restricted access Epilogue
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• 201 At this point it should be clear that the epochal break thesis involves a wide-ranging and ambitious claim concerning recent science and its history. The preceding chapters display a diversity of views on this thesis. Hence, drawing a single, straightforward conclusion from these chapters, for or against the epochal break thesis, would obviously be premature. What is feasible, however, is to extract from the preceding chapters a number of “sticking points,” to use a phrase of Ian Hacking; that is to say, central issues that can be expected to remain the focus of extensive research and debate. Each of these issues entails a variety of further research questions. To be sure, not all of these issues are completely new. Yet some are relatively new within certain disciplines, such as the study of the science-technology relationship within mainstream philosophy of science or the exploration of the commercialization of science within science and technology studies. Moreover, although the chapters collected in this edited volume provide an important starting point, in view of the high stakes of the epochal break thesis all of these issues deserve more detailed and sustained analyses and assessments . The sticking points briefly described below include historical and Epilogue The Sticking Points of the Epochal Break Thesis HANS RADDER 16 16 202 • hans radder theoretical accounts of the role of old and new methodologies, demands for empirical and conceptual clarification of the central notions at stake in the debate, ontological and epistemological issues concerning the nature and development of the sciences, social-scientific inquiry into the relationships between science, technology and the wider society, normative concerns about the sociocultural position of recent science and technology, and historiographical questions of how to support or challenge a comprehensive historical thesis like the epochal break thesis. 1. Rightly or wrongly, the traditional view of science was often based on the example of theoretical physics. As the contributions to this book show, the epochal break thesis urges us to focus on other disciplines, such as climate science, environmental science, biomedical science, or computational science. Furthermore , it encourages the examination of possible and actual interactions between such disciplines. From this perspective different modes of inquiry have to be addressed: not exclusively theoretical representation or explanation but rather experimental intervention, data processing, visualization, modeling, computer simulation, and prediction. Finally, since the knowledge in question is supposed to be applied, or even developed, within the wider society, the issue of the cultural meaning and the social acceptance or rejection of this knowledge arises. For this reason, in addition to these disciplines, the social sciences and humanities are involved and need to be taken into account. One may argue that scientific expert knowledge also has to be complemented by the lay knowledge of the people who may be affected by the realization of the technoscientific or mode-2 projects. This, in turn, requires explicit methodological reflection on the relationship between expert and lay knowledge and on the question of how lay knowledge may be taken into account. In sum, an important question is whether technoscientific or mode-2 projects require a distinct methodology that differs from (what is often taken to be) the methodology of theoretical physics. 2. Whatever one may think of the epochal break thesis itself, the notions employed in its different articulations—primarily, technoscience, mode-1/mode-2 science, and postacademic and postnormal science—are important and hence deserve further inquiry. As indicated in the introductory chapter, these labels are often introduced and used in rather loose ways. Consider the notion of technoscience , which has been the focus of quite a few of the preceding chapters. epilogue • 203 Although some accounts of this notion are available, none is very detailed. Hence, what we need is a well-developed and plausible explication of the notion of technoscience. Furthermore, how does this notion relate to “science,” to “technology,” to a “technological style,” to “engineering science,” to “applied science ,” to “industrial science,” to “entrepreneurial science,” and the like? Analogous questions may be posed concerning the notions of mode-1 and mode-2 and the concepts of postacademic and postnormal science. To be sure, such explications should not be limited to conceptual analysis but also employ the results of empirical studies. In this way we may examine, for instance, whether technoscience may coexist with academic science or mode-1 with mode-2 science , and the extent to which such coexistence occurs in actual scienti...