New PDF release: A Debate On The Argument From Contingency

By Russell Bertrand

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Additional info for A Debate On The Argument From Contingency

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By downplaying such issues, actor-network theory’s welcome attempt to reinvigorate the place of the non-human and the material in accounts of power entails substantial costs with respect to the treatment of human agency and human values. 24 Sheila Jasanoff Andrew Pickering, in The Mangle of Practice (1995) directly addresses the normative asymmetry between the human and the non-human. He sets out to rectify what he sees as a major flaw in the classical actor-network approach, observing that, when all is said and done, there are important differences between human minds and bodies and non-human agents such as the weather, television sets or particle accelerators.

A second, somewhat weaker version of the argument holds that a given kind of technology is strongly compatible with, but does not strictly require, social and political relationships of a particular stripe. (1986: 32) Technology in these terms is a “solution” to political order in the sense that it sustains particular structures of established power, as in Winner’s heuristically useful (though historically problematic9) example of highway overpasses in New York designed purposefully too low to allow buses carrying the urban poor to travel into wealthy suburbs.

18 Sheila Jasanoff Scientific biographies and studies of specific theories, artifacts or institutions have not always made explicit the connections between the mundane practices of science and those of politics and culture. Feminist theorists are an obvious exception (Haraway 1989; Keller 1985), and a handful of other authors have explicitly addressed state–science relations from an S&TS perspective (for example, Jasanoff 1992; 1990; Ezrahi 1990; Mukerji 1989; Shapin and Schaffer 1985). For the rest, research on science and technology has not sought to build systematic connections between the micro-worlds of scientific practice and the macro-categories of political and social thought.

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A Debate On The Argument From Contingency by Russell Bertrand

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