Recovering and Expanding the Normative: Marx and the New Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

Science, Technology and Human Values 16 (2):233-248 (1991)
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It was customary in traditional approaches to the sociology of knowledge to bracket either questions about the possibility of the social determination of natural scientific ideas or questions about the ability of the sociology of knowledge to evaluate other types of knowledge claims. The current strong program in the sociology of knowledge, a typical representative of the new approach to the sociology of science, wants to study the production of natural scientific knowledge scientifically and simultaneously bracket normative considerations. We criticize this neglect of the normative dimension in the strong program on the basis of the role that Marx envisioned for his sociology of knowledge. For example, the sociology of knowledge should be understood as a critique of power that does not merely accept the status quo as a datum. In addition, we attempt to extend Marx's discussion of the social bases of such a critique.



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