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Social Constructivism - Essay Example

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The essay analyzes what is "Social Constructivism". Social constructivism does not distinguish between truth and falsehood, judging both equally suspendable. It leaves no place for the distinction between true and false accounts of nature in its accounts of the development of science. …
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Social Constructivism
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Download file to see previous pages Social constructivism does not distinguish between truth and falsehood, judging both equally suspendable. It leaves no place for the distinction between true and false accounts of nature in its accounts of the development of science. By being uninterested in whether a science is true, by treating truth and falsity equally, that is, by treating unequal as if they were equal, constructivists suspend and fail to see the essential. Whereas it would be a major accomplishment for the sociology of science to explain true knowledge as well as false pretensions of knowledge, it is a major regression for such sociology to obscure the difference between the two. A central theme of social constructivism is that no social practice must be enshrined as a restricted way of getting at truth. No practice can put claim to universal, eternal, or context-free legitimacy. Social constructivists and other postmodernists seek to demystify or deconstruct science's epistemic authority. One route to demystification is to argue that science is just a highly elaborate set of social conventions--a "discursive formation" (Foucault) or "form of life" (Wittgenstein)--which arose in a particular historical setting and captured the loyalty of our culture, but which has no intrinsic claim to epistemic superiority. Translated into our terminology, this position implies that science is veritistically no better than other practices, despite the special reputation it enjoys. The constructivist perspective embodies a number of theoretical tensions stemming. from its attempt to embrace a relativistic epistemology with respect to selected aspects of science while exhibiting a fairly inflexible commitment to epistemological realism in its own work. ( Woolgar 1983: 262)
Constructivist sociologists adopt a variety of strategies in their attempt to defend themselves against the criticism that constructivism undermines itself. Some constructivists merely assert that constructivism does not undermine itself, in the hope that repetition will be as effective as argument or evidence.
Other constructivists claim that their studies analyze how the original account was arrived at, but have no implications for the truth or falsity of that account. Constructivists thereby only criticize the view that scientists see the world "plainly," "straightforwardly," without skills ( Yearley 1991: 120, 143). Thus constructivist sociology of science has no implications concerning the validity of science, constructivist criminology has little bearing on the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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