Central Question 2

February 3, 2015
Question: As discussed last week, positivists attempt to translate logic and mathematics to ordinary language, but are empirical observations and methodological techniques the remedy for the translation?

Chapter six elaborated the effects of constructivism and social constructivism that guided the formation of post-positivism. Similar to chapter one, rhetoric remains the focal point, specifically with how we talk about science and how science is presented, based on how we talk about science. However, philosophers and sociologists took this one step further, bringing importance to scientific understanding through empirical observation and methodological techniques.
Latour and Woolgar used a methodological empirical observation in Laboratory Life to further demarcate science from what we believe to what we know. Knorr-Cetina took that one step further by questioning the theoretical interpretation of laboratories, considering there was much more at stake than just finding the truth through experimentation. Shapin and Schaffer used a historical observation to demonstrate the credibility of experimentalism can be, simply, misunderstood.
The techniques these individuals utilized questioned the ideas of positivism by including theories, backgrounds, knowledge and values. In other words, the empirical observation and methodological techniques used provided outcomes that cannot discredit positivist structure of verifying local or mathematical proof, but include objective truths positivism alone would not incorporate. The techniques gave another dimension to positivism, thus guiding the creation of post-positivism.
With the positivist goal in mind, to translate logic and mathematics to ordinary language, did empirical observation and methodological techniques clearly accomplish that goal? In other words, did constructivist techniques guide the elegant expression of science, or muddle the lines of demarcating science further? I suggest it furthers itself from a simple translation of ordinary language, creating much more complexity than originally intended.

February 6, 2015
Revisiting the question
With the question presented, it was my intent to have the class philosophically question the new methods of study utilized in chapter six, in regard to the positivists scientific method presented in chapter one. The question was intended to be debatable, asking whether these methods that sociologists/philosophers were now utilizing were truly fitting the beginning goals of the positivists. In one regard, a clear answer to the question is “no”, it does not fit those goals. However, to provide further analysis to the question, these sociologists/philosophers came to a realization that a lot more matters (i.e. people, organization, historical time frame, language, etc) in the way we analyze science than originally perceived. Therefore, I argue the positivist’s goal to interpret math and logic to ordinary language (as complex as ordinary language may be), helped guide those new methods in analyzing science.
Between the first chapter and the sixth, Zammito provided a breadth of historical reference to how science was being studied. From the start of positivism to social constructivism, science moved from rational and logical to a more robust picture, creating numerous possibilities to study science. In the sixth chapter specifically, embracing new methods of interpreting science (i.e. empirical observation and methodological techniques), STS became more defined on how science was to be studied. In other words, philosophy (and this is a strong statement) with the guidance of sociologists, helped to create the field of STS.
For further interpretation and to steer dialogue in different directions, I could ask a different question: “Did positivism inadvertently create methods that question the rationality and logic of science, which in-turn created post-positivism?” I am uncertain if that would be a good question to pose, as it only creates more befuddlement or could be simply answered if one is not inclined to discuss. I consider the original question posed to be befitting of the relationship of chapter six to the beginning chapters of the book, and may re-question my question analysis with further feedback.

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