SiSiFOS — simulating studies on the internal formation and the organization of science
Applying “social simulation” to the field of “social studies of science” is commonly thought to be a contradiction in terms2. Simulations have to rely on adequate “representations” of their targets; but this very reliability has been dismissed by social constructivism. This dismissal includes advice on how to avoid shortsighted perspectives: “Any study of mathematics, calculations, theories and forms in general should […] look at how observers move in space and time, how the mobility, stability and combinability of inscriptions are enhanced, how the networks are extended, how all the information is tied together in a cascade of rerepresentation” (Latour 1987: 246f). For social constructivists there is no way to model these overlapping processes of continuous composition and de-composition, of differentiation and fusion. What really happens cannot be objectified in modelling “objects” and the influence of society on them: “there is no pure object that first comes to the attention of the AI (Artificial Intelligence) manager […] and then is brought to the sociological manager for prioritising and dissemination. The sociological agency initiates and ‘runs’ the program” (Brannigan 1989: 606). The only software package which social studies of science would accept is the non-computational and implicit creation mode of society itself.
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