion,itisperhapsnot
soclearthatsomeoneofaphilosophicalbentwould.Andso,inordertoclarifythe
projectofpolicysimulation,weshallbeginbyshowingthattheconcernsofthe
policymakerandthephilosophermaycoincideininterestingwaysinthiscase,intheir
attemptstomakesenseofananthropologicalfieldstudy.
Considerwhatitwouldbeliketodoananthropologicalstudyonasocietyofknowledge
gatherers.Thefieldresearcherwouldnote,amongotherthings,thewaysinwhichthe
knowledgegatheringpracticesofthesocietyarelimitedbyits"environment,"broadly
construed:thepoliticalandeconomicclimatethecognitivestrengthsandweaknesses
ofthemembersthemodesofproducing,distributing,andutilizingknowledge(aswell
asthemeansbywhichthemodesarethemselvesreproducedanddistributedovertime
andspaceinthesociety)andinterpersonalconventionscarriedoverfromthepast
whichmayormaynotcontinuetofacilitateknowledgegathering.Likesomanyother
productsoffieldresearch,thiscatalogueofconstraintswouldleavethereader
bewilderedastowhichoneshaveadecisiveimpactonthecharacteroftheknowledge
gatheredinthesociety.Indeed,theanthropologistmaypresentthisfeelingof
bewildermentasindicativeofthethoroughnessofhisinquiry.Hemightthenpointout
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thatthevarietyofconstraintsismatchedonlybythevarietyofintereststhatmembers
ofthesocietyhaveingatheringknowledge,whichmust,inturn,bedistinguishedfrom
theofficialideologicallineonwhythenativesoughttobeinterestedingathering
knowledge.Whattheanthropologisthaspresentedus,then,isasensitiveaccountof
thevariousphenomenaassociatedwithknowledgegatheringinthesociety.However,he
hasyettoengageinapolicysimulationofobjectivity.
Nowsayweposethefollowingquestiontotheanthropologist:"Howcanyourfield
researchbeusedtocontrolandalterthecharacterofknowledgeinthesocietyyouhave
juststudied?"Wecanimaginesuchaquestionbeingaskedbyapolicymakertiedto
UNESCOwhoisinterestedinintroducingcertainbeliefsandpracticesintothesociety
whichwillhavetheeffectofupgradingthenatives'standardofliving.However,atthe
sametime,thepolicymakerisconcernedthattheseforeignbeliefsandpracticesbe
introducedsoastodominimaldamagetotheintegrityofthenativeculture.Likewise,
suchaquestionmightbeaskedbyaphilosopherasocialepistemologistwhois
interestedinmeasuringtheconceptualdistancebetweenthesocietyunderstudyandhis
own.And,clearly,onewayof
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measuringthisdistancewouldbetospecifythemeansbywhichonewouldtryto
introducecertainbeliefsandpracticesintothesociety.Perhapssomebeliefsand
practiceswouldbeeasytointroducebecausethesocietyalreadyhasready-madeways
ofarticulatingorusingthembutperhapsnot.Forexample,ifthesocietydoesnothave
thecommunicationtechnologyforcoordinatingthefindingsoftheknowledgegatherers,
thenitwouldbedifficultforthesocietyevertoarriveatcertaincomplexbeliefs,say,
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aboutweatherpatterns,whicharepossibleonlyiftheresearchofseveralquite
disparatelyplacedteamsofknowledgegathererscanbeintegrated.Inwhatfollowsit
willbecomeclearthatthecrucial"technologicalgap"separatingthenativesfrom
ourselvesisthesubtlematerialresourceoflanguageitself,towittheavailablemodes
ofrepresentationandargumentation.
Giventhisunderstandingofthevariousnuancesinthequestionwehaveposed,the
anthropologistnowanswers:"Onthebasisofmyfieldresearch,Icantellyouwhatsorts
ofclaimsandargumentsthemembersofthatsocietywillfindpersuasive,oratleast
plausible."Now,towhatextentwouldeitherourUNESCOpolicymakerorthesocial
epistemologistfindthisinformationuseful?Theanswerwilldepend,inpart,onthe
extenttowhichknowledgeinthatsocietyisreflexive.Inasocietywithahighlevelof
reflexivity,thenativesjustifytheirbeliefsintermsthatwouldalsobestexplainwhy
theyholdthosebeliefs.Forourpurposes,ajustificationisasetofreasonsthatnatives
wouldrecognizeasanappropriateaccountofsomeone'sbelieforpractice,whilean
explanationisasetofcauses,knowledgeofwhichcouldbeusedtopredictthebeliefs
orpracticesofthenatives.Thus,membersofthesocietywiththehighestlevelof
reflexiveknowledgewouldseenodifferencebetweenjustificationandexplanation:the
folkwaysofaccountingforoneselfandotherswouldcoincidewiththeaccountsoffered
bythebestsocialscientfictheories.Wecallsuchasociety"reflexive"asawayof
suggestingthatitsmembersaresocriticallyselfconsciousabouttheirepistemic
practicesthatadifferencebetweenaninsider's(justification-oriented)andanoutsider's
(explanation-oriented)perspectiveonthosepracticescannolongerbediscerned.
Iftheanthropologistisstudyingasocietythatisreflexiveintheabovesense,thenhe
wouldbeanoptimalsourceofinformationforbothpolicymakerandphilosopher.Butthe
oddsareagainstthisbeingthecase,ifonlybecausemodesofjustificationnormally
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functiontostabilizethesocialorderbyprovidingacommonstandardofrationality
(namely,amethodforgivingreasonsforone'sownandothers'actions),whilemodesof
explanationareindifferenttosuchagoaland,indeed,laytheepistemicgroundworkfor
changingthesocialorderbyspecifyingtheconditionsunderwhichcertaintypesof
behaviorarelikelytobemaintainedand,especially,discarded.Forexample,the
epistemicpracticesofasocietymaybesoarrangedthattheonlyastronomicaltheories
whichcanbejustifiedarethosewhichentailabeliefinaflatearth.However,asit
happens,onenativeprofessesapoorlyarticulatedbeliefinthesphericalshapeof
planetsingeneralandispromptlydeclaredirrationaloratleastarational.
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Nevertheless,anexplanationofthedeviantnative'sbeliefwouldrevealhowbothheand
thenormalmembersofhissocietycouldhavesuchdisparateunderstandingsofthe
samephenomenonandwhyhisisprobablycorrect,afactwhichhasthepotentialfor
destabilizingtheknowledgebaseofthesociety,wereitmadepublic.
Eveniftheknowledgegatherersstudiedbytheanthropologistareasnonreflexiveaswe
havesuggested,mighttherebesomeotherconditionunderwhichadetailed
understandingofthenativejustificatoryprocedureswouldbeofusetothepolicymaker
orphilosopher?Yes,namely,iftheprocedurestendtoleadthenativestoadoptbeliefs
(orcoursesofaction)whichanoutsiderwoulddeemtrue(orrational),eventhoughthe
bestexplanationsofwhytheyaretruewouldcompletelyeludethenativejustificatory
procedures.Policymakerslookforsituationsofthiskindasanidealstateforresolving
theproblemofhowtoimprovethelotofthenativeswithoutunderminingtheircultural
autonomyor,asthesocialepistemologistwouldposeit,the problem of how to
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maximize a change in beliefs while minimizing a change in how beliefs are justified.
Considerthefollowingcase.Inordertosetupanefficientagriculturalsystem,itmaybe
necessarythatthenativesbeengagedinmoresophisticatedlandsurveytechniques
thantheycurrentlyare.Keepinginmindthatthesearethesamenativeswhobelievein
aflatearth,thepolicymakerrealizesthatthemoststraightforwardmeansofimproving
theirknowledgebyintroducingthemtothemodernscienceofgeodesywould
challengesomanyoftheirbeliefs(towhichcertainculturalvalueshavebeenattached
overtheyears)thattheveryjustificatoryproceduresthroughwhichthosebeliefshave
beenarticulatedwouldcomeunderfire.Thenativeswouldrespondtothiscrisiseither
byuniformlydistrustingtheforeignersorbydisagreeingamongstthemselvesastothe
epistemicsignificanceofgeodesy.Clearly,neithercasepromisestoexpeditethe
creationofanefficientagriculturalsystem.However,allisnotlost,forthepolicymaker
cancapitalizeonthefactthatthenativelandsurveytechniques,foralltheirerrorand
inefficiency,arestillserviceableandjustifiabletothenatives.Histask,then,isto
rearticulatetherelevantgeodesicinsights(certainlynottheentirescience)sothatthe
nativesarepersuadedthattheinsightsarea natural extensionofwhattheyalready
knowanddo.Althoughthepolicymakerwouldtherebybereinforcingmanybeliefshe
regardsasfalse(suchastheflatearththeory)inthenameofmaintainingnative
culturalautonomy,hewouldneverthelesshavemanagedtoaltertheirpractices
substantially,whichwillmakeitpossibleforsomefuture(better-fed)nativestoreflect
onwhetherthetraditionaljustificatoryproceduresareequippedtoexpandsignificantly
ontheinsightswhichtheyhavenowunwittinglybeenledtoincorporate.
Atthispoint,theanthropologistmayprotestwhathetakestobethepolicymaker's
hiddenagenda:
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-253-

