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August 1, 2015 / compassioninpolitics

Answers to Science Critique/Science Good Cards


Sohng ‘95
[Sung Sil Lee, U. of Washingtom School of Social Work, “Participatory Research and Community Organizing,” working paper presented at the New Social Movement and Community Organizing Conference, U. of Washington, November 1-3,, acc 3-8-05//uwyo-ajl]

Participatory research, in theory, draws upon all available social science research methods. However, because participatory research is premised on the principle that the people with a problem carry out the investigation themselves, it excludes techniques that require a separation of researcher and researched, such as when experimental “subjects” are kept ignorant of the purpose of the study. Methods that are beyond the technical and material resources of the people involved in the research are also excluded. Field observation, archival and library research, and historical investigation using documents and personal history, narratives and story telling, as well as questionnaires and interviews, have been used in participatory research.

Nanda 2003

[Meera, teacher, researcher, and philosopher of science, “Postmodernism, Science, and Religious Fundamentalism,”, acc 3-6-05//uwyo-ajl]

In principle, there is nothing whatsoever wrong in the agenda of science studies: modern science is not a sacred form of knowledge that cannot be examined skeptically. Science and scientists must welcome a skeptical look at their enterprise from social critics. The problem with science studies comes in their refusal to grant that modern science has evolved certain distinctive methods (e.g., controlled experiments and double-blind studies) and distinctive social practices (e.g., peer review, reward structures that favor honesty and innovation) which promote a higher degree of self-correction of evidence, and ensure that methodological assumptions that scientists make themselves have independent scientific support. Science studies start with the un-objectionable truism that modern science is as much a social process as any other local knowledge. But using radically relativist interpretations of Thomas Kuhn’s work of science as a paradigm-bound activity, science studies scholars invariably end up taking a relativist position. They argue, in essence, that what constitutes relevant evidence for a community of scientists will vary with their material/social and professional interests, their social values including gender ideologies, religious faith, and with their culturally grounded standards of rationality and success. Thus, scientists with different social backgrounds, from different cultures and from different historical periods, literally live in different worlds: the sciences of modern western societies are not any more “true” or “rational” than the sciences of other cultures. If modern science claims to be universal, that is because Western culture has tried to impose itself on the rest of the world through imperialism.


[Solomon R., Dept. Medicine and Bioethics Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, U. of Cape Town, “Scientific integrity and values in science,”, acc 3-8-05//uwyo-ajl]

The prime responsibility of scientists is to ensure that they advance knowledge with integrity and accountability. Dedication to the scientific method, to openness in communicating about their work, and submission to the process of peer review all serve to ensure that science is carried out with transparency, objectivity and accountability. It is less obvious to some that scientific knowledge should be considered as social capital that has accumulated from great intellectual, financial and personal investments by previous generations of scientists, tax payers and research subjects. It is important to acknowledge these contributions and not to consider scientific knowledge solely as the property of scientists. In addition to teaching science to students, established scientists are required to serve as role models for young scientists – and through this process to preserve the integrity and accountability of science. Given the power of weapons of mass destruction it is also increasingly considered irresponsible for scientists to participate in developing such weapons or to collude in any way in doing harm to citizens and distant others. Finally it is necessary for scientists to undertake research that has potential benefit both to the society of today and to future generations.

[Paul A., Professor of Philosophy at NYU, “What the Sokal Hoax Ought to Teach Us,” A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths about Science, ed. Noretta Koertga, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 30//uwyo-ajl]

In the United States, postmodernism is closely linked to the movement known as multiculturalism, broadly conceived as the project of giving proper credit to the contributions of cultures and communities whose achievements have been historically neglected or undervalued. In this connection, it has come to appeal to certain progressive sensibilities because it supplies the philosophical resources with which to prevent anyone from accusing oppressed cultures ofhol!ing false or unjustified views.
Even on purely political grounds, however, it is difficult to understand how this could have come to seem a good way to conceive of multiculturalism. For if the powerful can’t criticize the oppressed, because the central epistemological categories are inexorably tied to particular perspectives, it also follows that the oppressed can’t criticize the powerful. The only remedy, so far as I can see, for what threatens to be a strongly conservative upshot, is to accept an overt double standard: to allow a questionable idea to be criticized if it is held by those in a position of power, Christian creationism, for example, but not if it is held by those whom the powerful oppress, Zuni creationIsm, for example. Familiar as this stratagem has recently become, how can it possibly appeal to anyone with the slightest degree of intellectual integrity, and how can it fail to seem anything other than deeply offensive to the progressive sensibilities whose cause it is supposed to further?

