The Scenes Of Inquiry

Nicholas Jardine

This book advocates a radical shift of concern in philosophical, historical, and sociological studies of the sciences, and explores the consequences of such a shift. The historically-oriented first part of the work deals with the ways in which ranges of questions become real and cease to be real for communities of inquirers. The more philosophically-oriented second part of the work introduces the notion of absolute reality of questions, and addresses doubt about the claims of the sciences to have accumulated absolutely real questions. It is argued that recent studies in the sociology and social history of the science pose strong challenges to the sciences by revealing how appeals to authority, vested interests, and rhetorical and aesthetic sensibilities play substantial roles in the practices of the sciences. The final chapter defends the pragmatic stance of the work, and of its companion, The Fortunes of Inquiry, and draws morals about the roles of criticism and reflection in the philosophy of science and in the sciences themselves.

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