Human ecology

Context-dependency

"The realisation that most scientific observations are context-dependent has led some philosophers to argue that science is a social construct which has nothing to do with reality and is solely a matter of human convention. This argument stems from the entirely sensible modern perception that scientific 'truth' is not absolute, but depends upon having some agreed common conceptual framework. However, the belief that science is solely a construct, which by implication could be whatever scientists decided to agree on, is really very silly - however elegantly phrased - because it ignores a very important aspect of these conceptual frameworks. They are not arbitary: they are the outcome of a previous scientific process. For example, scientists cannot make objects float skywards merely by agreeing amongst themselves that the force of gravity acts up rather than down."
Stewart & Cohen (1997, p.36)

True, but...

I think this argument is based on alternative definitions of the concept of "social construct". I would relate these concepts to the cultural definitions given by Hall (1997b, pp.24-26)

Author Background Concepts
Stewart & Cohen Maths & Biology Absolute Context-dependent Social construct
Hall Cultural studies Reflective Constructive Intentional

These relationship give possible grounds for relating biology to cultural theory.

There also appears to be a distinction between 'agrement with other people' and 'agrement with reality'



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Created 25/8/99
Last modified 13/11/99