Inderscience Publishers

On the decline of scientific societies

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Classical studies describe the vital service that scientific societies rendered in the heyday of modern science. The sociology of science mostly ignores their decline, mainly because the received frameworks within which they work are too narrow to notice it: radicalism (Bacon, Descartes) and conventionalism (Duhem, Poincare) underrate the social aspect of science, whereas authoritarianism (Polanyi, Kuhn) ignores its variety. The alternative advocated here is critical rationalism (Popper); it deems rationality as limited and dependent on diverse social and individual factors, thus allowing for explanations and assessments of changes of social settings, including those of science.

Keywords: scientific societies, sociology of science, methodology, radicalism, traditionalism, normal science, scientific institutions, scientific community, scientific criticism, scientific truth, conventionalism, critical rationalism, authoritarianism

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