Contrarytomyownintentions(and,Iwouldhavethought,yours),youare
interestedinthejustificatoryproceduresofthesocietyIhavestudied,notin
ordertodealwiththenativesingoodfaith,butinordertomanipulatethem.
Clearly,youarenotconcernedwithrespectingtheautonomyoftheirculture.
Forifyouwere,youwouldthenbeforcedtorecognizethattheirjustificatory
procedureshavebeendesignedtomaintainalimitedsetofbeliefsand
practiceswhich,inturn,stabilizetheirsociety.Indeed,thenatives'resistance
toanexplicitlyWesternpresentationofgeodesicknowledgeistheultimate
assertionoftheirculturalautonomy,sincetheyare,ineffect,suggestingthat
theywouldratherstayastheyarethantosurrenderthenumberandkindsof
beliefsitwouldtaketoincorporatetheWesterndiscipline.Inasense,you
wouldaccordthenativesmorerespectthanyoucurrentlydo,wereyoutomake
thedifferencesbetweennativeandWesternculturesthisobvious.Butasit
stands,youseemconcernedonlywiththenativesthinkingthattheircultural
autonomyisbeingmaintained,whileyou,asitwere,usetheirownwords
againsttheirautonomy.
Afterasomewhatdespairinglookattheanthropologist,thepolicymakerfinallydecides
tomakeexplicitthedifferencesbetweentheepistemologypresupposedbyhisproject
andthatpresupposedbytheanthropologist's.
Whereastheanthropologistspeaksasthepureinsider,thepolicymakerspeaksasthe
pureoutsider.Consequently,itisnotenoughforthepolicymakertobetold,inKantian
fashion,thathefailstorespecttheautonomyofthenativessimplybecausehefailsto
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respecttheproceduresbywhichtheydefineandjustifytheirbeliefsandactions.In
addition,thepolicymakerwantstodeterminetheextenttowhichthewordsofthe
nativesmatchupwiththeirdeeds:Howwelldoeswhattheysayexplainwhattheydo?
Ifitturnsouttobenotverywellatall,suchthatthenativesocietyexhibitsalowlevel
ofreflexivity,thenitwouldseemtofollowthatthenativesarecaptivetotheirown
justificatoryprocedures,oblivioustothecausalstructureoftheirownbehavior.This
leadsthepolicymakertoconcludethatwhenthenativesmakedecisions,their
deliberationsaresufficientlyconstrainedsoasnottoexhibitthekindoffreedomneeded
forascribingfullautonomytothem.
Admittedly,theconstraintplacedbyargumentationformatsandotherformsoflinguistic
representationonone'sthoughtandactionseemssomewhatlessconfiningthanthe
moretypicalexamplesofconstraint,asinthecaseofhavingagunheldtoone'shead.
Nevertheless,forthepolicymaker,bothareequally"constraints"intherelevantsense.If
anything,thelinguisticconstraintisthemoreseriouspreciselybecauseitissubtlerand
moresystematic,thereforemakingitdifficultforitslimitstobedetectedfromthe
inside.(Atleast,inthecaseofthegunman,thehostagecanimaginesomeclear
strategiesforretrievinghisautonomy.)Andso,inresponsetotheanthropologist's
chargethatthepolicymakerisconcernedsolelywiththenativesthinkingthattheyare
autonomous,thepolicymakerarguesthatgiventheusualdiscrepanciesbetween
justificationandexplanation,nativeautonomycanrunonlythought-deep.Still,by
manipulatingthejustificatoryproceduresofthenatives,thepolicymakerbelieveshecan
eventuallygetthemalbeitindirectlytoremovethechief
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obstacletotheirexercisingfullreflexiveautonomy.Buttocontinueanyfurtheralong
thislineofreasoningwouldbetoveerawayfromepistemologyandtowardethics.
Ournextepistemicgambitistoregardthepolicymaker'scourseofactionassimulating
theeffectsofthosefeaturesofnativepracticewhicharenotsubjecttoreflexivecontrol.
Togetatthegambit'ssignificanceforthesimulationofobjectivity,letusfirstbackupa
little.Incharacterizingtheepistemicpracticesofthenativesociety,wehavesofar
understood"constraint"tomeanthemoreorlessexplicitandmonitoredjustificatory
proceduresofasociety,whichroutinelyallowoneindividualtorecognizeanotheras
havingcompetentlyperformedornot.Weresocietiescompletelyconstrainedinthis
sense,thentheonlywayinwhichtheprocedurescouldchangewouldbebydeliberate
legislativeefforttherepealofonesetofrulesforthepurposeofenactinganotherset.
AsurveyofWittgenstein,Winch,Kuhn,Foucault,Althusser,andotherswhofashion
socialtheoriesafterlinguisticpracticesuggeststhatthisconclusionisgenerally
endorsed.Consequently,changetendstobedescribedwhendescribedatallinterms
suchas"rupture"and"revolution,"implyingthattheinterestingcasesoflinguistic
changeare,attheveryleast,apparenttothelanguageusersand,veryoften,intended
bythem.Unfortunately,thisimagerunsafoulofdiachronicstudiesoflanguage,which
revealthatinfactveryfewsyntacticandsemanticchangesoccurinthisway.Indeed,
linguistshaveidentifiedprinciplesbywhichsuchchangesoccur,largelybasedonwhat
maybecalledthe"material"characteroflanguage:thelookandsoundofwords,their
frequencyanddistributionofutterancetheveryfeaturesoflanguagemostlikelyto
passwithoutnoticeinthemindsofspeakersandwritersastheytrytoexpressor
understandthoughtandaction(Lightfoot1979).Forexample,frequentlyusedwords
tendtoacquireacontractedformandanirregulargrammar(thinkofhowtheverb"to
be"isconjugatedinvariouslanguages),whilethemeaningsofhomonymstendtoward
somedegreeofoverlapinthelongrun(invirtueofakindof"freeassociation"
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principle).Theinternaldynamicofthesechangesseemstobetomakearticulationmore
efficient,buttheireffectsclearlyrunmuchdeeper,astheFrenchlinguistAndrMartinet
(1960)firstnoted.(Foropposingviewsonthephilosophicalsignificanceofthisfact,see
Ricoeur[1978,sec.8].)
Wesee,then,thatlanguage"constrains"thoughtandactioninasubtlersecondsense,
whichstemsfromthemechanismoflinguisticchangebeingrelativelyindependentofthe
intentionsoftheindividualswhousethelanguageasavehicleofcommunication.This
pointhasfiguredprominentlyinrecentdeconstructionistphilosophiesoflanguage,as
maybeseenfromabrieflookatMartinHeidegger(1962)andJacquesDerrida(1976).
Heideggerdrawsonastandardphilologicalaccountoftheoriginanddiffusionof
language,accordingtowhichabstracttermsbeginasmetaphorsthatis,rootedin
concreteimagesbutgraduallycometoacquire"literal"meanings,aslaterspeakers
forgetthoseoriginsanddefineabstractionsintermsofotherabstractions.However,
whenspeakersare
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pressedtolocatethemeaningofanabstracttermoutsideitsusuallanguagegame(say,
inthecourseofexplainingthetermtoanordinaryspeaker),theyunwittinglyfallbackon
theprimordialmetaphoricalassociations.Andso,toborrowfromHeidegger,"theory"
becomesawayof"seeing"theworld,while"truth"isdescribedassomethingthatneeds
tobe"revealed."
DerridagoesbeyondHeideggerinchallengingtheveryideathatanabstracttermhas
oneliteralmeaningeveninitsownlanguagegame.Henotesthatonceatermstarts
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tobeusedoutsideitsoriginalcontextofutterance,itaccumulateslocalmeaningswhich
aretheproductsofnegotiationamongspeakersinparticularcontexts.Ratherthan
followingtheHeideggerianroutefromametaphoricaltoaliteralmeaning(whichis
ultimatelystillrootedinthemetaphorical),Derridaclaimsthatastheuseofaterm
spreads,itsmetaphoricalmeaningyieldstoanequivocalone,wherebytheaccumulated
localsensesareindiscriminatelyruntogether.Asaresultofthisequivocation,or
"dissemination,"thetermalternativelysuggestsadeeplyhiddenessenceorarelatively
shallowpun.Forexample,thedepthof"theproblemoftruth"hasoftenbeenmeasured
bythelargenumberofdisparatesolutionsthathavebeenproposed:correspondence,
coherence,semantic,pragmatic,redundancy,etc.However,Derridawouldtakethisfact
toindicatethat"truth"anditscognates,beingheavilyusedtermsinphilosophical
discourse,havepickedupmanylocalmeaningsoverthecenturies.Inturn,philosophers
havemistakenthisinstanceofdisseminationaspointingtoacommonreferent,Truth,of
whicheachofthelocalmeaningscapturesanaspect.Weretheyfullyawareofhow
simplyusinglanguagecanchangeusage,philosopherswouldbeforcedtoconcludethat
allthatthesedisparatemeaningsreallyhaveincommonisarepertoireofsimilar
lookingandsoundingtermscenteringon"truth."
Atthispoint,weareinapositiontocataloguethevariouslinguisticconstraintsthe
techniquesofobjectivitysimulationthataccountsforhowthepolicymakercanbeas
successfulasheisincausingthenativestochangetheirepistemicpracticesin spite of
theirjustificatoryprocedures.Wehavebeenimplicitlydiscussingfoursuchconstraints,
twoofwhichdonotrequirethatthephilosopherorpolicymakerknowthehistoryofthe
languagecommunity(thesynchronicconstraints)andtwoofwhichdo(thediachronic
constraints).Moreover,whateverreflexivitythelanguagecommunityhasismorelikely
toappearatthesynchronicthanatthediachroniclevel,ifonlybecausespeakersare
unlikelytohaveareliablesenseofthetrendsinusageforfellowspeakersindistant
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timesandplaces.
Synchronic Linguistic Constraints
(A)Performative Constraints:Everyutterancelicensestheaudiencetodraw
inferencesaboutthespeakerwhichareindependentoftheintentionthatthe
speakerwishestoexpressandwhichsignificantlycoloreventothepointof
undermininghowthatintentionistakenbytheaudience(Silverman&Torode
1980).Theseinferencesarise
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fromtheaudiencerecognizingtheutteranceasacomplexsocialaction,the
pointofintersectionforseveralinstitutions.Forexample,asidefromthe
speaker'sintention,theutterancesimultaneouslyconveysinformationabout
hisclassbackground,hisemotionalstate,theresponsibilitiestowhichheis
committed,thebodyofknowledgeforwhichhemaybeheldaccountable,and
soforth.Ifthespeakerisanastuteplayerofthelanguagegameinwhichhe
utters,thenhecanexpresshimselfsothattheaudienceisabletoholdhim
justtothesortsofinferenceswhichheispreparedtobackupbythe
appropriatefollow-uputterancesandactions.Reflexiveknowledgeofthiskind
iswellwithinthepowerofthecompetentspeaker,butrarelyexercised.And
so,theperformanceofanotherwisecompetentspeakermaybeundermined
simplybecausehisnaturalidiomwhichsuggests,say,working-classorigins
isnotnormallyusedinexpressingthethoughthewishestoconveywhich
concerns,say,somefinepointinsubatomicphysics(Bernstein1971).
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(B)Expressive Constraints:Everythoughtcanprobablybeexpressedinevery
language,butnotwiththesamedegreeoffacility.Giventhedifferencesin
semanticandsyntacticstructureamonglanguages,whatmaybeexpressedas
asimple,readilyunderstandablethoughtinonelanguagemayonlybe
expressedwithgreatcomplexityanddifficultyinanotherlanguage.For
example,untildevenirewasintroducedintoLatininthefourteenthcentury,
therewasnolexicaldistinctionbetweentheideaofcontinuouschangeandthe
olderideaofchangefromonestatetoanother.Fierihadbeenused
indifferentlytorefertoboth,which,fromthestandpointofsubsequent
developmentsinthehistoryofscience,meantthattheconceptoffunctional
dependenceunderlyingthemodernideaofphysicallawcouldnotbe
adequatelydistinguishedfromtheconceptofsimpleproportionality(Waismann
1952).ThisisnottodenythepossibilitythatLatinspeakerspriortothe
fourteenthcentury,insomesense,"thought"abouttheideaofcontinuous
change.However,itistodenythattheyhadmuchofanincentivetodoso,
giventhegreatdifficultyinvolvedintryingtoexpresstheidea.TheAmerican
linguistCharlesHockett(1954)hasgonesofarastoreinterprettheSapirWhorfHypothesis(seethepostscriptofch.6)asbeingentirelyabout
expressiveconstraints.Moreover,intheabsenceofadistinctsemanticplacein
Latinfortheideaofcontinuouschange,notonlywoulditbedifficultforthe
Latinspeakertothinkwiththeideaincombinationwithotherideas,buteven
ifthespeakersucceededingainingsomeprivateclarityabouttheimplications
oftheidea,hewouldstillhavegreatdifficultyconveyingtheideatoothers.
Andgivenitsfrequentassociationwithconfusion,convolution,andeven
duplicity,theexpressivedifficultyofanideamayindeedconstituteprimafacie
groundsforanaudiencedevaluingwhatthespeakersays.
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-257-

Diachronic Linguistic Constraints


(C)Originary Constraints:ThisisthesenseinwhichHeideggerfoundthe
discourseofWesternmetaphysics"constrained."Inordertospecifyhowthis
constraintworksinmoredetail,considerthesituationoftryingtoexplainthe
meaningofanabstracttermtosomeonewhoisclearlynotfamiliarwiththe
languagegameinwhichthetermnormallyoccurs.Letussaythattheexplainer
mustgothroughseveralroundsofexplanationbeforehisinterlocutor
understandsthemeaningoftheterm.Wecanseetheoriginaryconstraints
gettingtightereachround,astheexplainerisforcedtoreverttomoreatavistic
formsofexpression,untilhemustresorttoappealingtoaconcreteimage
whichtheinterlocutorfinallygrasps.Thisshowsthatwhileoriginary
constraintsdonotoperateinnormallinguisticusage,wheretermsarereadily
understoodinthecontextoftheirusuallanguagegames,theydooperatein
attemptstofindone'swayeitherinto(inthecaseoftheignorantinterlocutor)
orout of(inthecaseofdeconstructiveHeidegger)thelanguagegame.Inthat
case,whatonemightcalltheontoloquy(thatis,thediscourseoftheinquiring
individual)recapitulatesphyloloquy(thatis,thediscursivehistoryofthe
languagecommunity).
(D)Process Constraints:ThesearetheconstraintshighlightedbyDerrida.They
workbylinkingtogetherthemeaningsofsimilarsounding(orlooking)words
throughaprocesswhichisthesociohistoricalanalogueofFreudianfree
association.Moreover,themostimportantclassofhomonymsthattendtobe
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convertedintosynonymsarewordsnormallysaidtohavemultiplemeanings,
andhencemakeforlongdictionaryentries.AgoodexampleistheEnglishverb
"behave,"whichintheeighteenthcenturywastreatedexclusivelyasa
normativeterm,asin"thechildbehavedpoorlyinclass."However,bythelate
nineteenthcentury,thewordhadacquiredthedescriptivesensefoundin,say,
"thebehavioralconsequencesofone'sbeliefs."Nevertheless,theideaofa
"scienceofbehavior"stillcarriestheconnotationsofbeingastudyof
somethingrule-governed,whetheritbebyamoraloranaturalorder(Williams
1975,pp.35-37).This,inturn,allowsB.F.Skinner(1970)toinvestthenatural
orderwithmoralimport,aswhenhearguesthat"freedom"and"dignity"are
undesirablenotionstohaveaboutoneselfbecausetheytendcauseoneto
"behave"inwaysthatundermineone'ssocialutility.
Takentogether,thesesynchronicanddiachronicconstraintsmarkadecisiveshiftfrom
howlanguageisnormallystudiedbyphilosophersandevenbysociologists.Normally,
languageisregardedsimplyasameansthroughwhichsomeend,usuallythespeaker's
intention,isexpressed.Muchofthe
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discussionthencentersonthepossibilityofconstructingalanguagethatwouldbea
transparentmediumofexpression.Wehaveshiftedtheemphasisbylookingatthe
limitationsthatlanguageplacesonthespeaker'sexpressionofhisintention,andhow
suchconstraintsdetermine,atleastinpart,theidentityoftheintentionthatthe
audienceultimatelytakestohavebeenexpressed.Anotherwayofcastingthedifference
madebyfocusingontheconstraintsisthatnowlanguageisitselfbeingtreatedaspart
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ofthecausalorderofthecommunityratherthanasanidealrepresentationofthatorder
whichremainscausallyunaffectedbyithence,weseeanapplicationofthenaturalistic
approachtorepresentationoriginallyraisedinchapter2.
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PART FOUR
ISSUES IN KNOWLEDGE POLICY-MAKING
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CHAPTER ELEVEN
TOWARD A REVIVAL OF THE NORMATIVE IN
THE SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE
Thedisciplinaryboundaryseparatingthesociologyofknowledgefromepistemologyhas
beensuspiciouslysilentforquitesometime.Animplicitagreementseemstohavebeen
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madetoletthesociologistsconcernthemselvesonlywithwhatactuallypassesas
knowledgeinparticularcases,whiletheepistemologiststakecareofwhatoughttopass
asknowledgeingeneral.Uponcloserinspection,however,itbecomesclearthatthe
termsoftheagreementhavebeensetbytheepistemologists,whotypicallydefinethe
normativestandpoint,therealmofthe"ought,"asacognitiveutopiapopulatedby
individualsskilledindecidingbetweentheorieswhicharesufficientlydefinedand
articulatedtobetranslatedintoacommonlanguageforsystematiccomparison.This
legacyoflogicalpositivismremainsasrobustaseverintheperennialattemptsby
philosophersofsciencetodesigna"logicofjustification."Asforthatothersenseofthe
normativetheonesuggestedbyPlato'sRepublicandBacon'sNew Atlantis,namely,the
idealregulationofrealknowledgesystems,towhichthesociologist'sexpertisewould
likelyproverelevantithasbeenconsignedtotherealmof"mere"policy-makingand
technicalapplications.Howdidthesociologyofknowledgelosetherighttocallitselfa
normativediscipline,andhowmightitregainthatright?Thesearetheissuesraisedby
thischapter.
Someopeningremarksareinorderaboutwhat"normative"meansinthiscontext.There
arethreeperspectivesfromwhichwemayregardwhatoneoughttodo,whichistosay,
thedomainofthenormative:first person, second person,andthird person(Fuller1984).
ThefirstandthirdpersonhavebeentheprevalentperspectivesinWesternmoraltheory.
Inthefirstperson,Iprescribenormsformyownactions,whichinvariablyentails
adoptingacertainattitudetowardtheworld.Moreover,thevalueofthatattitudeis
usuallyestablishedon"intrinsic"groundsandnotinrelationtotheconsequencesthat
havingtheattitudehasontheworld.Kantistheclearexemplarhere.Inthethird
person,Iactasadetachedobserverorcriticofacommunityofagents,withoutany
directinterestinchangingit,butneverthelesswithaninterestinjudgingtowhatextent
theiractionsfacilitatetheirexpressedorlatentvalues.Inthecaseoflatentvalues,I
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wouldprobablyhaveatheory,whichmaydrawoncategoriesunavailabletothe
communityyetcanbejustifiedintermsofmygeneralnormativetheory.Humeisthe
exemplarinthiscase.Incontrast,weadoptthesecondpersonperspective,inwhichI
prescribenormsformyownactions,giventhatIknowhowothersarelikelytoactunder
variousconditions.MygoalhereisnottomakemyselfasIoughttobe(contraKant),
nortojudgewhetherothersareastheyareoughttobe(contraHume),buttojudge
whetherIamasIoughttobe,onthebasisofwhetherIhavemadeothersasthey
oughttobe.Plato'sphilosopher-kingisthearchetypeofthesecondperson
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perspective,whosepalecopiesaretobefoundinthenormativepostureofexecutive
administrators.

