November 24, 2006

Brief gloss on pragmatism vs. sociology of knowledge

I'm now done with drafting everything in Accountability Frankenstein except one section, on the problem of expertise in society. For a variety of reasons, I've been thinking about this in connection with John Dewey, Walter Lippmann, Karl Mannheim, and William James. And I've figured out the difference between the sociologist of knowledge and the pragmatist philosopher.

The sociologist of knowledge said, "Science and other endeavors of discovery are inevitably bound up with the social context in which they arise. Even the basic questions are interwoven not only with the state of knowledge at the time but the circumstances of the researchers and thinkers themselves."

The pragmatist said, "Yes, and that's good."

The sociologist of knowledge shook her head and said, "You don't understand."

The pragmatist said, "Yes, I do, and in case my reasoning's shoddy, I've got the epistemologists just in case."

The sociologist of knowledge stared back. "That's an unfair trump card. Epistemologists are just rationalizing what people do anyway."

The pragmatist smiled and whispered, "Well, yes, of course. That's what we designed them for. And isn't your whole modus operandi a trump card to put social processes above science?"

The sociologist of knowledge narrowed her eyes. "The only reason why you said that is because you think your mother never loved you."

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on November 24, 2006 2:37 PM |