Science and society: Steven Shapin's sociological interpretations of science

Dalziel, Alexander (2005) Science and society: Steven Shapin's sociological interpretations of science. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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In his books Leviathan and the Air-Pump (1985) and A Social History of Truth (1994), Steven Shapin employed sociological interpretations of scientific knowledge. These books examined the embryonic scientific community of seventeenth-century England, particularly the role of Robert Boyle ( 1627-1691 ). Despite the constancy of his dedication to sociological tools, these two books display considerable differences in how society is used to interpret science. In Leviathan and the Air-Pump, Shapin and co-author Simon Schaffer contended that social tension and strife defined the development of science. In particular, they highlighted the role contemporary social and political struggles played in sparking controversy between the natural philosophies of Robert Boyle and Thomas Hobbes ( 1588-1679). In A Social History of Truth, Shapin argued that social factors such as credibility and trust played a fundamental role in natural science. Boyle assembled a strategy for establishing credibility using the tools that his local English and European society and culture provided him. This thesis will contend that, despite its many insights, Shapin's sociological agenda overreaches itself, and requires various philosophical and historical considerations to shore up its historiographical standing.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 12242
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 150-163).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: July 2005
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Science--Social aspects--History

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