1. Normativity Lost
Sociologistsofknowledgegenerallybelievethattheepistemologicalstatusofaclaimis
relativetothesocialgroup(s)whichmustcertifyitbeforeitpassesasknowledge.Inits
firstwave,theperiodbetweenthetwoWorldWars,thispointwastakentoimplythat
everyknowledgeclaimhadanideologicalcomponent,whichcouldberevealedby
identifyingthesocialgroup(s)whoseinterestswouldbeservedbycertifyingtheclaimas
knowledge.Atthattime,thesociologyofknowledgewasdominatedbysuchMarxorientedthinkersasLukacs,Mannheim,Horkheimer,andAdorno,allofwhomplayed
somepartinthedevelopmentofwhathassincebecomeknownas"TheFrankfurt
School."Thenormativeprojectservedbythisorientationmaystillbeseenintheworkof
JuergenHabermas,whose"idealspeechsituation"isanattempttoallowfortherational
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evaluationofknowledgeclaimsbyhavingallclaimantslaybaretheirideologicalbiases
forcriticism(Geuss1982).Thefirstwaveofthesociologyofknowledgehasnotsurvived
asacoherentandinfluentialbodyofresearch.Wehavesofarconsideredtwogeneral
criticismsthatitfailedtoaddressadequately,bothofwhichpointtohowknowledge
acquiresits"independent"or"objective"quality:
(a)Howdoesoneaccountforthefactthatthesocialgroupwhichfirst
proposesaknowledgeclaimisnotnecessarilytheonethatbenefitsoncethe
claimiscertified?(Seech.1.)
(b)Evenifitisgrantedthatallknowledgeclaimsareproposedintheinterest
ofservingspecificgroups,howdoesoneaccountforscientificclaimscontinuing
topassasknowledgelongaftertheiroriginalinterestshavebeenserved?(See
ch.10.)
Onthenormativefrontmorespecifically,thesociologyofknowledgefounderedonthe
problemsthathavegenerallybesetMarxismasatheoryofrevolutionarypractice.In
essence,theseproblemsfocusonwhatMarxistswouldcall"theidealityofthereal,"or
theextenttowhichthewaythingsareisthewaytheyoughttobe.Anotherwayof
lookingattheissueisintermsofMarxism'sfailureasanobjectivesocialscienceto
haveanydesirablepracticalpayoffs.Itsincompetenceonthisscoremaybeillustrated
bytheeasewithwhichMarxismhasbeenusedagainstitsowninterests.Forexample,
whileMarxdocumentedcapitalism'ssystemicdisordersinordertospurtheGerman
workforcetorevolt,Bismarckwasabletopreventtherevolutionfromeverhappeningin
GermanybyreadingDas Kapitalas
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suggestingthekindsofsocialwelfareprogramsthatwouldappeasetheworkers.
Needlesstosay,Bismarck'sabilitytoimpederevolutionarypracticewasadirectresultof
thetruth,notthefalsityor"relativity,"ofMarxisttheory(Heilbroner1970).Although
claimsaboutthenormativeinertnessofthesociologyofknowledgeareusuallyconfined
toMannheimandsaidtoturnontheintelligibilityofasciencethattreatsallknowledge
systemsascognitiveequals(seech.7),thishistoricaltendencytowardnormative
inertnessmaybebetterseenasemergingfromthedevelopmentofMarxismintheyears
immediatelyfollowingMarx'sdeath.
DuringtheperiodoftheSecondInternational(1889-1914),theheydayof"Orthodox"
(Engelsian,scientificmaterialist)Marxism,theproblemtookaparticularform.IfMarxist
socialscienceaspirestolawlikeregularities,onthemodelofthenaturalsciences,then
thepredictionofcapitalism'sdemiseistrue,iftrue,invirtueoflawsofeconomicchange
thatoperateindependentlyofwhethertherelevantindividualsknowthattheirbehavior
isconstrainedbythoselaws.Inthatcase,thereisnojustificationforthoseindividuals,
oncetheyhavelearnedofthelaws,tryingtoprecipitatewhatissupposedlyanhistorical
inevitability.Indeed,suchattemptsmaybeprematuretothepointofpreventingthe
desiredrevolutionaryoutcome.Itwouldseem,then,thatMarxism'sstatusasascientific
theoryimpedesitsstatusasarevolutionarypractice.Certainly,thiswasthepolitical
consequenceofMarxismpriortotheBolshevikRevolutionof1917.TheleadingMarxist
partyinEuropeofthatperiod,theAustrianSocialDemocrats,presumedthatallevents
somehowcontributedtotheultimatedemiseofcapitalismineffect,thattherealis
takinganidealcoursewhichledthemtoseetheroleoftheworkadaypoliticianasone
oflettinghistorypursueitscourseandsimplyattending,viaparliamentarymeans,to
theimmediateneedsofhisconstituency(Kolakowski1978,vol.2).
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After1923,andthepublicationofLukacs'(1971)History and Class Consciousness,the


FrankfurtSchoolbegantheirattempttoovercomethequietismofOrthodoxMarxism.
TheyarguedthatMarxismdiscovers"dialectical"ratherthan"mechanical"lawsof
history,whichimpliesthattherelevantsenseof"necessity"isnotthatofthechainof
eventsinexorablyresultingincapitalism'sbreakdown,butratherthatofthepersistent
socialrelationsofproductionwithoutwhichcapitalismwouldnotbepossible.Oncethe
latterhavebeenidentifiedandpublicized,especiallytotheworkingclasses,capitalism
maybeovercomeatanytimebyintentionallynegatingthosenecessaryconditions.In
thatcase,theFrankfurtconceptionofMarxistscienceas"critical"andnot"positive"
specifieswhatneedstobedestroyedinorderforrevolutionarypracticetosucceed,butit
doesnotidentifythenextsocialorder,nordoesitsayhowthatorderwillbe
implemented(Feenberg1986).Therevolutionariesdecidetheseissuesforthemselves,
andhence"createthefuture,"whenthetimecomes.This,inturn,providesaglossof
theHegelianthesis,invokedbyMarxbutleftunanalyzedbyOrthodoxMarxists,that
freedomrequires"therecognitionofnecessity."Inshort,then,therealisrenderedideal
bytheactiveconstructionofideal-creators.
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BothOrthodoxMarxismandtheFrankfurtSchoolwereunabletoprovideapositive
accountofthefuture.ButwhereastheOrthodoxMarxistsfailedbecausetheyneverhad
sufficientevidenceforpredictingtheexactmomentofcapitalism'sdemise,theFrankfurt
Schoolfailedbecausetheyleftanypositiveaccountofpostcapitalistsocietyentirelyup
tothecollectivejudgmentofrevolutionaries.Still,theneteffectofbothversionsof
MarxismwastounwittinglysupportMaxWeber's(1964)argumentsforthevalue
neutrality,andhencenormativeinertness,ofsocialscientifictheorywithrespectto
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socialpolicy.Ontheonehand,OrthodoxMarxismdivorcedtheoryofanypractical
consequencesbydepictingthelawsofeconomictransformationasproceeding
independentlyofthejudgmentsofthosegovernedbythoselaws.Ontheotherhand,
theFrankfurtSchoolreachedasimilarconclusionbyportrayingthelawsasopen-ended
afterthefallofcapitalism,thuspermittinganynumberof(andhence,nodeterminate)
practicalextensionsintothefuture.
AviewpointthatcouldhavesustainedthenormativethrustofMarxismwouldnegotiate
amiddlecoursebetweenOrthodoxMarxismandtheFrankfurtSchool,startingwithan
alternativereadingof"freedomistherecognitionofnecessity,"towit,thatrevolutionis
possibleonlyoncetheproletariatlearnhowtoremovetheobstaclesthatcurrently
preventhistoryfromtakingitsnaturalcourse.Inshort,therealtakesontheappearance
oftheidealonlythroughhumanintervention,buttheidealexistsalbeitina
suppressedformindependentlyofsuchintervention.Thisisessentiallytheattitude
thatexperimentalphysicistshavetowardNewton'sLaws:thelawsalwayshold,butthey
canbedemonstratedonlythroughspecificinterventions,thediscoveryofwhichisthe
epistemicgoalofscience.RoyBhaskar(1980,1987)hasbeenpreeminentindeveloping
Marxisminthisdirection.
Overthepastfifteenyears,thesociologyofknowledgehasreceivedanewleaseonlife
fromseveral,ratherdisparatequarters,whichwehaveexaminedperiodicallythroughout
thisbook.However,wehaveyettofleshoutthenewimageofthescientistthathas
emerged,especiallyhisratheramoralnormativeorientation,inmarkedcontrasttothe
morallyuprightimageprojectedbyRobertMerton(1957,chs.15-16).Admttedly,before
Merton,thesociologyofknowledgepresentedthescientistassomeoneweddedtoa
particularresearchprograminvirtueofthesocialinterestsheperceiveditassupporting,
eventothepointofvitiatinghisscientificjudgment.TheNewWave,however,tendsto
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presenthimasbeingpoliticallylessprincipledbutmoreastute.Thescientistnow
appearstobeanaccommodatingcreature,aMachiavellianwhomovescomfortablyfrom
oneresearchprogramtothenext,regardlessofthesocialinterestsatstake,whenever
itseemsthathecanmaximizetheuseofcertaintechnicalskills,whichundertheright
circumstancessay,thesuccessfulperformanceofanexperimentwillgainhim
credibilityintheeyesofhispeers.KarinKnorr-Cetina(1981)hascoinedtheexpression
"thelogicofopportunism"tocharacterizethescientist'sMachiavellianmoves,ones
whichshebelievesarelikelyto
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increaseasitbecomesmoreexpensive,bothintermsoftimeandmoney,tolearnnew
technicalskills.AteamofsociologistsunderMichelCallon(1980)attheParisSchoolof
Mineshavedetectedasimilarphenomenonasbeingresponsibleforsuccessfulscientific
innovation,namely,theabilitytoanalyzeaproblemintopartsthatwillpermitthemost
efficientmobilizationofresources,especiallypeople.
Perhapsthemostinterestingfeatureofthisnewtwisttothepoliticsofscienceisthat,
toalargeextent,theMachiavellian'sjudgmentssimulatethoseofthefabled"rational"
scientist,sinceinorderfortheMachiavelliantomaximizehisadvantagehemustbe
readytoswitchresearchprogramswhenhedetectsachangeinthebalanceofcredibility
whichis,afterall,whatphilosophersofsciencewouldtypicallyhavetherational
scientistdo.Toputthepointmorestrikingly,itwouldseemthatasthescientist's
motivationapproximatestotalself-interestedness(suchthatheisalwaysableto
distancehisowninterestsfromthoseofanysocialgroupwhichsupportswhatmayturn
outtobearesearchprogramwithdiminishingcredibility),hisbehaviorapproximates
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totaldisinterestedness.Andso,wecanimaginetheultimateMachiavellianscientist
pursuingalineofresearchfrowneduponbymostgroupsinthesocietyperhaps
determiningtheracialcomponentinintelligenceisanexamplesimplybecausehe
knowsofitspotentialforinfluencingthecourseoffutureresearchandhencefor
enhancinghiscredibilityasascientist.IfMachiavellianismsimulatesscientific
objectivityattheleveloftheindividualscientist,thenwhatsimulatesobjectivityatthe
levelofthescientificcommunity?ArieRip(1984)oftheAmsterdamScienceDynamics
Institutehassuggestedtheconceptofrobustness,whichpertainstothesurvivalvalue
ofparticularpositionsthroughaseriesofcontroversies.Robustnessisreminiscentof
Kuhn's"PlanckPrinciple"andNoelle-Neumann's"SpiralofSilence,"bothofwhichwere
examinedinchapterten.

2. Normativity Regained
Thecontinuingfailureofsociologistsofknowledgetoaddressnormativeissuesmaybe
seeninthediscussionpagesoftheleadingjournalinthefield,Social Studies of
Science,editedattheUniversityofEdinburgh.Originallydesignedasageneralforumfor
bothempiricalandnormativequestions,overtheyearstheempiricalhasoutweighedthe
normativetothepointthatnormativeissuesarenowdeliberatelyeschewedbythe
journal.Infact,thistrendhasprobablybeenthemostpublicizedandabrasivefeatureof
theNewWaveofthesociologyofknowledgeatleasttophilosopherssuchasLarry
Laudanwhobelievethateventheoriesofthesocialnatureofknowledgemustfacenew
versionsofthenormativequestionsthathavetraditionallyinterestedepistemologists.
Asaresult,Laudanhasengagedinmany,largelyfruitlessexchangeswithphilosophers
whosupportthesociologistsintheiravoidanceofthenormative,suchasEdinburgh's
BarryBarnesandDavid
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-267-

