Science, Technology & Society at Bar-Ilan University

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The Science Wars (27805) | Dr. Noah Efron

 In 1996, physicist Alan Sokal published an essay entitled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” in a small academic journal named Social Text. The same day he revealed to the New York Times that the essay was gibberish and a hoax; the fact that it was published demonstrates the vapid credulity of its editors. Sokal’s hoax signaled the start of what became known as the “Science Wars,” a sustained effort on the part of certain scientists and philosophers of science to discredit constructivist explanations of science that had come into vogue. In this course, we will examine the long simmering background to the “science wars.” We will trace the development of philosophy of science from the Vienna Circle in the 1920s, through Thomas Kuhn, the Strong Programme of the Edinburgh School and up to the increasing acceptance of constructivist approaches that still enjoy vogue in STS programs today.