In his closing arguments for Thomas Kuhn, Fuller explicitly names the effect of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that has roused his indignant critical response, and articulates his own project in writing:
The overall effect has been that Structure diverted emerging tendencies in the 1960s to question the role of Big Science in the academy and society at large, while reinforcing the ongoing fragmentation and professionalization of academic disciplines....The point of my book has been to explore the background social, philosophical, and historical conditions that have allowed this strange turn of events, in hope that we may still be in a position to remedy whatever damage has been caused by an unreflective acceptance of the account of science given in Structure. (380)
Fuller underscores the need for political engagement among scientists, sociologists and philosophers: "A recognition of the role of politics in science might invite a reconceptualization of science as intrinsically political, which would then be reflected back on the sociologist of science's own practice. This is the prospect favored by Marxists and feminists -- as well as myself." (335). Rather than any sort of social action, there is far more weight given to Fuller's desire to rescue what I will call "rational criticism" from the relativist junk pile. Rational criticism is the ability to judge across time and space between paradigms, between theories. Fuller wants a spot on the Aristotelian platform that Kuhn so readily gave up in The Road Since Structure.
In his preface, Fuller argues that Kuhn's career bore some resemblance to the simple-minded gardener Chauncy in Being There, persistently elevated and ironically misunderstood. Fuller wishes ardently that Kuhn had not been there, and without being (very) flippant, Fuller's book might have been better if Kuhn had not been there. For this reader, each section of each chapter was packed with interesting and fruitful ideas. The only persistent shade on the work was a doubt that Kuhn could truly be the cause of all the apathy, amnesia, fragmentation and intellectual sloppiness that Fuller finds in the disciplines incorporated in Science Technology and Science.
Kuhn's Structure is a Cold War relic, a way of insulating science from its own effects. Kuhn offers three kinds of historians: the Whig, Prig and Tory. The Whig wants to rewrite historical events to justify a current turn of events; the Tory wants historical events to be justified on their own grounds; but the Prig historian wants to rewrite history for ends which he or she declines to bring into view: this latter mode, in Fuller's view, typifies Kuhn. Worse yet, Structure killed the historicist impulse, and relativism, as Structure posits it, absolves scientists from having to be open-minded. (See pages 33-37 over an overview of each chapter)
Fuller argues that the double-truth doctrine begins with the fall of Athens in the Peloponnesian Wars, after which a public allegiance to democracy might literally be suicide. Philosophers learned to code the truth so that the elite understood one message; and the public another. Fuller calls this hiding of a socially destabilizing truth "embushelment." Leaping ahead a bit, Fuller argues that Prussia and France took the mantle of Athens and Rome in order to preserve Western civilization, such as it was. And he locates an important turn in the realm of Art History via the collections supported by Aby Warburg. Scholars defined the limits of the possible artistic expression (iconography), which then laid the groundwork the actual artwork. Fuller draws an ideological connection from the Warburg school of iconography to Ernst Curtius, who argues for a Platonic topoi in a successful artists's work. Also influential on Kuhn, and on sociology, was Alexandre Koyre, who wrote on Galileo and other luminaries of the Scientific Revolution. (64) Later he turns in detail to James Bryant Conant, Kuhn's sponsor at Harvard. (ADD LOGIC)
Pre World War II Fuller argues that Max Planck (realist) and Ernst Mach (instrumentalist) symbolize a debate: they illustrate, by life and words, the difference between making science serve social ends (Mach) and making society serve scientific ends (Planck). Prussia led the way to a society that was always ready for total war by being mobile against external threat at any time. Such a perpetual state of preparedness could not be supported by business; it had to be supported by a military industrial complex. Planck's realist ideology required students to either recast their experiences in terms of physics or let the physicists speak for them -- and in any case, accept the current paradigm as a reason for advancing science. Mach's instrumentalism suggested that freedom was best promoted by limiting the number of speculative theories that had to be mastered; he also wanted to promote the similarity of science with other knowledge-producing practices. Fuller sees the Mach-Planck debates as analogous to the Hobbes-Boyle debates. Instead of preparing students for mental maturity, Prussian academics prepared and sorted students for the state. Polyani, a member of the elite, followed in Planks footstepsk believing scientists should coordinate research, be consumers of each other's publications, and pursue long term good, amortized and supported by the rest of society.
