Victorian domestic specialization and gender roles
As the Victorian version of separate spheres solidified in the mid-nineteenth century, the “idea of wifely sainthood gained ever more credence as housewives found themselves increasingly isolated from the male-operated world.”
Underdetermination and the balance between religion and science
The Duhem-Quine thesis, when simplified, explains how a given set of facts can produce more than one apparently true conclusion: essentially, different background assumptions lead to different outcomes.
Objectivity, science, and (a)political action
Theodore M. Porter, in Trust in Numbers, argues that the American distrust of elites — and of government itself — has led to a focus on “mechanical objectivity,” or rules to make decisions. In many ways similar to what American jurists call “procedural due process,” the idea is to diminish the necessity of personal judgement in favor of predictable, […]
On “The Role of Technology in Human Affairs”
In The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yochai Benkler discusses his vision of the role of technology in historical change. He rejects an overly deterministic vision of technology (which he connects with Lewis Mumford and Marshall McLuhan), but also rejects a view of technology as immaterial to a society’s direction.
Cassirer and the Enlightenment
Cassirer’s work on the Enlightenment is quite unlike many of the other works of science studies I have worked on over the last couple of years.
Truth vs. relativism in science
In Science and Social Inequality by Sandra Harding, I found a discussion of claims to “absolute truth” in science (and the fear of relativism) particularly interesting.
Historians need to stop obsessing over writing books
Why are historians so obsessed with writing books?
Now that I’m on my second quarter of a PhD program in the History of Science, I am continuing to think about why I am doing this and what history (and History) has to offer, both to me and to the world at large. One concern I already have is with the apparent obsession with the book as the primary mechanism of disseminating the work of historians.
Scientists choose citations for "discriminatory" reasons
Researchers in Spain recently published an examination of scientific citation practices, and discovered the obvious: scientists don’t use citations purely for altruistic reasons.
Why should we keep others from selling our work?
Techdirt discusses why you shouldn’t be concerned if someone “steals” your work and sells it, noting that “it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”