Bloor.BarnesandBloorwouldconfinetheroleofthenormativeinthesociologyof
knowledgetomattersofmethodologicalhousecleaning.Andby"methodological
housecleaning"issimplymeantadviceonthegeneralstructureofresearchprograms
mostlikelytoissueinvalidandreliableknowledgeofthesocialworld.Thus,inorderto
distancethemselvesfromphilosophicalquestions,BarnesandBloorwillpronounceonly
onhowtoregulatethesociologyofknowledge,butnotonhowtoregulateanyother
cognitiveenterprise.
However,inallfairnesstoBarnesandBloor,thewayinwhichLaudan(1977,ch.7)
posesthenormativequestionsfacingthesociologyofknowledgeleavesmuchtobe
desired.Laudanseemstobelieve,ineffect,thatthebesttheorychoicesmadeinthe
historyofscienceCopernicus,Newton,Darwin,Einsteinaretheproductsofthebest
methodforchoosingtheories,namely,someversionofthecognitiveutopiaalludedtoat
thestartofthispaper.Sincethissinglemethodcanexplainalltheseexemplary
episodes,thereisnofurtherneedtorefertothespecificsocialcircumstancesinwhich
eachtheorywaschosen.Inotherwords(andthisistypicalofphilosophicalresponsesin
general),Laudanthinksthatthemainchallengetothesociologyofknowledgeisthat
thereasoningofthescientificcommunitymaybeclosertoanidealizedstandardof
rationalitythanthesociologistsarewillingtoadmit.
RatherthandismissingLaudan'schallengewithan"inprinciple"disdainfornormative
questions,sociologistswouldbebetteradvisedtostartaddressingsuchquestionsby
demonstratingthatthevariouscognitiveutopiasproposedbyphilosophersarenotonly
absentfromactualscientificpracticebut,moreimportantly,aregenerallyunfeasible
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giventhesocialorganizationofscience.Forifwhatmakesanorm"normative"isits
abilitytobeenforced,thenanecessaryingredientintherationalselectionofascientific
normisthatthescientificcommunityhastheresourcesforenforcingthenorm.And,as
itturnsout,mostofthecognitiveutopiasofthephilosophersinvolveactivitiessuchas
inspectingthelogicalstructureofargumentsandreplicatingtheexperimentsofone's
colleagues,whicharesimplyimpossibletoenforceonasystematicbasisintheworldof
BigScience(Collins1985).Therefore,ifweassumethat"oughtimpliescan"applies
equallywelltotherationalselectionofnormsinscienceaselsewhere,thenthe
sociologistofknowledgeisinanidealpositiontodeclarethenormativepursuitsofthe
philosopherirrational.
However,beforethesociologistcancelebrateinhisnewfoundcognitiveauthorityover
thephilosopherofscience,hemustfaceanobjectionfromthephilosopheroflaw.The
philosopheroflawwonderswhetherthe"oughtimpliescan"principlecanreallybeused
toshowthatmostoftheavowednormsofscienceareirrational.Afterall,mostcasesof
normativeforceinthelawareonesinwhichthesocietybenefitsinproportiontothe
normbeingobeyedmoreoften,eventhoughnooneexpectsthateveryonewillever
conformtothenorminalltherelevantsituations.Consequently,itisrationaltopass
lawsagainstlittering,eveniftheycannotbesystematically
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enforcedandonlyhalfthepopulationconformstothem,becauseeventhatlowlevelof
conformitymakesthestreetsthatmuchcleaner.Arguably,alllawshavethischaracter,
andsotheburdenofproofisonthesociologisttoexplainwhythenormsofthe
scientificcommunitycannothaveitaswell.
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But,ofcourse,thereasonwhythesociologistwantstotreatscienceasaspecialcaseis
thatscienceisregulatedmainlybywhatmaybecallednorms of coordination:thatis,
scientificnormsfailtohavesystemicforceifevenonepartofthesystemfailstoobey
them.Thisfeatureofthenormsreflectstheinterdependentnatureofscientificresearch.
Aresearcherwho"cooksup"hisresultscanvitiatetheconclusionsofhonestresearchers
whounwittinglyincorporatethefraud,largelybecausetherearenoobvioussignsofthe
levelofconformitytoscientificnorms.Thispointis,inturn,explainedbythepublic
forumofsciencebeingapurelyverbalone,consistinginreportsofwhatonehas
presumablydone.Thecontrastwiththeforuminwhichcivilsocietyisconductedcould
notbemorestriking:thedegreeofconformitytolawsagainst,say,littercanbegauged
byafairlyclearbehavioralindicatorsuchasamountofgarbageonthestreets.The
contrastherealsoshowsthattherelevantissueindesigningscientificnormsisnot
whethereveryonecanobeythem,butwhetherviolationscanbedetectedbeforethey
infecttheentireknowledgeproductionsystem.
Soletusnowturntoapositivenormativeprogramforthesociologyofknowledge.This
wouldinvolve"sociologizing"traditionalepistemologicalquestions.Forexample,if
cognitiveprogressdemandsthatknowledgebedividedintodiscretedisciplines,does
thisrenderobsoletethephilosophicalidealofassentingonlytoclaimswhichonehas
firsttestedforoneself?Itwouldseemthatgrowingspecializationexpandstheregionof
incompetenceforanygivenindividual,suchthatheendsupbeingabletotestfewerof
theclaimsonwhichhisowndecisionsareforcedtorely.Thiscanbereadilyseeninthe
increasingrolethatdeferencetoexpertopinionplays.Yetitalsoopensthepossibilityof
anewversionofthe"Cartesiandemon"(seech.2)enteringtheknowledgesystem,as
individualsdefertoexpertswhoseopinionshavenorealbearingontheclaimathandor
havenotthemselvesbeenproperlytested.Thiscanperpetuateandcompounderrors
thatmaygoundetectedforlongperiodsoftimeandmaybeimpossibletocorrectaftera
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certainpoint.Justhowrealisthispossibility?Andarethereappropriateandaffordable
policymeasuresformonitoringtheflowofinformationsothatsucherrorscanbe
isolatedintime?Forexample,wemightimagineagovernmentbureaudesignedto
determinethestandardsforthecompetentuseof,say,theauthorityofquantum
mechanics(whichsuggeststhatcausaldeterminismbreaksdownatthesubatomiclevel)
inmakingargumentsfortheexistenceoffreewill.Inshort,doesitpaytocentrally
coordinatetheactivitiesofthevariousdepartmentsofknowledge,orshouldalaissezfaireattitudeprevail,wherebythedisciplinesmonitortheirownactivities,borrowingand
barringwheretheyplease?Thesearethekindsofnormativeissuesstemmingfrom
empiricalconsiderationsonthesocialnatureofknowledgegrowthwhichhavebeen
deliberatelyavoidedbythecontributors
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toSocial Studies of Science,andtowhichphilosopherslikeLaudanhavethemselves


failedtocontribute,sincetheyhavefocusedtheireffortsexclusivelyonattackingthe
sociologists.

3. Freedom and the Administration of Knowledge Production


Despitetheirstudiedavoidanceofclassicalphilosophicalproblems,therecent
sociologistsofknowledgehaveproducedabodyofresearchwhichpointsultimatelytoa
radicalcritiqueoftheepistemologicaltradition,onewhichfocusesondemystifyingthe
philosopher'sultimatecognitiveutopia:the free pursuit of knowledge.
TherehasbeenaremarkableamountofagreementamongWesternphilosophersover
boththedesirabilityandthefeasibilityofaninstitutionprotectedfromallothersocial
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concernswhichwouldbedevotedentirelytothepursuitofknowledge.Thisutopiaisas
oldasPlato'sRepublicandhasbeenrecentlyreincarnatedasPopperandvonHayek's
visionofthe"opensociety,"aswellasHabermas'"idealspeechsituation."Ineach
version,theutopiaworksbyabstractingawayallthefactorswhichcouldleadto
irresolubledisputesamongrationalindividualsnamely,theparticularsocialinterests
thatwouldbeservedbyonetheorybeingchoseninsteadofanothersoastoleaveat
mostadifferenceinevidencebase,whichcanbebridgedbythefreecommunicationof
findings,whichwill,inturn,beevaluatedintermsofacommonlogicofjustification.As
withanyofthesecognitiveutopias,onemust,atthestart,questiontheexactstatusof
theclaimbeingmade.Isitbeingallegedasasociological factthatallcognitive
diversitycanberesolvedbyeliminatingdifferencesinsocialinterest?Inthatcase,we
haveanempiricallyfalsifiablehypothesis,whichsuggestscertainsortsofexperiments
andhistoricalcomparisons.(Indeed,onesuchfalsificationmaybetoshowthe
unfeasibilityofevenperformingthoseexperimentsorcomparisons.)Butperhaps,asis
sooftenthecase,itissimplyamatterofphilosophical definitionthatwhatever
preventsindividualsfromagreeingonacommonlogicofjustificationwillbecalled
"interest-motivated."Inthatcase,allthatthesociologistcandoistobalkatthe
philosopher'sidiosyncraticusage.
Butletusgrantforthemomentthatthephilosopher'scognitiveutopiahasthestatusof
sociologicalfact.Therestillneedstobeanaccountofhowrationalindividualsdecide
thatitistimetochooseatheoryforwhilealogicofjustificationmayspecifywhich
theorytochoosegivencertainalternativesatacertaintime,itdoesnotspecifywhen
thetimeisrightfordeployingthelogic.Aswesawinthelastchapter,recent
sociologicalresearchsuggeststhattheinterestingquestionisnotwhyonetheorywas
chosenratherthansomeotherinstead,itiswhywasitthoughtthatatheorychoice
hadtobemadeat that timeratherthanearlierorlater.Moreover,Barnes(1974)has
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arguedthatifQuineiscorrectandtheorychoiceisalwaysunderdeterminedbythe
evidencebase,thentherewillnever
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beatime,justgivenalogicofjustification,whenitwillmakeoptimalsensetodecide
betweentheories.Onetheorymaycurrentlyappearthebestsupportedonlybecause
certainevidencehasyettobeprovidedwhichwouldundermineitscredibilityandtipthe
scalesinfavorofanalternative.Andlefttotheirowndevices,scientists,liketherestof
us,wouldnodoubtentertainforanindefiniteperiodoftimemanyincompatibletheories
atonce,sinceeachwouldhaveitsspecialvirtueinsavingthephenomena.Butcontrary
totheseidyllsofautonomy,deliberationsdoeventuallyyieldtodecisions,andindeed
becomethecenterpiecesofphilosophicaltheoriesofscientificrationality.The
sociologist'spointwouldthenbethathoweversimilarlythescientistsjustifytheirtheory
choices(grantingthatpointforthesakeofargument),thedecisionsthemselvesturnon
suchextrascientificexigenciesasgrantapplicationdeadlines,whichplacethesortof
pressureonscientiststhatcouldneverbegeneratedfromwithinthecognitiveutopiaof
thephilosophers.
Butshouldweevengrantthatthephilosopher'scognitiveutopiacouldhavethestatus
ofsociologicalfact?Aforumforthefreepursuitofknowledgeseemsempiricallyfeasible
untilwestartinquiringintowhatexactlyknowledgeis,suchthatitcanbe"circulated,"
"extended,""produced,"and"distributed."Notsatisfiedwiththeusualphilosophical
metaphors,sociologiststakeituponthemselvestodoakindof"fieldontology"ofthe
cognitiveenterprise.Theyask:Whatarethesignsthatknowledgeispresent?And
althoughmanyanswersareoffered,theyallpartwayswithphilosophicalapproachesby
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definingknowledgeintermsofcodedmaterialswhicharelocalizableinspaceandtime.
Thisshift,howeverslightitmayseem,isinfactsignificantfornodoubttheplausibility
ofthefreepursuitofknowledgehasrested,atleastinpart,onanimageofknowledge
asasetofpropositions,whosecontentis,inprinciple,accessibletoallandindependent
ofanymaterialembodimentsavethefewpuffsofairittakestoexpressaproposition
asasentence.SuchanimageexplainswhyphilosophersasotherwisediverseasPopper,
Habermas,andToulminstilltakepublicdebateintheAthenianagoraastheutopian
modelofknowledgeproductionintheworldofBigScience.Inthatcase,itwouldseem
thatknowledgeflowsfreelyinitsnaturalstate(whichisessentiallyasconversation),
andthatsomeexternalforcemustbeapplied(say,fromparticularsocialinterests)
beforetheflowisimpeded.
However,thestoryisquitedifferentonceknowledgeisseenassufferingfromthesame
problemsofscarcitythatbefallothermaterialgoods:tomakeknowledgemoreavailable
tooneplaceandtimeistomakeitlessavailabletosomeotherplaceandtime(Machlup
[1962]isthepioneeringworkinthisarea).Toencodequantummechanicssoastomake
itaccessibletoaphysicistonthecuttingedgeofresearchis,atthesametime,to
removeitfromthefirst-yearphysicsstudentorthelaypublic(nottomentionfuture
historiansofscience).Eveniftheseadvancedquantummechanicstextswerereadily
foundinpopularbookstores,theywouldstillremain"inaccessible"tolayandstudent
readers,becauseinordertodecodethe
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texts,thenonspecialistreaderwouldneedtogainakindofknowledgethekind
associatedwithanadvanceddegreeinphysicswhichrequiresarelativelylongperiodof
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cloisteredstudy.Inessence,then,theadvancedquantummechanicstexttellsthe
nonspecialisthowmuchmoreknowledgeheneedstoacquirebeforeheisableto
possesstheknowledgecontainedinthetext.Thesameappliesviceversa:thatis,to
encodequantummechanicssoastomakeitaccessibletothelayreaderistoremoveit
fromtheprofessionalphysicist.Ifthispointdoesnotseemobvious,thenconsiderthe
prospectofaphysicisttryingtodesignaresearchprogramonthebasisofoneofthe
manyavailablepopularizationsofquantummechanics:Howwouldhetranslatethe
variousslogans,metaphors,andworldviewsintoempiricaloperations?Hewould
probablyhavetodohisownamateurhistoryofthepopularization,trackingdownthe
textsonwhichthepopularizerdrawsforhisaccount.Andifthisexampleseems
farfetched,thenconsiderthemorerealisticcaseofsomeoneacquaintedwithquantum
mechanicssolelyasaprogramfordoingresearchatthecuttingedgeofphysicsbeing
askedaboutits"culturalimplications."Hewouldnodoubtdrawablankatfirstand
wouldstarttospeakconfidentlyonlyafterhavingstudiedtheimplicitproceduresused
byBohr,Heisenberg,Bohm,andotherstomapquantummechanicsontothemainstream
ofWesternculture.
Atthispoint,twosortsofobjectionsmayberaised.First,someonesympatheticwithour
generalstrategyofreinterpretingtheproblemofknowledgeineconomictermsmay
neverthelesswonderwhether,in the long run,thereisnecessarilyatrade-offbetween
allocatingresourcesforpopulartextsandfortechnicalsciencetexts.Instead,itwould
seemthatscientistsoftenassumetheroleofpopularizerespeciallyingovernment
forumsasameansofacquiringthetimeandmoneyneededforconductingresearch
whichwillultimatelyyieldaseriesoftechnicaljournalarticlesorbooks.Casesofthis
kindseempersuasive,however,onlybecausetheyregardtheknowledgeenterprisefrom
itsendstate:thatis,scientistsarepresentedashavingalreadysucceededinacquiring
theresourcestheyneededforcontinuingresearchbyinitiallytakingthetimetoshow
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thepublictherelevanceofthatresearch.Butwhenthesecasesareregardedintermsof
theactualsequenceofdecisionsthatmustbemadebeforethatendstateisreached,it
becomesclearthatthescientistsindeedrecognizedtheneedformakingatrade-off,
whichtheydidbytemporarilyredirectingtimeandeffortfromtechnicaltopopulartexts.
Admittedly,thisstrategywasmeantbythescientistsasameansofbuyingmoretime
andeffortfortechnicalmatters,butitwasbynomeansguaranteedthatsuchan
attemptatpopularsupportwouldsucceed:forexample,thegovernmentmaydecideto
fundsomeotherresearchteam.Thus,theseeminglyshort-termdecisiontoproduce
publiclyaccessibletextsmayturnouttoinvolveanirreversibletrade-off.
Thesecondobjectionarisesfromtheimpatienceoftheclassicalepistemologistwho,
havingwitnessedwhathasjusttranspired,wonderswhethertheonlynormative
questionsraisedbytheaboveaccountconcern
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theproductionanddistributionofphysicstextsquestionsbetterhandledbysomeone
familiarwiththepublishingmarketthanbyeitheraphilosopherorasociologist.Butthis
impatiencewouldrevealafailuretocometogripswithathoroughgoingmaterialist
epistemology.Theclassicalepistemologistclearlyhasanidealistbias,insofarashe
wouldinterpretthepointswehavebeenmakingasbeingsimplyaboutthedifferent
ways,popularandprofessional,inwhichthebasicpropositionsofquantummechanics
canbeembodied.Indeed,thefactthatoursocietyembodiesquantummechanicsin
manydifferentways,suitedtotheneedsofmanydifferentgroupsofpeople,maystrike
theepistemologistasproofthatquantummechanicshasbeenmadeuniversally
accessible.Unfortunately,asourremarksweremeanttosuggest,the crucial
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epistemological differences occur at the level of the different textual embodiments,