Together with Vannevar Bush, James Bryant Conant argued that the autonomous
pursuit of research at a university and through a National Science Foundation
was the best way to allow science to support a militarily-prepared state.
Fuller argues that the Schumpeterian vision of capitalism (minimalizing
entrepreneurial risk) was especially reflected in peer-review and
funding patterns (50% to just 33 institutions). In the bleary Depression
morning, someone had to prevent scientists from taking social problems
to heart, and the Lawrence Henderson-led "Pareto circle" at Harvard were
ready to divert attention to problems like the psychology of industrial
relations. Somewhat later, Fuller says that mutually assured destruction
had a similar effect on James Bryant Conant, giving license to a system
of "bad is better than awful" trade-offs, to the repression of social criticism,
and, with an Orwellian efficiency, to a firm elimination of the past.
In Kuhnian terms, Fuller sees trade-offs as an underdetermination of theory by data and the incommnsurability of world views, and in Fullerian terms, the trade-off tendencies are indicative of moral indifference.
Unlike Conant's specific responses to the Cold War, Kuhn's politics
and ideas are embedded in his metaphors: "revolution" and "paradigm"
show that as far as possible, the hoi poloi and the social implications
of science are to be kept out of the texts he compiled and taught in Conant's
General Science courses. For Kuhn, Fuller says, disciplinary pluralism
is fine until specific public policies hang in the balance. (p. 207
empirical underdetermination of theory choice).
Fuller sets out a "forward-looking linear reading" of history and a "backward-looking reflexive reading" of history. He suggests that Kuhn is engaged in the latter when he argues a Gestalt switch for Galileo (whom, Fuller says, was using Aristotle's methods but not findings, arguing his way forward). Kuhn proposes an inexplicable switch in order to prepare his students, future managers, for being sympathetic with inexplicable demands from research scientists . Especially Conant wanted the demands of "clean" pure research to be treated with respect; by contrast applied science, in all likelihood "dirty," was a lesser concern.
As a consequence, and in a reciprocal move, the "lower" the source of social science activity, the less empowered, the less likely to fall in line with Kuhn's views of science. Being inside a self-constructed paradigm actually minimizes one's impact on society (sort of like living inside a bubble to accommodate the lack of an immune system). There was little or no space for public science criticism. Furthermore, Kuhn apparently missed the connection between militaristic nation states and paradigm-driven science, especially that found in German professor-graduate servitude. Incommensurability, then, is a teaching problem, not a research problem. And Kuhn never saw himself and his own works as a historically situated project. "Regularity and reproducibility...appeared... [to be] the latest trained incapacities of the learned classes..." By limiting classroom exercises to a single frame of reference, students were trained not to think about the implication of decisions. Ignoring the military industrial complex that formed a shell around them, each science pursued its own paradigm. Either science is a totalizing ideology (Planck) or it is a high-grade tool: living in a permanent ether, Kuhn-thinking keeps society from debating or deciding. (259)
The ideas in Structure were absorbed everywhere. According to Fuller, Kuhn's opponents, Feyerabend and Popper, argued (among many other things) that science should be judged not only be a small set of peers, but by the locals who were affected by the results of science. But philosophers used Kuhn to rediscover another kind of naturalism, which was, by contrast to J. S. Mill and John Dewey's version of naturalism, a backward step into a kind of non-critical stance. Speaking of criticism, Fuller takes what seems to be a side-trip to explicate his own understanding of how he can get back onto the Aristotelian platform. C. I. Lewis, a Kuhnian ancestor, argued the difference between an analytic explication of a concept and a truth of objective fact. Fuller wants to find a pragmatist viewpoint, a standing back from science for a longer look, and a comparison between theories. Kuhn's great intellectual crime is to have dulled the edge of the concept of rationality, and to have relegated scientists to the status of Lockean underlaborers. Fuller also pauses to explain his understanding of the Strong position, which (I think!, check p. 284) is a mirror of Cartesian thinking: since we all live in the same world, the common beliefs we share are not evidences of reality external to our minds, but of our common liabilities and delusions. At the same time, these common beliefs are also incontestable ideologies. And this -- the impregnability of theory in