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The Elgar Companion To Economics and Philosophy

The Elgar Companion To Economics and Philosophy

Elgar original reference

Edited by John B. Davis, Alain Marciano and Jochen Runde

The Elgar Companion to Economics and Philosophy aims to demonstrate exactly how these two important areas have always been linked, and to illustrate the key areas of overlap. The contributors are well-known and distinguished authors from a variety of disciplines, who have been invited both to survey and to provide a personal assessment of current and prospective future states of their respective areas of philosophical interest.

Chapter 10: Constructivism: The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge

D. Wade Hands

Subjects: economics and finance, methodology of economics


199 one of the approaches that has significantly influenced the constructivist literature on scientific knowledge. A second important influence was the ‘sociology of knowledge’ associated with the work of Karl Mannheim (1936) and others in the late 1930s. A third set of influential ideas involves the so-called Bernalist literature associated with the work of John Desmond Bernal (1939) and other (primarily British) Marxist historians of science during the 1940s and 1950s. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970) not only had a profound impact on the development of the constructivist literature, but also on the history and philosophy of natural science more generally: ‘After Kuhn, philosophy of science would never be the same’ (Callebaut 1993, p. 12). While Kuhn was clearly not the first to note that science in general, and specific scientific communities in particular, are actually social communities and that the social character of these communities conditions the observations, theorizing, and day-to-day practices of the scientists within them, his work was crucial to the spread of such ideas among contemporary science theorists. Now almost everyone writing in science theory agrees that science is fundamentally social and that understanding the character of that sociality is essential to understanding scientific knowledge. While these, and a variety of other ideas (pragmatism, hermeneutics, postmodernism, feminism, … ) have influenced the constructivist literature on scientific knowledge, no attempt will be made to review these ideas in the following discussion....

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