sinceapopularizationofquantummechanicsoffersthelayreadernomoreaccesstothe
workoftheprofessionalphysicistthanastate-of-the-artphysicstextoffersthe
professionalphysicistaccesstothegeneralculturalissueswhichinterestthelaypublic.
Andherewemaydefine"access"instrictlymaterialistterms,namely,Ahasaccessto
B'swork,ifAhasthecapacitytocausallyinfluenceB'swork.Thefactthatthelayman,
throughhisreadingofpopularizations,cannotprovidethesortofevidencewhichwould
eitherincreaseordecreasetheprobabilityofastandinghypothesisinquantum
mechanicsdemonstrateshislackofaccess.Likewise,thefactthatthephysicist,through
hisprofessionaltraininginquantummechanics,cannotinformpublicopiniononwhether
theindeterminacyprinciplebearsontheproblemoffreewilldemonstrateshisown
speciallackofaccess.
Fromtheaboveconsiderations,itshouldbeclearthatnormativequestionsconcerning
theproductionanddistributionoftextsinasocietyareproperlywithinthepurviewofan
epistemologistwho,likethesociologistofknowledge,isinclinedtoamaterialist
ontology.Amongthemostimportantnormativequestionsthatneedtobeanswered
involvedecisionsaboutthecodificationofvarioussubjectmatters,especiallytakinginto
accountwhoislikelytoobtainaccesstowhoseworkasaresultofproducingand
distributingaspecificcodification.Asocietywithfewpopularizationsbutmanytechnical
textsinquantummechanicsislikelytohaveaquitedifferentepistemicprofilefroma
societywithmanypopularizationsbutfewtechnicaltextsinthatfield.Forexample,
historywouldsuggestthatinthelattersocietytheheydayofquantummechanics
researchhadpassedandthatthetimehadcomefortheresearchtobeintegratedinto
themainstreamoftheculture.
However,therelevantquestionsherearenotsimplyonesofwhetherasocietycan
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produceanddistributeenoughtechnicalandpopularphysicstexts.Indeed,economically
advancedsocietiesareabletosolvetheseproblemswithease.But,clearly,thisisnot
thewholestory.Placinganadvancedquantummechanicstextineveryhouseholdinthe
UnitedStatesis,byitself,unlikelytoincreasetheaverageAmerican'scompetencein
technicallyrenderedphysics.Ifasocietywereinterestedinraisingthe
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public'slevelofcompetenceinphysicstothatofthespecialist,thenitwouldhaveto
makeamajoreconomiccommitmenttoproducinganddistributingthetextsthatwould
beneededtobridgetheepistemicgapimplicitinthedifferencebetweenpopularand
technicalphysicstexts.(Bridgingtextscouldplayasimilarroleininformingmembersof
onedisciplineofworkinanotherdiscipline,andwouldhaveeffectsanalogoustothe
onesraisedhereforthepublic.)Thatgapisnowfilled,ratherunsystematically,bythe
sortsoftextsusedinteachingintroductoryandintermediatecollegecourses.Isay
"ratherunsystematically"because,asanycollegeteacherknows,suchtextsareoriented
moretotheinstitutionalconstraintsofcollegeteaching(forexample,thetextis
designedtocoveronechapterperweek,materialispresentedsoastoserveasthe
exemplarsforself-containedexercises)thantorefiningandraisingthereader'sknown
levelofcompetence.Moreover,incapitalistsocietiessuchastheUnitedStates,where
textbooksaretypicallypublishedbycommercialratherthanacademichouses,consumer
demandisincreasingtheepistemicgapbetweenwhatstudentslearnattheelementary
andadvancedlevels.Thestudent'smostvividexperienceofthisgapoccurswhenhe
findsthat,say,thechaptersonsexanddrugsthatloomedlargeinhisintroductory
psychologytextarenotproportionallyrepresentedinthecontentoftheupperdivision
courses.
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Systematicallyproducingtherightkindof"bridgingtexts"would,inthefirstplace,
demandwriterswithaPiagetiansenseofhowtogetthereadertorealizeadeficiencyin
hisknowledgewhichwill,atthesametime,leadhimtoamoreadvancedunderstanding.
Writersofthiskindwouldundoubtedlyhaveaveryversatileunderstandingofphysics,
onethatcouldbeputtoequallygooduseinphilosophy,someoftheotherhumanities,
oreveninadvancedtheoreticalphysicsitself.Theywouldconstituteanewbreedof
popularizer,halfjournalistandhalfpedagogue,whowouldbecontributingtowhatE.D.
Hirsch(1987)hasrecentlycalled"culturalliteracy."Whileafull-blowncommitmentto
raisingthepublic'slevelofcompetenceinphysicsmaywellseriouslydivertresources,
especiallybrainpower,fromthecuttingedgeofresearch,itwouldlikelyfacilitatethe
exchangeofinformationamongthevarioussectorsofsociety,therebydistributingpower
moreequitably.Hirschhasstressedthispoint,whichhethinkswillleadtoasortof
"publicscience,"analogoustoWalterLippmann's(1955,part2)"publicphilosophy,"
whichwouldallowasocietytoidentifyitselfintermsoftheknowledgethatitsmembers
haveincommon.
Inaperiodsuchastheeighteenth-centuryEnlightenment,whentheNewtonianworldsystemwascommonlyseenashavingextendedthefrontierofknowledgetoitslimit,
thecommitmentwouldbeeasilymade,asmanyofthebestmindsbelievedthatthey
hadachoicebetweencorrectingpopularprejudicesbyproducingbridgingtexts(themost
importantbeingL'Encyclopedie)orsimplysolvingthepuzzleswhichremainedin
subsumingchemicalandbiologicalphenomenaunderNewton'sLaws.Butitshouldbe
recalledthatthisreallocationofcognitiveresourcesdidnotsimplycreateabetterinformedpublic.Moresignificantly,oncephysics
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wasnolongerseenashavingmuchofacuttingedge,itwasgenerallyinferredthatman
hadfinallygainedcontrolovernature,andespeciallyhimselfaspartofnature,which,in
turn,inspiredthevariouspoliticalactsofself-determinationculminatingintheFrench
Revolutionof1789.ThecaseoftheEnlightenmentbringstotheforethemajorpoints
thatasociologizedepistemologistmustconsiderwhenmakingpolicysuggestionsfor
organizingknowledgeinasociety.Apolicytomaketheknowledgeposssessedbythe
specialsciencespubliclyaccessiblemaynotonlygivetheimpressionthatinquiryhas
sloweddown,butalsothatthepublicmayactwithconfidenceonmatterswhereitwould
nothavepreviously,sinceatleastfromthestandpointofresourceallocationthe
public'signoranceofthespecialscienceshadbeentiedtothescientists'ownresidual
ignoranceoftheirdomainsofinquiry.Oncethescientists'ignorancehasbeen
eliminated,theresourcesaremadeavailabletoenlightenthepublic.Theadvisabilityof
utilizingthetime,money,andbrainpowerinthiswayis,ofcourse,anothermatter.
Inconclusion,wehaveseenthatakeyreasonwhythesociologyofknowledgehasnot
beenusuallyregardedasanormativeenterpriseisthatepistemologistshavepresumed
anexcessivelyrestrictedunderstandingof"normative"whichmanagestoincludethe
decisionsthatindividualscientistsoughttomakeforregulatingtheirownresearch
practicesinidealizedsettings,yetexcludethedecisionsthatpolicymakersoughtto
makeforregulatingtheresearchpracticesofthescientificcommunityasawholeinmore
realisticsettings.Ihavearguedthatthisexcessivelyrestrictednotionofthenormative
canbetracedtotheidealistbiasinclassicalepistemology,whichdoesnottakethe
materialinstantiationofapropositionthatis,thetextwhichexpressestheproposition
tobeanessentialepistemicproperty.However,onceamorematerialistperspectiveis
admittedintoepistemology,oneinwhichtheproblemofknowledgeisredefinedinterms
oftheeconomicsoftextproduction,thenitispossibletopose,onceagain,therealistic
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normativeproblemswhichconcernedPlatoandBaconandwhicharetackledmost
effectivelywithinthegeneralframeworkofthesociologyofknowledge.
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CHAPTER TWELVE
SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY AND THE PROBLEM OF
AUTHORITARIANISM
Inthepastdecadeorso,themostconvincingargumentswithinphilosophyforthe
socializationofepistemologyhaveseemedtorestontheunfeasibilityofanepistemic
normwhichrequirestheknowertojustifyallofhisownbeliefs.Ontheonehand,
cognitivepsychologistshaverepeatedlyshownthat,lefttotheirowndevicesin
relativelyunstructuredenvironments(asisnormallypresentedinalaboratory),even
highlyskilledscientistswillcommitelementaryerrorsininductivereasoning(Stich&
Nisbett1984).Butluckily,sothepsychologistsassureus,thecollectivenatureofthe
scientificenterprisemeansthateachindividual'sinferencewillbecross-validatedat
somepoint(Faust1985).Ontheotherhand,socialhistoriansofsciencehave
increasinglystudiedthebreakdownoftheknowledgeenterpriseintodiscretedisciplines,
whichthelogicalpositivistsandotherreductionistshadtakentobeanobstacleto"the
unityofscience."Butgiventherenewedinterestinthefinitudeofhumanintelligence,
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disciplinizationhassuddenlybeentransformedfromadefecttoadesignfeatureof
knowledgegrowth(Putnam1975,ch.12Hardwig1986).
Thischapteropenswithacriticalexaminationofatendencythathasrecentlyemerged
amongepistemologistssensitivetothesestrandsintheScienceStudiesmovement,
namely,totreatthedifferencebetweentheknowledgeofexpertsandlaymenas
groundsforconferringabsoluteauthorityontheformeroverthelatter.Oncewehave
maneuveredawayfromthistendency,weshallconsidersomegeneralstrategiesby
whichexpertiseis"politicized"and"depoliticized."Thecontrastimpliedinthelastpair
oftermsisnotquitetheonethatepistemologistswouldexpect(thoughitismore
closelyrelatedtoitthantheywouldliketoadmit).Forweshallseethatto"politicize"
expertiseistoopenthequestionofcognitiveauthoritytothecriticalscrutinyofsociety
atlarge,whileto"depoliticize"itistoclosethequestioninfavoroftheexperts.

1. The Lure and Avoidance of Cognitive Authoritarianism


Hereisanargument,basedonHardwig(1986),purportingtoshowthat,inmostcases,
itmaybemorerationaltodefertotheauthorityofexpertsthantotrustone'sown
epistemicjudgments:
(1)Theordinaryindividual,or"layman,"holdsmorebeliefsthanhecould
reasonablybeexpectedtohavetherelevantevidencefor.
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(2)However,inmostcases,thelaymanknowsofsomeotherindividual,an
"expert,"whothroughspecializedtraininghasacquiredtheevidenceneeded
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forrationallyholdingthebelief.
(3)From(1)and(2)wecanconcludeeither(a)thatmostofthelayman's
beliefsareirrationallyheld,or(b)thatitisrationalforthelaymantoholda
beliefifsomeoneherecognizesasanexperthastheevidenceneededfor
rationallyholdingit.
(4)Sinceonly(3b)savestheintuitionthatmostofourbeliefsarerationally
held,itfollowsthatthelaymanis"epistemicallydependent"ontheauthority
ofexpertsforallbutthebeliefsonwhichhehimselfisanexpert.
(5)Therefore,formostepistemicjudgments,itislessrationalto"thinkfor
oneself"thantodefertotheauthorityoftherelevantexpert.
ThisistheAuthoritarian Theory of Knowledge(ATK).Inanutshell,itsaysthatthe
rationalityofthinkingforoneselfdiminishesassociety'sknowledgegatheringactivities
expandtothepointofrequiringadivisionofcognitivelaborintoautonomousexpertises.
Ishallcallsuchasociety"knowledge-intensive."Isubmitthatthepersuasivenessof
ATKandtheargumentoutlinedaboverestsonaconflationofthreedistinctreadingsof
ATK,whichwillbesurveyedbelow:analytical,empirical,andnormative.
Analytically,itmaysimplybeaconsequenceofwhatitmeanstobeanexpertthatone
deferstohisauthority.Inthatcase,ifanormalmemberofasocietyfailedtodeferto
someothermember'sauthority,thenitwouldfollowthatthelatterpersondidnothave
therelevantexpertise.Inthisreading,ATKspecifieseitherhowonegoesabout
identifyinganexpertorhowonebecomesrecognizedasanexpertinthesociety.Thus,
someoneopposedtoATK,understoodanalytically,mightthenbecriticizedasfollows:
"Ifyoudon'tdefertotheauthorityofexperts(ontheappropriateoccasions),thenyou
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defeat(ormisunderstand)theveryideaofexpertise."Theskepticwould,therefore,be
"irrational"inthesensethatsomeonewhoviolatestherulesofagameis(Bennett
1964).
AsecondreadingofATKisasanempiricalgeneralizationabouthowrationalbeliefsare
formedinknowledge-intensivesocieties.Muchherehangsonthesensegivento
"rational,"whichmaybetakeninoneoftwoways.Inonesense,itwouldbe"rational"
foralaymantodefertoexpertsifitincreasesthelikelihoodofhisachievinghisgoals,
say,byallowinghimtoconserveonhisknowledge-gatheringefforts.Forinstance,as
HerbertSimon(1976,pp.136-139)hasshown,whenfacedwiththeproblemofhavingto
researchandimplementapolicydecisionwithinthesamebudgetconstraints,
administratorsarebetteroffminimizingresearchcostsbydeferringtotherelevant
experts,therebyreservingalargerportionofthe
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budgetforimplementation.Inanothersense,itwouldbe"rational"forlaymentodefer
toexpertsifthecollectiveeffectoftheirdoingsopromotestheoverallknowledge
gatheringactivitiesofthesociety.Thisfactcouldthenserveasthebasisofaninvisiblehandexplanationforwhydeferencetoexpertsoccursinknowledge-intensivesocieties
suchasourownnamely,ittendstopreventredundantresearchand(perhapsasa
result)tostimulateinterestinfieldswhereexpertisehasyettoform.Indeed,thesetwo
sensesofrationalitymayoperatesimultaneously,insofarastheindividualwhoengages
incognitiveeconomybydeferringtoexpertsisalsointhebestpositiontoincreasethe
society'sstoreofknowledge.Inthatcase,someoneopposedtoATK,understoodin
eitherofitsempiricalsenses,couldeasilybechargedwith"irrationality"inthesenseof
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followingastrategycounterproductivetohisownandsociety'sgoals.
WhileitmayseemthatwehavenowexhaustedthepossiblereadingsofATK,wehave
yettoaddressthenormativequestionmostsquarelyinthedomainofthe
epistemologist:Towhatextentisexpertiserelevanttothesortsofgoalswhichnormally
causeustoseekknowledge?Instep(2)ofhisargument,theATKtheoristclearly
presumesthattheepistemicgoalsofthelaymanandtheexpertaresufficientlysimilar
sothatthelaymanmayunproblematicallybuildontheknowledgegatheredbyexperts
whenengagedinhisowninquiries.However,theanalyticalandempiricalinterpretations
ofATKestablishonlythatifsomeonedisplaystherelevantexpertise,thenweshould
defertohisauthority.Butwhenissuchadisplayofexpertise"relevant"?Three
considerationsmayberaisedwhichsuggestthateveninaknowledge-intensivesociety
theremayberationalgroundsfor"thinkingforoneself"andrejectingageneralpolicyof
deferringtotheauthorityofexperts.
Togetatthefirstconsideration,IshallelaborateonanexampledrawnfromHardwig
(1986),whichconcernsadoctorwhoadvisesapatienttovisitacardiologistfor
treatmentofanirregularheartbeat.Onereasonwhythepatientmayrationallyreject
thedoctor'sdiagnosisisthathismedicaljudgmentis"unreliable."Butsomecaremust
betakenindefiningthislastterm.Sincewearepresumingthattheadviceisbeing
giveninaknowledgeintensivesociety,thepatientmustacceptthatthedoctordoes
indeedhavesomemedicalexpertise.(Weshallsimplytakeforgrantedthatthis
particulardoctoristhemostcompetentonethepatientcouldfind.)Thus,thefactthat
thedoctorsometimesmisdiagnosesanirregularheartbeatdoesnotbyitselfprovide
adequategroundsforthepatientrejectingthelatestdiagnosis,since,asanexpertin
medicine,thedoctorgivesthecorrectdiagnosisofirregularheartbeatsmoreoftenthan
anyotherexpertorlayman.Moreover,evenifthedoctormisdiagnosedirregular
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heartbeatsmost of the time,hewouldstillbeofferingexpertadvice,justaslongasno


