The Professionalization of Science Studies: Cutting Some Slack

“The Professionalization of Science Studies: Cutting Some Slack” is an article, written in 2000, in Biology and Philosophy by David Hull. It is a rather colorful article that nevertheless has some serious points. Hull argues that science studies as a whole are at risk because of the Science Wars:
Academics in the humanities arguing with each other in obscure journals is one thing. Focusing the attention of scientists and even parts of the general public on our disagreements is much more serious… Funding and job security are at stake. (61-2)
Hull’s main argument is that that scholars of science studies (those in history, philosophy and sociology departments) should unite to form a single discipline to combat this problem and they can do this by aligning their approaches (this generally involves making them readable to the public and less offensive to scientists). Before reaching his thesis, Hull gives a short historical overview of the professionalization of science studies and the field’s relationship to scientists themselves. He argues that the general change in science studies over the past decade has excluded and baffled scientists. This is not a safe road for science studies to take:
Because scientists are so much more powerful than those of us in Science Studies, they have tended to ignore our babbling, regardless of whether or not they agreed with it. We were at most a minor nuisance, as harmless as gnats flitting around a tough old rhinoceros. But as Science Wars heated up, scientists were led to notice us, and they were not amused. They turned on us with a vengeance. (66)
Interestingly, Hull does not mention how exactly the gnats are being squashed but one can assume from the previous discussion that it has to do with funding. In order to get some scientists into the science studies field, Hull says there should be some reform within science studies with less focus on more controversial and possibly meaningless topics such as relativity.

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