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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 55, Issue 4, 2018

Petr S. Kusliy, Ekaterina V. Vostrikova
Pages 143-159
DOI: 10.5840/eps201855473

Scientific Rationality in Social Context
Conceptual and Practical Issues

In this overview article, we explore a number of trends in the rational philosophy of science that have been developed in reaction to the development of the relativist program of social constructivism. These trends are also known as isolationism, reconciliationism, and integrationism. According to the isolationist view, the core of science is immune to the influence of social factors and the scientific enterprise retains its autonomy. The proponents of this view point out the shortcomings and internal inconsistencies inside the constructivist argumentation and dismiss their arguments on those grounds. Reconciliationists agree that social factors can influence the process of decision making in individuals and they accept the idea that decisions in science are not bused exclusively on rational arguments. The core of science, however, still remains intact, from the reconsiliationist perspective. Integrationists tend to redefine science by including the “extra-scientific” agenda into discussions of science. Still, they do not reduce science to “non-scientific” phenomena. Having built this perspective, we then move on to the discussion the practical issues that arise in the process of bringing the scientific agenda closer to the needs of society. This process has been treated as crucial in helping societies to get the most out of science, given the significant gap that exists today between the rationalistic ideal of pure science and the complicated and socially dependent nature of scientific institutions. The latter very often suffer from the impact of extra-scientific values. Yet, we also present work suggesting that such values can be beneficial. We end our discussion with concrete suggestions of democratization of science that have recently been proposed in the literature on philosophy of science.

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