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What qualifies such seemingly disparate disciplines as paleontology, high-energy physics, industrial chemistry and genetic engineering as "sciences," and hence worthy of sustained public interest and support? In this innovative and controversial introduction to the social character of scientific knowledge, Steve Fuller argues that if these disciplines share anything at all, it is more likely to be the way they strategically misinterpret their own history than any privileged access to the nature of reality. The book features a report written in the persons of a Martian anthropologist who systematically compares religious and scientific institutions on earth, only to find that science does not necessarily live up to its own ideals of rationality. In addition, Fuller highlights science's multicultural nature through a discussion of episodes in which the West's own understanding of science has been decisively affected by its encounters with Islam and Japan. An important theme of the book is that science's most attractive feature - its openness to criticism - is threatened by the role it increasingly plays in the maintenance of social and economic order.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816631254
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Series: Concepts Social Thought Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Fuller is professor of sociology at the University of Warwick.

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Table of Contents

1 The Public Understanding of Science: Our Latest Moral Panic 1
2 The Sociological Peculiarity of the Natural Sciences 12
3 'Science', 'Scientific', 'Scientist': Some Exercises in Conceptual Analysis 25
4 Science as Superstition: A Lost Martian Chronicle 40
5 The Secret of Science's Success: Convenient Forgetfulness 80
6 Western Science from the Outside In: The View from Islam and Japan 106
7 Science as the Standard of Civilization: Does it have a Future? 137
Suggested Reading 145
References 147
Index 156
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