technology, science, and culture 4965

describe cultural and social influences in almost
every aspect of science. The most influential
of these was Thomas Kuhn, who asserted in
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that science
does not progress by amassing and correlating
observations, but rather through sudden changes
in fashion after which prior theories, and even
data, acquire new meaning. Echoing Fleck, and
drawing some inspiration from gestalt psychol
ogy, Kuhn argued that sense data themselves
appear different to different researchers work
ing from within different theoretical orientations.
A Chinese acupuncturist and a Canadian cardi
ologist will see different symptoms in the same
Kuhns book inspired a great deal of research,
some challenging his outlook, and some taking
it much farther than Kuhn himself could
endorse. Philosopher of science Paul Feyera
bend concluded that science has no overarching
method at all, and that in research anything
goes. Further, he declared in the 1975 intro
duction to the Chinese translation of his famous
book Against Method that First World science
is one science among many. Different cultures
produce different sciences. One of the most
spirited efforts to describe the interpenetra
tion of sciences and sociocultural factors was
conceived at about this time in Edinburgh
(and advanced by Barry Barnes, David Bloor,
Donald MacKenzie, Steven Shapin, Andrew
Pickering, and others) and called the Strong
Program. Its aim, according to Bloor, was to
show that it was not possible anymore to hold a
vision of science as exempt from social influ
ences. The accuracy or truth of a scientific
theory can never be taken to explain its accep
tance, Bloor and his colleagues insisted, because
it is acceptance on the part of a scientific com
munity that determines which theories are
considered accurate and true. Thus, it is not
just logic, rationality, and truth that explain
the progress of science, but also sociocultural
negotiations within a scientific community.
This view, embraced and expanded by a gen
eration of historians, sociologists, and anthro
pologists of science, was developed into what
became known as the social constructivist (or
sometimes social constructionist) view of
science, which held that what is taken to be true
among scientists reflects social consensus
among them, and not bedrock facts about
nature. Scholars advocating the social con
struction of technology (SCOT) have similarly
described how technologies do not evolve
according to an inevitable logic of their own,
but are constituted through ongoing negotia
tions between engineers, consumers, users,
marketers, and others, and as a result reflect a
mosaic of social and cultural assumptions.
In recent decades, feminist historians and
philosophers of science like Evelyn Fox Keller
and Donna Haraway have argued that cultural
assumptions about gender greatly influence the
production of scientific knowledge. Casual and
commonplace sexist presumptions lead scien
tists to misrepresent womens physiology, psy
chology, and social roles, as well as to prefer
certain sorts of scientific theories (reductive
ones, for instance) over other sorts (holistic
ones). More radically, Sandra Harding and
other feminist scholars of science have argued
that scientists canons of epistemology what
they take to be knowledge and how they seek
knowledge are themselves conditioned in part
by gender. In this view, often called standpoint
epistemology, what counts for evidence and
argument may differ between female and male
scientists. Other philosophers have emphasized
that aesthetic considerations have greatly influ
enced which scientific theories have been
accepted and which rejected. (One can always
make a theory, many theories, to account for
known facts, wrote Nobel physicist George
Thomson, the test is aesthetic.) Still others
have emphasized the impact of literary conven
tions on science, arguing that canons of literary
coherence influence which scientific theories are
accepted and which are rejected. Sociologist of
science Karin Knorr Cetina has recently argued
that scientific knowledge is mediated through
varying epistemic cultures, shaped by affinity,
necessity, and historical coincidence. Taken
together, sociologists, anthropologists, histor
ians, and philosophers of science have, in the
past 70 years, described how religion, politics,
economics, class, gender, race, art, etiquette,
and many other ambient aspects of culture and
society have affected the process and products
of science. Scholars have found traces of these
influences in every facet of scientific practice:
choice of subject to investigate, experimental
design, observation, inference, analysis, publi
cation, and more. These findings have been