oneelsehadabettertrackrecord.Yet,thishavingbeensaid,thedoctor'sdiagnosis
maystillnotbegoodenoughforthepatient,ifhisthresholdlevelforreliableexpert
testimonyishigherthanwhatthedoctorcanrealisticallyprovide.Forexample,the
patientmayhaveahighreliabilitythreshold
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becauseheisaversetospendingtheamountoftimeandmoneyitwouldtaketoacton
thedoctor'sadvice(say,toenterahospital),unlessheisfairlycertainthatitwould
havebeneficialconsequences.
AdefenderofATKmayatthispointtrytorebutthefirstconsiderationbyarguingthat
thelayman'sreliabilitythresholdisundulyinfluencedbyanonepistemicfactor,namely,
hispropensitytospendtimeandmoneyifthelaymanwereapureseekerafter
knowledge,thenhewoulddiscountthisfactorandfollowthedoctor'sadvice.The
problemwiththisrebuttal,however,isthatitpresupposestheverypointthatthe
epistemologistneedstoprove,namely,thatthelaymanandtheexperthavesufficiently
similarinterestsinacquiringknowledgesoastomaketheformer'sdeferencetothe
latterarationalmove.AcagierargumentfortheATKdefendertomakewouldbethat
therelevanceofthedoctor'sexpertiseisalreadybuiltintothelaypatient'sstrategy,
suchthatifthedoctorwereabletooffermedicaladviceonasufficientlyreliablebasis,
thepatientwouldthengladlytakeit.Indeed,thepatientmayevenbelievethatitis
onlyamatteroftimebeforemedicalexpertisewillsoprogress.Atleastthereisnothing
inhowwehavepresentedthefirstconsiderationwhichsuggeststheincompatibilityof
thedoctor'sandpatient'sinterestsinacquiringknowledge.Forthisreason,wemustnow
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turntothesecondgroundsonwhichthelaymanmayrefusetodefertotheexpert.
Therearemanycasesinwhichweroutinelymakeourselvesepistemicallydependenton
experts,eventhoughweknowthattheiradviceiswrongmostoftime.Asidefromthe
doctor'smisdiagnoses,vividexamplesincludetheinabilityofmeteorologiststoforecast
theweather,thefailureofwelfareeconomiststopredictconsumerbehavior,andthe
ineptitudeofhydrogeologistsinfindingsafesitesfordumpingnuclearwaste(Shrader
Frechette1983,1984,1985).Thefactthattheirexpertjudgmentsarestillcorrectmore
oftenthanthejudgmentsofnonexpertsisbyitselfsmallconsolation.However,as
suggestedintherebuttalabove,theerrorsoftheexpertaretoleratedbecausetheyare
presumablydueonlytotherelativeimmaturityofhisexpertise,whichinthelongrun
willsucceedinprovidingthelaymanwiththekindofknowledgeheseeks.Oursecond
considerationfortherationalityofoverrulingexpertjudgmentturnsonthelikelihood
thatthisbeliefrepresentsafalseaccountofhowandwhythecognitivelaborofa
societyespeciallyourownbecomesdividedintoautonomousexpertises.
Ifwesimplifymattersbyequating"expertise"with"scientificdiscipline,"wefindthat
theemergenceandmaintenanceofadiscipline'sautonomyhavehistoricallyrestedon
theextenttowhichaparticularsetofvariablescanbesystematicallyisolatedand
manipulatedasa"closedsystem"(vonWright1971,Bhaskar1980,Apel1984).Thetest
fordisciplinaryautonomy,then,iswhetherpractitionershavereliablemeansof
preventingextraneousvariablesfrominterferingwiththedemonstrationofsomespecific
relationamongthediscipline'sdefiningsetofvariables.Intermsmorefamiliarto
philosophersofscience,autonomycomesoncethedisciplineisabletoenforcethe
ceteris
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paribusclauseimplicitinafairtestofitshypotheses.Thesematterswereexaminedin
moredetailinchaptereight,butanexamplewillserveforthegeneralpoint.Onceit
becamepossibletoconstructavirtualvacuumintheseventeenthcentury,italso
becamepossibletodemonstratetheregularitiesbetweenmassandaccelerationwhich
characterizeclassicalmechanics.Andsubsequently,expertiseinclassicalmechanicswas
tiedtothisabilitytomakereliablejudgmentsaboutphysicalphenomenaagainstthe
backdropofavirtualvacuum.
Incontrast,personalhealth,theweather,andrationalchoiceremaindifficultphenomena
aboutwhichtoofferreliablejudgments,largelybecausetheyaretheproductsofseveral
variableswhoseinterrelationsaresocomplexastorender,atleastforthetimebeing,
anyceteris paribusclauseunenforceable.Forexample,aneconomistmaypredictthat,
ceteris paribus,whenthesupplyofsomecommodityincreasesandthedemandforit
decreases,thepriceisboundtofall.Thisprediction,atheoreminneoclassical
economics,turnsouttobewrongmostofthetime.Toexplainthisfailuresimplyin
termsoftheempiricalfalsityofthetheoremwouldbetomissthedifferencebetween
thekindofknowledgewhichintereststheeconomistasthepractitionerofhisdiscipline
andthekindofknowledgewhichintereststhelaymanasaneconomicagentinthe
marketplace.Theeconomistwouldquicklypointoutthatamongtheconditionsimplicitin
hisceteris paribusclauseareperfectcompetition,nogovernmentintervention,andideal
utilitymaximizers.Hemaythengoontodefendtheautonomyofeconomicsononeof
twogrounds:byarguing(i)thatafavorablepoliticalandeconomicclimatewouldbring
abouttheseconditionsandtheirattendantconsequences,or(ii)thatthetheorem's
rangeofapplicationisrestrictedto"perfectmarkets,"ofwhichrealmarketsareonly
degenerateversions.However,tothelaymaninterestedinarrivingatasound
investmentstrategy,theeconomistissimplysayingthatthereisnodirectextrapolation
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fromtheclosedsystemsinwhichheproposesandtestshypothesestothecomplexities
ofthe"undisciplined"environmentwhichpromptsthelaymantoact(Lowe1965).
Isthesituationlikelytoimprovebetweentheeconomistandtheinvestorinthelong
run?Inotherwords,wouldprogressineconomicsentailanimprovementintheabilityto
addresstheinvestor'squeries?Similarquestionsmaybeaskedaboutthedoctor,
meteorologist,andhydrogeologisttowhomlaymenarelikelytoturnforexpert
knowledge.Insofarasthereissuchathingasan"internalhistoryofscience"whose
problemsarisemostlyfromdevelopmentswithinparticulardisciplines,therewouldseem
tobelittlereasontothinkthataconvergenceintheepistemicgoalsoftheexpertand
laymanisintheoffing.Indeed,itisworthnotingthatthroughoutthenineteenthcentury
theheydayofthedivisionofcognitivelaborintodisciplinesepistemologists
frequentlyexpressedthefearthataTowerofBabelwasreplacingtheUnityofScience
exemplifiedbytheAristoteliancorpus.However,HerbertSpencer(amongothers)
managedtoallaythesefearsbyarguingthatthedisciplinizationofinquiryisindicative
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ofepistemicprogressinthesamewayasthefunctionaldifferentiationoforgansis
indicativeofbiologicalevolution(Cassirer1950).Anditmaybejustthisanalogythat
continuestoinformtheintuitionthataknowledgeintensivesocietyisespeciallywell
suitedtohandlingtheproblemsposedbylaymen.
Nevertheless,agrowingbodyofempiricalresearchsuggeststhatasdisciplinespursue
theirinternallydefinedproblemareas,theirpractitionersbecomelessinclinedtopool
togethertheirinquiriesinaddressingaproblemofgeneralpublicconcern.Thistrendis
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reflectedinthegreaterfinancialincentivesthatgovernmenthashadtoprovideinorder
tolurescientistsawayfromtheirusuallinesofresearch.Andinatleastonemuchstudiedcase,thereasonsareclear.Mostofthedifficultiessurroundingcancerresearch,
bothintermsofsettingitsagendaandinintegratingitsresults,turnontheneedfor
thepractitionersofwidelydisparatedisciplinesrangingfrommoleculargeneticsto
publichygienetoagreeon,forinstance,whoseresearchisepistemicallydependenton
whomelse'sresearch,whatcountsasasolutionorprogresstowardasolution,andeven
how"cancer"istobedefinedandidentified(Hohfeld1983).Sincetheproblematic
characterofcancerislargelyoflayorigin,andhence"undisciplined,"therearenoreadymadeanswerstothesequestions.Theonlycourseofactionseemstobethepainfuland
little-understoodprocessofinterdisciplinarynegotiationaboutwhichmoreinthenext
section.
Atthispoint,theATKdefender,indomitableasever,mayobjecttooursecond
consideration,arguingthatitseemstodenytheobviousfactthathoweverreluctantor
unsuccessfultheexpertshavebeeninattendingtotheepistemicneedsoflaymen,their
presencehascertainlymadeapositivedifferencetowardsatisfyingthoseneeds.This
appearstobeareasonableresponse,untilwetakeintoaccounttherolethatexperts
havehadinmoldingtheepistemicinterestsoflaymenespeciallyintermsofwhat
countsasanacceptableanswertoalayquery.However,thismoldinghasbeentoa
largeextentunintentional,asmuchtheresultoflaymenuncriticallypresumingthe
appropriatenessoftheinformationimpartedtothemasofexpertsdeliberatelypassing
offsuchinformationasappropriate.Forexample,itisnotuncommonforscientiststolet
politiciansmakewhattheywilloftheirresearch,aslongasitleadstocontinuedfunding
(Haas,Williams&Babai1977).Andgiventhesocialprestigeattachedtosuchresearch,
politiciansareoftenalltoowillingtoreformulatepolicyproblemstofittheinformation
available,whichleadsthemtodeclare,prematurely,thattheeconomyissoundorthat
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nuclearreactorsaresafe.Therefore,beforefullyconcedingthattheexpertshavehelped
satisfylayepistemicneeds,wemusthaveawayofdeterminingtheextenttowhich
theseneedshavechangedbecauseofthepresenceofexpertsandwhetherthechanges
haveindeedbeenforthebetter.Onewaywouldbethroughadeconstructivesocial
historyofexpertise(seeCollins[1975,ch.8]forastart).Anotherway,perhapsmore
amenabletothetastesoftheepistemologist,wouldbethroughproceduralguidelinesby
whichlaymen
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andexpertscannegotiateasequalstherelevanceofthelatter'sresearchtotheformer's
interests.Thatguidelinesofthiskindarepossibleformsthebasisofourthirdandfinal
considerationagainstadoptingageneralpolicyofdeferringtotheauthorityofexperts.
MaxWeber(1964,pp.50-112)famouslyrestrictedtheroleofsocialscienceinsocial
policytothebusinessofdeterminingthefeasibilityofalternativemeansforachieving
thegoalssetbypolicymakers.TheonlyvaluejudgmentsthatWeberwouldpermitthe
scientistwereendorsementsofparticularmeansongroundsofefficiency.Butofcourse,
thisdemarcationofscientistsfrompoliticiansonthebasisofmeansandendsismuch
tooneat.Aneconomistwhoshowedthatalltheavailablemeansforimplementinga
balancedbudgetyieldedundesirablebyproductswouldreasonablybereadasofferingan
implicitargumentforabandoningthegoalofabalancedbudget.Thisexamplereveals
thecoredynamicoflay-expertinteraction.Inthefirstround,thelaymanproposesa
desiredendstateandtheexpertrespondsbyidentifyingotherstatesnamely,the
intendedandunintendedconsequencesofimplementinganefficientmeansthatthe
laymanwouldprobablyhavetotolerateinbringingaboutthedesiredendstate.The
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defenderofATKwouldendtheexchangethere,withthelaymanboundtothe
recommendationsoftheexpertonpainofbeingirrational.However,thelaymanmay
regainepistemicequalitywiththeexpertbydecidingwhethertheseadditionalstates
arecompatiblewithbothhisoriginalinterestintheendstateandotherdesirableend
stateswhichheenvisagesascoexistingwithit.Thisinformationofwhatanoverall
desirablefuturewouldlooklikeisnotnormallyavailabletotheexpert,yetcrucially
relevanttotherationaluseofexpertise.Letusdubitutopian epistemology.Itisthe
sortofknowledgethatmightdisinclinelaymenfromendorsingnuclearpoweror
undergoingcertainmedicaltreatments,nomatterhowfeasibletheexpertssayitis.

