PSA 1974 pp 529-548 | Cite as

Integrating the Philosophy and the Social Psychology of Science or a Plague on two Houses Divided

  • Ian I. Mitroff
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 32)


A few years ago at the conclusion to one of his papers, Norwood Russell Hanson wrote: … scientific observation and scientific interpretation need neither be joined nor separated. They are never apart, so they need not be joined. They cannot, not even in principle, be separated, and it is conceptually idle to make the attempt. Observation and interpretation are related symbiotically so that each conceptually sustains the other, while separation kills both. This will not be news to any practicing scientist, but it may seem heretical indeed to certain philosophers of science for whom Analysis has, alas, become indistinguishable from Division (1967, p. 99).

While not everyone would agree with Hanson regarding the role of observation and interpretation, I have often wondered what would have happened had Hanson attempted to make the same argument regarding the philosophy and the social psychology of research, if indeed he would have been inclined to attempt such an argument at all I suspect that if Hanson had made such an argument the reaction to it would have been intense. First of all, it is a fact of academic life that we have separated the philosophy and the social psychology of science. Second, many, if perhaps not most, of those who practice the philosophy and the social psychology of science see no need in joining them whatsoever, let alone that each “conceptually sustains the other." Yet this is the very heretical position I would like to argue. To be more specific, I would like to argue that the philosophy and the social psychology of science not only need to be joined but that they ought to be joined They ought to be joined because not only does each conceptually sustain the other but that each conceptually presupposes the other.


Social Psychology American Sociological Review Scientific Revolution Individual Scientist Irreducible Element 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian I. Mitroff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PittsburghUSA

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