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By John H. Zammito

Since the Nineteen Fifties, many philosophers of technological know-how have attacked positivism—the thought that medical wisdom is grounded in aim fact. Reconstructing the heritage of those reviews, John H. Zammito argues that whereas so-called postpositivist theories of technology are quite often invoked, they really offer little help for stylish postmodern ways to technological know-how studies.

Zammito indicates how difficulties that Quine and Kuhn observed within the philosophy of the normal sciences encouraged a flip to the philosophy of language for solution. This linguistic flip resulted in claims that technology has to be positioned in either historic and social contexts, however the claims of contemporary "science reports" simply deepened the philosophical situation. In essence, Zammito argues that not one of the issues of positivism offers the slightest justification for denigrating empirical inquiry and clinical perform, providing particularly a blow to the "discipline" postmodern technology studies.

Filling a niche in scholarship to this point, A great Derangement of Epistemes will entice historians, philosophers, philosophers of technology, and the wider medical community.

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Additional info for A Nice Derangement of Epistemes: Post-positivism in the Study of Science from Quine to Latour

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W]hy does our innate subjective spacing of qualities accord so well with the functionally relevant groupings in nature as to make our inductions tend to come out right? " 163 The only tentative answer Quine sanctions is evolutionary advantage. l65 But he marvels still more that we outgrow natural kinds. What Quine celebrates in human cognitive development is that we have gone beyond such natural patterns of order to more abstract and powerful ones. Language acquisition overlays this natural disposition to categorize by an artificial system of words.

There are grounds, I would counter, to question such an exemption for Quine. In any event, he clearly professes to discriminate between behaviorism as a theory of psychology and behaviorism as a theory of linguistics, and he demands to be judged on the merits of his case for the latter, which he thinks is insuperable. This claim is at the core of indeterminacy of translation. If it is upheld, much that Quine claims cannot be withstood. If it falls, his whole position becomes susceptible to considerable revision.

This conclusion, conversely, once it is en1braced, seals the fate of any general notion of propositional meaning. "217 As Dagfin Follesdal argued early on, the verificationism was the weak link in this argument. The problem, as we have seen, is that inscrutability of reference wreaks havoc on the compatibility of verificationism and holism, especially in terms of all-out linguistic holism. 218 Neither the argument from above nor the argument from below yields indeterminacy of translation. The motive force for Quine is an ontological conviction against mental states.

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