from the publisher:
What if something as seemingly academic as the so-called science wars were to determine how we live?
This eye-opening book reveals how little we've understood about the ongoing pitched battles between the sciences and the humanities--and how much may be at stake. James Brown's starting point is C. P. Snow's famous book, Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, which set the terms for the current debates. But that little book did much more than identify two new, opposing cultures, Brown contends: It also claimed that scientists are better qualified than nonscientists to solve political and social problems. In short, the true significance of Snow's treatise was its focus on the question of who should rule--a question that remains vexing, pressing, and politically explosive today.
In Who Rules in Science? Brown takes us through the various engagements in the science wars--from the infamous "Sokal affair" to angry confrontations over the nature of evidence, the possibility of objectivity, and the methods of science--to show how the contested terrain may be science, but the prize is political: Whoever wins the science wars will have an unprecedented influence on how we are governed.
Brown provides the most comprehensive and balanced assessment yet of the science wars. He separates the good arguments from the bad, and exposes the underlying message: Science and social justice are inextricably linked. His book is essential reading if we are to understand the forces making and remaking our world.
James Robert Brown is Professor of Philosophy at University of Toronto.
A close analysis of the 'science wars' examines the link between politics and epistemology. Brown does an admirable job of engaging the general reader in such issues as the role that science plays in creating or changing the social order and the role of social factors in the creating or changing of scientific theories...The author takes readers through a whirlwind course in the philosophy of science in the 20th century, focusing on the concepts of realism, objectivity, and values. He acknowledges that social constructivists are right in seeing social factors at work in science, but he insists that reason and evidence play a dominant role. Brown sees the democratization of science as one of the central themes of the science wars, and he takes the position that when participants are drawn from every affected social group, more objective science will result. He argues that knowledge grows through comparative theory assessment, and that the way to ensure the optimal diversity of rival theories is by having a wide variety of theorists from diverse backgrounds; thus the political act of affirmative action leads to more objective science. Brings the science wars home for the lay reader by identifying the combatants, examining their goals, and exposing the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments.
Brown ably takes on many of the claims proffered by the antiscience camp and argues that the logic in those claims is faulty. Brown's engaging style makes accessible complex issues central to the philosophy of science.
This is a wonderful book: funny, learned, intelligent, strong-minded. In a clear and understanding fashion, James Robert Brown introduces us to the battles over the nature of science. He is never afraid to make judgements, yet always with appreciation of people's positions, however extreme. If you read only one book on the "Science Wars," read this. My only regret is that Who Rules in Science? is not longer.
--Michael Ruse, Florida State University
This book is a lively, engrossing overview of the philosophical and political issues at stake in the current debates about science. Brown doesn't pull any punches in stating his own views, but he always takes care to present fairly even those arguments with which he disagrees. And he's an equal-opportunity debunker: scientists, sociologists and his fellow philosophers all come in for (mostly justified) criticism.
--Alan Sokal, co-author of Fashionable Nonsense
A breath of commonsense, lucidly and wittily argued.
--Robin Dunbar, author of Gossip, Grooming, and the Evolution of Language and The Trouble with Science
Who Rules in Science? restores the image of the scientist as a rational actor, capable of generating reliable knowledge and defending the public interest. The book is wonderfully written and should be read as widely as possible.
--Ullica Segerstrale, author of Defenders of the Truth