Science and technology have immense authority and influence in our society, yet their working remains little understood. The conventional perception of science in Western societies has been modified in recent years by the work of philosophers, sociologists and historians of science. In this book Bruno Latour brings together these different approaches to provide a lively and challenging analysis of science, demonstrating how social context and technical content are both essential to a proper understanding of scientific activity. Emphasizing that science can only be understood through its practice, the author examines science and technology in action: the role of scientific literature, the activities of laboratories, the institutional context of science in the modern world, and the means by which inventions and discoveries become accepted. From the study of scientific practice he develops an analysis of science as the building of networks. Throughout, Bruno Latour shows how a lively and realistic picture of science in action alters our conception of not only the natural sciences but also the social sciences and the sociology of knowledge in general.
This stimulating book, drawing on a wealth of examples from a wide range of scientific activities, will interest all philosophers, sociologists and historians of science, scientists and engineers, and students of the philosophy of social science and the sociology of knowledge.
Bruno Latour is Professor and Vice-President for Research at the Sciences Po, Paris.
Acknowledgements Introduction Opening Pandora's Black Box PART I FROM WEARER TO STRONGER RHETORIC Chapter I Literature Part A: Controversies Part B: When controversies flare up the literature becomes technical Part C: Writing texts that withstand the assaults of a hostile environment Conclusion: Numbers, more numbers Chapter 2 Laboratories Part A: From texts to things: A showdown Part B: Building up counter-laboratories Part C: Appealing (to) nature PART II FROM WEAR POINTS TO STRONGHOLDS Chapter 3 Machines Introduction: The quandary of the fact-builder Part A: Translating interests Part B: Keeping the interested groups in line Part C: The model of diffusion versus the model of translation Chapter 4 Insiders Out Part A: Interesting others in the laboratories Part B: Counting allies and resources PART III FROM SHORT TO LONGER NETWORKS Chapter 5 Tribunals of Reason Part A: The trials of rationality Part B: Sociologics Part C: Who needs hard facts? Chapter 6 Centres of calculation Prologue: The domestication of the savage mind Part A: Action at a distance Part B: Centres of calculation Part C: Metrologies Appendix 1