social construction of science

Neo Martinez szmrtnz at peseta.ucdavis.edu
Tue Apr 9 02:27:22 EST 1996


	Whew!  This is one of the juiciest topics in gender and science. I
definitely agree with Muriel's constructivist views and disagree with
Susan's realist views.  The idea of defending true facts as
observer-independent knowledge has been liked to defending "the view from
nowhere" (not here nor there, not female nor male)...  very difficult
indeed.  Below are some related ref's folks should find enjoyable and
brilliantly written and perhaps completely persuasive. 

	It seems virtually all contemporary philosophers of science stay
well away from defending any scientific knowledge as "absolutely true
objective facts."  I would say that the most we scientists can do is to
determine whether we agree with each other and whether our observations
are consistent with our theories.  I don't think we can go beyond this to 
assert that theories that many scientists agree on with consistant 
empirical support are true facts.  We just can't get there from here 
as social organisms with constructed languages and cutures.

	In what seems to be a very important paper just published on
gender and science, Elizabeth Lloyd (UC Berkeley) entertainingly lampoons
"true knowledge" by labeling it the "Really Real" (like really man!).  In
a more specific evaluation, Oreskes et al. argues that rationally
asserting that our models of nature describe what is "really going on" is
impossible even in theory not to mention in practice.  Perhaps the readers
of this news group would be most interested in a hilarious paper by Lloyd
on the incredible (literally) explanations of the origin of female orgasms
advanced by male behavioral scientists.  While social construction of
science is almost universally appreciated (if not accepted) among recently
educated philosphers of science, the role of one of the most universal
concepts among societies (gender) in that construction is much less
appreciated.  Lloyd does much to disabuse people of this myopia. 

	Any comments?  Anyone besides me read this stuff?

			-neo

Neo D. Martinez
San Francisco State University
ndmartinez at ucdavis.edu

    LLOYD EA.
      OBJECTIVITY AND THE DOUBLE STANDARD FOR FEMINIST EPISTEMOLOGIES.
      SYNTHESE, 1995 SEP, V104 N3:351-381.

    LLOYD EA.
      PRE-THEORETICAL ASSUMPTIONS IN EVOLUTIONARY EXPLANATIONS OF FEMALE
    SEXUALITY.
      PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES, 1993 MAR, V69 N2-3:139-153.


    Oreskes, Naomi; Shrader-Frechette, Kristin; Belitz, Kenneth.
      Verification, validation, and confirmation of numerical models in the
    earth sciences.
      Science v263, n5147 (Feb 4, 1994):641 (6 pages).







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