Conventional wisdom has long held that scientists are neither better nor worse than anyone else, that personal virtue does not necessarily accompany technical expertise, and that scientific practice is profoundly impersonal. Shapin, however, here shows how the uncertainties attending scientific research make the virtues of individual researchers intrinsic to scientific work. From the early twentieth-century origins of corporate research laboratories to the high-flying scientific entrepreneurship of the present, Shapin argues that the radical uncertainties of much contemporary science have made personal virtues more central to its practice than ever before, and he also reveals how radically novel aspects of late modern science have unexpectedly deep historical roots. His elegantly conceived history of the scientific career and character ultimately encourages us to reconsider the very nature of the technical and moral worlds in which we now live.
Building on the insights of Shapin’s last three influential books, featuring an utterly fascinating cast of characters, and brimming with bold and original claims, The Scientific Life is essential reading for anyone wanting to reflect on late modern American culture and how it has been shaped.
The new approaches taken in Leviathan and the Air-Pump have been enormously influential on historical studies of science. Shapin and Schaffer found a moment of scientific revolution and showed how key scientific givens--facts, interpretations, experiment, truth--were fundamental to a new political order. Shapin and Schaffer were also innovative in their ethnographic approach. Attempting to understand the work habits, rituals, and social structures of a remote, unfamiliar group, they argued that politics were tied up in what scientists did, rather than what they said. Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer use the confrontation between Hobbes and Boyle as a way of understanding what was at stake in the early history of scientific experimentation. They describe the protagonists' divergent views of natural knowledge, and situate the Hobbes-Boyle disputes within contemporary debates over the role of intellectuals in public life and the problems of social order and assent in Restoration England. In a new introduction, the authors describe how science and its social context were understood when this book was first published, and how the study of the history of science has changed since then.
Shapin’s essays collected here include reflections on the historical relationships between science and common sense, between science and modernity, and between science and the moral order. They explore the relevance of physical and social settings in the making of scientific knowledge, the methods appropriate to understanding science historically, dietetics as a compelling site for historical inquiry, the identity of those who have made scientific knowledge, and the means by which science has acquired credibility and authority.
This wide-ranging and intensely interdisciplinary collection by one of the most distinguished historians and sociologists of science represents some of the leading edges of change in the scholarly understanding of science over the past several decades.
"Shapin's account is informed, nuanced, and articulated with clarity. . . . This is not to attack or devalue science but to reveal its richness as the human endeavor that it most surely is. . . .Shapin's book is an impressive achievement."—David C. Lindberg, Science
"Shapin has used the crucial 17th century as a platform for presenting the power of science-studies approaches. At the same time, he has presented the period in fresh perspective."—Chronicle of Higher Education
"Timely and highly readable . . . A book which every scientist curious about our predecessors should read."—Trevor Pinch, New Scientist
"It's hard to believe that there could be a more accessible, informed or concise account of how it [the scientific revolution], and we have come to this. The Scientific Revolution should be a set text in all the disciplines. And in all the indisciplines, too."—Adam Phillips, London Review of Books
"Shapin's treatise on the currents that engendered modern science is a combination of history and philosophy of science for the interested and educated layperson."—Publishers Weekly
"Superlative, accessible, and engaging. . . . Absolute must-reading."—Robert S. Frey, Bridges
"This vibrant historical exploration of the origins of modern science argues that in the 1600s science emerged from a variety of beliefs, practices, and influences. . . . This history reminds us that diversity is part of any intellectual endeavor."—Choice
"Most readers will conclude that there was indeed something dramatic enough to be called the Scientific Revolution going on, and that this is an excellent book about it."—Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review