This book explores the radical reconceptions of knowledge and science emerging from constructivist epistemology, social studies of science, and contemporary cognitive science. Smith reviews the key issues involved in the twentieth-century critiques of traditional views of human knowledge and scientific truth and gives an extensively informed explanation of the alternative accounts developed by Fleck, Kuhn, Foucault, Latour, and others. She also addresses the various anxieties (e.g., over 'relativism') and 'wars' occasioned by these developments, placing them in their historical contexts and arguing that they are largely misplaced or spurious. Smith then examines the currently perplexed relations between the natural and human sciences, the grandiose claims and dubious methods of evolutionary psychology, and the complex play of naturalist, humanist, and posthumanist ideologies in contemporary views of the relation between humans and animals.
Barbara Herrnstein Smith is Braxton Craven Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Duke University and director of its Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory, and Distinguished Professor of English at Brown University. Her publications include Contingencies of Value: Alternative Perspectives for Critical Theory (1988) and Belief and Resistance: Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy (1997). Smith is an honorary fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Contents; 1. Introduction: Scandals of Knowledge; 2. Pre-Post-Modern Relativism; 3. Netting Truth: Ludwik Fleck's Constructivist Genealogy; 4. Cutting-Edge Equivocation: Conceptual Moves and Rhetorical Strategies in Contemporary Anti-Epistemology; 5. Disciplinary Cultures and Tribal Warfare: The Sciences and the; Humanities Today; 6. Super Natural Science: The Claims of Evolutionary Psychology; 7. Animal Relatives, Difficult Relations; Works Cited; Index.