2. Expertise Politicized and Depoliticized


Justwhenthelaymanthinksthathecannowemergeintothepublicforumasthe
expert'scognitivepeer,heismetbyamoreintriguingandvirulentformof
depoliticization.HerbertSimon(1986),theorganizational-theoristturned-cognitivescientist,isthesourceoftheexpert'slateststrategy.Itapplieswhatmaybeseenasa
method of exhaustiontopublicpolicydebates,wherebyquestionsofvaluesare
convertedtoquestionsoffact,untilthevaluequestionthatremainsismerelyoneof
technicalapplication.ConsiderSimon'sownvividexampleofhowwemightgoabout
evaluatingHitler'spolicyofexterminatingJews.Thispolicyisnormallychallengedfor
violatingthesanctityofhumanlife,asifHitlercanbefaultedonlyforgoingagainst
somethingthatsomanyofusvaluesodeeply.Whilenodoubtpersuasive,these
groundsconveytheimpressionthatwearehardlymorerationalthanHitler.Forthe
argumentseemstobethatsinceHitler'svalues
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andoursconflict,andtherearemoreofusthanofhim,thereforeourvaluesprevail.A
morerationalstrategy,accordingtoSimon,wouldbetochallengethefactsonwhich
Hitlerbasedhispolicy,grantingthatiftheJewswereasbigathreatashemaintained,
thentherewouldbegroundsforextermination.Therelevantfactswouldconcernthe
extentandefficacyofJewishpoliticalandeconomicactivities.WhatSimon'sstrategy
lacksinhumanemotion,itmakesupinpracticality,sinceitwouldbepresumablyquite
easytoshowthatHitler'sfactualassumptionsareerroneousandtherebyconclusively
underminehispolicyonobjectivegrounds.
Nowconsiderthepotentialconsequencesfor"rulebyexperts,"oncethelaymanisputin
Hitler'sposition.Wheneverthelaymanpresentssomedesiredend-state,theexpert
needonlyinquireintothefactsaboutthecausalstructureofthesocialworldthatsuch
anendstatepresupposes,andthenshowthatthosefactsdonotobtain.Afterseveral
rounds,thelayman'sutopiawillhavebeenhoneddowntosomethingclearlywithinthe
expert'scontrol.AlthoughSimondoesnotexplicitlydrawthisconclusion,hisstrategy
stronglysuggeststhepositivistthesisthatvaluedisputesareoftenirresolvablebecause
thepartiesrefusetoargueinamannerthatisopentoempiricalcheck.Inourown
terms,thisistosaythatthepartiesrefusetodepoliticizethedispute,whichwould
involvehavingitarbitratedbyathirdpartywithspecialaccesstothefactspresupposed
bythedisputants.
Wehavejustseenhowpublicpolicydisputescanbecomedepoliticized,oncetheexperts
appeartolaymenasa"unitedfront."Itshouldbenoted,however,thatinthefaceof
othercognitiveauthoritiesencroachingontheirterrain,expertsmaystarttoturnto
politicsbyestablishingthemselvesasnormativeauthorities.Weber(1964,ch.1)
showedthistobethemotivationbehindtheentryofvaluejudgmentsineconomic
argumentation.Wesawhintsofthisprocessearlier.WhenitbecameclearthatrealPRO version

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worldmarketsdidnotresultfromactionstakenbyidealutilitymaximizers,neoclassical
economicsdidnotdieanaturalisticdeath.Rather,theeconomistsappropriatedthe
paramoralauthoritytochastisereal-worldentrepreneursandpolicymakersforfailingto
approximatetherationalityepitomizedintheirmodels.Andso,frombeing evaluatedby
thefactsasfalse,neoclassicaleconomicsmanagedtoendupevaluatingthosesame
factsasirrational.Inlightoftheendlessandoftenaimlessdebatesinthehuman
sciences,oneistemptedtoconcludethat,generallyspeaking,normativeauthorityisthe
"higherground"towhichdisciplinesretreatwhentheirtheoriesareindangerofempirical
falsification.
Infact,Simon'sdepoliticizingstrategynotwithstanding,theremaybeaninherent
tendencyforexpertisetobecomepoliticized.Atleast,thiswouldseemtobethelesson
proposedbytheAustralianphilosopherofscienceRandallAlbury(1983)inThe Politics
of Objectivity.Alburydetectsaparadoxintheconceptofobjectiveknowledge.While
objectiveknowledgeissupposedtobetheresultofrigoroustestingonwhichthe
scientificcommunitycanagreeandthesocietyatlargecanrely,themostpressing
socialproblemsthatdemandthescientists'attentionareoneswhichhavenot
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beensubjecttosuchtestingandhencedonotnormallyelicitconsensusinthescientific
community.Recallingourearlierexampleofcancerresearch,politicsiscertainlyinvolved
indeterminingwhichdiscipline'scriteriawillbetakentoindicatethatthediseasehas
beenconquered.Forexample,shouldonelooktoadeclineinthemortalityrateofa
targetpopulation,ortotheactualdestructionofcancerouscellsunderamicroscope?
Theanswerthatpolicymakersgivetothisquestionhasimplicationsnotonlyforthe
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relativecognitivepriorityofthedisciplinescooperatingincancerresearchbutalsotheir
relativefundingpriority.Needlesstosay,theunholyallianceofopportunismand
intellectualmyopiarenderthepractitionersoftherelevantdisciplinesillequippedto
dealwiththesequestionsofpriority.
Itwouldbeamistaketoconcludethat,becausecomplexcognitiveproblemsrequire
politicalsolutions,itfollowsthattheobjectivityofscientificexpertisehassomehow
beencompromised.ThispointhasbeenmademostforcefullybytheGerman
"Finalizationist"schoolofScienceStudies(Schaefer1984),whoobservethatthereare
twoorthogonaldirectionsinwhichadvancedscientificresearchcango.Inessence,these
twodirections,intensificationandextensification,aretherespectivesocialprojections
ofafundamentaltrade-offthatindividualsmustmakeinorganizingtheirown
cognitions,namely,tomaximizesystematicityorretrievability(Hirsch1987,ch.2).
Ontheonehand,researchmayaimforincreasedsystematicity,orintensify,byexploring
domainsthatfallbetweenalreadyexistingdisciplines(theobviouscasesinclude
"sociobiology"and"biochemistry")orareattheextremesofourcapabilitiesforinquiry
(suchasparticlephysicsandcosmology)inorderto,literally,"fillinthegaps"inthe
systemofknowledgethattheexistingdisciplineshavebeencollectively(andoften
implicitly)articulating.Ontheotherhand,researchmayaimforincreasedretrievability,
orextensify,bydrawingtogetherexistingdisciplinestomodelphenomenasuchas
mostconcreteeconomicandpublichealthproblemsthataremorecomplexthanthe
phenomenathatthesedisciplinesnormallystudyontheirown.Intensificationand
extensificationcorrespondroughlytothewaysinwhichbasicandappliedresearchdraw
onexistingknowledgetoproducemoreknowledge.Developmentsineitherdirectionmay
constitutescientificprogress.Butcontrarytopositivistfolkwisdom,theyarenotthe
samedirection.Indeed,itmaybethatbeyondacertainpointinthedevelopmentofa
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clusterofdisciplines,increasedintensificationislikelytobringaboutonlymarginal
cognitiveandpracticalbenefits,whichwouldseemtospeakonbehalfofaknowledge
policyofextensification.
Moreover,Alburyarguesthatscience'sself-imageofobjectivityisgoodpoliticsforliberal
democracies.Themostobviouswayofmakingthecasewouldbethatthegovernment,
andsocietyatlarge,reapthebenefitsofthetechnologicalspin-offsfrombasicscientific
research.However,Alburydisparagesthislineofargumentasbeingmoremyththan
reality(Mulkay
[1979]offerstheevidence).Instead,hearguesthatliberaldemocraciesbenefitfrom
science'sobjectiveimage,insofarasthetraditionofMill,
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Dewey,andPopperhasadvertisedscienceastheperfectsmall-scaleversionofsuch
governments.Thus,ifobjectiveknowledgecanbeproducedunderthe"opensociety,"
thatfactwouldseemtolegitimatethepursuitofliberaldemocracyinsocietyatlarge.
Alburyissympathetictothiswayofthinking,buthebelievesthatincreasingthe
democratictendenciesofscientificinstitutionsrequiresdissolvingameasureoftheir
autonomy,atleastwithregardtothelinesofresearchtheypursue.Onthisscheme,
whichresemblesthepolicystanceoftheFinalizationists,researchwouldhavetobe
justifiedquiteexplicitlytoaforumofinterestgroupslikelytobeaffectedbythevarious
directionsthattheresearchmighttake.Withoutnecessarilycompromisingthe
objectivityoftheresearch,thismovetowardpoliticizationwouldforcescientiststo
arguefortheirpositionsinaforumlargerthanthestrictlyprofessionalonestowhich
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theyhavegrownaccustomed.Toensurethatthisincreaseindemocracyisatrulycritical
exercise,andnotsimplyanexerciseininformedconsent,notonlymustthepubliccrossexaminethescientists,butthescientistsmustalsocrossexamineeachotherinorder
todemystifyoneanother'srhetoric.
Intheend,however,itwouldseemthatAlburyhasstruckaratherdelicatebalance,
sincedemocraticpoliticsandcognitiveauthoritarianismintheirpureformsareradically
incompatible.Forexample,Feyerabend(1981b,ch.4)wouldcommendAlburyonseeing
theimpossibilityofaselfgoverning,"autonomous"democracyembeddedwithinalarger
democracy,forthisonlyerectsbarrierstothefreecirculationofinquiryashasindeed
beenthecaseinthescientificenclavesofavowedlyliberalsocieties.ButFeyerabend
wouldprobablythenremindAlburythatthecriticalrationalismsoemblematicof"the
scientificmethod"originallyworkedintheforumoftheAthenianpolis,whosediscussion
topicswerewithoutinstitutionalboundarieshence,theknowledgegainedbythe
scientificmethodandthemethoditselfwereequallysubjecttocross-examination.Asa
result,skepticismbecamequitepervasiveinGreekphilosophy.Similarly,thedogged
pursuitofcriticalrationalisminthecontemporaryworldcouldwellunderminethe
cognitiveauthorityofscientificresearchespeciallybyshowingthatitdoesnotgiveus
whatwewantorthatitdoessoonlyaswellasalternativeepistemicpursuits.Of
course,whatpreventsthisfromhappeningisgovernmentprotectionofscience,which
ensuresthatpubliccriticismwillonlyhavesomuchefficacy.Alburywouldextendthe
efficacyalittlefurther,butwhynotallthewayinkeepingwithapureparticipatory
democracy?
Tocloseonamoreauthoritariannote,AlburyisopentocriticismsofadecidedlyantiFeyerabendiansort.Resumingthedialectic,wemightsaythatthereasonwhythepublic
cannotbeentrustedwiththetaskofrationallycriticizingthemethodologicalsideof
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scienceisthatpeoplegenerallyexhibitcognitivebiasesthatcausethemtomakefaulty
judgmentsaboutreliability,validity,andthelike.Indeed,thewholepointofscientific
trainingistoremovethosebiases,andeven thenscientistsoftenfallunwittingvictims
tothesameerrorshenceDavidFaust's(1985)callforatight-knitcommunity
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ofresearchersespeciallysensitivetospottingerrorineachother'swork.Moreover,
Alburymaybemuchtoogenerouseven in his estimation of the public's ability to
ascertain its own interests and how science might best serve them.Anincreasing
numberofstudiesfromradicallyunrelatedparadigmsexperimentalsocialpsychology,
psychoanalysis,Marxismpointtothemarkedincompetenceofordinarypeoplein
judgingtheirownattitudesandinterests,aswellasthecoursesofactionthataremost
likelytocausewhattheywanttohappen(Nisbett&Ross1980).Andso,ifAlburytruly
wishesthatthepublic'sinterestsbemoreadequatelyrepresentedinthedirections
takenbyscientificresearch,thenhemayhavetoforegotheideathatthepubliccan
speakcompetentlyonitsownbehalf.Carriedtoitslogicalextreme,cognitive
authoritarianismofthissortwouldclaimthattheonlydecisionthatthepublicisentitled
tomakeistofundmoresocialscientificresearchtodeterminetheidentityof"thepublic
interest"fromthemanymisleadingthingsthatpeoplesayanddo.
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APPENDIX C:
NOTES TOWARD DESIGNING A CORE CURRICULUM FOR A
GRADUATE PROGRAM IN KNOWLEDGE POLICY STUDIES
(1)Theideaof"knowledgepolicy"presupposesthatacademicdisciplinescanbetreated
associalinstitutionswhoseactivitiescanandoughttobecoordinatedwithoneanother,
aswellaswithothersocialinstitutions.The"knowledgepolicymaker"isabureaucrat
whoseexpertisemustincludenotonlytheusualmanagerialandadministrativeskillsbut
alsothetrainingnormallygainedbystudyingphilosophyand"thesciencesofscience"
(Price1964).Designingacurriculumofthissortultimatelyderivesitsinspirationfrom
AugusteComte's(1974)"positivistpolitics."Butmorethanmerephilosophicalfantasy,
suchacurriculumhasalreadybeenimplementedinmanyoftheleadingsocial
democracies,amongthemFrance,Sweden,andtheNetherlands.Readersareencouraged
towriteforthedetails,whichwill,ofcourse,differfromthisphilosophicalfantasy:
CentredeSociologiedeL'Innovation,EcoleNationaledesMinesdeParis,60BdSaintMichel,75006ParisSwedishResearchonHigherEducation,NationalBoardof
UniversitiesandColleges,R&DUnit,P.O.Box4501,S-10430StockholmScience
DynamicsGroup,UniversityofAmsterdam,NieuweAchtergracht166,1018WV
Amsterdam.
(2)"Scientists"(understoodbroadly,toincludealltheWissenschaften)havebeen
skepticalofthepossibilityofknowledgepolicybecausebureaucratsaretypicallytoo
sensitivetoshort-termpoliticalconsiderationsratherthanthelong-terminterests
associatedwiththepursuitofboththeoreticalandpracticalknowledge.However,given
theiroverarchingadministrativeperspective,bureaucratsarepotentiallyinabetter
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theiroverarchingadministrativeperspective,bureaucratsarepotentiallyinabetter
positionthananyindividualscientiststounderstandthecollectiveproductofepistemic
pursuit.Agoalofknowledgepolicystudies,then,wouldbetotrainbureaucratsinthe
kindofdecisionmakingthatwouldinstillconfidenceinscientiststhatgovernmentcan
havesomethingepistemicallyinterestingtosayabouthowknowledgeshouldbe
pursued.
(3)Inaddition,knowledgepolicystudieswouldprovideasociallyconstructiveoutletfor
philosophicaltraining,theplaceofwhichintheuniversitysystemhasbeensubjectto
increasingdoubtsthroughoutthiscentury.Philosopherstypicallylearntoreasonabout
normativematters,buttooofteninapurelyaprioristicor"conceptual"mannerwhich
eitherrulesoutactualsituationsas"impossible"orincludesas"permissible"an
indiscriminatemixtureoftheimplementableandtheunimplementable.Whileknowledge
policystudieswouldcontinuetoallowphilosopherstoreasonaboutwhatoughttobe
case,itwouldbewithinathoroughlynaturalisticframeworkinwhichimplementability
operatesasaconstraintonphilosophicallypermissibleconclusions.
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(4)Infact,itmightevenbearguedthatknowledgepolicystudieswouldimprove
philosophicalreasoning,insofaraswithoutpragmaticconstraintsphilosophers(and
practitionersofthehumanitiesingeneral)tendtobeuncriticallypluralisticaboutthe
pursuitofknowledge,stressingthe"inherentvalue"ofpursuingvirtuallyanylineof
research,ratherthanpointingoutthestrengthsandweaknessesofthevariousoptions
forachievingsomedesirableoutcomes.Inanycase,itiscertainlytruefrompedagogical
contextsthatstudentscanbemadetoresistaneasypluralismandtothink"deeply"
abouttherelativevalueofvariousactivitieswhenphilosophicalproblemsareposedas
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practicalquestionsabouthowsomescarceresource,suchastimeormoney,willbe
distributedamongtheavailablealternatives.(Notethatby"pragmaticconstraints"I
meantobeneutralastoPopper's[1957]distinctionbetween"holistic"and"piecemeal"
approachestoadministration,sinceonegoalofknowledgepolicywouldbetoimprove
themeansbywhichweareabletomonitortheconsequencesofimplementingparticular
knowledgepolicies,whichwouldtherebyextendthelimitsofimplementability.)
Bybeingmadesensitivetothepragmaticconstraintswithinwhichnormativejudgments
mustbemade,philosopherswillalsocounteractthetendencyfortheirproblemsto
assumelivesoftheirown.Agoodcaseinpointisthetrajectoryofphilosophicaldebate
overthecontinuityofscientificdevelopment,someofwhichhasalreadybeentracedin
chapter3.AfterFeyerabend(1981a,ch.4)showedthehistoricalinaccuracyand
unfeasibilityofscientificprogressoccurringbyalatertheorylogicallysubsumingan
earlierone,Putnam(1978)andothersendeavoredtocapturethe"intuition"behindthe
subsumptionistview,namely,thatsomeoftheearliertheory'scontentisretainedbythe
latertheoryhencewasborn"thecausaltheoryofreference"(Schwartz1977).Buthad
Feyerabend'sargumentsbeentakenseriously,theintuitionthat,say,Relativistic
Mechanicslargely"buildson"NewtonianMechanicswouldbetreatedmerelyasadatum
inourfolkhistoryofscience,whichistosay,anaive(albeitentrenched)beliefthat
probablycannotwithstandempiricalscrutiny.Asitstands,however,philosophershave
elevatedtheintuitionto"transcendental"status,abeliefwithoutwhichanyhistoryof
sciencewouldbe(allegedly)unintelligible.Ironically,then,Feyerabend'scaseagainst
theleadingpositivisttheoryofscientificprogress,vialogicalsubsumption,hashadonly
theeffectofeliminatingthatparticulartheory,sincetheputativeobjectofthetheory
(thecontinuityofscience)remainsmoreentrenchedthaneverinphilosophy.Thisisjust
oneofalltoomanycases(Strawson[1959]beingthemostobviousone)inwhichthe
threatofempiricalfalsificationhashadtheeffectofbootingupafolkintuitiontoa
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transcendentalcondition,therebycreatingtheillusionthatphilosophersdealwitha
specialclassofobjectsuntouchedbytheothersciences.
(5)Theactivitiesofthebureaucrataremuchmorephilosophicalthanphilosopherswould
liketoadmit.Philosophershavealwayssoughtwaysof
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reasoningaboutincommensurableconceptions,theideabeingthateachofthe
incommensurableswhetheritbeoneofthemanyconceptionsofjusticeoroftruthis
attractiveinitsownwayandthatsomehow,atsomeappropriatelevelofabstraction,it
canbecomparedandevaluatedwiththeothers.FollowingHerbertSimon's(1976)model
oftheadministratoras"satisficer,"bureaucratsarelikewisealwaysforcedtoweigh
considerationssuchasefficiencyversusaccuracy,efficacyversusequitywhichcan
neitherbejointlymaximized(asdesirableasthatmightbe)norevenbecomparedalong
someclearmetric.Asituationofthissortforcesthebureaucrattotranslatethese
considerationsintosomemediumwhichwillthenenablehimtocomparetheformerly
incommensurablenotions.Thus,foralltheirobviousdifferences,bothefficacyandequity
wouldcostacertainamountoftimeandmoneytoimplement,factorswhichadmitof
comparison.
(6)Whenthis"bounded"conceptionofrationalityisextendedtoknowledgepolicy,the
policymakerwillneedtodeviseamediumalongwhichincommensurablelinesofresearch
canbecompared.Thenatureofthismediumwillnodoubtbeaffectedbythesortof
generalitydealtwithbythepolicymakeranditsattendanttypeofincommensurability
(March1978).Forexample,comparingrivalresearchprogramsinonedisciplineinvolves
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quitedifferentconsiderationsfromcomparingrivaldisciplineswithin,say,thenatural
sciences,which,inturn,raisesquitedifferentconcernsfromthoseinvolvedincomparing
thenaturalscienceswiththesocialsciencesandthehumanities.Whilethemediumin
eachofthesecaseswouldnaturallyincludetheusualcategoriesof"costs,""benefits,"
and"risks,"theywillbecomplicatedbythefactthatwhenregulatingknowledge,
economiccosts,benefits,andrisksarecomplementedbycognitiveandpoliticalcosts,
benefits,andrisks,whichdonotmapontotheeconomiconesonaone-to-onebasis.
(By"cognitive"Imeanthenetimpactofpursuingaparticularlineofresearchonthe
knowledgeproductionprocessitselfby"political"Imeanitsnetimpactonthebalance
ofpowerinthesocietyWhobenefitsifaparticularlineofresearchprovesproductive?)
(7)Threekindsofcourseswouldformthecorecurriculumofagraduateprogramin
knowledgepolicystudies.
(a)The Art of Transideological Policymaking:Herestudentsaretrainedto
distinguishtheessentialfromthenonessentialfeaturesofpolicy,sothatthe
essentialpolicyfeaturescanbeaccommodatedtowhicheverpoliticalideology
happenstocomeintopower.Intheirabilitytodivinesuchessences,
Machiavellianshavetraditionallyhadakeensenseofthemetaphysicalin
politics.Indeed,Machiavellishouldbethemodel,sincemostpolicyfounders
becausepolicymakersbecomeoverlyweddedtotheideologicallytinged
languageoftheiroriginalproposals,insteadoffocusingonthelikelyempirical
consequencesof
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implementingthepolicy,whichcouldbeexpressedinlesscontroversialways.
TheneedforMachiavelliantacticsisespeciallyacuteinknowledgepolicymaking,wherethecontinuityandretentionofresearchisvirtuallydefinitiveof
thepursuitofknowledge.Continuityandretention,inturn,presupposethat
knowledgeproductioncanbeatleastpartiallyinsulatedfromday-to-day
politicalpressures.TheMachiavelliantwist,then,istoidentifyinsulationwith
accommodation.Onegoalofthecourseistorealizethatbyhavingaclear
senseofthedifferencebetweentheessentialandnonessentialaspectsofa
policyproposal,theMachiavellianpolicymakercanpreventaccommodation
fromturningintomeresubmission:namely,bydefiningtheessentialaspects
ofhispolicyproposalsoastoincludejustthoseareaswherehehasclear
expertauthorityoverthepoliticians.Ofcourse,definitionsofthiskindare
highlymanipulable,whichmeansthatthetrulysuccessfulknowledge
policymakermustbeabletoconvertapparentlyideologicalmatters(wherethe
politicianisthe"expert,"sotospeak)totechnicalones(wherethepolicymaker
hasthefinalword).
Amongthereadingsourceswouldbeso-calledsemanticapproachestopolitics
(rangingintechnicalityfromS.I.Hayakawa's[1949]Language in Thought and
ActiontoT.D.Weldon's[1960]The Vocabulary of Politics),whicharegoodat
identifyingtheoccasionswhenideologicaldiscourseentersgratuitouslyfrom
thestandpointofcognitivesignificance.Amoregeneralsourcewouldbethe
literatureonthelaw'sabilitytoneutralizetheinterestsofcompetingparties
byforcingthejudgecasthisdecisionsoastobeuniversalizabletosimilar
casesinthefuture,whichnotonlysatisfiesanobviousethicalendbutalso
servestoadvancethelawasacodifiedbodyofknowledge(Luhmann1979).
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(b)The Prognostics and Diagnostics of Knowledge Policy:"Prognostics"


