Central Question 12

Question: Is it possible to incorporate STS into positivism's aim of a grand, unified science? Do we even want to?

In this chapter, Fuller considers positivism to be the use of rationality to guide and structure science as a whole. He also considers science itself to be all processes of knowledgemaking, and thus considers all knowledge to be subject to positivism. This moves STS and the natural sciences into the same realm and makes them both subject to the same structure.

Fuller takes this positivist view that there should be a unified science with a unified structure for its reasoning, and concludes the chapter by foreshadowing the following chapter and highlighting interdisciplinary approaches to the future of positivism. Yet this necessarily assumes that positivism has a future, and that that future is a desirable thing. That's a view that would require not only reconciling STS and the natural sciences (which already seems difficult at best), but merging them and subjecting them to the same structure. The Sokal Hoax, as Fuller describes in great detail, is a compelling case study in how attempting to do this may fail. STSers and natural scientists merely spoke past each other, each attacking the other in Fuller's "Engaged Response" from Table 10 and yet hearing criticisms only in the voice of the "Professional Response."

And of course, Fuller is presupposing that this unification itself would be desirable, and there are compelling reasons why it might not be. From the view of social scientists, the "value neutrality of facts" may be an instrument that can be used for any purpose, but the value-ladenness of facts may well remove facts from any non-political arena entirely. From the view of STSers, if STS as a discipline wishes to comment on and check science, considerable difficulties may arise if STS has to do that from within. Finally, science and STS may simply have such divergent goals that attempting to merge them will simply declaw both of them, stripping them of the features that made them valuable in the first place. There is also the issue of expertise: If expertise relies on purified, separate fields to validate itself, can a unified science maintain our current ideas and standards of expertise? Can STSers and natural scientists both be experts at the same time?

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Revised Question:How should we define science? And what is the role and position of God in the defined structure of science?

I don’t think that our original question is bad question or is not enough to cover the chapter of this week. However, I think that it is better to change the perspective of the question. So, we suggest a new, modified question. With the clarification in class that Fuller is talking about uniting how we understand science rather than uniting science itself, we'd like to delve deeper into how we consider science. When science is defined as all knowledge-making based on rationality and experiments, most academic fields, including STS, are science. However, if science is defined as the narrower meaning of science, namely "natural science," STS and science are demarcated and STS has the role and position which can study, advise, and correct the path and meaning of science. In this point, Fuller argued the first meaning of science to unify science and STS while keeping them separate enough for STS to play the role of the advisor to science. But, is it right to define science that way? Should we do that? And why?

Fuller uses God in this point. In Fuller’s argument, God is the basic assumption of all this discussion and science itself. Yet by shifting away from religion, science has lost its enchantment and has become a passionless, aimless pursuit. Rather than make science attempt to govern itself and potentially slow down its quest for true knowledge of God, Fuller wants to give that role to STS. However, what is the real meaning of God in this discussion? Is God really needed for science and for defining science? If so, what is the role of God? And where should God be in science?

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