“Michael Polanyi and the Social Construction of Science”

Tradition and Discovery 39 (1):7-17 (2012)
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Scholars in the field of social studies of science marked the year 2012 as the 50th anniversary of the publication of Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn’s book is routinely cited as the beginning of a new intellectual movement that jettisoned logical and empiricist accounts of scientific progress in favor of sociological and psychological explanations of scientific practice. In contrast, this essay argues that the roots of the social construction of science lie earlier, in the 1930s, in the political milieu, scientific careers, and intellectual debates of a generation in which Michael Polanyi was a central figure. Crucial elements in the development of Polanyi’s philosophy of science are examined, with comparisons to J. D Bernal, Karl Mannheim and others of their generation, as well as to the younger Thomas Kuhn and to Karl Popper.



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