1 See Chapter 2.
2 Personal communication, 4 June 1999.
3 Studies like those by Shapin and Schaffer on the controversy between Hobbes and Boyle have shown in more detail how the adoption of the 'empirical style' by science results from a complex historical-social process (Shapin and Schaffer, 1985). Today known only for his political theories, in seventeenth-century England Thomas Hobbes was also an active proponent of natural philosophy. His search for stability in natural philosophy based on logical argument, and according to which the very concept of vacuum was to be repudiated, found rebuttal by Boyle with an instrument that settled the matter: a machine able to 'produce facts', namely the air pump used in his experiments on the vacuum at the Royal Society. A 'local' experiment witnessed by a restricted number of gentlemen - and who were therefore trustworthy - and then written up in detail was transformed into the 'matter of fact' able to bring everyone to agreement (see also Chapter 7).
4 Ashmore (1993) has analysed Wood's report in detail, showing that a 'trick' - surreptitiously removing Blondlot's prism - non-repeatable and more of an experiment in social psychology than physics, has been unprob-lematically incorporated into the literature and celebrated as epitomizing the scientific method, even by philosophers and sociologists of science.
5 The expression is used by analogy with that of 'cultural dope' coined by the founder of ethnomethodology, Harold Garfinkel, with reference to the way in which traditional sociological theories, especially Parsons', view the individual (Garfinkel, 1967).
6 Personal communication, 4 June 1999.
Was this article helpful?