A Sociologist Challenges The 'Validity Of Science'

There exists a common desire among some nonscientific academics—sociologists, historians, philosophers, literary theoreticians, for example—to discredit the validity of science as a means of obtaining reliable knowledge about our world.

Lewis Wolpert
Nov 13, 1988

SCIENCE:
The Very Idea
Steve Woolgar
Tavistock Publications;
London and New York; 119 pages;
$9.95

There exists a common desire among some nonscientific academics—sociologists, historians, philosophers, literary theoreticians, for example—to discredit the validity of science as a means of obtaining reliable knowledge about our world. Their attacks on science, their attempts to uproot traditional attitudes that view it as a special and powerful source of knowledge, form a part of an antiscience attitude spreading throughout the world of aca demia today— and the attacks should be taken seriously.

At the heart of the challenge to science’s reliability is the demarcation issue—the problem of deciding precisely what is, and what is not, science. This is a genuinely difficult problem, and the nonscientific observers of science are correct in recognizing it as an important issue. Scientists, on the other hand, have shown little interest in the matter—indeed many of them are blissfully...

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