Do Social Factors Affect The Content Of Science Or Merely Its Production?

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4. Do social factors affect the content of science or merely its production? Modern science is a discipline, which like all endeavours arose from earlier human cooperative activities. Therefore, the societal framework of a science lab, as demonstrated by Latour & Woolgar , actually determines the scientific validity of what are frequently inconclusive results. The scientific community however is not simply determined by normal societal conventions. Rather, as Bloor points out, scientists work within their own framework of norms, where ability to debate and argue is more valuable that the inconclusive hard data scientists work with. This framework is usually, conservative and not open to outsiders. Merton in his attempts to underplay the objectivity of science, accidentally reveals how the objectivity of the data induces some objectivity in the approach. The objectivity of scientific data, does have a knock on effect in scientific communities, and especially theory selection. Ultimately, science is a collaborative, subjective activity, seeking to create theories from objective data, and the cultural mould of the community absorbs some objectivity from the data. The social dynamics of a science lab are best observed by taking an antrhopogist’s approach. In their landmark book, Laboratory life, Latour & Woolgar, with no understanding of relevant scientific theory, approach a renowned molecular lab. This approach, though later claimed by the scientists to be insulting, proves completely adequate in detailing the activities of the laboratory. To ensure authenticity neither author had any prior knowledge of the theories at work, nor did they speak the scientific jargon of the “tribe”. They both begin by detailing the initiation rites... ... middle of paper ... ...facturers, and their subjective decisions in the field inevitably produce knock on effects on the content of their theories. However, despite its similarity to human communities as distant as Papuan tribes, scientists partake in a unique form of social activity that has logic as its dominant archetype, which in principle takes precedence over the intra communal social dynamics – e.g. hierarchies and rivalries. The principal values blanketed under the Logicism of the community, such as originality and disinteredness, when adhered to however, are effective in producing objective results with minimal subjective manipulations. It can therefore be concluded that social factors influence the content of science due to their inseparability from the production process, but ultimately when communal values are strictly adhered to, objectivity can be observed to varying degrees.

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