Berichte Zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 35 (2):147-162 (2012)

Katherina Kinzel
Utrecht University
History Without Causality. How Contemporary Historical Epistemology Demarcates Itself From the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. Contemporary proponents of historical epistemology often try to delimit their enterprise by demarcating it from the sociology of scientific knowledge and other sociologically oriented approaches in the history of science. Their criticism is directed against the use of causal explanations which are deemed to invite reductionism and lead to a totalizing perspective on science. In the present article I want to analyse this line of criticism in what I consider are two paradigmatic works of contemporary historical epistemology: Lorraine Daston's und Peter Galison's Objectivity and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger's Toward a History of Epistemic Things. I first present their arguments against the sociological and causal analysis of scientific knowledge and practice and then try to defend sociological work in the history of science against their charges. I will, however, not do so by defending causal explanations directly. Rather, I will show that the arguments against sociological analysis put forward in contemporary historical epistemology, as well as historical epistemology's own models of historical explanation and narration, bear problematic consequences. I argue that Daston, Galison and Rheinberger fail to create productive resonances between macro- and microhistorical perspectives, that they reproduce an internalist picture of scientific knowledge, and finally that Rheinberger's attempt to deconstruct the dichotomy between subject and object leads him to neglect questions about the political dimension of scientific research
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DOI 10.1002/bewi.201201551
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References found in this work BETA

Objectivity and Historiography.Martin Kusch - 2009 - Isis 100 (1):127-131.

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Vom Nutzen der Historie für die Wissenschaftsphilosophie.Jutta Schickore - 2013 - Berichte Zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 36 (1):83-93.

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