A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths About Science

A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths About Science

by Noretta Koertge
Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press

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A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths About Science

Cultural critics say that "science is politics by other means," arguing that the results of scientific inquiry are profoundly shaped by the ideological agendas of powerful elites. They base their claims on historical case studies purporting to show the systematic intrusion of sexist, racist, capitalist, colonialist, and/or professional interests into the very content of science. In this hard-hitting collection of essays, contributors offer crisp and detailed critiques of case studies offered by the cultural critics as evidence that scientific results tell us more about social context than they do about the natural world. Pulling no punches, they identify numerous crude factual blunders (e.g. that Newton never performed any experiments) and egregious errors of omission, such as the attempt to explain the slow development of fluid dynamics solely in terms of gender bias. Where there are positive aspects of a flawed account, or something to be learned from it, they do not hesitate to say so. Their target is shoddy scholarship.
Comprising new essays by distinguished scholars of history, philosophy, and science, this book raises a lively debate to a new level of seriousness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195117264
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 02/28/2000
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Scrutinizing Science Studies3
Part IThe Strange World of Postmodernist Science Studies7
1What the Social Text Affair Does and Does Not Prove9
2What the Sokal Hoax Ought to Teach Us23
3A Plea for Science Studies32
Part IIMyths, Metaphors, and Misreadings57
4Bashful Eggs, Macho Sperm, and Tonypandy59
5An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies: Hayles on Fluid Mechanics, and MacKenzie on Statistics71
6Evidence-Free Forensics and Enemies of Objectivity99
7Is Darwinism Sexist? (And if It Is, So What?)119
Part IIIInterests, Ideology, and the Construction of Experiments131
8When Experiments Fail: Is "Cold Fusion" Science as Normal?133
9Avoiding the Experimenters' Regress151
10Do Mutants Die of Natural Causes? The Case of Atomic Parity Violation166
11Latour's Relativity181
Part IVArt, Nature, and the Rise of Experimental Method193
12In Defense of Bacon195
13Alchemy, Domination, and Gender216
14What's Wrong with the Strong Programme's Case Study of the "Hobbes-Boyle" Dispute?227
15Reflections on Bruno Latour's Version of the Seventeenth Century240
Part VCivilian Casualties of Postmodern Perspectives on Science255
16Postmodernisms and the Problem of Scientific Literacy257
17The End of Science, the Central Dogma of Science Studies, Monsieur Jourdain, and Uncle Vanya272
18The Epistemic Charity of the Social Constructivist Critics of Science and Why the Third World Should Refuse the Offer286

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