Rethinking Objectivity

Rethinking Objectivity

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: Published: June 1994

Anthropology, Sociology, Theory and Philosophy

Although "objectivity" is a term used widely in many areas of public discourse, from discussions concerning the media and politics to debates over political correctness and cultural literacy, the question "What is objectivity?" is often ignored, as if the answer were obvious. In this volume, Allan Megill has gathered essays from fourteen leading scholars in a variety of fields--history, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, history of science, sociology of science, feminist studies, literary studies, and accounting--to gain critical understanding of the idea of objectivity as it functions in today's world.
In diverse essays the authors provide fascinating studies of objectivity in such areas as anthropological research, corporate and governmental bureaucracies, legal discourse, photography, and the study and practice of the natural sciences. Taken together, Megill argues, this volume calls for developing a notion of "objectivities." The absolute sense of objectivity--that is, objectivity as a "God's eye view"--must be supplemented, and in part supplanted, by disciplinary, procedural, and dialectical senses of objectivity. This book will be of great interest to a broad range of scholars as it presents current thinking on a topic of fundamental concern across the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Contributors. Barry Barnes, Dagmar Barnouw, Lorraine Code, Lorraine Daston, Johannes Fabian, Kenneth J. Gergen, Mary E. Hawkesworth, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Evelyn Fox Keller, George Levine, Allan Megill, Peter Miller, Andy Pickering, Theodore M. Porter


“An excellent cross-disciplinary overview of current thinking about objectivity.” — Jay Ruby, American Anthropologist

"In the 70s and 80s Kuhn and the new sociology of science seriously put into question our received notions of scientific objectivity. In Rethinking Objectivity leading scholars in several disciplines confront the issue head on, and those who have worked empirically on questions of objectivity for years contribute their results. An exciting book that fills a gap in the study of science!" — Karin Knorr-Cetina, Universität Bielefeld

"Once objectivity was overwhelmingly viewed as an unproblematic quality of knowledge or posture of the knower. Now it is increasingly treated as a contingent, varying, and deeply problematic product of cultural practice. There is no better testament than Allan Megill’s Rethinking Objectivity to the current interdisciplinary diversity and vigor of academic interest in the topic of objectivity." — Steven Shapin, University of California, San Diego


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction: Four Senses of Objectivity / Allan Megill 1

How Not To Do the Sociology of Knowledge / Barry Barnes 21

Baconian Facts, Academic Civility, and the Prehistory of Objectivity / Lorraine Daston 37

Why Science Isn't Literature: The Importance of Differences / George Levine 65

Ethnographic Objectivity Revisited: From Rigor to Vigor / Johannes Fabian 81

Objectivity and the Mangle of Practice / Andy Pickering 109

The Shapes of Objectivity: Siegfried Kracauer on Historiography and Photography / Dagmar Barnouw 127

From Objectivity to Objectification: Feminist Objections / Mary E. Hawkesworth 151

Who Cares? The Poverty of Objectivism for a Moral Epistemology / Lorraine Code 179

Objectivity as Standardization: The Rhetoric of Impersonality in Measurement, Statisitics, and Cost-Benefit Analysis / Theodore M. Porter 197

Accounting and Objectivity: The Invention of Calculating Selves and Calculable Spaces / Peter Miller 239

The Mechanical Self and the Rhetoric of Objectivity / Kenneth J. Gergen 265

The Unquiet Judge: Activism without Objectivism in Law and Politics / Barbara Herrnstein Smith 289

The Paradox of Scientific Subjectivity / Evelyn Fox Keller 313

Contributors 333

Index 337

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1494-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1479-0
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