A Nice Derangement of Epistemes : Post-Positivism in the Study of Science from Quine to Latour

John H. Zammito

Since the 1950s, many philosophers of science have attacked positivism?the theory that scientific knowledge is grounded in objective reality. Reconstructing the history of these critiques, John H. Zammito argues that while so-called postpositivist theories of science are very often invoked, they actually provide little support for fashionable postmodern approaches to science studies. Zammito shows how problems that Quine and Kuhn saw in the philosophy of the natural sciences inspired a turn to the philosophy of language for resolution. This linguistic turn led to claims that science needs to be situated in both historical and social contexts, but the claims of recent "science studies" only deepened the philosophical quandary. In essence, Zammito argues that none of the problems with positivism provides the slightest justification for denigrating empirical inquiry and scientific practice, delivering quite a blow to the "discipline" postmodern science studies. Filling a gap in scholarship to date, A Nice Derangement of Epistemes will appeal to historians, philosophers, philosophers of science, and the broader scientific community.