Edited by John B. Davis, Alain Marciano and Jochen Runde
Chapter 10: Constructivism: The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge
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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