Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

  • David Bloor


The work of sociologists of knowledge and socially oriented historians of science should be of interest to epistemologists for one clear and overriding reason. It furnishes a theory of knowledge which exhibits knowing as a social process, and knowledge as a collective accomplishment. Such a claim should not be underestimated. The sociology of knowledge challenges much that has been put forward in the name of epistemology. There are a number of dimensions along which that challenge proceeds. First, the work, which has generated a social conception of knowledge is concrete rather than abstract. All too often philosophers have distanced themselves from the contingencies of real, historical cases in favour of logical formalism and displays of technical virtuosity. Second, the sociological approach is naturalistic rather than normative. The word ‘normative’ is not the opposite of ‘naturalistic’, but one way to evade the discipline of naturalistic enquiry is to retreat from the world of fact, the ‘is’, into a world of unsituated ‘oughts’, ideals and free-floating values. Concern with how a ‘true’ or ‘ational’ scientist ought to behave can be an excuse for avoiding the question of how actual passages of scientific work proceed. Third, and most important of all, the sociology of knowledge challenges the widely held individualism that permeates epistemology.


Scientific Knowledge Social Process Knowledge Claim Correspondence Theory False Dichotomy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Bloor
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghScotland

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