considersthegeneralcategoriesandproceduresforchartingthedevelopment
ofknowledge,while"diagnostics"considersthemeansbywhichthe
policymakeridentifiesthecurrentsituationasaninstanceofaparticularstage
inthedevelopmentofknowledge.ThisdistinctionisbasedonFriedrichvon
Hayek's(1985,ch.2)divisionofeconomicknowledgeintothe"theoretical"
(whateconomistsstriveforgeneralprinciplesthatoperateinclosedsystems)
andthe"historical"(whateconomicagentsstriveforheuristicsfor
determiningatwhatonepointandinwhichsystemtheyhappentobe).These
twosortsofknowledgeneedtobeseparatedbecauseoftenthereasonwhy
policyfailsisnotthatthepolicymakerdoesnothavetherightanalytictoolsor
principlesfordraftingtheappropriateproposals,butratherthathedoesnot
haveagoodgraspoftheidentityofthecurrentstateofknowledge:for
example,whetheraparticulardisciplineisinits"boom"or"bust"phase.
Philosophyof
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sciencehasnothelpedmattersbyneglectingthefactthatbesidesselectinga
theory,scientistsmustselectamomentatwhichtoselectatheory.If
selectingatheoryisanexerciseinprognostics,thenselectingthemomentis
anexerciseindiagnostics.
Thereadingsinthiscoursewouldincludesuchstaplesofthescienceofscience
movementasbibliometricsandotherscienceindicators(DeMey1982,chs.79),inconjunctionwiththecounterfactualhistoricalanalysispracticedby"The
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NewEconomicHistory"andtheorizedbyJonElster(1978)inLogic and Society.


Thesetwosortsofmethodshavebeenrecentlybeencombinedwithfruitful
resultsinIrvineandMartin's(1984)Foresight in Science.(Itshouldbenoted
thatbothphilosophersandsociologistsofsciencearegenerallyignorantofthe
advancesthathavebeenmadeinrecentyearsbybibliometricians,whichnow
enablethemtoconstructnotonlyageographyofdisciplines,butalsoa
"collectivenarrative"foreachdisciplineonthebasisofco-citationanalysis.For
more,seeSmall&Garfield[1985]andSmall[1986].)Thecoursewouldalso
dealwiththeconcernsraisedbyPopper(1957)inThe Poverty of Historicism
abouttheselffulfillingandself-defeatingnatureofthepredictiveelement
embodiedinaknowledgepolicyproposal,aswellastheworkingsofwhat
RobertNozick(1974,pp.18-22)hasdubbed"hidden"(disorderbydesign)and
"invisible"(orderbychance)handsintheproductionofknowledge.Among
philosophicalbooks,NicholasRescher's(1979)Scientific Progressisuniquein
treatingtheissuesraisedinthiscategory.
(c)The Administration of Knowledge Policy:Underthisgeneralrubricis
includedthedesignandimplementationofnormsforeffectiveknowledge
growth.Indealingwithotheraspectsofsociallife,administratorshave
traditionallybelievedthatnormscanbebeneficialeveniftheyarenot
systematicallyenforced(forexample,evenifeverycrimecannotbepunished,
punishingsomecrimeisbetterthanpunishingnone).However,inthecaseof
knowledgepolicytheissueislessclear,sincerealknowledgegrowthrequires
thatmanydisciplinesandresearchprogramscanreliablybuildoneachother's
work:fraudorerroratsomepointintheproductionofknowledgecouldvitiate
theentireprocess.Thus,apremiummaybeplacedonknowledgepolicymakers
designingnormsthataremoresystematicallyenforceablethanthenorms
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whichguidetheadministrationofotherpartsofsociety.Thismayhavethe
effectofdrawingattentionawayfromsuchtraditionalnormsofscienceas
experimentalcorroboration,whicharenotoriouslydifficulttoenforce.Another
possibilityisthatratherthanincreasingtheenforcementofnorms,the
knowledgepolicymakerfollowstheleadofsuccessfulcorporateexecutiveswho
operatebyallowingthemaximumamountoflocalsovereigntyinthe
productionprocess(thismightmeanthatanindustrialplantor,inthe
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caseofknowledgepolicy,adisciplinemanagesmostofitsowndayto-day
activities)thatisconsistentwiththecorporation'sabilitytocontainand
compensateforerrorsoncetheyarise(Peters&Waterman1982).Onespecial
areawheretheadministrationofknowledgepolicyislikelytoraiseinteresting
epistemologicalissuesistheregulationofinterdisciplinaryborrowing:totake
avividexample,underwhatcircumstanceswouldametaphysicianbeallowed
torelyonargumentsfromindeterminacyinquantummechanicstodefendthe
existenceoffreewill?Thatis,howshouldheestablishtherelevanceofthe
otherdiscipline'sresearchtohisown?
Thetextsinthiscoursewouldcoverthetwomainareasinwhichknowledge
productionneedstobe"administered."Firstistheveryprocessoftextualizing
andcodifyingknowledge.Byobtainingasenseofthevarietyofwritingstyles
andcitationpracticesentertainedbythedisciplines,andthewaysinwhich
theyhaverespondedtovarioussocio-intellectualneeds,studentscanbeginto
seehowtheenforcementofconventionsatthisbasiclevelcanmakea
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differencetotheknowledgeproduced.CharlesBazerman(1988)hasbeen
virtuallyaloneinpioneeringthisveryimportantfield.Thesecondareaof
readingsdealswiththedivisionofcognitivelabormoreexplicitlyandits
implicationsfortheproduction,distribution,andconsumptionofknowledge.On
severaloccasions,wehavecitedtheworkoftwosociologists,RichardWhitley
(1986)andRandallCollins(1975)onthesematters.Inaddition,anempirical
literatureisdevelopingontherolesthatinternalandexternalcriticismplayin
knowledgeproduction(Campbell1987,Neimeyer&Shadish1987).Eachareaof
readingswouldideallybecomplementedbya"practicum,"inwhichstudents
haveanopportunitytoexperimentwithalternativewritingpracticesandways
ofapproachingthechannelsofdistribution(publishers,editors)and
consumption(thereadingpublic).
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