an armor of irrationality-- is what exercises Fuller's greatest indignation. In Fuller's understanding, "irrationalism" stands for the inertia and complacency of a paradigm. Rationality is the turn of mind that resists habit, that uses criticism and challenge. Arguments in Kuhn's world happen behind closed doors, among peers, and typically do not change society. Fuller spends some time differentiating between regulative (legislative, or theoretical, e.g.All "X is Y" ) and constitutive (judicial, or evaluative, e.g. "This is X") principles for science, arguing that scientists have effectively ceded the right to regulative thinking to philosophers. At the end of Chapter Six Fuller again states his purpose "I wish to recover what lies outside these Kuhnified horizons of acritical science studies." (317)
"The science studies community currently suffers from a self-inflicted Kuhnification. The main symptoms are a collective sense of historical amnesia and political interia, which together define a syndrome, call it "paradigmitis." (318) Fuller gives a short history of the effects of Kuhn on the British, American and French schools of STS, noting that the Ediburgh Science Studies Unit incorporated Kuhn wholeheartedly. He offers a quick list of the problems with Kuhn's thinking (which I will further condense here): first a model, adopted from physics, is presented as the model for all sciences; second, the model is based only on a three-hundred year period but is extrapolated to be cyclical in aeternum; and third, the economic and technological dimension of science are virtually absent from the model. STS is marred by sloppy thinking, by a boiler-plate application of theory to a needless proliferation of examples, and also by a sprouting up of theory after theory about methodology. On theory "cruise control" STSers opened themselves up to the Science Wars. Furthermore, they are "theory-deaf," or not really alive to what theory ought to do: highlight salient points. Thus, a whole group of authors can claim hetereogeneity and contingency as theories rather than understanding contingency and heterogeneity as the very ocean, or atmosphere, or petri dish, in which theory ought to operate. Speaking of the French school, although Fuller concedes interest and respect for Latour and Callon for their sensibility to the hardness of reality (which kicks back), he nevertheless calls the actor-network a flexible facism. He (too) has the sense that the web, with no ending, has also no accountability.
Returning to Fuller's initial point, Structure obscures or ignores real
political debates, helps those in power to stay in power, erases the past,
encourages scientific fragmentation, takes away the ability to make critical
judgement ... and a whole host of evils. As I had said earlier, I
wonder if Kuhn has had all those effects, or if he embodies and encouraged
a set of beliefs already in place. I suppose it is naive to refer
to the "great man" theory of history -- but indeed it is a role that Kuhn
assigns to certain key paradigm-breaking scientists, and also it is a part
that Fuller wants to deny to Kuhn himself. Kuhn is just a bewildered
gardener in rationalist Eden -- a gardener who saw Eve struggling and pulled
the apple down so she could reach it? Kuhn is awarded sainthood
by suffering stoically when he was rejected by Harvard and remaining relatively
detached after his success with Structure. Fuller concludes with
his own theory of rationality: "I believe that objectivity should
be a continuously emergent property of the interaction of proponents and
opponents of knowledge claims. Biases, such as they are, would then
be negotiated, canceled out, or otherwise overcome in open discourse, not
prior restraint. The model social entity of this collective dialectical
process is movement, which gains strength not by resolving its internal
differences but by involving ever larger segments of society in the articulation
of those differences. A good image here is that of a whirlpool that
draws more attention to itself as discussion acquires more intensity."
(401) (Mangles, whirlpools: perhaps sociologists are plagued
with "metaphor-deafness"?) Fuller concludes with the high church-low
church metaphor, and he adds that action is only as good as the knowledge
upon which it is based. He argues that "we need an ethics of accountability
for the knowledge claims that we decide to make," (415) and an easier way
to change one's mind in public (!) On (or so I suppose) the assumption
that there is something like common rationality, students should be given
the context in which scientific discoveries are made, and the logic with
which these discoveries were pursued, to "level the playing field."
If students, and scientists, are willing to leave the herd and stand alone
in their perceptions and beliefs, reviving the past as needed, working
across disciplines, and being accountable for their beliefs and actions,
then criticism will remain alive.