[Michael, Prof. of Philosophy and Zoology at the University of Guelph, “Is Darwiminism Sexist?” A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths about Science, ed. Noretta Koertga, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 127//uwyo-ajl]

Let me sum up. In dealing with issues like sexism and Darwinism, professional evolulionists would urge us-with good reason, I think-to distinguish between popular science (the science of the magazine, the museum, the television program) and the work that.they do as trained scientists (the science of the university, of the graduate student and supervisor, of the learned journal or monograph). In popular science, cultural nonepistemic values are to be found openly; they are expected. These values can and have included values demeaning to women, but they can and have included values giving women preferential status. Quite apart from any reservations one might have about making too many judgments about the values of the past against the values of the present, my impression is that writers and other practitioners of popular science today are particularly sensitive to gender issues, as they are to related topics like racism. Paradigmatic is the so-called Tower of Time at the Smithsonian Instituion in Washington D.C., a column like panorama of life”!; history topped by the trio of a,black man, a Chinese woman, and an aged white male.
.In the science of the professionals, cultural values are much less prominent. Indeed, part of the culture of professional scene is that it be culture free! This is not to say that cultural values cannot slip in, maybe in the choice of topics, perhaps slopping over from intentions and interests, possibly from the metaphors and analogies drawn on from the culture of the day. With respect to sexist ideas, particularly given the history of our culture, one cannot say that Darwinian evolutionism has never been influenced-tainted, if you wilI-in this way. However, this is certainly not universaIIy so, and I have given reasons to suggest that there are built-in factors in the culture of science (like the need to find underexploited areas of study), as well as external factors from the culture of the day, that keep (and will continue to keep) sexism at bay.
Epistemic factors-predictive fertility, consistency, elegance, and so forth-do count in professional science. They count overwhelmingly, whatever the cultural values. They provide a check not only on the possibility of gross sexism but also on those who would prescribe revisions of evolutionary biology in directions that are feminism friendly. Science-and I refer now to the whole of science and not just evolutionary biology-is a product of culture, and as such, it surely shows its origins.
It is silly to claim that it is simply a matter of fulfilling personal agendas. There are controls and guidelines-epistemic values-aimed at bringing the products of lence into correspondence with external nature. This may be an ideal never achieved, ~t.itdoes bring an objectivity to science, professional science in particular (Ruse 1996, I 19.8). Darwinian evolutionism shows this, which is why the time has now come to ~ve on from such knee-jerk accusations of gross and unbridled sexism as I quoted Ithe beginning of this essay.

[Paul A., Professor of Philosophy at NYU, “What the Sokal Hoax Ought to Teach Us,” A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths about Science, ed. Noretta Koertga, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 46//uwyo-ajl]

Suppose that you are worried about the impact of scientific discoveries on human well-being. An immediate corollary is that no general picture that endorses a global skepticism about scientific achievement can be satisfactory.49 For if we are led into blanket constructivism, rejection of notions of reason, evidence, and truth, then there is a terrible irony. The last thing that political liberals want to say about the excesses of pop sociobiology or The Bell Curve is that these ventures are just like the social constructions of Darwin and EinsteinSO or that because talk of reason is passe, there’s no less reason to believe claims about the genetic determination of criminal behavior than to endorse the double-helical model of DNA. We need the categories of reason, truth, and progress if we are to sort out valuable science from insidious imitations.
It has been obvious for about half a century that research yielding epistemic benefits may have damaging consequences for either individuals or even the entire species. Philosophical stories about science have been narrowly focused on the epistemic.
Faced with lines of research that have the capacity to alter the environment in radical ways, to transform our self-understanding, and to interact with a variety of social institutions and social prejudices to affect human lives, there is a much larger problem of understanding just how the sciences bear on human flourishing. There seems to be a strand in contemporary Science Studies that responds to this problem by trotting out every argument (however bad) that can be interpreted as debunking the sciences-as if its proponents were frightened of a monster and had resolved to cure their terror by insisting on its unrealityY Any such strategy is not only inaccurate but also politically jejune. Only by careful analysis of science and its relation~ to a wide range of human concerns-indeed, only by analysis that comes to terms with the themes in the two clusters-can we hope to start a public dialogue that can be expected to produce a “science for human use.”


[Edna, Dir. Education and Public Outreach, “Evolution: It’s only a theory, but one worth teaching,” March 3,, acc 3-10-05//uwyo-ajl]

Certainly, there are continuing debates among scientists about the particulars of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution. The nature of science requires continual questioning of ideas, evidence and theories. Theoretical scientists consider what we know, and pose new ideas and models to explain the natural world. New models and ideas generate new scientific tests of theory: observational experiments at Earth and space-based observatories, high-energy collisions of particle physics, deep-sea dives at the plate boundaries, and lab experiments in molecular biology to cite a few. Science is based upon observational and experimental evidence. Concepts that don’t match observations are altered or tossed out. It’s an iterative cycle. Likewise, if a scientist makes an observation or does an experiment that cannot be replicated, the results are suspect. Scientific explanations of the natural world are tested against nature, and discarded if they do not work. Consider cold fusion. Science is a self-correcting system that provides humans with powerful descriptions that allow us to understand and predict how the natural world works.

Original link is here.


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